NICOSIA -During joint statements with visiting Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed the close cooperation between Greece and Cyprus, including their common goal for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue.
The two leaders also announced their decision for a new trilateral meeting between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt to be held in Nicosia. Tsipras underlined that continuing the initiative enhanced the cooperation of three countries with an important role in terms of ensuring peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean but did not exclude other players, acting as “both a challenge and invitation” to contribute in the direction of cooperation and growth on the basis of international law, and especially the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Anastasiades noted that the efforts to develop regional ties and alliances “were not directed against any other country” and noted that “we are also ready to contribute in order to restore disturbed relations between the broader region.”
“We want conditions of peace to be established with the neighbouring countries of the Arabian Gulf as well, and, why not, with Turkey,” Cyprus’ president added, provided these countries also assist in the effort to overcome the problems.
Questioned about the impact of contacts with Russia, Tsipras noted that both Greece and Cyprus were sovereign states belonging to the European family and “have the degrees of freedom and sovereignty to establish trade ties – in energy, the tourism sector – with a series of countries.”
Every European state had obligations and possibilities, he added, saying that Greece and Cyprus were correctly exploiting them and that every option that could bring prospects for growth made a positive contribution to the European family.
Anastasiades noted that actions respecting European obligations that contributed to a normalisation of relations with the Russian Federation did not undermine but strengthened Europe’s position, as well as the prospect of bridging any differences through diplomatic channels.
The two leaders also referred at length to the Cyprus issue and stressed that Greece and Cyprus were an area of stability in a “broader region of serious conflicts and crises,” highlighting their importance for promoting regional peace.
The Greek premier underlined that the country’s first priority and strategic target remains its dedication to continuing bi-communal talks aiming at an agreed just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue for the benefit of the Cyprus people, both Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, in the framework of international legality.
The issue of Turkey’s provocative activities in the southern section of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was discussed extensively in the meeting with Anastasiades, Tsipras said, as well as the serious repercussions such activities had on solving the Cyprus issue. They two leaders said that better conditions for resuming talks were emerging after the departure of the Turkish survey vessel Barbaros from Cyprus’ EEZ and the end of a Turkish Navtex, with Tsipras expressing Greece’s support for the talks aiming at a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, based on UN decisions for a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with one sovereignty, one international personality and one nationality.
Thanking Greece for its support, Anastasiades agreed that the departure of the Barbaros and the end of Turkey’s Navtex created conditions that might allow the Greek-Cypriot side to return to negotiations, while stressing that the common goal was not to arrive at “any solution” but one based on the February 11, 2014 Joint Declaration and earlier agreements between the leaders of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities.
Tsipras also briefed Anastasiades on developments in Greece’s negotiations with its European partners, the government’s initiatives and his recent visit to Russia. He noted that developments in Greece affect Cyprus and vice-versa, and that very close cooperation between them must continue for this reason.
On his part, Anastasiades said that he assured the Greek prime minister that “to the measure of our ability we are and always will be ready to contribute and help so that we also give the sign of complete identity with the goals on a wider European level for a more humane Europe that really cares about human needs.”
On the issue of regional cooperation, such as the initiative with Egypt, Tsipras indicated that an invitation for broader cooperation also included Israel and even Turkey, to the extent that Turkey understood the need for multilateral cooperation and to respect Community law.
Asked if a visit to Israel was imminent, Tsipras said a visit by a Greek foreign minister was planned in the near future. Anastasiades told reporters that he is scheduled to visit Israel after the new Israeli government is formed, adding that this would be done in consultation with Greece and and that it did not affect Nicosia’s position on the Palestinian issue.
Replying to questions, the Greek prime minister pointed out that Greece had not lost any of its geopolitical power as a result of the economic crisis and that the government intended to use this in the crucial negotiations underway on a European level. A solution to the Cyprus issue could be a step forward and a way of leveraging Greece’s geopolitical strength and its negotiating tactics on a European level, he added.
He pointed to the value of Greece and Cyprus as a “fortress of stability for the West,” and as protection against the jihadist threat and Isis, adding that a solution to the Cyprus issue would create conditions fo greater security in the European world. He also highlighted the positions of Greece and Cyprus on 21st-century energy routes, stressing that the future prospects arising from these must not be linked with the “short-term financing problem, with the economic crisis that is a European problem and must be solved in Europe .”