I wish to extend a very warm welcome to the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Malta, my dear friend Evarist Bartolo, and the members of his delegation.
We had the opportunity this morning to review the full spectrum of our bilateral relations, as well as to compare notes on a number of topics that are high on the agenda of the European Union, in the aftermath of course of the discussions we had in Berlin, during the Informal Meeting of EU Foreign Ministers. We also exchanged views on various pressing issues unfolding in our region and beyond, that are of common interest or concern.
Cyprus highly values its bilateral relations with Malta. We are both small European island States in the Mediterranean, sharing a deep-rooted history with a long tradition of close and friendly relations. At the same time, we are also faced by the same challenges and share the same concerns. We therefore owe it to ourselves first and foremost, especially within the European Union, to cooperate closely and to support each other in the face of adversity.
We see a great potential in our traditionally excellent relations and we truly believe that the time has come to inject new momentum to our relations which will contribute to our common effort for an even more substantive relationship.
As you might expect, I briefed Evarist on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean which, regrettably, is becoming increasingly alarming. Turkey is threatening our collective EU interests, and the stability of the region. We need to act in a swift and decisive manner in order to protect peace and stability around our shared sea. I stressed that we, as Member States, are bound by the duty to defend the core principles on which the EU is based and that there cannot be double standards or selective sensitivity as regards the EU stance on matters of principles.
We also had the chance to exchange views on issues such as the situations in Syria and of course Libya, which remain a source of concern. In this respect, we exchanged information and ideas on how the EU and its Member States can contribute more effectively to the promotion of peace and the strengthening of stability in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean. I strongly believe that both Cyprus and Malta share a common understanding on the imminent need for stability, enhanced cooperation and resilient institution building from Libya to Syria.
The Mediterranean today is faced with numerous and unprecedented challenges that do not recognize boundaries and that render it necessary for all the respective countries to cooperate in the spirit of good neighbourly relations and always on the basis of International Law.
The exponentially increasing migration flows we have been witnessing across the Mediterranean is one of these challenges, disproportionately affecting both Cyprus and Malta, along with some other front-line States. We remain deeply concerned, and as you might expect this was an issue, we discussed at length with Evarist, with a view to enhancing our coordination in efforts to address the situation in a more effective way at the level of the European Union and beyond.
I would like to take this opportunity to express appreciation for Malta’ s supportive stance on our efforts to reunify Cyprus, through a comprehensive settlement based on the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and the EU acquis, values and principles.
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