By Tom Cleaver and Nikolaos Prakas

President Nikos Christodoulides called for the European Union to “be more actively involved and play an essential role” in the Middle East on Friday.

Christodoulides was speaking on the second day of the European Council summit in Brussels.

During the discussion, he “expressed Cyprus’ deep concern regarding the situation and developments as they take shape, and the negative consequences a possible escalation of tensions may bring” to the region.

He added that “a structured and coordinated action and policy on the part of the EU is an imperative,” and emphasised “the need to support important regional partners such as Egypt and Jordan”.

To this end, he said he welcomed the European Commission’s announcement of its intention to sign a comprehensive agreement with Egypt.

He also called for “the protection of civilians from all sides and the unconditional release of all hostages,” saying both are “key components in the effort to begin a political process to de-escalate the crisis.”

“Terrorism, wherever it may come from, must be condemned,” he said, adding, “Hamas does not represent the Palestinians, nor the Palestinian Authority.”

Additionally, he informed his EU counterparts of the role Cyprus played in the repatriation of citizens via the Estia plan, saying the country had “responded to the requests it had received from EU member states and third countries including the United States”.

He also spoke of the possibility of creating a “maritime humanitarian corridor” through Cyprus, which he said would be able to provide “unhindered humanitarian aid to Gaza”.

“Cyprus, as the EU member state in closest proximity to the Middle East, but also as a country which has always maintained excellent relations with the states of the region, is a pillar of stability in the region, demonstrating practical support and making every effort within our capabilities towards the de-escalation of this crisis and the commencement of political dialogue,” he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron also backed up Christodoulides’ statements, saying that “Cyprus could be a base for humanitarian missions”.

Speaking after EU council meeting, Macron said that the has already discussed such an initiative with Christodoulides. He added that the humanitarian aid corridor would include other countries, as well as Greece, which is expected to participate.

Macron said that three French ships will be off the coast of Cyprus until Sunday, to help bring humanitarian aid.