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12° Nicosia,
21 May, 2024
 
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Cypriot president-elect wants to prop EU role in peace talks

Christodoulides prepares to press European Council to renew effort to break deadlock on island's division

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Cypriot President-elect Nikos Christodoulides says he will push for a more active and greater EU involvement in the Cyprus Problem, with calls on Brussels next month to stick to a UN framework on the divided island.

After a brief visit to the Presidential Palace on Monday, where he met with outgoing President Nicos Anastasiades, Christodoulides told reporters that the Cyprus Problem was one of the issues that came up during telephone conversations he had with EU leaders.

"We think the proposal we submitted during the presidential campaign, even though things won’t be easy, yes, it can break the deadlock the soonest possible,” Christodoulides said.

Political pundits on the campaign trail had been arguing that Nicosia ought to wait until after elections in Turkey before making a move on the Cyprus Problem.

'There may be a need for me to travel there sooner to discuss our proposal with EU institutional officers and officially ask for the effort to begin'

But Christodoulides says an initiative on the Cyprus Problem would be “one of his first actions.”

“The passage of time does not benefit Cypriots, it does not benefit what I consider to be a common effort to break the deadlock,” the President-elect said.

Christodoulides, who served as foreign minister in the Anastasiades administration, had often pressed EU counterparts to take a tougher stance on Ankara, such as trying to convince reluctant ministers to implement a robust regime of sanctions on Turkey.

Back in 2020, then-foreign minister Christodoulides had criticized EU counterparts for raising eyebrows over a potential Cypriot veto on sanctions against Belarus. The veto was ultimately overcome by European leaders after Nicosia called for solidarity.

But he refuted rumors that Nicosia had used used a veto to block sanctions against Minsk, arguing the block was based on an agreement in place that dictated how the issue ought to have been handled. 

“All we said, based on the agreement, both issues ought to be promoted to the European Council, which is what happened, nothing more, nothing less,” Christodoulides said at the time.

As Christodoulides gets ready to take a seat at the table as head of state, the President-elect did not rule out an early visit to Brussels before the Council meeting on March 23.

“There may be a need for me to travel there sooner to discuss our proposal with EU institutional officers and officially ask for the effort to begin,” he said.

"I am taking about the need for a more active and greater involvement of the EU within the framework of the United Nations," Christodoulides added.

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines for half a century. After Turkish troops landed in 1974, following a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, the island became geographically split between a recognized Greek Cypriot south as Republic of Cyprus and a Turkish Cypriot north recognized only by Ankara.

After failed peace talks over the years, Turkish Cypriots have called for a two-state solution, while Greek Cypriots have renewed their commitment to a federal settlement.

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