The Cyprus problem and the latest developments, the migration crisis and the European elections were among the issues discussed at a private meeting between the President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulides, and the President of the European Parliament (EP) Roberta Metsola, at the Presidential Palace on Sunday.
Metsola, who is on an official visit to Cyprus on the Independence Day of the Republic of Cyprus, at the invitation of President Christodoulides, sent a message to Cyprus and the whole world that the European Union (EU) remains committed to this island and that the Cyprus problem is also a European problem.
The two Presidents had a tete-a-tete meeting and then made statements to the media.
According to a Presidency press release, in his remarks, the President of the Republic expressed his satisfaction with the presence of the President of the EP in Cyprus, on the 63rd anniversary of its Independence, underlining that her presence has its own special significance and sends multiple messages.
President Christodoulides said that the Cyprus issue was also discussed at the meeting, and as he said, he had the opportunity to inform the President of the EP on the results of his contacts in New York and on the effort to appoint a UN Secretary General (UNSG) envoy in response to the UN Security Council’s call for the appointment of a representative to explore the prospects for the resumption of talks.
He noted that despite the problems, difficulties and challenges, the effort will continue and “we will do everything possible, including using the important tools offered by the EU, to achieve the objective of resuming talks and finding a solution to the Cyprus problem”.
He said that the presence of the EP President sends a message of the EU’s continued support for the efforts to break the deadlock, resume talks and resolve the Cyprus problem on the basis of the agreed framework and in accordance with EU principles and values.
President Christodoulides said that in addition to the Cyprus issue, the migration issue was also discussed and he noted that Cyprus has been receiving the highest number of asylum seekers in proportion to its population in recent years, and despite the measures taken recently that have led to a reduction in the number of migrants coming to Cyprus, more needs to be done on EU’s part.
They also discussed the 2024 European elections, which will be held next June.
Metsola said that the anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Cyprus marks the modern, democratic and independent course of the country in history, the successes and achievements of its people, but also recalls the tragedies the country has experienced for 63 years.
The President of the European Parliament sent a message of strength, hope, unity and endurance for the independence of Cyprus and paid tribute to all those who made sacrifices for the liberation of the country and for the strengthening of its democratic institutions.
She added that the only viable solution is a sovereign European state, a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation under the auspices of the UN and on the basis of European values. She also underlined that the European Parliament will do everything possible to support Cyprus.
On the issue of migration, President Metsola noted that both Cyprus and its neighbouring countries have been receiving a dramatically increased number of migrants in recent years, noting that Europe must manage the issue as a whole, and no Member State should manage it alone. She noted that the issue should be managed in a humanitarian and fair way for those in need and in a strict way for traffickers.
President Metsola was asked about the issue of the missing persons in Cyprus and the role of the European Union on putting pressure to Turkey to cooperate by giving access to military sites and archives . She noted that she is waiting for the report from the recent visit of the EP rapporteur on missing persons.
In the same context, President Christodoulides was asked if the issue of missing persons could be a confidence building measure to break the deadlock in the Cyprus problem in order to resume the dialogue, stating that of course it is a measure that can help the political process, noting that above all it is a humanitarian issue.
Asked to comment on the rise of far-right and anti-European movements and on whether there is a risk of destruction of the European construction, the President of the Republic said that “those who imagine or envision destruction of the European construction will certainly be disappointed”.
“We, in Cyprus, even more than other Member States, have an obligation to participate en masse in the electoral process for the election of the members of the European Parliament”, said President Christodoulides, noting that on behalf of the Cyprus Government, special emphasis will be placed on the participation of young people.
President Metsola said the last four years have seen an unprecedented unity during the pandemic while the recovery and resilience plan has allowed economies like Cyrus to recover from a very difficult economic period with the digital and green transition.
The Republic of Cyprus gained its independence from the British Empire in 1960, after a 4-year anti-colonial struggle.
It 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.
A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning to their relatives the remains of 492 Turkish Cypriots and 1,510 Greek Cypriots, who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963-1964 and in 1974.
According to statistical data published on the CMP website by August 31, 2023 out of 2002 missing persons 1,204 were exhumed and 1,034 were identified. Out of 1510 Greek Cypriot missing persons 742 were identified and 768 were still missing. Out of 492 Turkish Cypriot missing persons 292 were identified and 200 were still missing.