Cyprus Mail

Nicosia’s sanctions move largely welcomed at home

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides

The government’s hardball stance over EU sanctions – on Monday it blocked sanctions against Belarus without them agreed on Turkey in return – was welcomed on the home-front on Tuesday with near unanimous agreement from the political parties bar main opposition Akel.

“Our reaction to any kind of violation of our core, basic values and principles cannot be a la carte. It needs to be consistent,” Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said.

But Akel leader Andros Kyprianou said Cyprus had now become isolated

For months, he said, the government had been promising a lot in terms of securing EU sanctions on Turkey which would reduce Ankara’s intransigence and force it to cooperate for the resumption of Cyprus talks.

“We are sorry to say that yesterday’s results are disappointing and in the sense that, unfortunately, we are isolated. We have not seen our European partners support us in the position we have expressed and for which we have been expressing absolute certainty lately that we would have the full support of the European Union,” he said. Akel was also concerned that everything appeared to be about the sanctions rather than the talks. Kyprianou said he feared what would happen at the summit later in the week given that Nicosia’s tactics had not worked so far. Even Greece had not supported Cyprus at the foreign ministers meeting on Monday and this he said, should sound the alarm for the government.

Government spokesman Kyriacos Kousios hit back later on Tuesday saying it was the wrong time – two days before the summit – to attack the government without having a negative word to say about Turkey.

Kousios said, to clarify, during Monday’s meeting in Brussels, apart from Greece, “which consistently and fully supported the positions of Cyprus” a number of other countries had done the same.

“Cyprus was therefore not isolated at all as all countries, including Cyprus, agreed in principle on the need to impose sanctions on Belarus, but Cyprus noted during the discussion that the issue of sanctions against both Belarus and Turkey should be referred to the European Council,” Kousios said.

The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday Belarus was a “high-voltage political problem that the European Council must address. I understand the position of Cyprus,” Borrell said, referring to the recent talks in Berlin and recalling that it had been decided that if Turkey did not change its position, certain sanctions could be imposed.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he hoped an EU summit would bring new impetus to Turkey-EU ties, adding concrete steps on updating a customs union between the two sides, visa-free travel and migration would help put ties on a positive basis.

He made the comments after a videoconference he had with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Council President Charles Michel. Erdogan said the “partial momentum” secured by establishing dialogue should be maintained with reciprocal steps”.

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