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Cyprus an extremely important partner in region, Norwegian FM says after Nicosia meeting

Oslo views Cyprus as an extremely important partner in the region, due to its bridging role between Europe and the Near East, said Ine Soreide, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway.

Soreide, who is visiting Cyprus, met on Friday with her Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Christodoulides, and discussed Turkey’s actions in the region, particularly Ankara’s latest illegal activities in Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The two Foreign Ministers also discussed developments in Syria and Libya, the Middle East Peace Process, as well as human rights issues, energy and tourism.

Christodoulides visited Oslo last November and today’s meeting at the Foreign Ministry, in Nicosia, was the third time the two Ministers met in the past six months.

In his statements, Christodoulides said that “we touched upon a broad array of issues, ranging from bilateral cooperation in fields including human rights, energy and tourism, to issues that are of European, regional and international interest, as well as on our cooperation within the framework of multilateral organisations.”

They also exchanged views on EU-Norway relations, as well as on a number of regional issues of mutual concern, Christodoulides went on.

The Foreign Minister of Cyprus said that he briefed his Norwegian counterpart on the latest developments with regard to Turkey’s escalating provocations in the greater Middle East region, with particular reference to the latest illegal activities in Cyprus’s EEZ, which, he said, are contrary to international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“These illegal actions by Turkey are regrettably also detrimental to the efforts of the UN Secretary General to create an environment that is conducive to the resumption of negotiations” he underlined.

He thanked Soreide for accepting an invitation to be one of the keynote speakers at the event “Women in Diplomacy” which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is organizing later in the day.

From her part, Ine Soreide said that with her Cypriot counterpart they increased the scope of their bilateral cooperation, along with their cooperation through the EU and multilaterally.

Norway’s Foreign Minister said she just visited Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine and had the opportunity to “exchange notes” with Christodoulides on regional developments, especially the American proposal on the Middle East and the dynamics it creates in the region. “Keeping a very close contact would be important in the coming weeks and months” she added.

Soreide added that Cyprus is an extremely important partner in the region for Norway, both because of its bridging role between Europe and the Near East, as well as due to its long-standing history and the good dialogue it maintains with everyone.

“I also want to commend you for presenting your first draft national action plan on women peace and security” Soreide said, noting that this is “a milestone” and an area where they want to engage closely with Nicosia.

According to the Minister, Norway and Cyprus have a close bilateral relationship also through the EEA and Norway grants, worth 11.5 mln euros for the current programme period.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

(Cyprus News Agency)

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