December 16, 2017

Presentation by Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations On “The Priorities of Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU – A UN Perspective” To the Members of the Foreign Press Association, Wednesday, 11 July, 2012, New York

Dear Friends,

I welcome you to the Cyprus House.  Indeed I am delighted to be with you tonight to speak about the Cyprus Presidency of the EU Council for the next six months and its main priorities.  It is a standard practice that each member state assuming   the Presidency of the EU should prepare a set of priorities on issues considered of great importance and therefore placed high on its political agenda.

Cyprus is already in the 11th Day of its Presidency and from day one, the entire government apparatus, the legislature, the municipalities and citizens across the island are at work to perform a duty in which they take a lot of pride. Indeed this is a historic moment for the country and its people. The government and the people of Cyprus as a whole, have put a lot of hard work to prepare the Presidency and now this moment has arrived and they are all very proud and ready to demonstrate that it is not the size that makes the difference but small countries too can be equally effective, in particular when there is good preparation, clear and explicable goals, faith and confidence in the set objectives, and a dedicated staff that is professional, efficient and hard working in realizing those objectives.

The first Presidency ever is a great challenge and a one of a kind opportunity for Cyprus to contribute towards European integration and at the same time to advance its credibility as a responsible EU member that assumes fully the obligations and competences of membership.

Dear Friends,

Today’s presentation is not about the typical Cyprus problem theme but instead about a more delightful topic.

Coming to our priorities, the motto of the Cyprus Presidency is that we will work Towards a Better Europe. This will be the driving force for the implementation of our 6-month program. The concept of a better Europe was borne out of necessity in view of the current socio-economic situation all over Europe and the difficult times that European citizens are facing today. There is an imperative need to help EU come stronger out of the current economic and financial crisis and to re-establish itself on the global arena. Today, more than ever, it is necessary to further deepen European integration, strengthen social cohesion and ensure better quality of life for European citizens. The Cyprus Presidency, on the basis of these values, will work Towards a Better Europe; a European Union more relevant to its citizens and to the world; a more effective Europe, contributing to sustainable growth, social cohesion and job creation through efficient and integrated policies; a European Union working on the basis of the underlying principle of solidarity, committing itself to a better future. All efforts will be directed to bequeath a better Europe to the younger generations.

During its Presidency, Cyprus is called upon to deal with key issues of the EU agenda, many inherited by the Danish Presidency. In this context it will work for the Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2014-2020 and will seek to achieve progress on the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies, the Cohesion Policy and the Research and Innovation Policy (Horizon 2020).

Other issues that the Cyprus Presidency will focus on, are the energy policy as well as the Trans-European Networks on transport and the Connecting Europe Facility.

In view of the pressing multiple global challenges, in particular climate change, Cyprus will pay special attention to, inclusive and equitable green growth in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy through the promotion of  sustainable management of resources, especially water. It is essential for the EU that policies on climate change, environment and energy are implemented in an integrated way.

The Cyprus Presidency will aim to work towards bringing Europe closer to its citizens, giving emphasis on youth employment, in view of the rising unemployment rates in the Union. Furthermore, one of the most important objectives of the Presidency is the establishment of the Common European Asylum System by the end of 2012, focusing on building up practical cooperation between Member States in protecting the rights of those in need of international protection. The Presidency will also deal with issues related to the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations and issues related to health and children’s well being, such as the prevention of diseases, the promotion of healthy lifestyle, as well as the prevention and combating of child poverty. Issues related to education and culture will also be highlighted, such as the promotion of literacy and the provision of more qualitative education and training, in order to meet the needs of the job market. In addition, the new legal framework for the protection of personal data is another issue of priority for the Cyprus Presidency.

From the UN perspective, the Presidency is an opportunity for Cyprus to emerge as an engaged party in the UN, in an array of international issues, discarding thus its “one-dimensional” image, as being essentially preoccupied only with the Cyprus problem. The Cyprus Mission to the UN will be active throughout this period, in many more areas than usually and will work together with the EU Delegation at the UN and its EU partners on a range of issues, within the scope of adopting relevant resolutions, like the abolishment of the death penalty, the law of the sea omnibus resolution or work for the success of significant events like the rule of law upcoming high level event during the Ministerial week in September and many other issues.

The commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of the EU’s external policy. This commitment is rooted in the conviction that to be able to respond to global crises, challenges and threats, the international community needs an efficient multilateral system, founded on universal rules and values. In this context, Cyprus as EU Presidency will give special emphasis on strengthening multilateralism by promoting respect of rule of law and the principles of the UN Charter and international and human rights law.

On the international development front, the Cyprus Presidency will place emphasis on sustainable development and on the follow up of the Rio+20 Summit. Cyprus in close cooperation with the EU delegation in New York and EU member states will work hard for promoting the integration of the three dimensions of Sustainable Development, namely the economic, social and environmental dimensions and will engage constructively in the intergovernmental processes that Rio decided to be launched in the UN General Assembly. Among other things the processes will elaborate Sustainable Development Goals, upgrade UNEP and decide on a new Institutional Framework on Sustainable Development.

Another important objective of the Cyprus Presidency is the preparatory work for the post-2015 development agenda that would need to agree on the new MDG framework and which will constitute an overarching umbrella for both the SDGs and the MDGs.

Another goal would be to further strengthen EU Development Policy and Humanitarian Aid. The fight against hunger, food security and nutrition are issues high on our agenda. Improving the nutrition of mothers and children is the key to fighting hunger. Almost one-third of children in developing countries are malnourished – 150 million are underweight for their age. This has a cost and none of the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved if we don’t tackle hunger, food security and nutrition first. Our key message is right food at the right time.
Cyprus strongly promotes integrated approaches to prevent recurring food crisis. The latest EU efforts (Horn of Africa/SAHEL) go in this direction. That’s why Cyprus has decided to co-finance SHARE in the Horn of Africa.

Finally, a couple of words on Turkey.  From the very beginning we have made very clear that our EU Presidency will not be affected or influenced by the Cyprus problem or by any other narrow national interest. With regard to Turkey and its accession course, there should be no doubt that the Cyprus Presidency will perform its role in the most objective and transparent manner and treat Turkey just like any other candidate country on an equal footing.  At the same time, we have unequivocally said that we will not accept Turkey’s threats to ignore our Presidency by finding a way around Cyprus or to attempt to violate our rights as sovereign state, and member of the EU.
Dear Friends,

Photo by Kinue Imai Weinstein

As I said at the beginning of my speech the aim of the Cyprus Presidency is to work Towards a Better Europe. Our aim is to make a difference in the lives of our citizens, but also to contribute to the role of the EU as a global player. In a world of globalization, the European Union cannot turn its sights only inwards. A strong EU presence in the world, as a force of democratization, stability and peace, will help not just our partners, but also us. Through a sound policy on enlargement, through the improvement of our relations with our neighbors, and through an effective and targeted development and humanitarian aid policy, we can achieve a lot.