Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has confirmed the Australian Government’s unqualified position in regard to both Cyprus and FYROM.

The minister’s comments were made during a visit to Adelaide earlier this month, when Mr Rudd met students of Thebarton Senior College as part of a Foreign Aid Forum hosted by Federal MP Steve Georganas at Thebarton Senior College. Selected as a shining example of multiculturalism in western Adelaide, the college has over 1000 students.

Seventy-five per cent come from non-English speaking backgrounds and over 300 are refugees. At the forum, the Foreign Minister presented an overview of Australia’s foreign aid work and spoke about the key successes of the program. At a dinner attended by business and community leaders following the event, the former PM pulled no punches during a Q&A session in reaffirming Australia’s policy on Cyprus and FYROM. Asked to confirm Australia’s position on the FYROM naming issue, Mr Rudd said, “the Government’s position is that Australia only recognises the name FYROM”.

The minister added that Australia’s position on the issue would “remain until a naming solution is found and agreeable with FYROM and Greece”. On the Cyprus issue, Mr Rudd was similarly unequivocal. When asked to sum up the Australian Government’s ongoing policy for Cyprus, Mr Rudd said: “Australia supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus,” and added that Australia recognises the Republic “as the only legitimate authority on the island.”

In answer to a question from Mr George Nicou, Relationship Manager at the Bank of Cyprus, regarding the ongoing involvement of Australia in UN Peace Keeping Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Mr Rudd said Australia would continue to support the peace-keeping mission, and that Australian police would continue to assist the UN’s mission on the island. Mr Rudd added that the Australian Government continues to urge all parties to make constructive efforts aimed at resolving the Cyprus dispute.