Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

The President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, upon arrival at the Special European Council, on Wednesday, 17 April 2024, in Brussels stated:

“I consider today's Council to be particularly important, especially with regard to issues concerning the external relations of the European Union (EU). Finally, there will be a strategic discussion on the Euro-Turkey relations, something we have been aiming to for a long time. The juncture is significant, given the efforts of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General (SG) to resume talks.

The Cyprus problem is related to the progress of Euro-Turkey relations. I hope that through the discussion, yes, the positive attitude on the part of the EU, member states will be conveyed, including our own positive attitude, the development of which will depend exclusively on the progress of the Cyprus problem. I am pleased that there is a specific reference in the draft to the Cyprus problem, to the resumption of talks. As you know, since the appointment of the personal envoy, there has been some activity. She will visit a number of European countries, she will be in Brussels, she will be in Cyprus. We are in contact; we have already arranged two meetings with Ms Holguín.

Beyond that, there is the issue of the latest developments in the Middle East. I hope that there will be no further escalation of the situation, which may affect not only the neighbouring states, not only the Republic of Cyprus, but the EU in general, in a region in proximity with the EU. In this context, we will also discuss the issue of Lebanon, the need to support Lebanon. I would like to announce that the President of the European Commission has just informed me that we will visit Lebanon together on the 2nd of May. I have been in contact with the Prime Minister of the country, so that to show the tangible support of the EU with regard to the effort that is being made with Lebanon. While discussing the implications of the situation in the Middle East, we must also address the migration issue. We should, and it is something that we, as the Republic of Cyprus together with other member states, with which we have already agreed upon, raise the issue of the reassessment of certain areas as safe areas within Syria.”

Asked whether the member states are in agreement for the Cyprus problem to be one of the main issues in relation to Euro-Turkish relations, President Christodoulides replied, "From the discussion that took place, everyone understands the importance of progress on the Cyprus problem for Euro-Turkish relations to move forward. We have before us a fourth draft, which will come before the heads of the member states and we will do everything possible to achieve a positive outcome. Whether Turkey wants it or not, Euro-Turkish relations also go through the Cyprus problem. We are here to convey, I repeat, a positive message, the progress of which depends on Turkey's attitude at the negotiating table."

Asked whether a discussion on a more structured aid package for Lebanon is initiated today, Mr Christodoulides said: "I have already discussed the first package with the President of the European Commission when we were in Athens. As you know, then I went to Lebanon. I have briefed the Lebanese government and I am glad that a specific date has been set. As I have told you, on the 2nd of May I will be in Lebanon, together with the President of the European Commission. Also, on Friday the French President will be hosting the Prime Minister of Lebanon, the head of the country's armed forces, in Paris, in an effort that is being made, now consciously, specifically on the part of the EU, to address the challenges that Lebanon is facing and, by extension, any issues, such as the migration issue that the Republic of Cyprus is facing. However, this is in direct correlation, I repeat, with the need to start discussing the designation of some areas in Syria, based on evidence, as safe areas."

Asked whether a common approach on the restraint to be requested from Israel and Iran is feasible, the President replied, "I believe that yes, it is an issue on which we cannot have different approaches. It is an issue that on whichever side the states are on, and I am referring mainly to the Middle East, because I believe that concerning the Iran issue there is a common approach, it would be advisable to avoid any actions that could further escalate the crisis, but at the same time, this is one of the major issues, to see how the negotiating process resumes. Beyond that, there is the humanitarian crisis in the region and I hope that soon, with the completion of the efforts on the part of the American administration in Gaza, humanitarian aid will resume through the initiative of the Republic of Cyprus. Thank you very much."