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Brussels awaits president’s plan for bigger EU role in Cyprus issue

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Mario Nava

President Nikos Christodoulides’ proposal for more EU involvement in the Cyprus issue has not yet been received in Brussels Director General of the DG Structural Reform Support in the EU, Mario Nava was quoted as saying on Sunday.

However, in an interview with Kathimerini, he said: “We look forward to studying the detailed and thorough proposal of the president.”

Commenting on the Turkish Cypriot leader’s insistence on a two-state solution, the EU official said it was “absolutely clear” that the Commission strongly believes in the solution framework set by the UN for a bizonal, bicommunal federation”.

“What we welcome is for the two leaders to discuss confidence building measures, which could pave the way for a resumption of talks,” he said.

Referring to the Turkish side’s opening of Varosha, Nava said the Commission was guided by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. “On this we are absolutely clear that Varosha should be handed over to the UN without any conditions.”

Nava said the Commission has special services that work to promote reunification in Cyprus with specific actions. These services, he said, are under the umbrella of the EU aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community. “So we will continue to play an active role in the region as special emphasis is placed on the economy,” he said.

Asked why the increase in trade through the Green Line was so important, Nava said that he considers it “of the utmost importance” as it would increase the chances of starting the talks to resolve the Cyprus issue.

At this point he said that when the talks resume under the auspices of the UN, then the EU will definitely participate, as it did in Crans-Montana and he agreed that the bloc had an important role to play ensuring that political agreements are in line with the acquis.

Nava said Green Line trade reached 14.7 million in 2022 and although progress is being observed, “we can do more”, he said.

He also added that it was important to realise that only products that meet the criteria were allowed to reach the market.

The regulation, he hadded had evolved in two directions. One was in terms of the number of products and on the other, it had strengthened the specifications and criteria of controls. Healso said it was important to dispel any misunderstandings about the arrival of products from Turkey through the Green Line Regulation.

Regulated trade was the biggest enemy of smuggling, and through the Green Line Regulation, the Chambers of Commerce in the two communities play an important role in ensuring that the products come exclusively from the Turkish Cypriot community, Nava said.

Referring to plans for a bicommunal solar park, Nava said the tender process has been completed and they were now studying the bid with the hope of launching the pre-feasibility study in early April. “Our goal is to complete it in seven months and in November to have the final results,” he said. “The real expectation is for this project to be embraced by the two leadersand move to the next stage.”

Asked about the weaponisation of migration through the island’s buffer zone by Turkey, Nava said there was a specific proposal from the Commission for a new regulation and an amendment to the Schengen Borders Code for the EU to respond to the situation. This is at the legal stage.

“Clearly increased migration flows in Cyprus are an important and complex problem and the EU is aware of the unsustainable number of migrants and asylum seekers who arrive at the Green Line,” he added.

He referred to the support given to the Cypriot authorities by the Commission to manage the situation, adding that in all contacts with Turkey “we were clear that it should respect and keep the commitments of the 2016 EU-Turkey joint pact on migration especially to the point that it calls for preventing the movement of irregular immigrants to EU member states, including Cyprus”.

On the barbed wire installation, Nava said any measure taken should not prevent Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots from crossing the Green Line or in any way impede trade across the divide.

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