Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

The President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, upon arrival at the European Council Summit in Brussels, said:

“You understand that the situation in the Middle East is the topic which is expected to dominate the discussions on the occasion of the presence of the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) in Brussels. I hope that today it will finally be possible to reach conclusions that will underline the European Union's (EU) common position on the need for a ceasefire, as well as on the need to strengthen the humanitarian aid. I am glad that the implementation of an initiative, initiated in October 2023, has just been launched.

Today, a very important meeting took place in Cyprus with the participation of 36 states. Twenty-three EU member states were there and all the G7 countries were represented, as well as the United Nations (UN), in order to see firstly, how the technical details can be safeguarded, so that our country's initiative can be even more effective, and secondly, the creation of a fund that will further increase the amount of humanitarian aid in Gaza. I have already been briefed – and I am pleased about this – by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands that his country will contribute 10 million euro. In the EU, the relevant process has already initiated. It seems that the EU will make an initial contribution of around 70 million euro to this fund. There is interest from many countries precisely for the establishment and operation of this fund. I repeat, it is something that we will discuss here in the presence of the Secretary-General (SG), but also later at the level of the 27, and I hope that we will reach to conclusions.

From then on, after the working lunch, I will have a separate meeting with the SG. We will, of course, discuss the initiative of the Republic of Cyprus. The UN has supported this initiative from the outset. The representative of the SG has been in Cyprus since yesterday for this meeting. We will certainly discuss the Cyprus problem, the current developments, the outcome of Mrs Holguín's contacts and the next steps.

Last night, I was briefed by the President of the Council, Mr Michel, that a meeting with the SG took place and that the Cyprus issue was on the agenda. In this broader context, he also announced that we will have a joint meeting with the German Chancellor and the President of the Council very shortly to discuss the possibility of adopting some conclusions concerning Euro-Turkish relations. As you know, so far there has been no mention of Euro-Turkish relations in the draft conclusions. This is something that we are going to discuss, the three of us, and depending on the outcome, we will see whether there will be a discussion and whether there will be conclusions.

Our position is well-known; we, more than any other member state, want to see developments in Euro-Turkish relations. Developments that are strongly related to a concrete progress in the Cyprus problem. Unfortunately, the latest statements do not help in any way. However, I am here to specifically discuss how there could be progress on the Cyprus issue – and when we say progress we [mean that we] cannot discuss anything other than the resumption of talks on the basis of the agreed framework from where they were interrupted in Crans-Montana – and hence, progress on some of the Euro-Turkish relations. I repeat, I will discuss all these in the meeting we are about to have and depending on the outcome, there will be a discussion at the level of the 27.”

Responding to a journalist's question regarding the Euro-Turkish relations, the President of the Republic replied: “Our wish is well-known. It is the resumption of talks, on the basis of the agreed framework, from the point they were interrupted in Crans-Montana. To resume this dialogue, I have said it many times, the EU has an essential role to play. And I am content to ave been briefed late last night, following the working dinner between the President of the Council and the UNSG, that the Cyprus issue had been discussed. [It constitutes] a substantial reference to how the dialogue can be resumed, how the EU, on the basis of both the conclusions and our position, can be more actively engaged. I repeat, the EU has the tools to enable the resumption of talks. Our position is well-known; we consider that the appointment of a political personality from the EU side will assist the whole process, because Euro-Turkish [relations], whether Turkey wants it or whatever its approach is, is influenced by the developments in the Cyprus problem. The Republic of Cyprus is a member state of the EU. We are involved in the decision-making process. We want to see progress. We have a very positive approach. I did not come to Brussels with any negative bias. On the contrary, at the same time, I want to see concrete developments on the Cyprus problem.”

When asked to comment German Chancellor Scholz's statement that he wants to send positive messages to Turkey, the President said: “I want to send a positive message to Turkey even more than the Chancellor of Germany. Turkey is a neighbouring state to the Republic of Cyprus and I want to have a neighbour who is closer to the EU, who respects the EU principles and values. At the same time, this positive message requires some concrete steps and I hope to see those steps, for them to be recorded, to be concrete. We are at a critical juncture. The recognition of our political will led the SG to appoint a personality as the personal envoy who began work. She is doing really great work and we want to enhance this effort. We want the EU’s intervention through the Euro-Turkish relations to be determinant and to reach the goal which, I repeat, is nothing else than the resumption of talks.

Asked whether the President of the European Council assured him yesterday that he supports Cyprus' request for the resumption of talks, the President of the Republic replied: “The position of the President of the [European] Council, as conveyed to me last night, as well as the EU’s position through the EU’s conclusions, a joint decision of the 27, is the resumption of talks and Turkey’s role in the resumption of talks.”

When asked about the second aid shipment through the maritime humanitarian corridor, the President replied: “We are preparing to send the second ship. I do not have an exact date, because we also need to see the weather conditions. Cyprus is ready to send it whenever possible.”

In a follow-up question, when asked to comment how he responds to criticism that the maritime humanitarian corridor is nothing but a distraction to open more land routes in Gaza, President Christodoulides said: “Not at all. The maritime humanitarian corridor, our proposal, complements other humanitarian corridors and certainly all available routes must be opened. We are here to support this need. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire. We are talking about a humanitarian crisis and we have to use all the routes in order to support the people there."

He noted that the President of the European Commission, who had been in Cyprus and together they announced the launch of the corridor, once again welcomed Cyprus' role and leadership in sending humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Asked whether we would accept a paragraph without reference to a special envoy for Euro-Turkish relations, President Christodoulides said: “We want positive conclusions, positive references to the Euro-Turkey relations that go through positive developments on the Cyprus problem."