Britain`s exit from the EU, the Cyprus issue and bilateral affairs, were the focus of the first meeting held between Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides and new UK Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan, who is paying Cyprus a three-day visit to Cyprus.
The Cypriot Minister briefed the Europe Minister on the latest developments in the current negotiating process for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem and the role the UK can play in facilitating the process.
Regarding Brexit, Kasoulides said that on the bilateral level “we look at the post-referendum period as a chance to deepen and strengthen our relationship even further” and added that “our authorities are already closely looking into all aspects of our bilateral affairs and we look forward to working very closely with the UK in order to redefine the web of our relations”.
London, he said, should be afforded time to determine how it envisages its future relationship with the EU. “But the sooner this is determined the better for all of us as the uncertainty is not without consequences for both”, Kasoulides underlined.
In his statements, the British Minister referring to his duties said that amongst his responsibilities is Cyprus and “it is very much at the top of my agenda and the agenda of the government”.
As regards the Cyprus issue, Duncan noted that his government wishes for a successfully conclusion of the Cyprus talks that would bring unity across the whole island.
“I wish you well in the talks that are going on at the moment” he said, noting that the UK will be encouraging and assisting wherever they are asked to assist.
The UK, he said, will work very closely with everyone involved to make sure that it exercises a constructive influence behind the process, noting that it seems that there is very good and encouraging progress in the process.
Duncan also said that Britain remains an important diplomatic influence and that the Cyprus solution will need international support, as well as financial support. The UK, he said, will give its support to that end.
Asked about the British Bases in Cyprus and whether London will give back the same amount of land in the event of a Cyprus solution as the amount discussed in the context of the UN Annan plan in 2004, the British official said that “this is part of the discussions that will inevitably form part of the negotiations and I am not in a position to give a straight forward easy detailed answer at this stage”.
Asked if the EU acquis communautaire will still be implemented in the British Bases in Cyprus after Brexit, he said that any question of detail at the moment on Brexit can not be answered with certainty because it is part of the entire broad discussion London will have on many levels in this complex subject.
As regards the right of establishment of Cypriots in the UK and vice versa after Brexit, he said that this issue along with others will be subject of discussions but pointed out that for the moment Britain remains full EU member state and until the time of Brexit all rights that exist in the moment remain in place.
The UK, he pointed out, will leave the EU but will be a globally minded country which keeps its friends and its relationships, “and indeed in many instances deepens our bilateral friendships and relations however deep they might be already and on that list will be Cyprus”.
The Europe Minister said he understands the concerns about Brexit but said that London will be in regular discussions with Cyprus.
Concluding, he said he appreciates Kasoulides’ statement that London should be allowed time to shape its departure, noting that Brexit is a very complex issue.
Meanwhile, in his statements earlier, Kasoulides said that the future cooperation between UK and the EU will be negotiated at that level but the special link between Cyprus and UK will have to be dealt with bilaterally.
“We had a very good talk with the Minister on the number of concerns that we have, I am optimistic that we are going to find satisfactory solutions whether within the agreement that is going to follow between the EU and the UK or bilateral”, he said.
Kasoulides said that their strategic partnership has been growing stronger and deeper in the last couple of years, while their bilateral cooperation enjoys a dynamic and constantly growing coordination on several fronts.
“I am pleased to observe that there is a momentum and willingness from both sides to keep expanding it”, he pointed out.
Concluding, he thanked Britain for its support during the firefighting efforts of the last devastating fires in the mountains of Solea, Cyprus, in June.