Statement by Ioannis Kasoulides, after his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon
Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Kasoulides, after his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon
Your Excellency Minister Bou Habib, dear Abdullah,
It is a real pleasure for me to be hosting the Foreign Minister of the Lebanese Republic, Mr. Abdullah Bou Habib in Nicosia today. The way I see things, and I believe this is the case for most Cypriots, Lebanon is not just near in the sense of geography; it is very close to our hearts.
I wouldn’t be exaggerating by saying that there is a natural kinship between our peoples, which is further fueled by the presence of a large and industrious Lebanese community in Cyprus. We are particularly proud to be proving this genuine solidarity not just at the level of Government, but of the society at large, whenever one of us is facing a crisis. We have witnessed this time and again, and most prominently in the aftermath of the horrifying blast in August 2020.
These are indeed very hard times for Lebanon. Therefore, it was a very timely discussion with Abdullah, who has briefed me on current situation in the country, the efforts of the Lebanese Government to address the many challenges and his views on the way forward.
On my part, I have conveyed to Minister Bou Habib that, as close friends are bound to do, we are watching the crisis Lebanon very closely. I have reiterated our position, which is shared by all our partners in the EU and in the region; nobody wants to see Lebanon failing, and this is even more true for Cyprus.
But, for Lebanon to truly bounce back, it is imperative that it takes ownership of the solution to its problems. The international community has stated its readiness to provide financial and technical assistance. We warmly welcome the staff level agreement with the IMF and the improvement of relations with the Gulf states, as positive news.
We are looking forward to the organization of the parliamentary elections according to the scheduled timeframe; a fair and free election, which will reflect the legitimate aspirations of the Lebanese people. I have reiterated the willingness of Cyprus and the EU to work with all constructive political forces, which will bring about reforms, accountability and responsibility towards the Lebanese people.
At the same time, we do acknowledge that the situation in Lebanon is anything but isolated from the regional and global context. The ongoing crisis in Syria and the regional rivalries have undeniably exacerbated Lebanon’s challenges and complicate the response to those. Therefore, it is timely as always to reaffirm our steadfast support to Lebanon’s stability, security, territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence.
We have had the opportunity to exchange on regional issues. The Russian invasion in Ukraine has naturally played a central role in our discussion. As countries that have gone through war, we cannot but stress our steadfast support of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and the need to stop the bloodshed. I have heard with great interest and concern my colleague’s outlook on how the war in Ukraine is already affecting the Middle East.
We are looking forward to developing our trilateral format with Lebanon and by focusing on sectors of cooperation that respond to Lebanon’s current needs and concerns. Our aim is for this format to have a positive impact on the lives of our citizens and particularly the youth, offering an example of respect and cooperation.
Finally, I had the opportunity to brief my counterpart on the latest developments in the Cyprus Question and I would like to publicly express our sincere appreciation on Lebanon’s consistently principled support in our efforts to reunify the island according to the agreed UN parameters.
I wish to welcome you once again to Cyprus and express my pleasure at continuing the frequent and open dialogue between our countries.