Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

The President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, upon arrival at the Special Session of the European Council, today, in Brussels, stated:

“I hope that today we can reach an agreement at the level of the 27 member states. Any other agreement, either at the level of 26 or if it is not possible to reach a decision, will be a very negative development for the European Union. I hope that through the debate that will be held, as this is an extraordinary European Council, especially due to the fact that we did not manage to agree last time, the message that we will send is the need to preserve the unity of the European Union, the decision-making process. For this reason, I repeat, anything other than an agreement between the 27 will be negative for the European Union. It will create at the same time a very negative precedent.

Beyond that, I am glad that the position of the Republic of Cyprus, together with other member states, to discuss the developments in the Middle East is important. We are not happy about the fact that there would be no conclusions on the situation in the Middle East again, because unfortunately as European Union we have different approaches to this issue, although I believe that ending this unacceptable state of affairs and starting the political process to resolve the Middle East issue is something we can all agree upon. In any case, we will discuss and I hope that through the discussion we can come up with some common ground, which during the press conference the President of the European Council will convey.

Asked by a journalist whether he expects any discussions on a 26-level agreement or the launch of Article 7, in case there will be no agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework, he replied:

“I cannot exclude anything, but I repeat it would be negative for the European Union to reach an agreement on such an important issue at the level of the 26. A negative precedent is created and then on what issue will this practice not be followed? So, you understand that the blow will be for the European Union itself, at a crucial juncture before the elections for the members of the European Parliament, before the composition of the new Commission and the new President of the Council of the Commission, to have this kind of developments. What message are we conveying to our fellow citizens? So, I hope, and that is where my intervention will focus, that there will be agreement at the level of the 27.

In response to a journalist’s question about the Cyprus problem and his meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy on the Cyprus problem, Ms María Ángela Holguín, he replied as follows:

“It was a very good meeting. I must once again publicly welcome the appointment of Ms Holguín. She brings tremendous experience of the state of affairs in Colombia. Of course, the situation in Cyprus is different, but she has valuable experience that can help us.

I also welcome the fact − and this was something I noted yesterday evening in the discussions I had with European leaders – that she is known at European level for her work, her role, her competencies.

Allow me to inform you that I will have a meeting with Ms Holguín tomorrow. We spoke late last night and we will meet tomorrow at noon in Lefkosia, as a follow-up of her contacts.

Furthermore, I also had the opportunity to speak with the Greek Prime Minister. I would like to welcome the fact that the Greek Prime Minister will meet with Ms Holguín on Tuesday in Athens. It will be a meeting at the highest possible level, and I hope Turkey will respond in the same manner, that is to say a meeting will take place with Mr Erdoğan himself.

On my part, I wish to reiterate that I will do everything in my power to create the conditions for the resumptions of talks from where they were interrupted in Crans-Montana. There is an important acquis of the negotiating process which we should build on and, starting from that point to lead to the solution of the Cyprus problem, always on the basis of the agreed framework".

When asked whether the Commission’s proposal for a discussion on relaxations will be tabled today and how it affects Cyprus, President Christodoulidis replied:

“So far, there is no official information on whether this issue will be discussed. I think that in the European Union and through the Multiannual Financial Framework there is a particular emphasis on the Common Agricultural Policy. This is, of course, something that the Republic of Cyprus is interested in. In fact, we are making an effort in Cyprus, the primary sector in general is only 1,8% of the country's GDP. We have witnessed by the coronavirus crisis, by the war in Ukraine the great dependence we have on the issues of the wider agricultural sector and we have decided, by the 1st of March, to set up a committee together with the agricultural organisations, so that we can present the new plan, to increase the contribution of the primary sector to the country's GDP, but at the same time to reduce the country's dependence. So, yes, more support needs to be given. This is something that we as the Republic of Cyprus support and I hope that through the debate we can come to such an outcome.”

Asked to say how likely it is that Viktor Orbán will "leave the room again to go to the toilet " or at least "to activate the nuclear weapon, as Article 7 of the European Union is called", the President of the Republic said:

“I think in any case, either with the exit of a leader from the debating chamber during the decision-making process or anything else that results in a decision at a level of the 26 will be very negative for the European Union. It will be a hard blow to the European Union. All these we want to achieve, especially at this juncture, because we are talking about a very important issue, the Multiannual Financial Framework, but simultaneously at a point of time before the European elections. So, you can see what a negative message we are sending to the citizens of Europe. So, I am willing to stay here as long as needed and nobody can rule this out, hopefully it will be possible to reach an agreement from the beginning, but if there is no agreement, we will have to stay here to reach an agreement at the level of the 27. I repeat, anything else will have very negative consequences. It may ‘solve’ this particular issue we are discussing, the aid to Ukraine, but I think it will open Pandora's box for future decisions at European Union level.”

When asked what he expects from the discussion regarding Middle East, President Christodoulides said:

“Allow me to note that Cyprus, along with Greece and some other member states, insisted on the need to discuss this particular topic, because it was not on the agenda of the discussions. We insisted on it, together with Greece and some other member states. So, this is positive, that we will discuss it. Beyond that, I have already criticised the fact that there will be no conclusions. It indicates our weakness as European Union regarding an issue that is in our neighbourhood. At the same time, the European Union cannot be unilateral. We cannot discuss only about Ukraine. I fully understand the stakes in Ukraine, but at the same time we have a situation in our neighbourhood with very serious implications for the European Union and I believe that, if we had the necessary political will and patience, it would be possible to reach some common conclusions, such as, the end of what is happening in the region, the need to resume the political process, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a two-state solution, as provided for in the relevant United Nations resolutions. So, would be possible, I repeat, if there was political will or proper preparation.”

He added: "It is sad, as some states did not even want to discuss. They just wanted to stick to Ukraine. I repeat, I fully understand the importance of the Ukrainian case, the illegal Russian invasion, the continuing occupation, but at the same time, if you want to develop a geopolitical role, as we all say about the European Union, you cannot focus on just one issue and not wishing to touch the situation in the Middle East, the essence of the situation in the Middle East, which is in our own neighbourhood.