The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, had a meeting Tuesday evening, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lefkosia, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of the French Republic, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, in the framework of Mr Ayrault’s visit to Cyprus. The French Minister was also received by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades.
The two Ministers had a tête-à-tête meeting, followed by official talks of the delegations of the two countries. Then, Ministers Kasoulides and Ayrault made statements to the Press. During the meeting, Mr Kasoulides had the opportunity to brief his French counterpart on the developments in the negotiation process for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem. At the same time, energy issues, the bilateral relations, as well as other international and regional issues of common interest were examined.
On the sidelines of the visit of the French Minister, three bilateral Agreements were signed, as follows:
- French-Cyprus Strategic Agenda: Joint Declaration of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of the French Republic. The Agreement was signed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries.
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development of the French Republic on the field of education and linguistic cooperation for the years 2016-2019, in the framework of the Cultural Agreement between the two countries, signed on 29 October 1969 in Lefkosia. The MoU was signed by the Minister of Education and Culture of Cyprus, Mr Costas Kadis, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of the French Republic, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault.
- Letter of Intent between the Directorate General for Civil Security and Crisis Management of the French Republic and the Civil Defence of the Republic of Cyprus on the cooperation on issues of reducing the risks and the management of disasters and emergency situations. The Letter of Intent was signed by the Acting Commander of the Civil Defence of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Loukas Hadjimichael, and the General Director for Civil Security and Crisis Management of the French Republic, Mr Laurent Prévost.
Speaking to the Press after the signing of the Agreements, Minister Kasoulides, upon welcoming Mr Ayrault, referred to the friendly relations between Cyprus and France, noting that the two countries have many common interests and aspirations, as well as common concerns.
“We highly appreciate our cooperation with the French Government and, mainly, its traditional support and special interest it shows, as a member of the Security Council, in our efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem”, Minister Kasoulides highlighted. As regards the Cyprus problem, the Cypriot Minister briefed his French counterpart on the developments in the negotiation process and, especially, on the efforts for reaching an Agreement on the chapter of security.
At the same time, the two Ministers, under their capacity as EU partners, exchanged views on key issues, such as the future of the EU, the Brexit, the migration crisis and the European security architecture, on which the two countries aimed at developing coordinated policies.
Moreover, the two Ministers reviewed the regional developments, with special emphasis on the situation in Syria, where coherent and collective efforts are required to defuse the crisis and find a political solution.
As regards the signing of the Agreements, Foreign Minister Kasoulides said that the Agreements are part of the effort to upgrade and enhance the existing excellent relations and the highly developed cooperation of the two countries, in fields such as defence, security, education, culture, etc.
In this context, three Agreements were signed today. Specifically, the Strategic Agenda of Cooperation provides for the political dialogue on security and defense, as well as economic, educational and cultural cooperation. “The Strategic Agenda signed today, will further strengthen our cooperation and will allow us to process and develop common strategies, in order to address the challenges, mainly on issues of security, terrorism, organized crime and illegal movement, acknowledging France’s key role in the international stage, which we actively support”, Mr Kasoulides underlined.
Finally, the Minister of Foreign Affairs referred to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Minister of Education and Culture and Mr Ayrault regarding the cooperation in the fields of education and linguistics, especially for the promotion of Francophonie. Also, he noted that the Authorities of Civil Defence signed cooperation on issues of reducing the risks and the management of disasters and emergency situations.
On his part, Mr Ayrault, speaking in French through interpretation, thanked Minister Kasoulides for the warm welcoming and said that his visit to Cyprus is very important, because of the special relations and the political dialogue between the two countries, which is reinforced in the course of time. Also, he pointed out that his visit is of historic nature, since it is held in a period of time, when the leaders of the two communities are working for the reunification of the island.
Speaking about the Cyprus-France relations, the French Minister characterized them as very important, as shown through the signing of the Agreements. Minister Ayrault said that the Agreements will give new impetus to the dialogue and the cooperation between the two countries, on issues such as defense, security, economy and culture.
The two Ministers also had the opportunity to discuss the troubled situation in the region, especially the crisis in Syria. Minister Ayrault expressed the common conviction that the bombings by the regime and Russia in Aleppo should end, in order for humanitarian aid to be provided and the negotiations resume for a transitional policy, based on Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council.
Concerning the EU issues, following the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the Union, the French Minister expressed the common position that the European program should be re-evaluated, taking into consideration the aspirations of the citizens and the Bratislava Convention.
On the Cyprus problem, Foreign Minister Ayrault reiterated the full support of his country to the efforts for finding a solution to the problem. He also welcomed the determination of President Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader to achieve progress in the negotiation process, so that a solution is reached the soonest. Moreover, he highlighted that a solution of the Cyprus problem, in the context of the international law and the European regulations, will be for the benefit of Cyprus, as well as for the EU and the wider region.
Finally, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France referred to the collective efforts to find ways to address extremism phenomena. The reunification of Cyprus will send a unique message for peace in the region, he stressed, adding that, as a Permanent Member of the Security Council and an EU member, France supports this perspective and wishes for an end to be put in this anachronistic division.
Then, replying to a question on the position of France, as a member of the EU and a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, as regards the guarantees issue on the Cyprus problem, Mr Ayrault stressed that the bicommunal talks are the priority, and repeated France’s support to their continuation, on the basis of the decisions of the UN Security Council. Furthermore, he pointed out that the EU and France play a supportive role. He noted that France is in a continuous contact with the other Permanent Members of the Security Council, to examine the best possible role for the Security Council.
Replying in a question on the Cyprus problem, Minister Ayrault underlined that the quality of the negotiators is promising. The Government of France supports the efforts of the two leaders, encourages the process, but acknowledges that the development of the talks and the achievement of a solution are on the Cypriots.
Finally, asked whether he shares the concerns for a new flow of terrorists in Europe, in case of the reoccupation of Mosul, the French Minister underlined that the struggle against terrorism must be won, taking, however, all the measures for the protection of civilians, in cooperation with the United Nations and other international organizations. He added that the Coalition should follow the course of Daesh fighters, who will try to escape and end up in Raqqah./IBNA