Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen was in Cyprus on Wednesday for meetings with President Nicos Anastasiades and Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides in Nicosia to discuss Cyprus, Brexit and EU-Turkey relations.
Also on the agenda was Denmark`s candidacy to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which will be relocated from London following UK`s decision to leave the EU.
In statements following the meeting, Samuelsen said that Denmark continued to encourage and support Cyprus in its efforts to reach a settlement.
He said that Denmark was very proud to have contributed to UN peacekeeping in Cyprus, adding that already about 22.000 soldiers had served in Cyprus with UNFICYP.
Kasoulides said Samuelsen was briefed by Anastasiades on the Cyprus issue and “the unwillingness of Turkey to run the last metres of this marathon“.
On EU-Turkey ties, Kasoulides said Ankara’s continuous distancing from European norms and standards was an issue of concern among all EU member states.
“Within this context, I explained to Mr Samuelsen our approach regarding EU-Turkey relations. I particularly highlighted that Turkey has taken no steps towards fulfilling its contractual obligations as they arise through its negotiating framework, including its obligations vis-à-vis the Republic of Cyprus, and it would, therefore, be a paradox to discuss further benefits to Turkey such as the upgrading of the Customs Union and the Visa Liberalisation,” he said.
As regards Brexit, Kasoulides said it was disconcerting that “we are approaching the October European Council but no real progress has been achieved thus far.”
Samuelsen said it was good that the UK had started on its proceedings papers. “We scrutinise them now and we do fully support the Commission and the EU 27 unity. It is clear that we want a close relationship, but we want rights and obligations to be balanced. That is important especially for countries like ours that have a lot of treaties with the UK,” he pointed out.
On Denmark’s pitch to host the EMA, which Cyprus also applied for but did not fulfil the criteria, Kasoulides said: “Denmark has pitched a solid candidature and is one of the most serious contenders in this race. Of course, I reiterated once again our disappointment that the criteria… were restrictive and were not providing a level playing field for all EU member states to compete,” he added.
Samuelsen, when asked about the criteria said: “There is no doubt that when you set up criteria, it is important that the agency should be able to hit the ground running, to have what they want, including connecting flights and other criteria like that. Of course, it puts Cyprus in a difficult situation”. Kasoulides said Denmark had presented a very good case and stood a good chance.