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EU membership best security guarantee, says Mogherini (update)

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini

BEING a member of the European Union is the best security guarantee for a state, the EU’s High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Federica Mogherini said on Friday during an official visit to Cyprus.

Mogherini was in Nicosia for high-level meetings relating to the ongoing intercommunal talks between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Accompanied by European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, Mogherini was received by Anastasiades, and later by foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

Expanded talks between delegations of Cyprus and the European Commission followed.

In remarks to the press, Kasoulides said he had a chance to brief Mogherini in detail on the Cyprus problem negotiations, and that they exchanged views on regional developments, particularly with regard to Syria and Turkey, as well as the state of the EU’s relations with Russia and Egypt.

Kasoulides said Mogherini’s meeting with Anastasiades was “very constructive”, and added that the president briefed the High Representative on “where we are on the negotiations, and there was an exchange of views on how to better calibrate the role of the European Union on certain outstanding issues”.

He expressed his appreciation for Mogherini’s personal interest in the Cyprus problem, as well as her commitment to supporting the process.

“Your support to this process, as the president highlighted before, is indeed essential and needed,” Kasoulides said, addressing Mogherini.

According to a statement, discussion on Egypt focused on how to facilitate the full potential of relations between the European Union and the neighbouring country.

“Cyprus considers the strategic importance of the stability of our region and beyond is paramount, and for this reason we value very much Egypt’s role,” Kasoulides was quoted as saying.

In her remarks, Mogherini thanked Kasoulides for the warm welcome and the very constructive discussion.

“For me, it is not only a pleasure, but also a must, to be here in this moment that – we understand perfectly well – is a crucial moment for the negotiations,” she said.

She stressed that “this will be not only a turning point, a historic page for the island; this will be an extremely important step for the entire region. This is a particularly difficult region that needs help and trust in diplomacy and political solutions as no other region in the world needs.

Asked to state the EU’s position on the issue of security and guarantees, Mogherini said that, while the issue is “still for the parties to discuss”, the best guarantee for security is being a functional state, and particularly being an EU member.

“The best guarantee for security of any country in the world is a well-functioning state, and particularly for any member of the EU [it] is being a member of the EU itself,” she said.

“As you understand well, we are entering the last crucial phase of the negotiations.”

Mogherini’s remarks touched on the core of one of the key disagreements between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides – whether Turkey’s security guarantees for the new, federal state are required to address security concerns among the Turkish Cypriot community, as their leader argues, or an outdated notion, insistence on which would breed suspicion among Greek Cypriots, as Anastasiades says.

The High Commissioner is also scheduled to meet with Akinci later on Friday.

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