Washington.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis/CNA
Foreign Minister, Nikos Christodoulides, has said that the US have recognised that trilateral cooperation schemes of Cyprus and Greece with other countries are reinforcing stability and security in the region. Speaking to journalists after wrapping up his meetings in the US, Christodoulides said that there are three important issues which come up from his contacts at the Congress, with the US administration and his participation at the AIPAC policy conference.
The first is the recognition of the regional cooperation developed in the region, through the trilateral cooperation schemes of Cyprus and Greece with Israel, Jordan and Egypt. All these trilateral cooperation schemes are recognized by the US as reinforcing stability and security in the region,” he noted.
Furthermore, the Foreign Minister underlined that there is a clear political support of the US to the idea of establishing a regional security and cooperation organization of these states in the Eastern Mediterranean region “where through an open dialogue and through common actions, steps will be taken to jointly address the challenges and use the opportunities in the region.”
Responding to a question about the next day of the Trilateral Summit of Cyprus, Greece and Israel in Jerusalem, earlier this month, that was attended by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Christodoulides said that it has already been agreed that the Foreign Ministers of the four countries will discuss other issues apart from those concerning Energy and energy security, in which there can be cooperation among the four states.
As regards the bilateral relations between Cyprus and the US, Christodouldies said that both sides want to further enhance their relations beginning from the implementation of the Statement of Intent that was signed in November.
“There will be an exchange of actions and ideas during the coming days as to how to move on during the next period. Moreover we discussed about the need of arranging a high level meeting between the President of the Republic of Cyprus and the IS President,” he noted.
We also discussed about the agreement on the double taxation avoidance which encourages US investments to the Republic of Cyprus as well as the issue of the lifting of the US arms embargo on Cyprus, which cannot exist and does not reflect the level of relations between the US and the Republic of Cyprus, he added.
Christodoulides said that the third item on the agenda was the Cyprus problem, given the developments in the region and Turkey`s role, during a period in which the relations between the US and Turkey are not at the best possible level.
“We conveyed the message about the need for the negotiations to resume from the point they were left in Crans Montana, and we are happy that the US have the same views about this need,” he noted.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.
Closer to lifting arms embargo, says Senator Bob Menendez after meeting with Cypriot FM
Cyprus’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides concluded his three-day visit to Washington having discussed matters such as the arms embargo against Cyprus implemented by the US since 1987, security and energy matters and the Cyprus problem in meetings with Senator Bob Menendez and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, with Menendez expressing the view that “we are getting ever closer” to lifting the arms embargo.
In statements after the meeting Menendez, who serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that “we are really enthused about the role Cyprus is continuously taking in exercising leadership in the region.”
“We are very optimistic about the exploration that is going on and the ability of Cyprus to play a major role in terms of energy and energy security, not just for the region, but potentially for Europe,” he noted, adding that “we applaud that and we want to make sure that it is secured and be able to happen.”
Menendez continued expressing the view that “the Cypriot government has a lot of roles to play in the regional cooperation and in Eastern Mediterranean strategy and we hope memorialize some of that in legislation.” But, he added, “I hope it would be bipartisan legislation in the very near future.”
“I have always had a view of lifting the arms embargo. I think we are getting ever closer and to the credit of the Cypriot government they have taken a series of actions that I think makes that move possible,” he said.
On his part in statements after the meeting the Cypriot Foreign Minister said “on the part of the legislative power there is a clear intention in the immediate future to take specific actions, which will allow further enhancing relations between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus but also in general through the recognition of the role of the Republic in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
Speaking during a panel discussion at the AIPAC (American Israeli Political Action Committee) Policy Conference on Monday executive director of HALC Endy Zemenides had announced that this week, Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Ted Deutch will introduce “a very aggressive piece of legislation on the Eastern Mediterranean that is very pro-Israel, pro-Greece and pro-Cyprus.”
In the meantime, a State Department press release says that Under Secretary Hale met with Christodoulides “to discuss the recent progress in the U.S. – Republic of Cyprus security relationship.”
It adds that “they reaffirmed commitment to strengthen cooperation across a range of shared interests, including in combatting terrorism, countering malign influence, enhancing maritime and border security, and promoting peace, stability, security, and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean region.”
The Under Secretary, the press release notes, “reaffirmed the longstanding US policy on resources in the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone. He also reaffirmed U.S. support for the Cypriot-led, UN-facilitated efforts to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which would benefit all Cypriots.”