Cyprus urges Latvia to focus on security in Europe’s south

The Foreign Minister from fellow EU member-state Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides called on Latvia to pay close attention to security issues in the southern states of the European Union during its upcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU.

In an interview with news wire BNS, the Mediterranean island nation’s senior diplomat said Monday that Latvia’s Presidency, which it will assume on January 1 and hold until July 2015, should not forget about the security threats posed to the EU on its southern flank, even while paying due attention to developing the EU’s Eastern Partnership relations with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.

As the member-state directly bordering the troubled countries of the Middle East, Cyprus is “very concerned about the situation” there, said the Cypriot Foreign Minister.

“We are the only EU member state to directly border with this region where extremism is blooming and borders are changing,” he said.

“We are very concerned about the situation in Lebanon, which is the closest country to Cyprus. Knowing the internal problems of this country, it is a big risk," the Cypriot minister said, adding that groups of radicalists have formed in the Mediterranean region, and that Cyprus is the country which is under the closest direct threat from terrorists.

He also warned that the regions surrounding the conflict zone, including his country, could soon have a problem with refugees should the situation take a turn for the worse there.

This could, in turn, further stifle Cyprus’ slow economic growth and threaten its recovery from the brink of economic collapse and financial disaster it almost faced a few years ago.

Latvian Foreign Ministry representative Karlis Eihenbaums on his part told BNS that Latvia would be fully focused on its Presidency’s Eastern Partnership and other declared priorities, however certainly would not forget the needs of its southern fellow member-states in Europe.  

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