EC chief to inspect Gaza aid facilities

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who won the European People’s Party support on Thursday to run for a second five-year term, will inspect the facilities at Larnaca port on Friday that are being prepared for the Gaza aid maritime corridor.

President Nikos Christodoulides will host a private dinner for the EC chief who arrives in Cyprus late Thursday.

On Friday morning she will be welcomed at the Presidential Palace and at noon, they will visit Larnaca port to inspect the relevant facilities for the operation of the maritime humanitarian corridor from Cyprus to Gaza, including the dock, the storages and the X-ray mobile scanning machine.

Christodoulides and von der Leyen will later visit the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Larnaca.

On Monday, the EC President said she had an “excellent call with Christodoulides”.

“We discussed the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Swift action is needed. Humanitarian aid is a lifeline for those in need and access to it must be ensured. We stand by civilians, urging their protection in line with international law.”

She added that the EU Commission will support the implementation of Cyprus’ maritime corridor initiative and applauded the Cypriot president’s leadership on this initiative.

Addressing the 27th EPP congress in Bucharest, Christodoulides said, “the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza also demands our immediate, urgent attention.

High volume of aid

“Cyprus, as an integral part of the region and the closest EU member state in the region, has worked tirelessly since the beginning of the war to design a humanitarian maritime corridor for the delivery of a high volume of aid to the people of Gaza,” he said, thanking the EC chief’s support.

“I look forward to (Ursula von der Leyen’s) visit to Cyprus in the context of opening the maritime corridor. From the very first stages of the initiative, Ursula grasped the vision and value behind it and pulled her political weight and that of the Commission’s behind it.”

In Nicosia, government spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis said that there has been increased interest from the beginning from states in the region, from other states, as well as EU member states and the EU institutions in terms of planning for the sea corridor, with the aim of providing humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“What is of particular importance is that the recognition of the added value of a sea corridor for unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to the civilian population of Gaza is increased, and this proves that we can deliver humanitarian aid as soon as possible.

“The Republic of Cyprus, recognising our role in the region and with excellent relations with the states of the region, has taken the initiative from the very beginning, presenting a specific plan.”

Commenting on statements by Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, on the issue of the maritime corridor, the spokesman said, “the maritime corridor is aimed solely at providing humanitarian aid to the civilian population in Gaza. That’s been our goal from the beginning, a one-way sea corridor for unhindered humanitarian aid to the civilian population of Gaza in a big, huge humanitarian crisis that is unfolding. That is the sole and exclusive aim of this initiative.”