President of France Francois Hollande expressed on Friday his country`s willingness as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to play a useful role in the process for a Cyprus settlement.
In statements to the press after the talks he had in Nicosia with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades, Hollande said that he visited the island with a view to support the negotiations aiming to reach a settlement on the basis of of the UN Security Council resolutions.
He noted that Europe must be present in this effort and that the EU must support the process for a settlement, noting that President Anastasiades will raise this issue during next week’s European Council.
He also said that the defence cooperation between France and Cyprus will be strengthened as the two countries will sign a defence agreement in the coming months.
On his part, President Anastasiades said that he briefed Hollande on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and expressed the warm thanks of the government and the people of Cyprus for the long-standing and steadfast support of the French government to the effort to reach a just, viable and functional settlement of the Cyprus problem.
He noted the expressed desire of France to substantively contribute as a permanent UNSC member to the settlement of the Cyprus problem, and especially as regards the international aspect of the problem, to secure and guarantee the implementation of the settlement.
Speaking through an interpreter, the French President recalled that this is his second visit to Cyprus within a year, noting that as happened during the first time, he came to the island after paying a visit to the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which is now returning after decisive operations to combat terrorism in Iraq and Syria.
“We have a defence cooperation and I truly thank Cyprus because it allows us to use its territory, the military base in Pafos and this defence cooperation will be reinforced because we are going to sign a defence agreement during the next months between France and Cyprus,” he added.
He said that he visited the island with a view to express his support to the negotiations aiming to solve the problem of Cyprus on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions and the parameters which have been determined.
Hollande noted that the talks for a settlement have moved forward and have made progress, however they have not yet been concluded. “What we want is for a settlement to be found and what we must do is to support the process, its content and its framework,” he added.
He said that as regards the content there are still pending issues. “As regards the framework of the negotiations we believe that Europe must be present in the process to be supported by the Council of the EU and I think there is the will for the presence of the EU at the negotiations,” he added, noting that President Anastasiades will put forward this issue at the European Council next week.
He said that as regards the issue of the presence of the UN Security Council members, France wants to play a useful role in this process “and we are really willing to respond” to this end.
Hollande noted that France`s role is to find solutions, adding that commitment is needed and this is why France has been present at the international alliance to combat terrorism. Furthermore he said that they cooperate with the Chancellor of Germany to find a settlement in Ukraine.
The French President said that the Cyprus problem has been going on for many years and a settlement must today be found. “And we are willing to contribute with a view to reach a settlement on the basis of the UN Security Council parameters,” he added.
He said that President Anastasiades wanted him to visit Cyprus and that he himself wanted to visit the island at this crucial phase of the negotiations that need to be concluded.
Hollande referred to the friendly relations between France and Cyprus, noting that the two countries` relations have been strengthened during the past years in the financial sector as well. “We have supported Cyprus during a difficult economic situation that could have destabilized all the Eurozone, and the decisions which were then taken were bold decisions, but a solution was reached,” he noted.
Furthermore he noted that presence of French companies, as TOTAL, for the exploitation of natural gas resources. He also referred to the exchanges of tourists between the two countries as well as to their cultural cooperation, thanking Cyprus for promoting the learning of the French language.
On his part, President Anastasiades expressed his satisfaction that Hollande visited Cyprus “at such a crucial point of the negotiations aiming to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem”.
He noted that he informed him about the latest developments on the Cyprus problem and especially about the decision he and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci took on December 1st to intensify their negotiations for a Cyprus solution, that they will meet in Geneva on the 9th, 10th and 11th of January 2017, and that from the 12th of January, a multi-lateral Conference on Cyprus will be convened.
Anastasiades expressed the warm thanks of the government and the people of Cyprus for the long-standing and steadfast support of the French government to efforts to reach a just, viable and functional settlement on the basis of the UN resolutions and the EU values and principles to the benefit of the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Anastasiades said that it is a common belief that a mutually accepted settlement that will safeguard the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of an EU member state will consolidate the sentiment of security for all the people and will constitute the best guarantee for creating conditions of peace, stability and welfare.
He noted that such a settlement will be fully compatible with the European acquis and will secure the full respect of the human rights and basic freedoms of the European citizens of Cyprus, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
“A settlement that will highlight that one of the EU member states does not need guarantees from any third country, that will probably influence Cyprus` effective participation to the EU,” he added, noting that getting rid of the guarantees would not only be to the benefit of all Cypriots but also to the benefit to the EU as well, as its decisions must not be influenced by foreign interventions
He said that they did not only discuss the Cyprus problem as Cyprus and France have excellent relations and a close and continuously developing cooperation both at the bilateral and the multilateral level, adding that they exchanged ideas and views on ways to enhance the two countries` cooperation and to effectively promote their common values and interests in international fora particularly in view of the challenges at the EU level after UK`s decision to leave the bloc
After their statements the two President and their delegations attended a working dinner.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Anastasiades and Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May last year with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof./IBNA