Steinmeier: “We need to continue fighting ISIS in Syria”
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and his German counterpart, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on a working visit to the island, said that both countries have almost identical policies during their monthly Foreign Affairs Councils (FAC) meetings, especially on the situation in Syria and Libya, the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) and the agreement reached with Iran on the nuclear issue.
Steinmeier, who also joked that is it not often that two foreign ministers meet for breakfast, lunch and dinner on the same day, as they also travelled from Brussels on the same flight, offered Germany’s experience and know-how on the political level, as his country marks the 25th anniversary of reunification this year.
“Our process of reunification also was not easy. We are happy to refer and share our experiences, if you so wish, and if it is needed,” he stressed.
Kasoulides said that the German Minister, who was also received earlier in the day by President Nicos Anastasiades, discussed regional security, migration and energy issues.
Steinmeier’s interest on the Cyprus problem is very strong, the Minister said, stressing that “we are looking forward to the help that we can get from our EU partners for arriving to this goal, as soon as possible,” as he also briefed his German counterpart on the progress made in the implementation of the Economic Adjustment Programme implementation and the expected exit from the programme in 2016.
Views were also exchanged on Turkey, as well as on the issue of migration, on which Kasoulides commented that “we have to see between two margins: one is the compassionate and humanitarian nature of the EU and their societies, but on the other hand, is the need to guard our borders and not to allow people to abuse our compassionate nature.”
As regards to the situation in Ukraine, the Cypriot Minister said that “we have always supported and we still support Germany and France in their efforts to complete with a satisfactory conclusion the Minsk process agreed in the Normandy format”, adding that Cyprus’ position in the FAC regarding the issue of the sanctions, “will depend on what will be the recommendation coming from Germany and France”.
On his part, Steinmeier noted that the main issues of discussion these two consecutive days were, on the one hand, the Cyprus problem, upon which Germany shows a great deal of interest in the efforts towards solving the decade-long conflict, and on the other hand, the tragic events in Paris.
“We need to enhance and, even more, closely cooperate between the security authorities in order to reduce the risk of such attacks from happening in the future.”
He added that “it is also clear that we need to continue fighting ISIS in Syria, but on the other it is very important a process of talks has been initiated in the past months in Vienna towards the diffusion of crisis in Syria, which,” as he said, “is a hopeful development towards the ending of the conflict that is been ravaging Syria.”
Referring to bilateral relations, Steinmeier said that “there are plenty of opportunities in the field of tourism, but also in the field of energy, not as conventional forms of energy, but also the issue of renewable energies.” Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond will visit Cyprus on Thursday for “high-level meetings to discuss the settlement and bilateral issues”.
Hammond will be received by President Nicos Anastasiades and will have a meeting with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.
He will also meet with UNSG Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci as well, after which the British Foreign Secretary will visit the Committee on Missing Persons.