Newsroom / CNA
Berlin intends to be supportive if asked to do so by all parties involved in Cyprus settlement efforts, the Ambassador of Germany to Cyprus, Franz Josef Kremp, told the Cyprus News Agency.
Germany hosted an informal meeting last November between President Nicos Anastasiades, the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, to discuss efforts towards reaching a consensus for meaningful, results-oriented negotiations, leading to a settlement.
“We were very happy and, in a way, honored that we could host the meeting in Berlin and we have reiterated in the past and we do it always that we want to be of course supportive, if that is wished and desired by all parties concerned” Kremp said.
“We are willing to help and to assist and if there is another request, like the Berlin meeting, I am sure that we will get a very positive response from the side of my government,” he added.
Asked about the prospects for the resumption of Cyprus talks, the Ambassador replied that the decisive point is “what the Cypriots want and how they perceive the way forward.”
He pointed to the upcoming electoral cycle in Cyprus and said that “we have to see what influence the upcoming elections have on the peace process and the solution process.”
The process to elect the Turkish Cypriot leader, scheduled for last April, was eventually postponed for October due to the outbreak of COVID-19. In the Republic of Cyprus, parliamentary elections are due in May 2021.
“We have elections in October, and we have elections in May next year” and of course electoral campaigns preceding the actual elections “so, we have to see what that means” he added. Generally speaking, Kremp remarked, electoral campaigns are usually not the most favorable times for progress.
In view of Germany’s assumption of the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1, the Ambassador highlighted that his country’s EU priorities are shaped by the coronavirus pandemic.
Kremp expressed optimism that the German EU Presidency will be able to reach a compromise among member states on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the Recovery Fund.
Other priorities, he says, include the final negotiations concerning the future EU relationship with the UK, migration, digitalization, a Green Europe, as well as a strengthened Europe in the world. Concerning the latter, the Ambassador says that if Europe wants to play a role on the global stage, along the US or China, it has to act together.
With Germany lifting traveling restrictions for EU member states and holidaymakers looking for safe summer destinations, the Ambassador also said that he sees no hindrance for his fellow citizens to choose Cyprus as their holiday destination. His choice for the summer is Cyprus, because, as he said, the safest thing is “to stay at home and this is my home now.”
Asked about Germany’s position on Turkey’s drilling activities in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus, the Ambassador said that “Berlin always made it clear that we support Cyprus, we show our full solidarity.”
Kremp pointed to the relevant Conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council and European Council, where member states unanimously declared their solidarity with Cyprus and asked Turkey to respect the sovereign rights and the sovereignty of Cyprus, to refrain from illegal measures, and to exercise restraint. Member states also asked that a solution is found peacefully and that a climate is created, that is conducive to sit around the table and find solutions, he added, noting that “the European Union has also taken measures.”
On remarks that EU sanctions against Turkey do not go far enough, Kremp said that “things are discussed amongst all member states and there are sometimes different opinions as to the efficiency of certain measures that are proposed.” One has to sit around and see where common ground can be found, he noted.
The Ambassador also said that EU sanctions against Turkey cannot be compared with the case of Crimea. The annexation of Crimea is a unique case and the Cyprus problem is a very different issue, he said, noting the different points of view between the Turkish Cypriot community and the Greek Cypriot community.
Education for a culture of peace is an area where Germany places particular emphasis, and the Federal Foreign Office of the Republic of Germany has been funding the Imagine educational program in Cyprus since 2017.
Imagine runs under the auspices of the Technical Committee on Education and is being implemented by the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) and the Home for Cooperation (H4C) with the support of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
“If you look at our history, it is no surprise that we are engaged in peace education,” Ambassador Kremp said.
“Bringing people together is already the first step to trust building and peace building. So, it is something we strongly support” he added.