01 September 2013 11:10

 NICOSIA _ Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said Saturday he has been assured that the island will not be used as a launch pad for attacks against Syria, stressing at the same time that Cyprus is ready, if necessary, to be used as a transit point for foreign nationals from the Middle East who wish to return to their countries.
In statements on the escalating tension in Syria, Kasoulides said that the “Cyprus government has repeatedly expressed great concern over the use of chemical weapons against civilians, especially against the children of the friendly people of Syria and the government’s reaction is even greater when this is happening in such close proximity to our country”.
Kasoulides said that the loss of 1,429 lives of which 426 were children in the last attack in Damascus constitutes a crime against humanity and is unreservedly condemned. He also said that such horrendous action cannot go unpunished.
The Cypriot FM also said “undoubtedly there was use (of chemical weapons)”.
He further said that the mandate of the UN investigative committee does not include apportioning responsibility. The Syrian regime is being investigated for the fact that it produces, stores and is in a position to use combination of such weapons contrary to international, national and humanitarian laws and the UN convention on chemical weapons.
Kasoulides pointed out that if the Syrian regime had promptly destroyed such weapons in the presence of the relevant international organization observers, it would not have been necessary today to show that it is not responsible for their latest mass use.
“Whatever happens, the Geneva II procedure must be safeguarded through finding a political solution to the general problem”, Kasoulides added.
He said Cyprus which provides security and peace, is ready to undertake the responsibility of acting as a shelter in the evacuation of foreign nationals from the Middle East region. “This is the capacity that we want to safeguard and we have received assurances that its territory will not be used as a launching pad”, he stressed.
“We cannot be a safe haven on the one hand and a launching pad on the other”, the Cypriot FM pointed out.
According to Kasoulides, Cyprus can accept 10,000 foreign nationals on a daily basis, on the condition that within 48 hours they will be traveling to their final destinations.
He clarified that “we are not talking about Syrian refugees”, noting that the “current economic situation in Cyprus is not conducive to receiving Syrian refugees”.
Concluding, Kasoulides said he hoped that there will not be any need for foreign countries to evacuate Syria.

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