“There can be no two-state solution in Cyprus, because this will not be a real solution,” the new French Ambassador to Cyprus, Salina Grenet-Catalano, told KYPE, noting that Paris is fully committed to the United Nations resolutions that provide for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality.
In an interview with KYPE, Ms. Grenet-Catalano described the ideas for a decentralized federation as very interesting, emphasizing at the same time that “we want to have a reunited Cyprus within the EU, and we believe that the federation is perhaps the best way, if not the only way to do that. ” He also urged the parties to show flexibility in order to allow the resumption of negotiations.
Asked how Paris sees the prospects of the informal 5 + 1 conference to be held in late April in Geneva, and how France can assist in efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and as EU Member State Granet-Catalano said that as a friendly country of the Cypriot people – on both sides – as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and as a European state, “France has always looked forward to a just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem. ».
“We want to help for sure, and this is what President Macron reaffirmed to President Anastasiadis recently, during their telephone conversation. We want to help, but it will be easier for us to help if a real negotiation process is under way. That is why we hope that soon the informal conference, which will take place in Geneva at the end of April, will lead to the resumption of the negotiation process, “he added.
He noted that “we encourage the parties to show flexibility in order to allow the resumption of negotiations. In essence, we are certainly fully committed to the principles set out in the United Nations resolutions, namely the principle of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, with political equality. “
The French Ambassador stressed that “we need to find a lasting solution. And division cannot be a lasting solution. Division is not an option. “So we would like to have a reunited Cyprus within the EU, and in essence we think the federation is probably the best, if not the only, way to do that.”
He also said that “we have heard the ideas for a decentralized federation, for a relaxed federation. These ideas are very interesting. We also believe that political equality is a guarantee of the utmost importance in this matter. It is certainly not up to us to say what form this effective state, based on these principles, can take. We are talking about a Cypriot-owned process, and therefore it is up to the negotiators, in the end it is up to the Cypriot people to say what they want, but we believe that if we work on this basis we may be able to reach a fair and lasting solution. “
Asked about the EU's involvement in the Cyprus issue, Grenet-Catalano recalled that “at the last European Council, EU members decided to appoint a representative to the UN Good Service Mission, once the negotiation process resumes”.
He added that “if the EU can be present at the next informal conference this will be good, because we believe that the EU has a role to play in this, because in the end a reunited Cyprus will be an EU member state. So, it is important the EU to monitor the whole process. “We strongly support the European presence (at the informal conference), as was done before, during the negotiation process in Crans Montana,” said Grenet-Catalano.
Asked to comment on the position of the Turkish side and the Turkish Cypriot leadership for a two-state solution, the French Ambassador said that “we adhere to the principles of the United Nations. This means a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality. The two-state solution is not a real solution, because division is not a solution for us. It cannot be a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem. “We really want a reunited Cyprus within the EU,” he added.
Grenet-Catalano further stressed that “we do not want a solution, a formula that could haunt the EU for a long time. “Reunification is the only way out.”
Asked about Turkey's illegal activities within the Cypriot EEZ, as well as the Turkish movements in Varosia, he pointed out that “at present there is no Turkish vessel in the Cypriot EEZ. “This may be a tactical move, but I hope it demonstrates a more constructive approach by Turkey in terms of respect for international law and international principles.”
He emphasized France's commitment to international law, which he said should be respected. “This is a position based again on principles, on the principles of European sovereignty and solidarity. “The only way to resolve disputes is through negotiations or through a dispute settlement mechanism,” said the French ambassador.
He noted that the French position on the issue of Varos was the same as that of the United Nations, noting that the last resolution adopted in January reiterated these principles, to which “we stand. And of course, this resolution is clear about the rights of former Varosians. I know that the former inhabitants of Varosia are very attached to the city. That is natural, “he added.
“We can solve this problem within the framework of United Nations resolutions and principles, and the best way to solve it is not again through unilateral moves, it is through negotiations, and through a permanent solution to the problem “.
Asked about the attitude that the EU should take towards Turkey, at the European Council meeting on 25 and 26 March, Ms. Grenet-Catalano reiterated that “at present there is no longer any Turkish vessel in the EEZ and “We hope that Turkey will confirm this new attitude and the new position that respects international law.”
He added that “France and the other EU members are monitoring the situation very closely, with a view to the next European Council, which will discuss the relationship between the EU and Turkey. I can not say what the outcome of the European Council will be. “A report by the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, is expected very soon, which will be the basis of the discussion,” he added.
Asked about the Cyprus-France relations and how they could be further strengthened, Ms. Grenet-Catalano said that “our bilateral relationship is excellent”, adding that she looks forward to taking it one step further. “In the political field we may be able to work more on European issues, because France will chair the European Council early next year,” he said.
He added that “we have high expectations, we have ambitious goals for this Presidency, and we hope that Cyprus will stand by us and be active on our side in these matters.”
He said that in the field of defense, Cyprus and France have a really wonderful relationship. “We are very grateful to Cyprus for all the facilities given to us in the ports and airports for our boats and aircraft. Of course there will be new training activities, because Cyprus is a close partner, it is a friendly country, and we are used to doing exercises in order to improve the interoperability of our forces. That is, how our forces can work better together. So we continue with these exercises on a bilateral level, but also in other larger schemes “, he added.
Asked if further visits by French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to Cyprus are expected, the Ambassador said that Charles de Gaulle had recently left Toulouse and that a new mission called Clemenceau 2021 had begun. “So there may be some activities in Cyprus. “But later in the spring,” he said.
He added that “in the economic sector there is an opportunity to develop and promote our relationship in trade as well as to strengthen investment. “And we also count a lot on innovation, like in the digital industry, but also on renewable energy.” He added that France has considerable experience and Cyprus has great potential in this field.
He also stressed the importance of strengthening relations in the education sector and improving the French language in Cyprus. He said that they are working hard together with the Minister of Education, Prodromos Prodromou, on this issue, and that he hopes that they will be able to restore French lessons at all levels of higher education. He also said that the number of people attending classes at the French school in Nicosia and at the French Institute has increased, which makes them very happy.
The French Ambassador stated that she strongly supports the increase in the number of Cypriot students going to study in France, noting that “what is not very well known is that one can study in English and in France. “We have more than 1,500 programs taught in English and tuition is affordable,” he added.
Asked how Cyprus and France can work together under the French Presidency of the European Council, in the first half of 2022, Ms. Grenet-Catalano said that “we consider that we have very similar positions with Cyprus on many issues. “We want to promote our dialogue on these issues and, if possible, Cyprus to be active and with us, in order to achieve the ambitious goals we have for this Presidency.”
Asked about Paris' position on the tripartite cooperation schemes that Cyprus and Greece have developed with countries in the region, the Ambassador said that “we consider these initiatives as positive, as we consider any initiative to be strengthened, to increase dialogue and cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean region in order to strengthen the stability of this region “.
“These initiatives are very positive and very good. An example is the new Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum that will be launched in the coming months and we hope to become a member, because we believe that this is very important for dialogue and coordination on these very strategic issues, such as Energy. and resources. “Any kind of dialogue in the region will be good for the security of the region,” he stressed.
Referring to the coronavirus pandemic, Ms Grenet-Catalano said: “If we did not have the EU and this co-operation to get the vaccines, and all the coordination, I am sure we would not have done better.” He also said that European solidarity in economic recovery was also very good. “We were able to show solidarity and that was very important,” he added.
He expressed the belief that Cyprus managed this crisis quite well, “with a very careful, very serious approach to the pandemic”.
In addition, he expressed concern about the continued closure of roadblocks in Cyprus. “Of course both sides need to take action to deal with the pandemic, but the side effects on human contact are worrying. I hope that the two parties will find possible solutions and ways to better coordinate on this issue and the distribution of vaccines. I consider that this is in the interest of the entire population of Cyprus “, he added.
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