Cyprus-Canada FMs reiterate strong bilateral relationship as they focus on Middle East (video)

Cyprus and Canada Foreign Ministers Constantinos Kombos and Mélanie Joly have reiterated the two countries’ strong bilateral relationship as they focused discussions on developments in the Middle East including Cyprus’s Amalthea Plan for humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Kombos and Joly on 13 May visited Larnaca Port and Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Larnaca, in the framework of Canadian FM’s working visit to Cyprus.

In statements at the JRCC Kombos noted that the two countries have a common understanding sharing the same principles and values, as they are guided by respect for international law and commitment to multilateralism.

“This is particularly important in times of turbulence and in the cycle of crises that we are facing as we speak,” he indicated.

Constantinos Kombos and Mélanie Joly (6)

The Cypriot Foreign Minister said that JRCC and Larnaca Port that they visited are two strategic facilities for Cyprus' humanitarian role in the region, noting that this infrastructure is also very important for the evacuations that Cyprus has been conducting throughout the year through the National Evacuation Scheme Estia.

On bilateral relations, Kombos emphasised that next year Cyprus and Canada will be celebrating 65 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations and added that the two countries share the political will to enhance and deepen these relations in all areas of economy, trade, services, security, defence, gender equality and marine emergency.

Constantinos Kombos and Mélanie Joly (3)

He also expressed gratitude for the principal position that Canada has been consistently keeping in relation to the Cyprus issue, and also in relation to the contribution that Canada has been offering to UNFICYP in Cyprus with more than 30,000 servicemen who have served in the island. “This is something for which we are extremely thankful,” he said.

On the Cyprus problem that was also discussed, Cypriot FM reiterated the Government’s clear commitment to the negotiating process and full support for the UN Secretary-General's personal envoy. “We are working with her, we will continue to do so, always within the framework of the UN Security Council resolutions about a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality. Within that framework we are fully committed” he stressed.

Constantinos Kombos and Mélanie Joly (4)

He also noted that they also discussed in detail the "Amalthea Plan”, Cyprus’s initiative for a humanitarian maritime corridor to Gaza, for which he explained, as he said, the procedure, the full process, the various steps and phases, underlining that “we are now at a really important point in time”.

“The American construction outside of Gaza is completed and we are ready to make the maximum possible use in order to have scaled volumes of aid departing from Cyprus and going to Gaza” he explained, indicating that is extremely important because “the situation there is dramatic, the humanitarian needs are increasing, and we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can in order to resolve this extremely problematic situation.”

Constantinos Kombos and Mélanie Joly (7)

That of course, he added, is affected by a number of factors in relation to what is happening on the ground in Gaza, expressing in this context, “deep concern in relation to the impact of an operation in Rafah”.

“This cannot happen or continue, as the consequences will be catastrophic and irreversible. We call for full respect of international humanitarian law” Kombos pointed out, stressing that “we need to ensure the full functioning of the Rafah land crossing and full respect for the sanctity of human lives” and calling for maximum restraint and containment and also to realise that a key component is the immediate release of hostages.

The two Foreign Ministers also touched upon global issues like Ukraine, where, according to Kombos, they reiterate the two countries’ concerns over the continuation of Russia's war of aggression, reaffirming at the same time Cyprus’s and Canada’s firm commitment in a principled stance for respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine.

In this context, he noted that Cyprus welcomes the important joint Canada-Ukraine initiative, the "International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children" and thanked his Canadian counterpart for extending an invitation to Cyprus Ministers.

Next few days "very important" for "Amalthea", Cypriot FM says

Asked on whether there is anything more to share on the Amalthea Plan he said that from Cyprus’s side “everything is ready”.

“Everything has been according to the protocols that we have in place. I know that the American construction is basically ready to be installed," he said. 

Constantinos Kombos and Mélanie Joly (5)

"There were some weather issues the last few days but we hope that within the next few days, all of these issues would be basically resolved and we would be able to make use for the first time with American construction and that would be extremely important in terms of the capacity that you will be having to send the aid there in terms of reception distribution and the monitoring of the whole thing,” he added.

“So, it's a very important few days that we have ahead of us and we are working closely with all our partners and trying to make sure that everything goes according to plan and we'd like to thank also all the countries that have been supporting in all these weather in ways that are visible or less visible, but the support has been there and we're hoping that we would be contributing, at least in the way we can for the people in Gaza and the suffering that they are actually having to go through”, he added.

Over 30,000 Canadians have served in UNFICYP in last 60 years

On her part, Mélanie Joly stressed that Cyprus and Canada have a very strong relationship, a very strong friendship, recalling that this year is a very important year because of the 60th anniversary of Canada's participation in the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus, adding that since 1964, more than 30,000 Canadians have served on peace keeping operations and many of them were also heads of mission of that UN peacekeeping force, and some served as Special Representative to the UN.

“So, you can see there's a clear tradition of Canadians getting involved here to make sure that there's more peace and security for Cypriots,” she said, adding that this morning, she had the opportunity to sit down with Collin Stewart, UN Special Representative and Head of the UNFICYP who is, also Canadian, reaffirmed Canada’s commitment in the political dialogue to make sure that there is peace and prosperity for Cypriots.

Constantinos Kombos and Mélanie Joly (1)

In this framework the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister announced that Canada will contribute 100,000 US dollars to support the peacekeeping mission. “This is part of our, ongoing commitment to make sure that we can support the mission the UN is working and support also, your government,” she said. 

She pointed out that Cyprus continues to be a very reliable and constructive partner to Canada, especially when it comes to safe repatriation of Canadian citizens. “You were there during the Israel - Hezbollah War in 2006, you were there following the fall of Kabul, also when the war in Sudan started, basically, you've been always there for us,” she said and thanked her Cypriot counterpart for Cyprus’ help.

She also thanked all Cypriots working at JRCC, an incredible facility as she said. “We believe in work that JRCC is doing, a facility that helps Canada and also other countries in the event of an evacuation,” she said calling once more on Canadian citizens still in Lebanon, to leave the country. “I've said that many times already since the Israel - Hamas war broke since October 7 and there still commercial flights available so please do so,” she said.

On the Middle East crisis, Mélanie Joly indicated that Canada’s position is clear, “the violence must stop.”

“We need a ceasefire now. Hostages must be released; we need to make sure that Hamas lays down its weapons and also aid must get into Gaza,” she stressed, noting at the same time that as she also mentioned to Cypriot counterpart, “Canada is extremely concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian situation that is prevailing in Gaza and so will continue to do everything possible to ensure lifesaving relief reaches Palestinians in direct need.”

Constantinos Kombos and Mélanie Joly (8)

And assured that Canada will support “every single aid initiative possible, maybe UNRWA, maybe the Red Cross, maybe the Red Crescent, maybe the World Food Program,”and also participates in Jordan’s humanitarian air drops.

Joly thanks leadership of Cyprus for humanitarian maritime corridor to Gaza

In this context she thanked Cypriot FM for the work Cyprus is doing and the leadership Cyprus is taking when it comes to the maritime corridor, assuring that Canada will support this initiative and will make sure that this is a success.

“We want to make sure that we can participate,” she said, explaining that this is why they visited the Larnaca Port a bit earlier.

Asked to say more on Canada’s contribution to the Amalthea Plan, the country’s Foreign Minister reminded that Canada has already given a million dollars to the UN in this context and that that money was used to buy security scanners and other key equipment to make sure that the humanitarian corridor is successful.

“We want to do more, and we are looking to other ways for Canada to be able to contribute, and I will have more to say on that in the coming weeks,” she added.

(Source: CNA)

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