The promotion of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between the two communities in Cyprus will continue at a later stage due to developments in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told CNA.
Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides had previously presented a package of CBMs to the EU and international partners, that included proposals to return Varosha, the fenced-off part of Famagusta, to inhabitants under UN administration, along with the operation of the airport and port in the northern, Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, under certain conditions, involving the UN and the EU. However, due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, these proposals will now be postponed.
"It becomes apparent that those expected to take action to promote the Confidence Building Measures, due to the war in Ukraine are pacing their action to promote CBMs later," the Foreign Minister said.
In his last report to the Security Council, on his mission of good offices in Cyprus, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to work together on confidence-building measures, noting that mechanisms of dialogue and rapprochement “are of particular importance and can, in the absence of fully-fledged negotiations rekindle hope among the population that progress between the parties can indeed still be made.”
On the issue of EU sanctions and Turkey, the Foreign Minister said he thought it odd that Turkey's refusal to abide by EU sanctions against Russia was being tolerated. "For the time being, silence prevails (on this issue)."
But on Turkey's role as mediator in the Ukraine crisis, Kasoulides said that Turkey’s geostrategic role has always been important due to its geographical location, its size, and the role it intends to play in the regional and global level. He said, however, that he doesn’t think that the role Turkey claims at the moment in the crisis in Ukraine provides the country with added value.
As for the impact of the latest developments on the energy sector, the Foreign Minister pointed to statements made during the informal meeting held in Versailles under President Macron and said that despite the fact that the EU acknowledges the need to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, there is currently no intention to discontinue this market because the quantities Europe needs are much larger than its current use.
“Therefore, ending energy dependence also through the use of renewable energy sources is expected by 2027,” he added.
In any case, Russian President Putin publicly stated that he does not intend to terminate current contracts and will keep to all agreements with European countries that are in force, Kasoulides said.
Asked to assess the recent visit of Israel’s President to Turkey, Kasoulides said that Cyprus-Israel relations will not be affected.
“I don’t believe that the political balance will change. If you take a look at reports in the Turkish press, you will identify a well-known political exaggeration, while on the other hand, reports in the Israeli press are more contained, expressing a more cautious approach to developments,” he noted.
He also expressed the view that “the friendly ties we developed with Israel, both bilaterally and in the context of our multilateral cooperation with Greece and the US in the framework of the 3+1 format, are sincere, are based on principles and have led to consolidating our mutually beneficial cooperation.”
“This, after all, was made publicly clear also by Israeli government officials. Therefore, I don’t believe that our relations will be affected,” he said. As I reiterated several times, relations between countries are not dependent and should not be governed by a zero-sum approach, the Minister concluded.