NICOSIA — Saudi Arabia views Cyprus as a “bridge” between the Middle East and the European Union, helping the 27-nation bloc “understand what’s going on” in the region, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said.
Speaking after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides, he said that Cyprus helps “really focus the attention” on all the opportunities and challenges in the Middle East.
Cyprus has ramped up its outreach to Gulf states in recent years to act as a broker as the closest EU-member country to the region.
The Saudi top diplomat said both his country and Cyprus have a “very, very strong alignment” regarding regional stability and terrorism “whether it is (Yemen’s) Houthis or others.” He said both countries agree in the primacy of international law.
“If we do not all agree that international law is the primary guide of state relations, we risk the instability for all,” Al Saud said. “I think it’s important that we all stand together to defend the primacy of international law or state sovereignty, a rejection of interventionism of all sorts.”
A coalition led by the Saudis entered Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to try and restore the country’s internationally recognized government, which had been ousted by the Iran-backed Houthis the year before.
The conflict has turned into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with international criticism of Saudi airstrikes that have killed hundreds of civilians and targeted the country’s infrastructure.
The Houthis, meanwhile, have used child soldiers and indiscriminately laid landmines across the country. Some 130,000 people, including over 13,000 civilians, have been killed in the Yemen conflict, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Project.