Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides paid an official visit to Portugal’s capital on Thursday for a tête-à-tête with his Portuguese counterpart Augusto Santos Silva on the occasion of Portugal’s assumption of the presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1.
The two Ministers discussed Portugal’s agenda for its six-month presidency, bilateral ties, the Cyprus Problem, and regional developments.
In statements to the press following the meeting, Christodoulides said he had the opportunity to brief his counterpart on the latest developments on the Cyprus Problem – “a European problem at heart” - and particularly on the need for Turkey to avoid actions “that undermine the prospect for the resumption of meaningful negotiations, such as its decision to open the fenced-off area of Varosha and its illegal actions within Cyprus’ maritime zones”.
“I reiterated that our side remains steadfastly committed to the resumption of negotiations, fully supporting the UN Secretary General’s initiative in this regard, for a comprehensive settlement in line with UN Security Council Resolutions, and with international and EU law,” Christodoulides said.
He added that he “also expressed Cyprus’s sincere appreciation for Portugal’s solidarity and support in our efforts to reunify Cyprus. It is our joint belief that the EU provides the best guarantee for a reunited Cyprus; in this regard the active involvement of the EU in the negotiating process is of utmost importance”.
Christodoulides said he also briefed Silva on the enhancement of the island’s relations with countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Greater Middle East.
He added that Portugal’s Presidency comes at a time of a greatly challenging European agenda, pointing out that the pandemic has driven our societies and economies to the edge, putting fundamental EU principles such as solidarity in focus.
He spoke of the long-standing ties of friendship between the two countries, which, he said, have always enjoyed excellent relations. “This is a relationship we value immensely, and which we jointly aspire to further strengthen”, he said.
According to Christodoulides, during the meeting, the two officials underscored their desire to create synergies, and building on the momentum of the visit they expressed their joint commitment to work together closely in an array of fields, including trade, investment, education and culture.
“As a first step, we have decided that can we organise a bilateral Digital Roundtable Discussion with the participation of the main economic and business stakeholders from Cyprus and Portugal, such as Chambers of Commerce, Investment Promotion Agencies and Business Associations”, he said.
He noted that they also proposed to explore cooperation in the area of research and innovation by promoting collaborations between Universities and Research Institutions, fully capitalizing on the opportunities offered by EU programmes.
The two also agreed to work on the finalization of pending documents in the areas of security, on the exchange and mutual protection of classified information, and education.
Christodoulides said that Cyprus considers Portugal as one of its most reliable friends and partners and during the meeting they reaffirmed their common belief in a strong EU, based on its fundamental principles and values of democracy and solidarity.
“We concurred on the crucial importance of working closely together, with a view to effectively tackling major European challenges, including the management of migratory pressures and the measures we need to adopt; the developments on Brexit Deal recently reached; as well as the negotiations concerning the Multi-Annual Financial Framework. As to the latter, the Portuguese Presidency is expected to focus on the completion of the legislative framework allowing our authorities to complete the programming documents, the soonest that would allow the flowing of long-awaited funds to our economies”, he said.
“We look forward to the Social Summit to be hosted in Porto, in early May, and the very important impetus it is expected to give to the European Pillar of Social Rights”, he said.