LARNACA - The whole international community appreciates President Anastasiades personal efforts towards finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, said the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who visited Cyprus on Wednesday and held a meeting with the President on board the Danish frigate HDMS Esbern Snare off Larnaca. The frigate leads the Danish-Norwegian-British task force involved in the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons under the OPCW-UN Joint Mission.
Following the meeting, the Danish Prime Minister said that “we just had an excellent meeting; I congratulated the President for the joint declaration that was agreed last week. It is a spectacular and perhaps historic time that I am here today in Cyprus, and I really wished the President well in his endeavours to make this reunification happen. It is a special time in history, and I told him how much I and the whole international community appreciate his personal efforts to make this change in Cyprus that has been divided too long.”
On his part, the President said that “I expressed our warmest thanks for their help during 1964-1992 in the United Nations peacekeeping force. It was a very interesting meeting and I would like to thank (Denmark) for what they have done until now and what they intend to do in order to help us in finding a peaceful solution to the Cyprus question.”
He then told the Prime Minister that “we look forward to seeing you back in Cyprus.”
Replying to a journalist’s observation that in parallel with the peace talks there is also the Turkish accession to the EU and a lot of EU partners have been talking about opening chapters 23 and 24 that are currently frozen unilaterally by Cyprus, and his question about Denmark’s position on this issue, the Danish Prime Minister said that “we are hoping that we can open those two chapters and that is one of the reasons that we are so interested in what is happening here. Of course, a reunification will be a tremendous advantage for the Cypriot people and that’s the most important, but we are also hoping that it can create a new situation in terms of those two chapters and other chapters in the negotiations between the EU and Turkey.”
Asked about the cost of Denmark’s operation with regard to the Syrian chemical weapons in view of a delay in Syria, the Prime Minister said that “I am still cautiously optimistic in terms of keeping the time frame that we have adopted, but it is important that we put some pressure on the Syrians to live up to their part of the bargain, and we are here to fulfil the task. We have a mandate, we have the ship, we have the operational tools to fulfil this task and this is why we are here. It is very important. We talk about chemical weapons that were used to kill a thousand people and that is why this task is very, very important. I used the opportunity in the conversation we had (with the President) to thank the Cypriots for helping this task. It shouldn’t be underestimated that by helping with this task and being so welcoming it is a tremendous help for fulfilling this Danish task to get the chemical weapons out of Syria.”