Cyprus FM accuses Turkey of using gunboat diplomacy to promote own interests

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides talked of Saudi Arabia's importance in finding regional solutions. (AN Photo)
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Updated 20 January 2021

Cyprus FM accuses Turkey of using gunboat diplomacy to promote own interests

  • Cypriot foreign minister slams Turkey, accuses it of ‘gunboat diplomacy’
  • FM says Turkey previously had good relations with its neighbors, but have worsened under Erdogan

RIYADH: The Cypriot Foreign Minister, Nikos Christodoulides, has slammed Turkey for “promoting its interests through gunboat diplomacy” with its energy exploration off the coast of Cyprus.

Speaking exclusively to Arab News during a visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Christodoulides centered his attack on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying relations with all its neighbors had suffered under his leadership.

“When President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan was first elected, Turkey’s relations with other countries were very different. Turkey had no problems with its neighbors,” Christodoulides said.

“How quickly things have changed in the past eight years. We end up today with (Turkey) having problems with all its neighbors. At the same time, we can’t change geography. We can’t change our neighbors. But we are in a position and we are ready to discuss all issues at the negotiation table.”

Christodoulides told Arab News Cyprus had signed a maritime borders agreement with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel based on international law and 1982 UN convention on the law of the sea, but when the country asked Turkey to talk and agree on maritime zones, Ankara refused.

“I’m wondering if Turkey feels so comfortable with its position. Why do they refuse to discuss with Cyprus, a member of the EU and the UN?” he asked.

Turkey’s President Erdogan received international condemnation in 2020 when a Turkish oil exploration vessel was sent, with a naval escort, into Greek territorial waters in the eastern Mediterranean.

Erdogan again prompted global outrage when he then made a controversial visit to the Turkish enclave later in the year.

During that visit Erdogan demanded a “two-state solution” for the divided island and vowed to continue the oil exploration.

Cyprus is split between the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member that controls the southern two thirds, and the northern third occupied by Turkey since 1974.

Only Ankara recognizes Northern Cyprus as an independent state, and it is largely shunned by the international community.

Christodoulides is in the region visiting Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Discussions on regional security are among the highlights of his visit, including meetings with his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan.

“We looked at how we can enhance our cooperation because security is an issue of concern for all of us,” Christodoulides said.

“We discussed ways to enhance regional cooperation, not just with the UAE and Saudi Arabia but also with Egypt and Greece,” he said, adding that like-minded countries in the region were coming together in order to face the challenges “and to discuss the economic and investment opportunities that we have.”

“What I want out of this visit (to the UAE and Saudi Arabia) is to present the right narrative and the right picture to my colleagues in Brussels. Sometimes during our discussions in the EU and in Brussels, I get the impression that they don’t know the region.”

Christodoulides said that it was also important to “send a common message” to the new Biden administration in the US.

“We have common challenges, common threats, but at the same time our region is not the same as it used to be during the Obama administration. We see a lot of people from the Obama administration coming back to key positions. So we need to send them the same message in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.”

Christodoulides praised Saudi Arabia for its growing role in resolving regional issues.

“More and more countries are coming to understand that no solution can be found in the region without Saudi Arabia playing a leading role in the efforts,” he said.

“It was something we believed in from the very beginning, and we are glad that more countries are understanding this reality,” he said.

Saudi Arabia and Cyprus reopened embassies in their respective capitals four years ago.

Christodoulides said his country had seen a “vast number of achievements” as a result of working together at a bilateral, regional and EU level during that time, including the updating of agreements on air traffic, which he described as a major development.

Calling for greater dialogue and mediation to promote the interests of the region, he added: “Cyprus is a member of the EU, but at the same time we are a country of the region and what we want to do is to raise awareness in Brussels about the region and especially about Saudi Arabia. A lot of times I feel that the Europeans don’t know the region — they talk about the region, but they don’t really know it.”

Speaking of the changes taking place in Saudi Arabia, Christodoulides said: “I can see it on the faces of the people and, for me, this is most important. I am amazed by the changes in the country.”


Organization of Islamic Cooperation chief, Moroccan envoy discuss cooperation

Updated 10 min 53 sec ago

Organization of Islamic Cooperation chief, Moroccan envoy discuss cooperation

JEDDAH: The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, on Thursday received the Moroccan ambassador to Saudi Arabia and OIC permanent representative, Dr. Mustafa Al-Mansouri.
The envoy signed the statute of the Islamic Organization for Food Security on behalf of his country and discussed with Al-Othaimeen ways to further strengthen cooperation between the OIC and Morocco. Al-Othaimeen praised Morocco’s leading role within the organization and in joint Islamic action.

Who’s Who: Dr. Mahmoud Al-Yamany, executive president of Second Health Cluster

Updated 15 min 58 sec ago

Who’s Who: Dr. Mahmoud Al-Yamany, executive president of Second Health Cluster

Dr. Mahmoud Al-Yamany is the executive president of a group of Saudi healthcare facilities known as the Second Health Cluster. It includes King Fahd Medical City, Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Hospital, King Saud Hospital for Chest Diseases, Al-Yamamah Hospital, and a group of primary healthcare centers in northeastern Riyadh.
Al-Yamany has also served as director of the National Neuroscience Institute, chairman of the board of directors of the Scientific Committee for Neurosurgery, medical director of neurology and head of the department of neurosurgery, both at King Fahd Medical City, and as a consultant of neurosurgery at the Riyadh Medical Complex.
He sat as chairman of the accreditation committee for health promotion at King Fahd Medical City, was a consultant of neurosurgery at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, and was an honorary professor of assistant clinical neurosurgery at King Saud University.
In addition, he held the positions of assistant executive director of medical departments and deputy executive director for medical affairs at King Fahd Medical City.
He is a representative of Saudi Arabia and an examiner on the Arab Board of Neurosurgery, and an executive partner of the Qimam Fellowship, which provides its fellows with one-on-one mentorship from senior public and private sector leaders.
Al-Yamany gained master’s degrees in health administration, and health management from Washington University, bachelor’s degrees in medicine, and surgery from King Saud University’s college of medicine in Riyadh.

SAF improving lives of autistic children in Saudi Arabia for years

Updated 48 min 49 sec ago

SAF improving lives of autistic children in Saudi Arabia for years

  • Arab News spoke to Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Farhan Al-Saud, SAF’s chairman, to discover more about the charity’s efforts since its launch in 2009

JEDDAH: The Saudi-based Charitable Society of Autism Families (SAF) has been assisting families with autistic children and pushing for greater community inclusion for more than 10 years now. But while awareness of autism in the region has improved in that time, there remains a stigma around and lack of understanding of the condition in the Kingdom.

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a person’s ability to communicate or socialize with others. It can lead to a variety of seemingly anti-social behaviors, including a lack of desire to interact with other people, displays of apparent hostility, avoidance of eye contact, repetitive patterns of behavior, and more.

Arab News spoke to Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Farhan Al-Saud, SAF’s chairman, to discover more about the charity’s efforts since its launch in 2009.

“With the right health care and resources, combined with family support, some of the children on the spectrum can gain the necessary skills to lead a ‘normal’ life and, in some cases, demonstrate special talents and capabilities not common in the wider population,” Prince Saud said. “We see many inspiring examples in our society and we regularly showcase these success stories.”

Autism is commonly diagnosed by the age of three and is more prevalent in males than females. The first studies of autism appeared in the 1960s, but less-severe varieties of autism were not identified until the 1980’s. Today, three types of ASD have been identified — each with specific characteristics that help doctors diagnose patients. They are autistic disorder, also known as classic autism; Asperger syndrome; and pervasive developmental disorders, also known as atypical autism.

Prince Saud said it is difficult to produce an accurate estimate of how many people in the Kingdom have ASD, due to the lack of sufficient studies. “However, according to the US CDC, 1 in 54 children — across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups — has been identified with ASD, meaning an approximate 1-2 percent of the global population is on the spectrum,” he said “This percentage might be applicable to the Kingdom.”

One of SAF’s most-common methods of raising awareness is through its series of public seminars, but it has recently also become more active on social media, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from its campaigning work, the society also helps arrange the provision of services including rehabilitation, educational development, guidance and assistance from other organizations for the families it supports, as well as a range of online offerings, including consultations, lectures and workshops, and rehabilitation services.

“We will continue our efforts to create a welcoming community in which autism is well understood so that those on the spectrum and their families can get the support they need,” Prince Saud said.


Saudi, Chilean ministers discuss agriculture ties

Updated 25 February 2021

Saudi, Chilean ministers discuss agriculture ties

RIYADH: Saudi Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Mansour Al-Mushaiti received the deputy minister of foreign affairs for international economic relations in Chile, Rodrigo Yanez, and his accompanying delegation in Riyadh.

They discussed strengthening economic partnerships and Saudi agricultural investment abroad, in addition to inviting the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co. and Saudi investors to explore investment opportunities in Chile.

During the meeting, Al-Mushaiti affirmed the strength of economic relations between Saudi Arabia and Chile.

The two sides also reviewed aspects of bilateral cooperation, advantages and investment opportunities in Chile and its most prominent agricultural products.

The Saudi side welcomed the Chileans’ desire to increase the percentage of its products in the Saudi market and benefit from the Saudi desalination sector’s successful experiences.

Saudi health ministry widens vaccine program as 356 new cases reported

Updated 25 February 2021

Saudi health ministry widens vaccine program as 356 new cases reported

  • The Kingdom reported five new coronavirus-related deaths

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will begin extending its coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine program beyond those with health conditions and the elderly, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly urged people to register for vaccination early, saying this will help both the public and the ministry.

While the focus is still on those aged 65 and over, the vaccine rollout will now be widened to include other segments of the population, he said.

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority has approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, and is evaluating four other vaccines, spokesman Tayseer Al-Mufarij said.

A total of 639,587 people have been inoculated so far.

Al-Abd Al-Aly said that Taakad centers are still administering coronavirus tests, while anyone with possible symptoms can visit one of the specially equipped Tetamman clinics.

The clinics have received 2,008,083 patients, while 28,040,237 people have benefited from consultation services by calling ministry representatives on 937.

On Thursday, the Kingdom reported five new coronavirus-related deaths, lifting the toll since the pandemic began to 6,480.

A total of 356 new cases were reported, raising the number of those infected to 376,377. There are 2,574 active cases, with 473 in a critical condition.

“We are monitoring fluctuations in regions of the Kingdom. Some have seen an increase in cases while others have fewer cases. This shows we are not at a completely stable state yet. We must exert more efforts to feel at ease,” Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

According to the ministry, 180 of the newly recorded cases were in the Riyadh region, 80 in the Eastern Province, 37 in Makkah and 13 in Qassim. The rest of the regions reported cases in single figures.

A total of 308 recoveries brought the overall number in the Kingdom to 367,323.

Testing on 45,608 people lifted the overall number of conducted PCR tests to 13,509,412.