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Speech by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the occasion of the reception at the German Embassy in Cyprus

17.11.2015

-- translation of advance text --

Excellencies,
Religious leaders,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

When we planned our trip to Cyprus, no one expected the circumstances we find ourselves in today: the terrorist attacks in Paris have shocked us all. The scale of the horror embodied by the violence defies the comprehension of each and every one of us.

Our response in Europe has been clear: we stand firm by the side of our French friends at this time of suffering and despair. We stand united as Europeans. In France, in Germany, and here in Cyprus.

But we also realize the enormous task ahead of us. The uneasy truth is that there are no simple solutions when it comes to our joint efforts to fight against extremists, against terrorism, and to end the brutal conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Military action on its own will not provide the answer. We must continue to work on political solutions, particularly in the case of Syria. We managed to make some progress in this complex task during our meeting in Vienna on Saturday.

I am glad to be here in Cyprus, particularly during this difficult time. That’s because you are sending an important, a hopeful sign to Europe. It is a sign of what diplomacy might be able to achieve if all parties are willing to walk the difficult path together.

In Germany, we are following developments in Cyprus very closely: the resumption of the negotiations earlier this year, the remarkable commitment of the leaders of both communities and a negotiation process that is increasingly gaining momentum.

I would like to congratulate the leaders of both communities on their courage and farsightedness. I wish you the necessary resourcefulness and endurance to bring the ongoing negotiations to a successful close.

I am also very happy that the Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II., and the Grand Mufti of Cyprus, Talip Atalay, are with us this evening. I am very impressed by your commitment to a peaceful coexistence of the two communities and your understanding of religion not as something that divides people, but as a basis for dialogue and common understanding.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I belong to a country that overcame its division twenty-five years ago. Maybe this gives us a special understanding of what these negotiations mean for people on both sides of the demarcation line.

In this light, I am particularly pleased that our Cypriot partners have accepted our offer to re-examine together our experience of a complex unification process: through a series of seminars organized by the Goethe-Institute and the German Embassy.

Not as a blueprint, but more as an attempt to provide some food for thought for representatives of both sides here in Cyprus.

This project highlights how close and trustful our bilateral relations are.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Shortly before leaving Germany I spoke to the UN’s Special Advisor, Espen Barth Eide. I thanked him for creating the common ground for the negotiations.

We both agreed that this is a crucial moment for Cyprus. And during my talks today, I got the impression that the leaders on both sides are very much aware of this. You have the historic chance to reunite the last divided country in Europe. A chance that, if missed, might not come again for decades! It is an opportunity that I encourage you all to seize!

Be assured that Germany and the European Union are by your side in this process!

Thank you.

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