Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

Statement by the Government Spokesman, Mr Marios Pelekanos

After a long and at instances difficult all-night meeting on rising energy prices, EU leaders once again stood up to the circumstances and, despite individual national differences, highlighted the importance of European unity, agreeing to draw up a roadmap towards prices reduction.

In this context, the European Council asked the European Commission and the Energy Ministers of the Member States to initiate the process towards imposing a cap on the price of natural gas, which would result in lower prices, as well as for a solidarity mechanism to impose a price limit on gas used for electricity purposes, which is expected to help reduce the price of electricity.

The President of the Republic is pleased with the steps that have been agreed that declare Europe’s determination to collectively address the energy crisis and to protect citizens and businesses from high prices.

I would like to recall Cyprus’ position, as expressed by President Anastasiades, on the importance of achieving the greatest possible European solidarity as regards electricity and gas, including on the issues of common gas markets and gas storage, as well as the strengthening of energy interconnections as far as both electricity and gas are concerned.

At the same time, it has been reiterated that the Eastern Mediterranean region can play an important role in tackling the current energy crisis by providing a credible alternative energy corridor to Europe, by transporting natural gas — whether as liquefied natural gas, or through pipelines — as well as clean renewable energy including electricity interconnections.

Turning to today’s topics of debate, which, inter alia, include Ukraine and external relations, I would like to briefly address some of the issues that the President of the Republic is expected to raise.

The first concerns a specific aspect of the wider exchange of views on the various aspects of the war in Ukraine. As you remember, in the context of the latest sanctions package adopted against Russia, a new criterion has been introduced which allows the EU to impose sanctions on persons and companies, whether on European territory or in third countries, which facilitate circumvention or if you prefer, non-compliance with sanctions. Bypassing of sanctions is an issue to which we should pay due attention, as it affects the effectiveness of EU restrictive measures. And unfortunately, in this regard, we are witnessing worrying practices by some countries, in particular candidate countries such as Turkey.

Therefore, what the President of the Republic will point out is that the introduction of the new criterion is a step in the right direction, however — and despite the uncontested legal constraints in European law that pose challenges in targeting natural or legal persons operating outside the territory of the EU — the problem of circumvention, which is recognized by all without exception as very important, should begin to be examined in a more comprehensive way.

We should therefore look at the possibilities we have before us and look at how far we can go with the listing criteria in order to deal with the phenomena of circumvention by natural and legal persons in third countries —and especially in candidate countries — and to think of more general measures of reaction.

One last point I would like to mention, and on which President Anastasiades also intends to intervene, is about the last enlargement package of the European Commission, and in particular the report on Turkey’s accession course. The report notes both the ongoing democratic slide of the country and the widespread violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets in the Aegean, the threatening statements against the sovereignty of the Greek islands and Cyprus, the violation of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus, the further illegal actions in Varosha, and more.

The President of the Republic will reiterate that all these tensions created by Turkey undermine regional stability and security, and will once again underline the position that, if we want to be consistent and convincing, European principles and values should not only be applied in the case of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but should be supported by the EU, without discrimination, in all similar cases. The only way for peace to prevail is to adhere to international law and to the Charter of the United Nations. Nevertheless, not with arbitrary interpretations by those who seek to conceal their aspirations for revisionism.

For the video of the Government Spokesman’s statement in Greek click here.