‘Strong, strategic and indispensable’: Cyprus FM Nikos Christodoulides hails ties with India

Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides has lauded his country’s ties with India, calling them “strong strategic, and indispensable”. He highlighted how his country can become the “gateway for Europe” for Indian businesses and other people-to-people engagement activities.

Speaking to WION in New York, Cyprus FM said, “We have excellent relations, based on our strong commitment to international law and rules-based international system.” The foreign minister had a bilateral meeting with External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly. During the meet, FM Nikos extended invite to EAM to visit Cyprus.

The Cyprus FM also slammed Turkey for “militarization” of its foreign policy and “violating International law”. He thanked India for its “active and major” role when Turkey was seen violating United Nations Security Council resolutions on Cyprus by opening Varosha, once popular resort town that was abandoned after the 1974 invasion of the Mediterranean island by Turkey. Ankara’s move that got no takers at the security council.

Question: How will you characterize India Cyprus relations?

Nikos Christodoulides: If I would characterize the relationship between India and Cyprus, I will use 3 words – strong, strategic and indispensable. Traditionally and historically, we have excellent relations, based on our strong commitment to international law and rules based international system. I am very glad to have had the chance to meet my colleague here in New York not only to discuss our bilateral relations but also how to work together to enhance our bilateral relations. We exchanged views on regional developments. I have been always looking forward to the assessment of my colleague who has a very good knowledge of the region. We discussed the relationship between European Union and India. Cyprus is a strong supporter of the enhancement of the relationship between Brussels and New Delhi and we need to work together with India, not only on economic and political issues but also on the region, because for us, India and EU are pillars of stability in a region of great geo-strategic importance. So, we need to work together with India. I am glad that very recently we had with us in Portugal our Indian colleague, who had the presidency of the EU and also gave assessment for the development of the region and how to work together for enhancement of EU India relations.

Question: How can Cyprus be launch pad for Indian businesses?

Nikos Christodoulides: Cyprus, for India, is the gateway for Europe and European union, and that is why we are working together with my colleague to enhance people-to-people contact, to enhance our business relations. Europe is a huge market and can give opportunity to Indians. Also, for Europe, Europeans, European companies to invest in India. It’s a huge market, a market that can give lot to European citizens and European companies.

Question: In your meeting with EAM Jaishankar, Turkey not respecting United Nations Security council resolutions was discussed. Can you shed some light on the issue?

Nikos Christodoulides: First of all, I would like to thank my Indian colleague. I would like to thank Indian govt through our discussions for their active and major role during the recent discussions regarding the Cyprus problem and the Turkish illegal actions in Cyprus. When the issue was discussed at the security council, I have to say that India’s leading role was crucial in order to have a positive result from the security council. It is something that we recognise and are grateful for. At the same time, recognising the role of India in the region, I extended an invitation to my colleague to participate in the regional developments in the eastern Mediterranean and the greater Middle East.

Right now, there is an effort from all of the countries of the region, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, UAE and Jordan, to come together to not only better tackle the challenges in the region but also take advantage of the opportunities of the region. I invite my Indian colleague to participate in this discussion, in these regional discussions. I believe and hope that soon India will be part of these regional developments. I know this is what the countries of the region will like to see.

Question: Turkey has been a concern for Cyprus and for India as well. How is it changing the geo-political situation in and around Cyprus?

Nikos Christodoulides: Unfortunately, Turkey’s behaviour is violating international law. They don’t respect international law. They don’t respect a rules-based international system. Turkey has a problem with all its neighbours. It is not only Cyprus but also Greece, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and even India.

What we want and the message we are sending to Turkey is, we don’t exclude any country from our cooperation. We want excellent bilateral relations with all countries. What we need though from Turkey is to respect international law, the sovereignty and territorial integrity for the countries of the region. However, we see from Turkish action the militarisation of the Turkish foreign policy, and this an issue of great concern for all the countries in the region.

Question: It doesn’t look like Turkey is not giving any positive vibes or actions in the region, plans to recognise Northern Cyprus with Turkish allies like Pakistan trying to give feelers.

Nikos Christodoulides: First of all, you are right that we don’t see positive vibes from Turkey. We see few positive statements sometimes but not positive actions. We need positive actions. Regarding the issue you raised about recognition of an illegal regime in the north of Cyprus, the security council was clear that such an action is going to be against international law. We expect all countries of the international system to not proceed with such an action.

Question: Will you go to security council again if Turkey is seen violating UNSC resolutions, as it has been till now?

Nikos Christodoulides: Of course, and actually recent discussions that took place were because of the illegal actions of Turkey. It was the third time that we appealed to the security council. If there is need, we will of course do it again and are looking forward to the support of India. Having in mind that its foreign policy is based on international law, we know very well that we will have India’s support.

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