PARIS -- French President François Hollande has expressed his wish to see the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides return to the negotiating table, to find a political settlement in line with international law.
Hollande was speaking after a meeting with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, who is paying an official visit to Paris.
In his remarks, President Christofias noted the convergence of views between France and Cyprus on how to tackle the financial crisis in the Eurozone and the EU in general.
According to an official announcement, Holland received Christofias at the Élysée Palace, where the two met for about one hour. The French President said they talked about bailout discussions between Cyprus and the Troika (European Commission, ECB, IMF), the Cyprus EU Presidency and the lack of developments in the Cyprus issue.
“France naturally supports a solution, in order for Cyprus to overcome the difficulties it faces today in its banking sector and return back to growth soon” Hollande said.
He referred to the next European Council, in November, saying that reaching an agreement on the next Multiannual Financial Framework was important, in order to secure the Common Agricultural Policy and the structural funds that may lead to growth.
Moreover, the French President expressed his wish for enhanced bilateral relations in the cultural, financial and other fields.
Referring to the second licensing round in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, Hollande noted the positive outlook in the discovery of natural gas reserves, and wished every success for the French companies that have bided.
President Christofias referred from his part to the close cultural ties between France and Cyprus, which he said, date back a few centuries.
He also said the views of the two sides coincide on how to deal with the financial crisis, as well as on the measures that need to be adopted, in order to generate growth and create jobs in the EU.
Moreover, President Christofias noted the difficult task ahead for the Cyprus EU Presidency, on reaching a compromise for the next MFF.
He also expressed satisfaction with the level of bilateral relations between Cyprus and France in the political, financial and cultural fields and wished every success to the French companies bidding for the second EEZ licensing round.
Moreover, he referred to French support, in the framework of the UN Security Council, for the efforts of the Republic of Cyprus to reunify the island, terminate Turkey`s occupation, end the influx of illegal settlers in the occupied areas and create conditions of peaceful coexistence among people.
Responding to a question on Nicosia’s bailout deal, Hollande said Cyprus was in contact with the Troika, adding that the aim was to find the best possible solution in the coming Eurogroup meeting, not just for Cyprus but for Europe.
Later the same day, President Christofias would inaugurate an exhibition of Cypriot antiquities at the Louvre.
Cyprus, which currently holds the six-monthly rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. A new round of peace talks started in September 2008 to find a negotiated settlement that will reunify the country, under a federal roof.
Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.
After concluding the first licensing round in 2007, a second licensing round for companies interested to receive concessions for exploratory drillings in Cyprus EEZ was concluded last May, resulting to bids by fifteen companies and joint ventures. Bids are being currently evaluated by the government.
The government of the Republic of Cyprus announced on June 25, 2012 that it formally requested aid from euro area member states for financial assistance from the EU’s bailout funds.