President Nikos Christodoulides said that he has discussed the possibility of sending aid to Gaza by sea from the port of Limassol with the Israeli Prime Minister and Egyptian President, having earlier referred to the creation of a maritime humanitarian corridor.
The President was speaking to the press as he arrived at the European Council summit in Brussels on 26 October.
President Christodoulides said Cyprus is ready to assume the role it can have, particularly when it comes to the evacuation of people from the region, adding that «we already have requests from several EU member states (and) the United States».
«The issue of humanitarian aid is of particular importance and I have shared with both the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of Egypt some ideas on how the Republic of Cyprus can help in providing uninterrupted humanitarian assistance,» he added.
Responding to a question, Christodoulides said he discussed «a specific idea” with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during his visits to the two countries, on whether «humanitarian aid can also be sent by sea from the Republic of Cyprus, from Limassol, to Gaza.» The position of the Republic of Cyprus, he stressed, is that “there must be unimpeded humanitarian aid to Gaza».
Asked to comment on recent statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Hamas is not a terrorist organisation, President Christodoulides replied that he hopes «that this will be heard in particular by the members of the European Council, the member states of the European Union and the United States».
«Because the statements made by the Turkish President are simply encouraging terrorism. It is nothing else,» he added, noting that «there is no justification for terrorist acts.»
He also stressed that «Hamas does not represent the Palestinians and in fact through such actions it attempts to undermine the Palestinian Authority itself.»
Earlier in the day, President Christodoulides participated in the regular meeting of the heads of state that are affiliated with the European People’s Party. Christodoulides welcomed the fact that EPP President Manfred Weber convened an extraordinary teleconference of the EPP leaders on the situation in the Middle East on 13 October.
Recalling that Cyprus is the closest EU member state to the region and a country with excellent relations with neighbouring states, the President noted that he was conveying the message of the need for the EU to be more actively involved in efforts to de-escalate the crisis.
He said that terrorism cannot be accepted and stressed that loss of civilian lives cannot be accepted, and that the political peace process must resume as soon as possible.
Christodoulides added that Cyprus is ready to play a role, either in removing European citizens and citizens of other countries from the region, or in supporting efforts to send humanitarian aid through the creation of a maritime humanitarian corridor, an issue he discussed with President Sisi and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
At the same time, he added, as the EU, “we must support the countries in the region that are pillars of stability, in particular Egypt and Jordan, countries that have a major role in the de-escalation efforts”.
(Source: CNA, Photos: PIO)