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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

German Ambassador Anke Schlimm: It will take everyone's courage and willingness to restart talks

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Γερμανiδα πρeσβ ειαθαιαεθοσκι ρθμiαγιαρων υνομιλιoν

Resounding messages about Cypriot, the role of Cyprus in the region and the EU, but also the future of the European Union itself is sent by the German ambassador Anke Schlimm through “F”. Germany, like Europe more broadly, are facing two important political, social and sporting events. The first important event is the European elections that will be held this week and the second is the European football championship (EURO 2024) which will be hosted from mid-June in German stadiums. Our conversation with Mrs. Slim could not help but touch on all these issues that are of interest – in one way or another – to all European citizens.

Regarding the European elections, she expresses her concern about the possibility of an increase in the seats of right-wing populist and far-right parties “that call for the dissolution of European integration and want to divide the EU” while stressing that “they need stable, democratic majorities.

The German ambassador registers her country's support for finding a solution to the Cyprus issue on the basis of UN resolutions. At the same time, it sends a resounding message to both sides on the island: “Given the current impasse on the Cyprus issue, it will take courage and willingness of all parties involved to restart the talks.” She adds that her country is ready to contribute in this direction.

For the EURO, beyond her desire to see her country win, she stands by the messages that Germany wants to send and which they go beyond the field of football.

– Two important events are coming for Europe. First the European elections and immediately after Euro 2024. Shall we start with the last one, which is held in Germany? What is the significance for Germany&nbsp? which hosts this year's Euro and… are you thinking about anything other than winning the cup?

– We are excited to host UEFA EURO 2024 this summer in Germany, under the slogan 'Home Game for Europe'. These European football championships aim to be one big football celebration. We want this tournament to be a symbol of cohesion in Europe – despite the crises of our time.

Germany is known worldwide as a football country. UEFA EURO 2024 will be broadcast far beyond Europe. RIK will broadcast all matches in Cyprus and there will be many public viewing events throughout the island.

Am I thinking about anything other than winning the trophy? Well, of course I'd like to host a screening of the final game and applaud our team – but to be honest, it is much more important for me, that UEFA EURO 2024 brings people together, in Germany, in Europe, here in Cyprus, all over the world. Racing will contribute to this.

And I would like to emphasize that we aim to create sustainable and lasting added value for Germany and Europe that goes beyond the games. That is why UEFA EURO 2024 will be as environmentally friendly as possible: no construction of new stadiums, affordable national and international train tickets, free use of public transport with the stadium ticket. With this tournament, we also want to set an example for diversity and inclusion in both professional and amateur sports. With a diverse supporting programme, we are reaching out to people from different walks of life and backgrounds to make UEFA EURO 2024 a tournament for everyone. And there will be an extensive volunteer program with 16,000 people – with young people from Germany and Europe.

– In football terms many people may be happy with a strong Germany at the top of Europe, but I don't know if the same is true in terms of politics with a Germany at the top of the European Union. I think some people don't like to see Germany step up and lead the EU.

– For me Europe is the best place on Earth. Europe is a place rich in history and future, in influences and impulses, in nature, culture, economy, science and social achievements. Peaceful, constitutionally structured, democratic. Am I talking about a utopia? No, this is our free Europe – and so real that we thought we could take it all for granted.

Because after 1945, we were lucky enough to experience how this special European camaraderie gradually unfolded after the ravages of war and the division of the world. We Germans must never forget that it was we in particular, who brought war and destruction to so many people, that we were thus able to find the way to peace and friendship. The generations before us created a European Union of freedom – for life, work and business. Our own generation has now taken up the task of defending and strengthening this place of peace, freedom and diversity that is Europe – against the forces of aggression, lack of freedom and intolerance. Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine provokes us. As the European Union, we stand up for our values ​​and our security together with friends and allies.

What kind of Germany, what kind of EU do we want for the future? Germany will campaign to make our Europe and our EU stronger, not weaker. Together, we want to make the best place in the world even better.

– Cyprus invests significantly in EU aid for the Cyprus issue. In what ways can Germany lend a helping hand in this effort to move forward?

– The division of Cyprus remains an open wound in the heart of Europe. Germany remains fully committed to the EU's solidarity with Cyprus and to the overall settlement of the Cypriot issue, i.e. a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality. On February 12-13, 2024, the Federal President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid an official visit to Cyprus at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides and confirmed German support for the solution of the Cyprus issue on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions.< /p>

Given the current impasse on the Cyprus issue, it will take courage and willingness on the part of all parties involved to resume talks. The appointment of Maria Ángela Holguín Cuellar as the UN Secretary-General's Personal Envoy is critical.

Germany is ready to help and contribute to facilitating this process. And we are convinced that building trust between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities is important. For this reason, I pay special and continuous attention to the creation of spaces of contact, facilitating, for example, meetings of students and teachers from both sides of the dividing line, within the framework of the “Imagine” program or between companies and business associations of the two communities.

– What do you think is the significance of this year's European elections both in Germany and in Europe in general?

– From 6 to 9 June, around 350 million EU citizens will be called to vote for the 2024-2029 legislative term of the European Parliament. By taking part in the European elections, citizens exercise their democratic rights to shape the future of the EU. It is important for Germany to promote and strengthen European democracy. We are concerned that, according to the latest opinion polls, there may be an increase in seats for right-wing populist and far-right parties that call for the dismantling of European integration and want to divide the EU. We believe that stable, democratic majorities are needed to advance significantly – for Germany-future issues such as climate protection, competitiveness, trade, immigration, maintaining our prosperity and finally defense and security.

– Will these broader developments, such as the war in Ukraine and Gaza, affect the election?

– Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine provokes us. As the European Union, we stand by a country that for more than two years has made the greatest sacrifices for a future in conditions of freedom and democracy – and which is now itself taking great steps towards joining the EU.

The ongoing war in the Middle East underscores the value of peace. It also shows that Cyprus, a small EU member state, can make a difference and contribute significantly. When Cyprus opened a humanitarian sea corridor to Gaza with the “Amalthia” initiative in March, it showed that it can use its geographical position as a bridge between continents to strengthen Europe.

We all know how dire the situation in Gaza is. This led the International Court of Justice to once again take interim measures to achieve a humanitarian ceasefire. For this humanitarian ceasefire we Europeans, as well as the German government, have been fighting for more than six months, in order to put an end to the suffering of the hostages who are still being held captive, in order to put an end to the suffering of the people in Gaza .

The war in Ukraine and the situation in Gaza show how dramatic the situation is in different parts of the world. But it also shows how important it is for us Europeans to act together. Europe is strong when Europe is united.

We must reform and improve the EU

– It has been 20 years since the EU was enlarged in 2004 with the accession of 10 new members. What does this enlargement teach us?

– On 1 May 2024 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Cyprus joining the EU. Since then around 75 million people from Central and Eastern European countries as well as Malta and Cyprus were finally able to join the EU. And 20 years ago Europe became more diverse, bigger and stronger. Today, we have every reason to improve our Europe. The enlarged EU must work even better in the future and speak with one voice in foreign policy in order to remain strong and able to act – as a bulwark against lack of freedom and as a shaping force in the world. We want the EU to take its security into its own hands, both within and within the transatlantic alliance, and to defend our way of life. People in the EU want to live freely and safely in open, diverse societies. To achieve this, we must be more resilient and also use military means to guarantee the security of Europe with our partners.

– Germany's proposals for changes to the way EU decision-making is met with negative comments and reactions among the other members of the Union. Our opinion?

– The European Union stands for freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Just like 20 years ago, millions of Europeans today see an opportunity and a promise in becoming EU citizens. A whole generation is sitting in the waiting room of the EU, just like in the Western Balkan countries. We must not miss the opportunity to make our Union bigger and stronger. However, for the accession of other countries to the Union to be successful, we must ensure that the EU remains able to take action – we need to reform it. In Germany's view, this includes reducing veto powers in the European Council. We must remain able to take action also in a future Union that may have more than 35 members. This includes making decisions more often by a large majority as opposed to reaching unanimity. Even if it means that Germany – like any other member state – can also be outvoted. We must face enlargement and reform with determination.

Source: www.philenews.com

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