The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, met today 30 November 2016, in Lefkosia, with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, Mr Boris Johnson. In the framework of his visit to Cyprus, Mr Johnson was also received by the President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades.
The two Ministers had a tête-à-tête meeting, followed by official talks of the delegations of Cyprus and the United Kingdom and statements to the Press. Issues on the agenda included, inter alia, the recent developments on the Cyprus problem and the UK’s role in facilitating the negotiating process, Brexit, and bilateral relations.
Speaking to the Press and upon welcoming Secretary Johnson on his first visit to Cyprus, Minister Kasoulides said that “earlier this morning, Mr Johnson had a meeting with President Anastasiades, where he was informed on the outcome of the recent talks in Switzerland and the challenges that still lie ahead of us”.
Cyprus Foreign Minister also noted that during his meeting with his counterpart discussions were continued “on the way forward for the effort to resolve the Cyprus problem and on the offer of the UK to assist, for which we are thankful”.
Moreover, the status of the bilateral relations and the strategic partnership was reviewed. Minister Kasoulides highlighted that the relations of the two countries have been growing stronger and deeper in the last couple of years, adding that “Cyprus and the UK are already cooperating in crisis management, humanitarian operations, as well as in finding ways to deal with growing asymmetric threats. Our bilateral cooperation is dynamic and constantly growing and I am pleased to observe that there is coordination on several fronts”.
The two Ministers also discussed Brexit and the issues pertaining the ongoing consultations with the UK for the implementation of the agreement for the non-military development of the British Bases, and other related matters.
On his part, the British Foreign Secretary underlined that with Minister Kasoulides they had an excellent meeting, “that follows constructive conversations this morning with both President Anastasiades and Mr Akinci. We talked about the progress been made in trying to settle a wide range of issues over Cyprus. I welcome the progress made the recent months and I salute the determination and the courage shown by the leaders on both sides”.
Mr Johnson reiterated the UK’s readiness to help, highlighting the challenging work done so far “to get the negotiations to this point, but, obviously, as you get towards the conclusion of any negotiation, that where the hard yards really begin”.
He further expressed his conviction that “with further flexibility and creativity on both sides, a solution can be reached and the remaining difficulties can be overcome. And, as I have said, the UK is ready to support in any way that it can”.
On Brexit, Minister Johnson repeated Britain’s position that the country may be leaving the Treaties of the European Union, but it is emphatically not leaving Europe, nor abandoning its commitments to its friends in Europe, certainly not to Cyprus. “If anything, the UK’s foreign policy now is to intensify our outward looking role in the world. We want to build the strongest possible links both with Cyprus and of course with the rest of our Europe neighbors and the Commonwealth as well”, he underlined.
As regards the two countries’ relations, British Foreign Minister expressed certainty that those will further strengthen and deepen. “We have strong, close historic relationships and we are going to build on that. I am confident that the rain may presage, as it always does, the green shouts of optimism and progress”, he said.
In a question on the role of the UK as a guarantor power, Minister Johnson stressed that “there is no deviation from whatever is intended from the standard British line, in the sense that we have talked about the guarantees and security extensively this morning. As everybody knows, our strong view is that this is a Cypriot-led process and it is up to the two sides to decide what arrangements they want for a united Cyprus. We are not seeking any specific role for the UK”.
Invited to define the exact status of the British Bases when Brexit does become a reality, the British Minister said: “I do not see any change to the status of the British Bases. Obviously, as a result of Brexit, there is absolutely no change on that. I think it is very important to work with our friends in Cyprus to make sure we will continue to be useful in guaranteeing the security of the area. As far as the Bases play a role in that, then that I think is valuable”.
Replying on the same question, Minister Kasoulides said that “this means guaranteeing the security of the area from outside asymmetrical threats”./IBNA