The Government’s Minister for Europe, Jim Murphy MP, put a solution to the Cyprus problem at the top of his European agenda in March as he addressed a meeting of British Cypriots in north London, committing his own personal efforts towards resolving the Cyprus problem and stating that this will be his overriding target in coming months.

Murphy spoke at a meeting held by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, alongside Gordon Brown’s Special Representative to Cyprus, Joan Ryan MP, Britain’s High Commissioner to Cyprus, Peter Millett and President of the Federation, Peter Droussiotis.

Having been busy spearheading the Government’s handling of the Lisbon Treaty, Mr Murphy said that his attention was now firmly set on Cyprus:

“As a guarantor power, as a leading member of the EU, and as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, [the UK] has a remarkable responsibility to maintain the momentum. I want to assure you that of all the issues that will come up, this will be my single priority, personally. 

“We will exercise our very heavy and substantial responsibility as a guarantor power to the maximum effect possible in the months and years ahead.”

The Minister stated that the recent election of Dimitris Christofias as President of Cyprus, coupled with a renewed spirit of commitment amongst the island’s people to seek a solution presents an historic opportunity to press for progress towards a long overdue reunification of the island.

Mr Murphy also requested that he be judged on his record on Cyprus and that his forthcoming trip to Turkey would present a first opportunity to push for progress towards reuniting the island under a bi-communal, federal solution. 

“We have a historic opportunity – if we miss it and do not explore it to its maximum potential – the international community will be judged as having failed in its responsibility.”

Answering questions from members of the Federation’s Executive, Murphy added that, as a candidate member of the EU, Turkey would be required to comply fully with the legal and other considerations which all existing members of the Union are expected to observe, implying that the presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus would not be tolerated as part of that country’s accession.

The Federation of Cypriots in the UK President, Peter Droussiotis, felt that the meeting was constructive:

“I was pleased to hear of the Minister’s personal commitment to make Cyprus his top foreign policy priority in coming months. I emphasised the significance which British Cypriots attach to the role of the United Kingdom in efforts to reunite the island and urged him to use the British government’s influence to persuade the Turkish side to respond positively to the election of President Christofias and to work constructively to bring about a solution that serves the interests of the island and not those of any third parties.”