German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for “political courage” in Cyprus peace talks during a visit to Berlin by Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, who said the island’s division was a “European problem” and Brussels could lead the way to a solution.
Scholz welcomed Christodoulides on Thursday during a press conference in Berlin after the two leaders had an exchange of views on a broad range of subjects, including the Cyprus Problem.
“Good neighborly relations are in the interest of all neighboring countries so that together they can fully exploit this dynamic for the benefit of their peoples,” Scholz said.
The German chancellor called on all parties involved in the conflict to show “political courage” and work on building mutual trust, adding his country was ready to help in that effort.
“I do not know if there is will on all sides,” Scholz added.
'Merkel is certainly a public figure that could contribute but it remains to be seen whether she wishes for such an assignment or whether she would be selected by the European Union'
The Cypriot president said he spoke with his host about issues on the EU agenda as well as bilateral relations, adding the two men made an appraisal of a number of issues such as education, tourism, migration, and the need to boost ties in other domains.
Christodoulides also said he told Scholz that Nicosia was ready for a new peace effort to solve the island’s half-century-old division and that he reiterated his proposal for Brussels to play a pivotal role.
“The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the European Union, the Cyprus Problem is a European problem, and its solution directly affects the European Union,” the president said.
Christodoulides, who has been floating around a proposal for a European personality who could talk to Ankara to get involved in the Cyprus Problem, said he was determined that Brussels could lead the way and that Berlin could play an important part.
“The European Union has those tools and incentives that can lead to a mutually-accepted solution,” he said, adding a settlement would benefit Cypriots, Europeans, as well as Turkey.
Christodoulides said there was “a need for a stronger, active, geopolitical Europe that could take important initiatives and play an important role in the global system which is characterized by instability and challenges.”
“The achievement of such a goal, a stronger Europe, goes through a settlement of the Cyprus Problem, close relations with Turkey, and a Union’s leading role in the eastern Mediterranean,” the president said.
Christodoulides touched on his proposal for an EU envoy in peace talks for the divided island, following a question asked by a reporter from Cypriot state-funded RIK News, with the president clarifying any solution ought to be within a UN framework.
Frank discussion over, time for diplomacy
“I said we had a frank discussion. Now, it is time for diplomacy, so let’s leave diplomacy to do its work,” Christodoulides said.
In a separate interview with Deutsche Welle, Christodoulides was asked about former chancellor Angela Merkel and whether she could be a candidate for EU envoy on the Cyprus Problem.
“Merkel is certainly a public figure that could contribute but it remains to be seen whether she wishes for such an assignment or whether she would be selected by the European Union,” Christodoulides said.
No names so far have been made public about any candidates who could fill the position proposed by the Cypriot president.
But Government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis told state radio on Friday morning that names of candidates have been discussed with other leaders.
Both leaders spoke about Europe’s commitment to Ukraine with the Cypriot president adding that sanctions against Russia should be implemented by everyone so that they can be effective.
Christodoulides also thanked Germany for help on the migration issue, adding that migrants in Cyprus currently made up over 6% of the population on the island.
The Cypriot president called on the EU to act on “burden sharing” referring to states taking in asylum seekers from other members, adding that Germany was an example of such a solution.
He also expressed hope that an EU comprehensive deal on migration could be achieved soon.
“There are also the root causes of migration. If we don’t address the reasons that cause the migration issue, then we will never stop having such issues,” Christodoulides said.