Official negotiations between the Republic of Cyprus and the UK, in view of Brexit, begin in Brussels on Wednesday, in the presence of the European Commission, Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides has told the Cyprus News Agency.
“We are at a crucial point as official negotiations begin in Brussels,” Christodoulides said. “Taking into consideration all the issues which Britain has to face with regard to its decision to exit the EU, we believe this is not a difficult issue. Things are crystal clear. Our aim is to fully safeguard the rights of all the people who live or work within the British Bases,” in Cyprus.
Asked about developments in the Cyprus problem and government concerns with regard to Turkish moves towards a confederal solution or even a two-state settlement, Christodoulides underlined that “our goal is crystal clear as regards the form of the solution, and this is a settlement on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions, EU values and principles. This is where our efforts concentrate and we will work on this, he noted, adding that “we hope that negotiations will resume soon.”
Christodoulides explained that this month’s elections in Turkey are the reason why an envoy of the UN Secretary General has not yet been appointed and sent to interested parties with a view to sound out their intentions with regard to efforts to resume negotiatons.
Ankara has made it clear that it will outline its position on this issue after the elections in Turkey, he noted.
Asked about press reports that Cyprus is interested in joining NATO, Christodoulides said that the government is not concerned about such eventuality, noting that there are “objective difficulties” which everybody can understand.
“A lot has happened within the EU since March 2013, when President Anastasiades, as a presidential candidate at the time talked about applying to the Partnership for Peace. We focus our goals and expectations with regard to our defence policy on the EU,” he told CNA.
Christodoulides said that all 21 defence agreements which Cyprus has signed in the past five years focus on this pillar of the EU. “I am for example referring to PESCO, an important development for the future of the EU in this specific area, and therefore as EU members we focus on the opportunities within this prospect,” he added, noting that he has discussed relevant issues with the head of the Organisation for Security in Europe during his visit to Cyprus.
Asked about his forthcoming visits abroad, Christodoulides referred to plans to visit countries of the Middle East and the Gulf, European nations, in addition to contacts with the five permanent members of the Security Council.
Asked if trilateral cooperation among Cyprus, Greece and other countries of the region may expand to include others as well, Christodoulides indicated that there are plans to invite other countries either from the region or the EU to join this cooperation, such as Lebanon and Gulf states.
Asked about reports that the European Commission has included Turkey in a group of eight countries to begin discussions with Europol on the exchange of information related to personal data, Christodoulides noted that the issue is being discussed by EU Justice Ministers, noting that Nicosia`s objections focus on the fact that Turkey needs to implement any eventual agreement with all member states of the EU.
Furthermore he noted that the Republic of Cyprus and other EU member states are concerned, given the fact that Turkey could use such an agreement against Turkish citizens, who are in the opposition. “These are issues we raise with the Commission and which we expect to discuss with member states, he added.