Cyprus Mail

Foreign minister delivers progress report on past five years

Former Foreign minister Ioannis Kassoulides

Cyprus’ role in the Eastern Mediterranean and the European Union has been enhanced in the last five years through bilateral co-operation and other initiatives, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on at a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.
Looking back at what has been achieved by the ministry since he took over in 2013, Kasoulides highlighted the promotion of Cyprus’ bilateral strategic relations with Greece and other countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, noting that ‘although the co-operation with each individual country has its own identity, what is common is the targeting of a joint contribution to security and stability in the region’.
“Cyprus is actively involved in addressing issues destabilising the region,” the minister said.
“We are participating in the coalition to defeat Daesh, while providing military material to Lebanon, in collaboration with France, and Iraqi Kurdistan, in collaboration with the United States.”
Relations with the five permanent members of the United Nations’ Security Council have also improved, the minister said.
“With the United States we have cooperated closely in combating terrorism and asymmetric threats,” he said.
“Cyprus’ location was particularly important in blocking any smuggling of arms, foreign terrorists or weapons of mass destruction, and we have a solid record of how much has been achieved.”
Kasoulides also referred to the close ties with Russia, highlighting that “there is complete balance in the range of relations between Cyprus and Russia”.
“We are playing a role in the relations between the EU and Russia, at a time when they were being shaken, while our traditional friendly relations with Russia are being upgraded through the president’s three visits to Russia,” he said.
On relations with the United Kingdom, the minister said that “cooperation in combating terrorism and asymmetric threats, also due to the role of the British bases, led to a new field of cooperation in both security and the National Guard’s cooperation with British forces”.
Cyprus has also maintained its close ties with France and China, he added, as shown by the participation of the French in search-and-rescue exercises and the China-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, in which Cyprus will participate as shareholder.
On the Cyprus problem, Kasoulides referred to the arrival of a team to review UN peacekeeping force Unficyp’s role in light of the United States government’s decision to reduce its contribution to peacekeeping missions by 30 per cent.
“For us it is extremely important that Unficyp’s presence in Cyprus remains effective under the same mandate renewed every year by the Security Council, and that is the intention,” he said.
Turning to EU-Turkey relations, the foreign minister repeated that Cyprus will not consent to the opening of new chapters in Turkey’s accession talks, nor to the upgrading of the customs union and the liberalisation of visas.

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