Remarks With Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
June 13, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. Before I – well, let me welcome my colleague and friend, Ioannis Kasoulides, who is a very active, engaged, and extraordinarily helpful colleague and I appreciate his visit here today.

I just want to say a word regarding Orlando. There just are no words to express the depths of our feelings – personal feelings and the feelings of everybody who works here – for what has happened there. It is horrific in every – every sense of the meaning of that word, and I think an act that obviously was – is profoundly filled with hate as well as a desire to sow terror in people.

Everyone has spoken to the strength of Orlando, and I have no doubt that the citizens of Orlando, as its papers declared today very clearly, will get through this. But all of us will continue in every way possible here at the State Department where we are deeply engaged every single day in this fight against ISIL. We will continue to stand up for our values, which are the antithesis of what drove yesterday’s horrible events. We try to undo hate, and we try to show the value of people coming together working through differences and I think are profoundly driven by a sense of love for other people. The worst thing you can do is engage in trying to point fingers at one group or one form of sectarianism or another or one division or another. Those are not the values of our country. What we need to do is to bring people together and work to forever prevent this kind of hate and terror from playing out as it has so horribly in the last day.

So we here at the Department are going to continue in every way that we already are to fight against ISIL and any other terrorist group in the world that seeks to impose its will or carry out its hateful ideology against other people. And I’m proud of the actions of this department as we continue to do that.

So Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you for being here with us. Cyprus has known its own share of terror and its own share of sacrifice and agony over the years. We are working very, very hard with our friends in Cyprus to finally bring peace to that island. We are supportive of their efforts, deeply involved in those efforts now engaged in discussions. And I have traveled there. Our assistant secretary of state has traveled there. We will continue to be engaged in these talks, and my hope is that the re-engagement that has just taken place in the last days will produce some progress. There is progress. There are certain areas of the discussions where people believe they’ve reached some agreement, but there are still some difficult hurdles to get over. And we will continue to work with our friends in Cyprus on all of the security issues, the economic issues, and clearly on the negotiations themselves in an effort to try to bring this 50-year conflict to the close that it deserves. And I look forward to traveling back there at some time in the not too distant future in order to try to be helpful.

So, Ioannis, thank you for being with us today, and thank you for your partnership on so many security issues as well as on other important economic priorities of the region.

FOREIGN MINISTER KASOULIDES: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. Allow me, myself, to express the condemnation of Cyprus for this heinous terrorist attack of hate in Orlando, express our solidarity in the fight against terrorists worldwide, and our condolences for yourself, the American people, and the relatives of the victims.

Now, I would like to thank the Secretary of State for his keen interest on the issue of Cyprus. This is the third time we are meeting here in Washington for the last three years. He has been to Cyprus, he has met for three times with the president of the republic, and we hope that we will welcome him back in the near future. And we are going to discuss today ways that the United States could possibly contribute to the good offices mission of the United Nations in bringing progress in our problem.

The will is there, and since we have started with the very sad developments in Orlando, may I say that an agreement in Cyprus will be a very important development in showing that Muslims and Christians can get together in peace and reconciliation in that part of the world which is so turbulent.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Well said, appreciate that very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.