Spain`s Foreign Affairs Minister Arancha González Laya expressed today her country`s solidarity and support to Cyprus in the face of tensions with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. She noted that Spain rejects unilateral moves and that a long-lasting solution can be found only through dialogue. She also said international law should be respected regarding the fenced-off part of Turkish occupied Famagusta, known as Varosha and expressed support for UN Secretary General’s efforts for a resumption of Cyprus reunification talks.

In joint statements after her meeting with Cyprus` Foreign Affairs Minister, Nikos Christodoulides, the Spanish FM said that her visit in Cyprus is “very clearly meant to send a signal to you, as I told you but also the President this morning, of solidarity, of support to Cyprus in the face of tensions. Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Tensions with Turkey.”

Tensions, she added, “that we believe cannot be solved through unilateral actions.”

“We do not believe that there is a unilateral solution to the problems of the Eastern Mediterranean region. Therefore, we reject unilateral moves that are not helping in finding a long-lasting solution. The only avenue for a long-lasting solution is through negotiations, is through dialogue, which is what Spain has been advocating between Greece and Turkey and which Spain advocates between Cyprus and Turkey,” she noted.

“Negotiations and dialogue to delineate maritime borders”, this is exactly what Spain practices. “Negotiations and dialogue also for a final solution to the Cyprus issue,” she continued, pointing out that “it can only be done through a dialogue and negotiations and we very much support the efforts of (UN) Secretary General to reignite these negotiations.”

“We will be fully supportive of Cyprus in finding a final solution,” she said.

According to González Laya for Spain “it is extremely important that international law is respected.” To that effect she stressed that “international law is very clear about Varosha, about Famagusta and we hope that international law in the form of a UN Security Council resolution will be respected.”

“And I am saying this again from a country that also practices respect for international law, which can only be the way to manage international relations,” she pointed out.

Referring to migration she noted that it is not surprising that Cyprus and Spain have many commonalities. “We want orderly migration in Europe, we want legal paths for migration, we want zero tolerance against criminal gangs that trafficking humans, we want respect for international rules and asylum for refugees, we want more cooperation with countries of transit and origin and we want a system of migration into Europe that is based on solidarity, responsibility and justice,” she noted.

Speaking about the EU recovery fund, the Spanish FM said that during their consultations they agreed that the European Parliament should quickly move the recovery fund and financial perspectives forward “because we need this instrument to be ready by the 1st of January 2021.” The European economy needs the recovery package to be up and running latest on the 1st of January, she added.

Referring to the southern neighbourhood of the EU she said she invited Christodoulides to take part in a meeting of a ministerial meeting of the European Southern Neighbourhood Partnership, Spain is hosting on November 26, in Barcelona. Christodoulides will also take part on the next day in a meeting of the Union of the Mediterranean, she added.

On bilateral issues she said that “we do not have challenges but only have lots of good will and interests to build on, to get our students communities closer, to cooperate closer on cultural issues and also to work together to recover our economies and our investment post-Covid.”

She thanked Christodoulides for his support in the effort to repatriate Spaniards who had been stranded in Cyprus during the Covid pandemic outbreak.

On his part Christodoulides said that Cyprus looks to the EU and its partners for solidarity in action. “Concretely upholding our common values and interests and implementing our own decisions is of the essence,” he pointed out.

As you might expect, he noted, “following the various discussions we repeatedly had at the Foreign Affairs Council, I briefed Arancha in-depth on Turkey’s escalating provocations, as well as the extension of its illegal drilling operation on the very day that the President of the European Council was visiting Cyprus and a few days before the last Foreign Affairs Council.”

According to the Cypriot FM “it is clear that these actions threaten our collective EU interests, and the stability of the region.”

“The departure of Oruc Reic from the Greek continental shelf and the non-renewal of the relevant NAVTEX is a positive first step, which needs to be lasting in order to be able to talk of real de-escalation,” he said.

Unfortunately, Christodoulides continued, “at the same time, as you all know, signals of de-escalation have not been extended to Cyprus. On the contrary, in Cyprus’s maritime zones we are witnessing escalation, and disregard by Turkey of the repeated, collective EU calls to terminate its illegal actions and respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, a Member State of the European Union.”

Tomorrow’s European Council, he said, “will hold a crucial, strategic discussion on Turkey, in light of these developments, following numerous discussions and decisions.”

“Cyprus looks to the EU and its partners for solidarity in action. Concretely upholding our common values and interests, and implementing our own decisions is of the essence,” he stressed.

In his statements Cyprus’ Foreign Affairs Minister said that “during our discussion today we reaffirmed our mutual will to work with a view to further enhancing and expanding our cooperation, in fields such as trade, investment, education and tourism.”

According to Christodoulides, in recent months “new opportunities but also new challenges have highlighted the need for a closer dialogue, which we, as Mediterranean states and close partners in the European Union family, are ready to actively explore.” He referred to a common approach on gender issues between the two countries saying that “in this regard we would like to examine possible initiatives between our countries both at the multilateral and bilateral level.”

Cyprus’ Foreign Affairs Minister also noted he had the opportunity “to express our appreciation for Spain’s continued support to our efforts to reunify Cyprus, as well as for Spain’s support within the Council of Europe, on the need for Turkey to fully implement all judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.”

Referring to migration he welcomed “the publication of the new Pact on Migration and Asylum and we stand ready to work towards the swift adoption of the relevant legislative acts, especially in cooperation with other like – minded countries, such as Spain.”

As regards the Recovery and Resilience Facility, he added, “we consider it as one of the very important achievements of the EU in recent years, a tangible action of solidarity and determination to take drastic initiatives to protect and promote EU citizens’ welfare.”

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