German Minister of State for Europe to visit Cyprus

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The Cyprus problem, the consequences of the economic crisis and the enhancement of the cooperation between Cyprus and Germany will be the focus of an upcoming visit to Cyprus by the German Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, Michael Roth.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency (CNa), ahead of the visit from September 17-19, Roth said that he was coming to Cyprus to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries.

“One of the reasons for my trip is to obtain a clear picture of the status of negotiations,” he said. He plans to meet President Nicos Anastasiades and the two negotiators. He will also meet the Committee for Missing Persons.

“I am also concerned about the consequences of the economic and financial crisis. I will be meeting young Cypriots and other civil society representatives to discuss the issue of youth unemployment and the situation of migrants,” Roth added.

On the economy front, Roth said there was a plan to establish a funding body to improve the financing conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises in Cyprus. “Organisations like this have proved to be very successful in Germany,” he said.

Asked about Turkey, he said relations between the EU and Ankara should be intensified, which would benefit both parties.

“We expect further reform efforts from Turkey,” Roth said.

“Democracy and the rule of law, freedom of religion, opinion and the media are a must for EU membership. The opening of the negotiation chapters on these very issues, which are of such central importance, is a crucial factor in this context. Unfortunately this long-overdue decision is currently being blocked, despite it being in the interests of the entire EU, including Cyprus.”

Roth said recently Turkey had fulfilled a key requirement with the conclusion of the readmission agreement, a step, he said, which should be acknowledged.

“Of course, Turkey, like any other candidate, must fully meet the acquis requirements. This includes the full implementation of the Ankara Protocol.”

He said it was good that the Cyprus talks had resumed – the leaders will meet on Wednesday. “It is high time for a solution,” said Roth. “Both sides should continue to work as hard as they can on a successful outcome of these negotiations. The talks with the new UN Special Adviser [Espen Barth} Eide in Cyprus last week underscored once again how important it is to find a solution to this conflict.”

Commenting on international issues, Roth said the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East showed that the international community, and particularly the EU, had to present a united front when borders are moved in violation of international law and aggression is used against neighbours.

“That flagrantly contravenes our common European values,” he said.

“Likewise, we must not look the other way in the face of inhumane violence and religious intolerance. We Europeans must speak with one voice outside the EU and do everything in our power to promote stability and prosperity in the world. That includes improving our neighbourhood policy. At the same time, we need a democratically sound Europe which respects the rule of law and demonstrates solidarity. Everything we do must always be rooted in our common values.”

On the Islamic State (ISIS), Roth said the situation needed to be thoroughly analysed.

“Who are these young men who are setting out to engage in so‑called jihad and who could pose a threat if they return to Europe? It often has more to do with failings in the integration process than with current migration policy. But it is also clear that there can be no place in Europe for potentially violent fundamentalists,” he said.

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