Cyprus Mail

‘Don’t think EU funding is a given’ Christodoulides warns Turkish side

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides on Friday warned that Turkey’s actions, but also those of some within the Turkish Cypriot community could have an impact on the EU funding they receive.

He was referring to what President Nicos Anastasiades told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during their meeting on Thursday in Brussels, that Nicosia cannot be expected to have a flexible stance on issues concerning the bloc’s relations with Ankara but also in relation to the funds paid out to Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Speaking to state broadcaster Cybc radio, the minister explained that Nicosia wanted to send out the message that things cannot continue given the stance by Turkey and some Turkish Cypriots.

“With this behaviour, support from the Republic of Cyprus or the EU should not be considered a given,” Christodoulides said.

He added that EU leaders were currently discussing the budget for the next seven years, which includes provisions for pre-accession aid to Turkey.

Christodoulides said the EU had decided that Turkey’s behaviour affected the whole spectrum of EU-Turkey relations. “This is constantly being assessed,” he said.

As regards Turkish Cypriots, he said, the aid is given to reinforce the efforts for a solution of the Cyprus problem. “Any efforts that do not contribute toward this goal but promote another form of solution, they cannot go unnoticed,” the minister said.

He added that the Republic of Cyprus, in case these funds are approved, “has a role and a say as to how they will be used in the occupied areas.”

The EU aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community aims to facilitate the reunification of the island by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community, mainly by promoting social and economic development, the development and refurbishment of infrastructure, by fostering reconciliation, building confidence and supporting civil society. It also aims to bring the Turkish Cypriot community closer to the EU, through information and contacts between Turkish Cypriots and other EU citizens.

During his contacts in Brussels, Anastasiades discussed the Cyprus issue and Turkey’s actions in the island’s exclusive economic zone and Varosha, with von der Leyen and as well as with President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

Michel told Anastasiades he would contact the UN Secretary-General as soon as possible to discuss how the EU could assist in efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem.

“What’s most important from the president’s contacts in Brussels is the wish by the President of the European Council to take initiative on the Cyprus problem in cooperation with the UN which also includes the issue of Famagusta and the fenced-off town,” Christodoulides said on Friday.

He said Michel could visit Cyprus soon, expressing optimism that he might help find solutions to disagreements that have risen during the last round of talks.

The government confirmed this week that Anastasiades sent UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres a letter after the round-table discussion last week on Varosha on the opening of the fenced-off part of Famagusta in which Turkish officials participated including Turkey’s Vice-President Fuat Oktay. In the letter, Anastasiades called on Guterres to help convince the Turkish Cypriots to agree to his proposal for setting up a bicommunal committee on Varosha.

According to reports on Friday Anastasiades also gave von der Leyen a letter calling for EU funding for the studies to be carried out by this committee on the redevelopment of Varosha for the return of its rightful owners.

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