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Kasouldies discusses Cyprus issue with Hammond

FOREIGN Minister Ioannis Kasoulides met British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Wednesday in London to discuss various aspects of the Cyprus problem, European issues and security in the eastern Mediterranean.

The meeting followed a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting at Marlborough House, which Kasoulides chaired, concluding his two-day visit to the British capital.

Hammond was the latest European counterpart that Kasoulides met, after talks with Frank-Walter Steinmeyer and Jean-Marc Ayrault in Berlin and Paris respectively.

The discussion focused mainly on the ongoing settlement talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus. “We presented a picture of where things stand at the moment, but we also talked about some serious concerns that we have regarding the settlers, a very serious and complex issue which could only be easily resolved if we maintained the demographic composition of Cyprus to the 80:20, or 4:1 ratio,” said Kasoulides after the meeting. “We expressed concern over the intention which is supported by Ankara to give ‘citizenship’ to another 25,000 settlers from Turkey, something that completely shutters the equation and all that already exists as common understanding between the two sides,” he added.

The two ministers also discussed the need to start considering ways of seeking financial resources to fund the settlement in Cyprus. Kasoulides said, “this requires interest from the private sector as well, an interest that according to British estimates could be forthcoming.” He added that as soon as conditions allowed, depending on the talks progress, efforts should begin in that respect.

From London Kasoulides sent a message regarding the pace of progress in the ongoing negotiations: “Despite the Turkish side wrongly suggesting that any deceleration in progress would be down due to the elections in the Republic of Cyprus, we have always maintained that the elections do not affect us. It needs to be proven immediately after May 22, especially from the Turkish side from which there are answers pending, that there will be an acceleration of the talks. Otherwise, the elections will have been nothing more but an excuse.”
The agenda of the meeting also included security issues affecting the wider Eastern Mediterranean region. “We have a share concern and common interest in securing Eastern Mediterranean against the threat of jihadist terrorists. Therefore, we have close cooperation both for the security of the Republic’s territory and for that of the British bases,” said Kasoulides. (CNA)



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