Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides on Thursday said that in case the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, an interim solution will be applied for the British Bases on the island. He said that this matter has been chosen, among others, by the EU, for such a solution to be applied.
Speaking to the press after a meeting of the Cabinet, the Minister said that he had the chance to brief the Council of Ministers on the latest developments regarding Brexit, adding that all scenarios are likely to take place and in such case, the preparation that has started in October 2017 for a hard Brexit has now been intensified. He said that Cyprus is in constant contact with Brussels and depending on the results of the talks between the EU and the UK, we are ready to manage the situation.
Christodoulides also said that this preparation is taking place in cooperation with other member states, but also with the EU itself. He said that Cyprus favours a Brexit with an agreement, however the EU and all the MS are ready for a hard Brexit.
The Minister said that in the context of the discussions taking place, the aim, which we consider achievable, is for the rights of all Cypriots who reside and work in the British Bases to remain unaffected.
He went on to say that the issue of the British Bases is one of the issues that is high on the agenda of the European Commission in case there is no agreement with the UK, adding that in this case, an interim solution will be applied, until a final agreement is reached.
The Minister was asked whether the President of the Republic has been informed about a meeting AKEL Secretary General Andros Kyprianou held yesterday with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci. He said that so far, he has not been informed and added, as a general comment, that the Government supports contacts that can lead to the resumption of the talks.
Christodoulides also repeated that the President has conveyed to UNSG Envoy’s Jane Hall Lute the need for an agreement to be reached as soon as possible on the terms of reference. He pointed out that our side has not set any conditions on the resumption of the talks related to the EU elections or Brexit. Foreign Minister said that we continue to support the resumption of the talks the soonest, given that the terms of reference are agreed.
The Minister was asked about the event held yesterday by AKEL Secretary General with the participation of foreign diplomats whom he briefed on the Cyprus problem. He said that some statements made don’t reflect the reality and added that our position is clear and known to all foreign diplomats. At the same time, he said, we all listen to the public statements made by Akinci, or Turkey’s Foreign Minister Cavusoglu.
He also expressed his concerns on Ankara’s efforts to dominate the Turkish Cypriot community in areas such as economy and education, adding that this is why a solution to the Cyprus problem needs to be found the soonest so we can design our common future with the Turkish Cypriots.
The Minister also said that Turkey’s actions prove and strengthen our position that the solution needs to be functional with no external interventions and that an end needs to be put to the issue of foreign guarantees and the presence of occupying troops.
Christodoulides said that UNSG’s Envoy Lute is expected on the island by the end of January or early February, adding that she is working towards an agreement on the terms of reference so that the dialogue can be resumed.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The latest round of UN-backed talks to reunite the island under a federal rood ended without results in the summer of 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans Montana.