Cyprus, Greece show united front

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President Nikos Christodoulides and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis dismissed Monday any suggestion that Nicosia and Athens are split over the Cyprus issue.

Following a tete-a-tete at the Presidential Palace during the Greek Prime Minister’s first official visit to Cyprus since re-election, President Christodoulides said they were on the same page.

Mitsotakis said Greece’s support for any initiative undertaken by Cyprus is “self-evident” despite rumours to the contrary.

President Christodoulides expects a visit by a UN official in early September to prepare for the tripartite meeting in New York with the UN Secretary-General and the Turkish Cypriot leader.

The postponed tripartite summit of Cyprus, Greece and Israel leaders will now take place in September.

Christodoulides also announced that Nicosia will bear the cost of reforestation of the areas affected by the recent wildfires in Rhodes.

He said there was great interest from Cypriot citizens and businesses wanting to get involved in this effort.

“Even if some, in Athens or Nicosia, continue, for their own reasons, to see differences between us, our goals and aspirations are common, and the way and means of achieving them,” said Christodoulides.

He said that the role of the Greek Premier in the European Council is of decisive importance, adding that other EU partners also approach the issue the same way that progress in EU-Turkish relations is related to positive movements from Turkey.

“Conclusions of the June European Council sent clear messages, that the Cyprus issue is a European issue and therefore its resolution based on the relevant UN Resolutions is a priority for the EU.”

The two leaders also discussed energy issues and migration.

He said there is a shared belief the two countries can contribute decisively to the use of the energy prospects of the Eastern Mediterranean to meet Europe’s needs, taking into account its effort to wean itself off Russian natural gas.

President Christodoulides said that the disproportionate burden borne by the Republic of Cyprus due to increased migration flows requires a single and comprehensive European response.

Mitsotakis expressed Greece’s gratitude to the Republic of Cyprus and the Cypriot people for their support following the devastating fires.

He said Greece’s main and common concern with Cyprus is the end of the Turkish occupation by reaching “a just and lasting sustainable solution”.

“Both countries are in absolute coordination in the EU and at the UN or through bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The aim is for a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation within the framework of the UN decisions, which are our guide.

“We cannot have an independent country with the presence of occupying troops and guarantors, nor can we ever accept a two-state solution,” said Mitsotakis.

Mitsotakis believes the looming improvement in Greek-Turkish and EU-Turkish relations might be an opportunity “we should embrace provided it is gradual and reversible”.

“The current positive climate with Turkey does not mean Ankara has changed its policy, but Greece wants to exhaust every possibility to improve bilateral relations.

“Greece will insist that Ankara should definitely abandon its aggressive and delinquent behaviour and its unhistorical claims, at the expense of the national sovereignty and integrity of both Greece and Cyprus.”