“I am very pleased to welcome to Cyprus the Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean, my good friend Nasser Kamel.
I note with satisfaction that today’s meeting is our second in the space of the past three months, following our meeting in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York, in September. Additionally, I of course had the privilege of being hosted by Nasser at the 4th Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean in Barcelona, in October. This clearly goes to show the value and potential we both see in the evolving relationship between Cyprus and the Union, which is indeed a very promising one.
Given that 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Process, which in many ways was the precursor to the Union for the Mediterranean, our deliberations today are not only particularly timely but they come, as well, at a symbolic juncture.
During our discussions this morning we therefore had the opportunity with the Secretary-General to hold a forward-looking exchange of views on a variety of issues pertaining to the broad agenda of the Union, acknowledging the unique role that this intergovernmental institution can continue to play in the years to come, in enhancing cooperation across the entire Mediterranean region.
Within this context, we reviewed the ongoing cooperation between Cyprus and the Union, and we naturally explored potential areas where we could go into more depth, identifying gender equality, climate change and education as particularly promising themes for the adoption of common actions and initiatives.
I use the word ‘naturally’, because the mandate of the Union happens to fully coincide with one of the main pillars of the foreign policy of the Republic of Cyprus, which is none other than the institutionalization of cooperation with neighbouring countries, in order to promote security, peace and prosperity in the broader region of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Indeed, the trilateral mechanisms that Cyprus and Greece have established with neighbouring countries ― that are also members of the Union for the Mediterranean ― serve precisely and primarily this purpose, on the basis of a positive agenda, and without excluding any other countries of the region from joining in the future. I am convinced that this network of trilateral mechanisms can easily add to, or supplement, the toolbox of the UfM and this is something that we agreed with Nasser to continue to explore.
We also touched upon a number of regional issues and challenges, recognizing that in most cases the persistent crises unfolding around us recognize no national boundaries and impact negatively, in a direct or indirect way, on the entire region and even beyond. Within this context, I also had the opportunity to update the Secretary-General on the latest, escalating Turkish provocations in the Exclusive Economic Zone and territorial waters of the Republic of Cyprus as well as on the latest attempt by Turkey to disrupt the rules-based order and cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean with the purported signing of an MoU with Libya which lacks any legal foundation.
With these words, I would like to welcome my good friend, the Secretary-General, once again to Cyprus and reiterate, in public also, the determination of the Government of Cyprus to continue to play an active and constructive role within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean.
Dear Nasser, I look forward to continuing our fruitful deliberations in more depth over lunch. The floor is now yours.”