The inclusion of a specific reference to the Cyprus problem in the text of the conclusions of the forthcoming European Council reflects the support of the EU and partners to reunification efforts, Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said in a discussion on the preparation of the meeting, during the General Affairs Council held on Tuesday in Luxembourg.
As noted in a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministers exchanged views on the issues that are expected to be discussed by the leaders, as well as on the text of the draft conclusions of the European Council.
In his intervention, the Foreign Ministe welcomed the inclusion of a specific reference to the Cyprus problem in the text of the draft conclusions. According to the statement, Kombos stressed that the initiative of President Nikow Christodoulides for a more active involvement of the EU in the efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem can be a decisive factor towards breaking the deadlock and returning to the negotiating table.
The source said the text could be a starting point for various options covered by the reference to 'all appropriate means' such as the possible role of an EU envoy or incentives in EU-Turkey relations
The inclusion of a specific reference in the text of the Conclusions reflects the support of the EU and our partners in our efforts to reunify our homeland on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions, he stressed.
In relation to the main issues to be addressed by the European Council, Kombos reiterated Cyprus' full solidarity and support to Ukraine, while in relation to migration, he welcomed the progress made on the external aspects of migration. Cyprus looks forward to the presentation of the Action Plan for the Eastern Mediterranean by the European Commission in the near future, the Foreign Minister added.
Other issues discussed during the General Affairs Council were the revision of the European Electoral Law, as well as the European Semester findings concerning national reform and stability programmes.
The ministers were also briefed on the programme of the next trio of EU Council presidencies (Spain - Belgium - Hungary), which will start in July with the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The Ministers responsible for European Affairs also had an informal working lunch with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova, Nicu Popescu. In the margins of the proceedings, Kombos also had a separate meeting with Popescu, focused on bilateral relations, the Cyprus problem and the prospect of Moldova's accession to the EU.
Diplomatic sources welcome draft conclusions on Cyprus
Cypriot diplomatic sources have expressed their satisfaction regarding the references on the Cyprus problem included in the latest draft conclusions of the upcoming European Council meeting, while speaking to the Cyprus News Agency.
The current draft, that was developed in a series of consultations at the level of permanent representatives (COREPER), contains references to an "active role" for the EU in supporting all stages of the UN negotiations process on Cyprus, and calls for a "speedy resumption" of talks.
The new draft, which circulated on Sunday, was discussed at the COREPER level as well as during the General Affairs Council in preparation of the EU summit, and will be discussed again later on Tuesday and on Wednesday. No major changes are expected on the wording regarding Cyprus at this stage.
Meanwhile, it remains uncertain whether Germany or another member state will reiterate a proposal to include a paragraph referring more broadly to Turkey-EU relations in the proposals.
The paragraph on Cyprus in the latest draft, as reported by the Cyprus News Agency on Monday, is as follows:
“Recalling its previous conclusions, the European Council remains fully committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, within the UN framework, and in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded and the acquis. The European Union calls for the speedy resumption of negotiations and is ready to play an active role in supporting all stages of the the UN-led process, with all appropriate means at its disposal”.
Commenting on the latest draft, a diplomatic source underlined that the reference to the need for a speedy resumption is positive given the current circumstances and the fact that there has been a long period of no developments in the Cyprus issue. The same source added that the text could be the starting point for a process which could include a variety of options covered by the reference to "all appropriate means", such as the possible role of an EU envoy or incentives in the context of EU-Turkey relations.
More specifically, regarding the discussion in relation to the appointment of a special envoy, the same source said that the process is not yet mature enough, and pointed out that between today and October and the next scheduled European Council there is time for developments, pointing especially to contacts that will take place during the NATO summit in Vilnius and the UN General Assembly.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.