Canada hopes to be present in the development of Cyprus` offshore hydrocarbons sector, Canadian High Commissioner to Cyprus, based in Athens, Robert Peck has told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).
In an interview with CNA the High Commissioner stressed that “as a fellow Commonwealth member, multicultural society, and federation with two official languages, Canada continues to serve as a point of reference for a reunited Cyprus along the road to reconciliation.” Referring to the purpose of the forthcoming visit of the Minister of Veteran Affairs of Canada Julian Fantino and ten Canadian Veterans to Cyprus, Peck said that “the real focus of the visit is on the peacekeepers themselves, who have fond, vivid memories of their years of service on Cypriot soil and developed lasting friendships.”
“Some of the peacekeepers coming have had multiple tours of duty. The visit of Minister Fantino and his delegation of 10 veteran peace-keepers from across Canada honours this long engagement,” he noted. Over 29,000 Canadian peacekeepers served in Cyprus from 1964 to 1993. Twenty-eight of them lost their lives on Cypriot soil, while Canada currently has one peace-keeper with UNFICYP. Referring to the long-standing bilateral ties between Cyprus and Canada, Peck noted that “while bilateral trade between the two countries is still relatively modest, the recent agreement in principle of a Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA) offers new prospects,” adding that a delegation of the Canada-Cyprus Business Association plans to visit Canada later this year.
Invited to assess Canada’s contribution to the UN Peace Keeping Force (UNFICYP) in Cyprus from 1964 until 1993, Peck said that Canada`s peace-keeping contribution during these years is virtually unprecedented in terms of duration and scale. “Canadian peacekeepers are remembered for their courage and impartiality during this almost 30-year period of engagement. I am proud that Canada continues to be represented within UNFICYP, 50 years from its inception,” he said.
Furthermore he recalled that the late Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson (and Nobel Laureate), and his Foreign Minister at the time, Paul Martin Sr., played a key role in the negotiation of UNFICYP`s original mandate. “Canada has a long tradition of peace-keeping internationally and is proud of the contribution made by its military personnel to the success of UNFICYP from the very start,” he noted.
Asked if he sees any future role for Canada in a reunited Cyprus, within the UN context, the High Commissioner said that apart from the historic link of peacekeeping, Canada`s former Prime Minister, Joe Clark, was the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations from 1993 to 1996. “As a fellow Commonwealth member, multicultural society, and federation with two official languages, Canada continues to serve as a point of reference for a reunited Cyprus along the road to reconciliation,” he added. He said that “Canada`s long presence in peacekeeping on the island and co-operation with Cyprus both bilaterally and in international fora have contributed to a climate of mutual respect, confidence and bilateral friendship.”
Asked about Canada’s position with regard to the resumption of UN-led talks in Cyprus aiming to solve the Cyprus problem and end the occupation of the island reuniting it into a federal state, Peck said that Canada as a fellow member of the Commonwealth welcomed the recent Joint Declaration by the two leaders of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities. “We support relevant UNSC resolutions in support of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal state that is acceptable to both sides,” he pointed out.
Asked about the purpose of the forthcoming visit of the Minister of Veteran Affairs of Canada Julian Fantino and ten Canadian Veterans to Cyprus, the High Commissioner said that during his visit to the Republic of Cyprus Minister Fantino will meet with the President of the Republic and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism. “The real focus of the visit, however, is on the peacekeepers themselves, who have fond, vivid memories of their years of service on Cypriot soil and developed lasting friendships. Some of the peacekeepers coming have had multiple tours of duty. The visit of Minister Fantino and his delegation of 10 veteran peace-keepers from across Canada honours this long engagement,” he noted. As he said the program of the visit will allow veterans to visit areas they once patrolled with UNFICYP and connect with friends from both Canada and Cyprus. “A solemn moment will be the re-dedication of the Canadian peacekeeping monument located in the Buffer Zone, and a reception at the Ledra Hotel, very familiar to veteran peacekeepers,” he said.
Furthermore, Minister Fantino and his delegation will also honour the memory of Canadian soldiers from both peacekeeping missions and WWII buried at the Dhekelia and Wayne's Keep cemeteries, respectively, he added. He said the delegation will take part in the official opening March 15th of 'Canada House', located at the Hall of Peace near the Green Line. This informal gathering place, operating from March 14 to March 23, will allow everybody to celebrate the friendship between the Canadian and the Cypriot people, the High Commissioner noted.
Asked about the state of bilateral relations between Cyprus and Canada at the political, financial, commercial and cultural level, he said that Canada and Cyprus have long-standing friendly relations dating back to independence and have shared Commonwealth membership. “A dynamic Cypriot-Canadian community is a people to people bridge between the two countries. Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird made an official visit to Nicosia in 2013 and signed a consular arrangement in the event of the evacuation of Canadian nationals from the Middle East,” he recalled. He said that “while bilateral trade is still relatively modest, the recent agreement in principle of a Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA) offers new prospects.”
He noted that a delegation of the Canada-Cyprus Business Association plans to visit Canada later this year and expressed hope to see a Canadian presence in the development of Cyprus' offshore hydrocarbons sector, noting that Canadian company Sea NG has made a compelling case for the use of CNG to meet the country's interim energy needs. The High Commissioner recalled that Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth, Australia, in 2011, and again in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2013, affirmed their full support for the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as for its sovereign right to explore and exploit any hydrocarbon reserves in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Source: Financial Mirror