European Parliament President Roberta Metsola is flying for an official visit to Cyprus, where years ago she spent time as a college student, but this short trip is packed with hot button issues for Europe’s youngest-ever speaker.
Metsola is scheduled to arrive Thursday evening at Larnaca International Airport, where she will be greeted by her Cypriot counterpart, House Speaker Annita Demetriou.
In an interview with Kathimerini Cyprus, ahead of the state visit, Metsola responded to questions about her take on the Cyprus problem, natural gas discoveries, and the golden passport scandal that shocked the island and the bloc.
All issues were expected to be on the agenda on Friday along with the war in Ukraine and Turkey that has been at odds with Nicosia and Athens.
In an interview excerpt provided by Cypriot state network RIK, Metsola was said to be “excited” for her trip to Cyprus, where she had spent time years ago while attending university.
Metsola, who is half Greek, will be greeted at the airport by her Cypriot counterpart, with the two female speakers sharing unique history for rising through their parliament structures to the top
She also pointed the finger at EU candidate Turkey, saying “negotiations need to progress but they need to be based on trust.”
“Threats will not help, the status quo will only regress, and that is something that I think we should continue to appeal especially to the Turkish authorities,” Metsola said.
On Friday Metsola will meet with President Nicos Anastasiades in the morning at the Presidential Palace, where the two of them will also hold a joint press conference.
The Maltese politician, who is also half Greek, will then meet officially with Demetriou at the Cypriot parliament. The two speakers share unique history as they both rose through parliament structures to preside over their assemblies, while Metsola will also address lawmakers in the House.
In the evening Metsola is scheduled to meet with college students and youth organizations at the Library of the University of Cyprus.
Metsola, a conservative on some issues but liberal on others, has credited her formative years as an activist student politician in Malta, where she was approached on the college campus by seniors who thought she could carry on after their graduation.
The EP President will also hold a discussion with students at the Learning Resource Center – Library “Stelios Ioannou” of the University of Cyprus, where the topic will be “A look into the future. A discussion on Youth, Cyprus & Europe.”
Metsola’s midday schedule also includes a visit to Ledra Palace inside the divided capital’s buffer zone, where she will with UN official Colin Stewart who is also serving as head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
A schedule published by Metsola’s team did not list any meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.