Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Ursula von der Leyen’s political and financial support to Cypriot president Nikos Christodoulidis

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By Eleni Vasiliki Bampaliouta

The two high-ranking politicians were invited to Athens on the occasion of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the New Democracy ruling party with Kyriakos Mitsotakis as president and prime minister.

For understandable reasons and in view of the upcoming negotiation with Lebanon, Nicosia is publicly keeping a fishy silence about what was discussed at the Athens meeting. A government source stated that the discussion moved along two axes: firstly, the plan prepared by the EU to act “very specifically” in supporting Cyprus to stop migration flows and secondly, as to the conclusion regarding the messages that would be conveyed by the Nikos Christodoulidis in the leadership of Lebanon. The latter is considered to be of outstanding political importance as what Beirut heard will not just be positions of Cyprus but positions with which the EU now also agrees. After all, the matter will be transferred to the forthcoming informal Council of the EU.

Equally important, however, if not more important, is the economic dimension. The same source emphasized that the President of the Commission went to Athens extremely prepared with regard to the issue of financial support which could be given in the context of an agreement with the Lebanese officials to comply with the existing agreement to stop the flows. At the same time, there will be such support in the direction of Cyprus, which is finding it difficult to cope in terms of resources and structures for the Syrians who are already on the island.

Nicosia seems completely satisfied with the attitude of the President of the Commission and the fact that the same source emphasized the excellent atmosphere in which the meeting took place is indicative of this.
He particularly emphasized Nicosia’s gratitude for the support of Athens and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis personally in this effort, who declared that “Greece and Cyprus are one”.

Ursula von der Leynen, Christodoulidis- Mitsotakis and Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens.

Generous financial package


It is a mostly economic package that is expected to be generous so that Lebanon – which already receives large sums from the EU for stemming the flows – will accept the deal. For weeks, Beirut has appeared to be flouting the existing deal to pressure the EU for more money – it has collected more than €2.5bn in recent years – resulting in flows of refugees and other Syrians living on the ground of Lebanon to reach unprecedented proportions. Cyprus is certainly not in a position to manage them since the accommodation facilities for political asylum seekers have been overcrowded for a long time, and the climate in society is dangerously sharpening again, throwing water to the mill of the extreme and especially the extreme right.


The authorities are now talking about a slow-burning bomb ready to explode


In this climate, the government of Cypriot President Mr. Nikos Christodoulidis is trying on the one hand to put pressure on Lebanon, and on the other hand to convince the European Union to intervene, mainly on an economic level by increasing aid to Lebanon. In case of failure of the consultations, the return of Syrians to Syria itself with boats that will be made available by Cyprus is not excluded, as Lebanon, despite the existing agreement, refuses to accept returns to its territory.

In fact, in one of these attempts, a warship of the Lebanese military prevented the Cypriot authorities from driving back one of the vessels that had attempted to reach the coast of Cyprus. Reports in Cypriot newspapers that in the event that things reach an extreme point Nicosia will declare some areas as emergency zones with all that entails, are considered untrue as Cyprus is not in a position to do so unilaterally.


It was preceded by Ursula von der Leyen’s visit to Cyprus a few weeks ago


On March 7, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, visited Cyprus and met the President of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulidis. The two politicians traveled from Bucharest where they attended the European People’s Party Summit. In the evening the President of the Republic of Cyprus hosted a dinner in honor of the President of the Commission at the Presidential Palace. According to the sources of the presidency, among the topics that concerned them at the dinner were the maritime corridor for the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza and their planned visit to the port of Larnaca, the current situation in Cyprus and immigration.


Ursula von der Leyen is proud of Nikos Christodoulidis

Ursula von der Leyen expressed her pride for the leaders who belong to or are close to the European People’s Party, including President Christodoulides, referring to the initiative for humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip, in her speech before the plenary session of the EPP conference, on which was expected to confirm her candidacy for a second term in the Presidency of the Commission on behalf of the European centre-right.

Mrs von der Leyen referred successively to the achievements of a series of leaders from the EPP to demonstrate that “this is the leadership of the EPP”, as a “party of the people” which “brings results to the issues that concern the world”. In particular, the President of the Commission said that she is proud of Mr. Christodoulidis “for his leading role in increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza and for bringing economic development to Cyprus”. As Mrs. Von der Leyen pointed out, she is proud, among others, of Donald Tusk “for bringing back the rule of law in Poland”, for Kyriakos Mitsotakis “for bringing Greece back to the path of success”, and Andrej Plenkovic for Croatia’s entry into the Eurozone and the Schengen area.

Also, she said she was proud of, among others, Karl Nehammer for dealing with irregular immigration in Austria, Peteri Orpo for Finland’s entry into NATO, as well as Roberta Metzola for her capable leadership in the European Parliament. In her speech, Ms. Von der Leyen spoke at length about the values of the EU, noting that the EPP promoted the European vision from the beginning. Referring to conditions internationally, he spoke of a dangerous world, where an “alliance of dictators” is on the rise, and where Russia continues its effort to eliminate Ukraine in a war that remains more intense than ever, and also referred to the war in Gaza, the destabilization of the Middle East, and the distortion of international competitiveness by China and others, while inside the EU “Putin’s friends” try to rewrite history and spread hatred.

Mrs. von der Leyen spoke of challenges from the extreme right and the extreme left and added that the EPP will stand for a strong and secure, peaceful and prosperous Europe. He referred to the successive crises of the pandemic, the threat of economic recession and climate change and how unity has helped the EU move forward.



Immigration in the countries of the European Union


In relation to immigration, he said that the EU had achieved results by strengthening Europe’s borders, and added that the EU would continue to respect its international obligations in relation to human rights, but that Europeans would decide who comes to Europe and who does not. the organized networks of traffickers. As he said, he understands why citizens are worried about the future, but he emphasized that after successive crises the EU managed to cope, noting that the common market is Europe’s safe harbor. In this context, he referred to the need to strengthen competitiveness and the transformation of the European Green Deal into an economic, social and industrial agreement.

Specifically on energy, he noted that the EU has resisted Putin’s energy blackmail, now producing more energy from renewable sources than from gas. He emphasized that “unlike others, we support pragmatic solutions, not ideological ones”, since, as he underlined, “there is no competitive economy without climate protection and there is no climate protection without a competitive economy”. Competitiveness, he continued, goes through the reduction of bureaucracy but also increased attention for small and medium-sized enterprises in the EU.

Referring to agricultural policy, she noted the challenges faced by farmers as prices are rising and volatile. “A young man told me that sometimes they are forced to sell their products at prices below the cost of production,” he added, noting that this is unacceptable. In relation to Ukraine, he reiterated that this is the most urgent security issue and referred to the war crimes in Bucha, the abduction of children and the death of Navalny, stressing that Putin will be brought to justice and that a court awaits him in The Hague.
He stressed that Russia is destroying infrastructure, but not destroying the dream of a free and prosperous Ukraine within the EU, which also lives in Georgia, Moldova and the Western Balkans.

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