Remarks by Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council following his meeting with President of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias
I am happy to be here again in Nicosia.
President Christofias and I had a good discussion in an atmosphere of friendship. We talked in particular about the recent economic measures approved by the European Council. Our political commitment is to make sure that our economies are competitive enough to create jobs and to sustain the welfare of our citizens. That is what our work is about. The economic package approved on 25 March will help us to recover from the crisis. Of course the problems of some countries are not over yet. But we have the instruments to deal with them. Those problems are the remainders of the past, in which there were no instruments and no political will to tackle the imbalances. We talked in particular about the Euro Plus Pact, which comes on top of all the other measures in the package to improve Member States’ economic performance.
President Christofias informed me that his Government was already preparing the Reform and Stability Program of Cyprus. In preparation for the next European Council on 24 June we also spoke about challenges in the area of migration, asylum and border management. The EU is fully aware that the present situation in the Southern Neighbourhood region could add to the migratory pressures which Cyprus already faces. I therefore affirmed to President Christofias that the EU will continue to show solidarity with Cyprus as well as with other Member States directly affected by large scale migratory movements. For your country the measures already include financial assistance as well as practical support through the activities of FRONTEX and the newly established European Asylum Support Office.
President Christofias and I agree that we need to develop new or improved partnerships with the countries in the Southern Mediterranean. Such cooperation should include building capacities in the area of border management and to cooperate in combating irregular migration and trafficking in human beings as well as on return and readmission. I know that Cyprus attaches particular importance to the conclusion of an EU level agreement on readmission with Turkey. This would indeed help to manage migration flows and to combat irregular immigration.
The EU will continue to push for the swift conclusion and entry into force of the agreement. President Christofias and I are convinced that these initiatives are already paving the way for more modern EU policies in the areas of migration, asylum and border control.We will both continue our efforts and we will work closely together in the preparation of our next European Council in June. We also agreed that while the EU needs to tackle migration and border controls more robustly, we should not forget the positive developments in our Southern Neighbourhood.
The EU will support all steps towards democratic transformation. In the June Council we will further discuss this issue. Finally, President Christofias briefed me on the Cyprus issue. The EU continues to fully support the efforts of the leaders of both communities in Cyprus and the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible. I shared my hope with President Christofias: when Cyprus takes over the rotating Presidency of the Council next year, we would like Cyprus to be a united island. I encourage the leaders of both communities to act in a spirit of compromise to find common ground on the remaining issues.