The solution to the Cyprus problem could be a win-win situation for all stakeholders, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has said, adding that there is a great possibility for this provided that there is political will.
In an interview he gave recently to Aljazeera, the Minister also underlined that the Greek Cypriot side remains faithful to the reunification of the country and referred to the recent agreement between Lebanon and Israel, saying that the Lebanese and Israelis would never have had this agreement without the involvement of the US calling for help from the international community and in particular from countries that can work with Turkey.
Asked about the recent agreement reached between Lebanon and Israel, establishing a permanent Israel-Lebanon maritime boundary. He said that it is an extremely helpful development, noting that Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone is adjacent to theirs.
Secondly, he stressed the fact that "two parties like Lebanon and Israel who officially are in a state of war and who do not recognize each other, they have managed, through the mediation of the US and I congratulate the US for this, they have reached an agreement".
This, Kasoulides said, "is a very good example for ourselves and Turkey" and underlined that "Turkey so far has refused that we do a similar kind of negotiation and arrangement in delimitating our respective EEZ with the justification that they do not recognize us. But here is an example that this can be done without a solution to the political problem so they can recognize us".
"So, we have offered talks, and if these talks fail let us go to The Hague and we are prepared to accept the arbitration of The Hague. The next priority is the needs of our EU partners of natural gas and this has to come before other considerations and this applies both to Turkey and to ourselves," he noted.
He stressed that "all problems do get solutions and ours will get as well" adding that "our side remains faithful to the reunification of our country, the Lebanese and Israelis would never have had this agreement without the involvement of the US, we need some help from the international community and in particular from countries that can work with Turkey".
Invited to clarify what kind of help he means, Kasoulides said "diplomatic certainly".
Asked if he believes the EU should be doing more, he replied "there is room for more".
Replying to another question, Kasoulides said that "I can imagine a solution that would be a win-win situation for all stakeholders, the two communities in Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and I think there is a great possibility for this provided that there is political will."
Replying to questions about the latest effort to solve the Cyprus issue, in Crans Montana, Kasoulides said that we had at that time come so close to reaching a settlement and noted that what was needed was to be re-invited in a couple of weeks and continue from where things were left.
It was a great opportunity, he pointed out, saying that "I think that had it followed suit in the immediate interval after these talks it would have yielded results."
But he noted that after this the Turkish position had changed by 180 degrees and they ceased to seek a settlement based on the UN resolutions and they have put a precondition now for the Greek Cypriot side to accept separate sovereignty and equal international status before we sit on the table. He described this precondition as totally unacceptable.
On Cyprus' energy reserves he said that "we are hopeful that in the midterm, that is to say in a couple of years because Europe urgently needs natural gas that we will be able to supply and contribute".
As regards the situation in Ukraine, the Minister said that Nicosia is very sensitive to the issues of territorial integrity, sovereignty and to non-annexation of parts of a country to another, therefore it had to join its EU partners in the response to the Russian invasion.
"We want to be acknowledged -and we are - as a reliable, predictable partner to the EU", he said, adding that Cyprus took part in the unanimous decisions regarding the sanctions and is implementing those sanctions diligently.
He also pointed out that Cyprus had to come a long way to reach this goal much longer than any other of the partners who already did not have the links that Cyprus had with Russia.
Replying to other questions, he clarified that Cyprus does not intend to send weapons to Ukraine since "we need them here in Cyprus". Asked what weapons will Cyprus acquire from the US now that the embargo is lifted, Kasoulides said that this is a question for the Ministry of Defense saying that "now they have the American markets as well as other markets, like France, Israel, to consider".
Replying to a comment from the journalist that the Turks say that this is very alarming, the Cypriot Foreign Minister said: "Are they so afraid of us? Shame on them. A country so big and important, they say they are a big regional power, and for a few weapons that we will buy? I think they are looking for an excuse".