Italy strongly rejects any effort for a Cyprus solution outside the parameters of agreements and UN resolutions, the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi Di Maio said on Tuesday. Di Maio was speaking after a meeting, in Nicosia, with Cyprus’ Foreign Minister, Nikos Christodoulides.
He was received earlier by the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades and also held a meeting with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar. In his meetings, Di Maio expressed Rome’s satisfaction over the initiative of the UN Secretary-General to convene an informal meeting, in late April, in Geneva.
Speaking through an interpreter, at the Foreign Ministry, Di Maio said that bilateral relations were excellent and noted that they will continue to work in order to deepen their cooperation.
In the discussions they held, they reiterated their intention to further their economic cooperation and the discussion, particularly on strategic areas, such as energy and infrastructure, he added.
In relation to migration, he said that there needs to be a satisfactory compromise on the Pact on Migration and Asylum, adding that Italy remains convinced that the right balance must be struck between undertaking responsibility and showing solidarity, as well as in implementing an effective mechanism to find solutions and manage arrivals.
He said that he reiterated full solidarity vis-à-vis Cyprus, noting that provocations and unilateral initiatives harming the country’s sovereign rights cannot be tolerated. “It is clear that Italy remains at the side of Cyprus and Greece, against any violation of their rights” Italy’s Foreign Minister noted.
He also said that the right exploitation of energy reserves needs to form a ground for cooperation.
Di Maio said that Italy fully acknowledges December’s European Council Conclusions and echoed Council President Charles Michel, who expressed readiness to contribute in convening a multiparty conference on the Eastern Mediterranean.
He said finally that they discussed Libya and the recent, positive developments.
Taking the floor, Cyprus’ Foreign Minister said that the presence of his Italian counterpart at this important juncture and the substantial consultations they had are proof of their common will and desire to further strengthen the traditionally excellent relations between the two countries, and the historical ties between the peoples of Cyprus and Italy.
Christodoulides said that they exchanged with Di Maio views on practical ways to enhance their cooperation in existing areas of action, as well as to expand it to new fields of cooperation.
“In this context, we have set specific priorities as regards our bilateral cooperation, with an emphasis on trade and investment, tourism, education, research and culture. We noted with satisfaction that trade between the two countries is extensive and welcomed the initiative of the Italian-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, which successfully organized last December, the 3rd Cyprus-Italy Business Forum, with the aim of creating favorable conditions and opportunities for economic, trade and tourism cooperation. At the same time, in the field of Research and Innovation, we have put forward the signing of a bilateral ‘Executive Program’ with the aim of financing joint research projects,” Christodoulides noted.
Furthermore, he said that they discussed about their cooperation as regards antiquities, in the framework of which the signing of a relevant Memorandum of Cooperation for the protection of cultural property is promoted, as well as their bilateral cooperation in the field of education, and more specifically the renewal of the relevant Cooperation Program for the period 2021-2025.
“Undoubtedly, our bilateral relations have been upgraded in recent years, due to the energy cooperation of the Republic of Cyprus with the Italian company ENI, which carries out work in the Cyprus EEZ. I consider it a fortunate coincidence that our meeting today takes place on the same day as the Ministerial Meeting of the EMGF (the Energy Forum in Cairo), of which both Cyprus and Italy, together with five other States, are the founding members, sending messages of cooperation in the wider region” the Foreign Minister of Cyprus underlined.
Christodoulides also expressed their common belief that “the momentum of energy synergies created by the EMGF are of strategic importance for the wider region and beyond, and we also agree that participation in the Forum is open to all States in the region that are ready to share our vision for regional cooperation under international law, including the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the basic principles of good neighborly relations.”
Our sole goal, he went on, is to create and strengthen conditions of peace, cooperation, stability and prosperity in the wider region.
Christodoulides said that together with Di Maio they also discussed regional developments in the wider South-eastern Mediterranean, with particular emphasis on their cooperation in Med 7, the situation in Libya, and immigration. “Cyprus attaches great importance to achieving stability in Libya, and supports the efforts of the United Nations and the political process of establishing a provisional government that will lead the country to the December elections” the Minister said.
With regard to Immigration, Christodoulides emphasized a “positive approach to the text of the Immigration and Asylum Pact” and a strong desire – as a front-line Member State under excessive pressure, to strengthen the principle of solidarity and to establish a binding reallocation mechanism for beneficiaries of international protection.
He said, moreover that they also discussed developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, in light of Turkish illegal activities and the relevant, joint EU decisions and conclusions, and in view of the forthcoming European Council later this month. “The sovereignty of the Union is rooted and inextricably linked to the sovereignty of its 27 Member States and therefore, by collectively defending the sovereignty of the Member States, we also ensure the sovereignty of the Union itself” the Foreign Minister noted.
He went on to say that in this context, and on the basis of the relevant EU Conclusions, Turkey is expected to demonstrate in practice its sincere will to improve its relations with the EU and each and every Member State.
“Any decision to adopt a positive agenda in EU-Turkey relations depends solely on Ankara, which must, among other, end any illegal activities, both on land and at sea, but must also contribute substantially to achieving a solution to a predominantly European problem such as the Cyprus problem, based on the relevant UN resolutions and EU principles and values” he said, while referring to “a solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of the bizonal, bicommunal federation, which will be sustainable and functional.”
Cyprus is and will remain an EU Member after reunification, and given Turkey`s publicly proclaimed wish to strengthen Euro-Turkish relations, the EU`s role in the negotiations is – possibly more than ever before – of crucial and vital importance, Christodoulides concluded.
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. The UN Secretary-General invited all parties involved to attend an informal five-plus-one meeting on the Cyprus issue in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27 to 29 April 2021