Thursday, 26 November 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
207. Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on his efforts to assist in finding a solution to the division of Cyprus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43523/09]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Micheál Martin): Ireland takes an active interest in the successful resolution of the Cyprus problem. The United Nations has the lead role in the search for a comprehensive settlement. The Government fully supports the leadership of the UN Secretary General in this important work.
We welcomed the resumption of talks in September 2008, under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy, Mr. Alexander Downer, aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement. So far, fifty meetings have been held between President Christofias and Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, representing the Turkish Cypriot community in Northern Cyprus, in the current negotiating process.
We maintain close contact with the Cypriot and Turkish governments through our Embassies in Nicosia and Ankara and their Embassies in Dublin and at meetings of international organisations. I have regular contact with my Cypriot colleague, Mr Markos Kyprianou, at Council meetings in Brussels.
We will continue to encourage progress towards the achievement of the objective of a bizonal, bicommunal federal State through an honourable, balanced and durable settlement protecting and guaranteeing the basic rights of all Cypriots.
208. Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to visit the Middle East to pursue his interest in peace in that region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43524/09]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Micheál Martin): The pursuit of peace in the Middle East has been a key concern of successive Irish Governments, and an issue to which I have attached a high priority. I have made two extended visits to the region as Minister for Foreign Affairs. In July 2008 I visited Egypt, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and in February of this year I visited Syria, Lebanon and, in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates. I also attended the Gaza reconstruction conference in Egypt in March 2009.
These visits have given me a valuable opportunity to see the problems on the ground, to discuss the situation with a wide range of actors, to hear from local leaders how they see their difficulties and opportunities, and to impress upon them our views here in Ireland and in the EU.
I intend to visit the region again to continue these discussions, but no dates for a visit have yet been established. The pace of local developments, and the availability of key interlocutors, are of course important factors.
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