Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus

Written statement by the Government Spokesman, Mr Marios Pelekanos

The President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, participated in the deliberations of the European Council, which were concluded late in the afternoon of the 25th March.

On the first day of the Summit, President Anastasiades was one of the European leaders who spoke during the exchange of views with the US President, Mr Joe Biden. Addressing his US counterpart, he reiterated the denunciation of the Russian attack on Ukraine and praised both the support given to the Ukrainian people and the unity demonstrated by the EU and the United States in their overall response. He added that the western world should continue to support diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire and an end to the war.

During the discussion that followed among the members of the European Council, the President of the Republic made a special reference to the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine and the millions of Ukrainian refugees, while welcoming the EU's decision to grant them temporary protection status. After explaining the situation in Cyprus in relation to the reception of refugees from Ukraine, President Anastasiades noted that our assistance to the Ukrainian people was a given from the very first moment, since we know first-hand what war and being a refugee mean.

Commenting on the issue of filling the gaps in the implementation of the sanctions the EU has imposed against Russia, President Anastasiades pointed out that the biggest gaps relate to third countries such as Turkey, reiterating that Turkey's refusal to align with EU sanctions is not only self-serving, but undermines the intended impact of the sanctions.

Given that Turkey continues to militarily occupy a large part of Cyprus, which is under its absolute control, the circumvention of sanctions on its part has a serious negative impact on all EU Member States and - to a very large extent - on Cyprus, proving once again that it is not interested in being a reliable partner for the European Union.

That being said, and referring to Turkey, the President of the Republic requested and achieved the inclusion of a reference, in the text of the Conclusions, calling on all countries, without exception, to align themselves with these sanctions and calling for the termination of any attempt to circumvent the sanctions. President Anastasiades also stressed the need to speed up discussions on the creation of a mechanism to mitigate the economic impact of the Russian sanctions on the partners most affected, and in particular those whose key economic sectors have been affected.

During the general discussions and bilateral contacts that President Anastasiades had, he drew parallels between the war in Ukraine and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and its various derivatives. He also briefed on the Confidence Building Measures he has proposed with a view to creating a climate of confidence and preparing the ground for the resumption of the negotiating process towards a settlement of the Cyprus problem, on the basis of the agreed solution form of a bizonal bicommunal federation.

On the second day of the Summit, Energy was the most important item on the agenda. Two aspects were at the centre of the debate: Firstly, the strategic importance of the EU's energy independence as an imperative need in the rapidly changing geopolitical environment and the diversification of its sources of supply, and, secondly, the examination of ways to address the increase in energy prices.

President Anastasiades recalled Cyprus' long-standing position in favour of strengthening the EU's energy security through the diversification of our sources and supply routes and noted that the main objective for Cyprus is to accelerate the completion of all remaining energy interconnections, which will stop Cyprus' isolation from European networks and allow the completion of the EU's single electricity market.

He went on to say that at the regional level, a coordinated approach of our reliable international partners is crucial. Eastern Mediterranean countries such as Egypt and Israel, but also Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, can make a significant contribution to the diversification of the EU's energy routes and sources, as well as to its green transition. Cyprus, due to its excellent relations with these countries, is ready to play its role, especially at this juncture, the President of the Republic concluded.

* For footage of the President's participation in the European Council, click here and here (2nd day).
* For footage of the President's conversation with US President Joe Biden at the European Council, click here.