RIYADH : The foreign minister of Cyprus has said in an exclusive interview with Arab News that his government’s position is aligned with fellow EU members in supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine and all countries in the world.
As a country that has a problem with a part of its own territory occupied, Cyprus could not be expected to have a different stance, Ioannis Kasoulides said on Tuesday, referring to the breakaway statelet of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey.
“Cyprus stands together with the other members of the EU in unison. Imagine Cyprus, which has a problem with part of its country occupied, having a different stance from one of support for the territorial integrity of countries,” he said.
Alluding to a landmark agreement that addressed a range of global issues signed in 1975 by 35 countries in Finland’s capital, Helsinki, Kasoulides said: “We are in favor of the Helsinki Accords, which means the inviolability of borders and no settling of disputes through military means.”
Like many other countries, Cyprus has been put on the spot by the Ukraine conflict since it maintains close relations with both Russia and Ukraine.
The Mediterranean country has a population of 1.22 million. Its main industry is tourism, accounting for about 18 percent of its economy. Both Russia and Ukraine are major contributors to its tourism revenues.
More than 780,000 Russian tourists visited Cyprus in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, out of a total of some 3.9 million. More than 95,000 Ukrainian arrivals were registered in the same year.
“We have good relations with Russia, in the financial sector, and a lot of (Russian) tourists visit Cyprus,” Kasoulides said. “We would like to have preserved this good relationship, but when it comes to principles, values and the unity of the EU, I’m afraid that’s what prevails.”
The interview with Foreign Minister Kasoulides was conducted after he met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir. On Tuesday, the crown prince hosted the president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, at the Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.
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