Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

The common will of the nine Mediterranean member countries of the EU to tackle together the challenges they are faced with was expressed on Friday, 9 December 2022, by their leaders, including the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, at the EUMED9 Summit held in Alicante, Spain at the invitation of the Prime Minister of the country, Mr Pedro Sanchez. The leaders also expressed satisfaction at the convergence of views on the security of supply and the reduction of the price of natural gas.

After the Summit, President Anastasiades, who made joint statements with the rest of the EUMED9 leaders, said that "before I say anything else, first and foremost I want to warmly thank my friend, the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, for the impeccable hospitality and perfect organization of the Summit.

Our Summit today, having become an institution, offered us yet another opportunity for an exchange of views and the need for common ground in dealing with a series of critical issues, such as Europe's energy supply security and, open strategic autonomy, but also wider instability in the region, as well as climate change.

The adoption of the Alicante Declaration, the content of which also sets the political signal of the nine countries is indicative of the consensus that prevailed during the Summit.

I do not intend to repeat what my friend the Prime Minister of Spain has mentioned in a nutshell about our agenda today, but I would like to highlight a few points:

At a time when multilateralism is suffering, it is a necessary condition to strengthen cooperation between us, so that the Mediterranean becomes an area of peace, dialogue and stability. Our effort is a point of reference, in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

As expected, our discussions focused on the issue of energy supply and security of the European Union.

We all agreed on the conclusion that no single state is able to cope on its own with this great challenge, either the pandemic or especially the challenges caused by the war and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

To this end, our actions must focus – as well as aim - at strengthening the open strategic autonomy of the European Union, while reducing its energy dependence on unreliable sources.

In order to achieve the above objective, I underlined once again that the Eastern Mediterranean can be an alternative energy corridor for the Union.

Cyprus, taking advantage of the partnerships it has developed with Egypt, Israel, Greece, is focused on creating a sustainable regional natural gas market, supplying the European Union with sufficient quantities in the immediate future, as well as with renewable energy sources and hydrogen in the medium and long term.

For the successful implementation of the above, the Eastern Mediterranean Natural Gas Forum and the creation of electricity interconnection networks play a vital role, with the implementation of important projects, such as the EuroAsia and the EuroAfrica Interconnector.

Another issue discussed was the framework of the Economic Governance of the European Union.

We welcome the latest proposal of the European Commission, as we consider it to be a positive proposal which will undoubtedly contribute to having a debate on a clearer basis.

Our goal is none other than the adaptation of the existing fiscal rules with the aim of ensuring a smooth and realistic reduction of the public debt, without jeopardizing the realization of the necessary investments for the benefit of the development of our economies, but also the support of the green and digital transition in the coming years.

Given that it is the last Summit of the Mediterranean countries, of this forum which will also significantly contribute to the debate on the new European path, I would like to express my deepest appreciation for the principled attitude of the eight Mediterranean member states regarding, among other issues, the resolution of a lasting problem that my country is facing, the termination of the occupation that Cyprus has been under for 48 years as a result of the illegal actions of a neighbouring country. I want to thank you for your undivided support in our efforts to reach a solution based on the resolutions of the United Nations, the principles and values of the EU, a solution which will be appropriate and will create the prospects for a modern European state.

In times of revisionism, the violation of international law, human rights, the instrumentalization of immigration, the non-implementation of the sanctions imposed by the European Union against countries that are in conflict with the international legal order, we must be absolutely clear in the face of similar offensive behaviours.

Just as any efforts by Turkey to achieve the recognition of the illegal regime in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus will not be tolerated or accepted.

And it is with particular satisfaction that I welcome the explicit condemnation of similar efforts, not only by the eight Mediterranean partners of the EU, but also by the international community, the United Nations and the whole of our common European family.

What I would like to repeat once again is that we will never stop fighting for a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus problem that will serve all citizens, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, always on the basis of United Nations’ Resolutions.

My second five-year term at the Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus ends on March 1, 2023 and, as I mentioned above, today is the last Summit of the formation of the southern countries of the European Union in which I participate.

Therefore, I would like to once again express my gratitude and thanks for the excellent cooperation between us, your support throughout these years, but equally important, for the sincere friendship that we have developed between us.

Pedro my friend, friends and colleagues, thank you once again and I look forward to seeing you in Cyprus as a private citizen.

Statements were also made by the Prime Minister of Spain, the President of France, and the Prime Ministers of Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Malta, Portugal and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, who represented the Prime Minister of Italy Ms Georgia Meloni at the Summit.

The President of France, Mr Emmanuel Macron, said, inter alia, speaking through an interpreter, that there is a common will for the EUMED9 countries to advance "in matters of defense and technology, especially in the Mediterranean, which is an area they wish to keep safe and sovereign with joint actions, as it is increasingly contested by unfriendly naval forces". He also refered to the need for environmental protection in the Mediterranean Sea and the protection of biodiversity.

The Prime Minister of Greece, Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said for his part, inter alia, that "I want to repeat how important is the remark of my friend, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, about the possibilities provided by the Eastern Mediterranean basin, so that we can help Europe to diversify natural gas supply.

Greece is advancing at a very high speed in new hydrocarbon explorations southwest of Crete, southwest of the Peloponnese and combined with the important deposits already discovered in Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, we can contribute to helping Europe become independent from Russian natural gas possibly faster than we estimated.'

He added that the issue of biodiversity protection in the Mediterranean should be highlighted, such as the issue of protection from plastics, and at the same time joint action to deal with extreme phenomena as a result of climate change should be strengthened.

Prime Minister Mitsotakis also added that "I personally thank, not only as a European, but also as the Greek Prime Minister, my friend the President of the Republic of Cyprus, who is closing a ten-year journey in the leadership of the Republic of Cyprus, and to thank all of you for standing by Cyprus, supporting the Republic of Cyprus against an unjust and illegal invasion that took place 48 years ago. The solution to the Cyprus problem can only be fair and sustainable if it is based on the decisions of the UN and rejects at its birth any thought, any discussion about a two-state solution, as may be promoted by some countries that consider that this is the right direction".

In his statements, the Portuguese Prime Minister, Mr Antonio Costa, speaking through an interpreter, said "I want to express my very friendly feelings towards Nicos Anastasiades. All these years we have built a good friendship. The two of us are the co-creators of this team, which will continue to work."

Addressing President Anastasiades, Mr Costa told him "Nicos, I would really like to embrace you in a spirit of friendship for your European spirit, for the always constructive way in which you act to overcome any divergent opinions between political families in Europe. You have never put your own interests ahead of the interests of the EU," and added that everyone understands the problem that Cyprus is facing.

For his part, the Prime Minister of Croatia, Mr Andrej Plenkovic, thanked President Anastasiades for their friendship in recent years.

Finally, for his part, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Mr Antonio Tajani, addressing President Anastasiades, said "thank you very much for your contribution to Europe. I worked with you when I was President of the European Parliament, now I work with you as Deputy Prime Minister of Italy. Thank you for your contribution to the benefit of Europe."