Minister for Europe, Baroness Glenys Kinnock, last night told UK Cypriots at the Labour party’s annual party conference that Cyprus remains high on the Government’s foreign policy agenda.
At a fringe reception in Brighton, organised under the auspices of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK by the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood, the Labour Cypriot Society, AKEL in Britain and EDEK UK, the Minister said that she will make an official visit to Cyprus next month, and pledged the British Government’s support to the direct negotiations currently under way between President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mr Mehmet Ali Talat.
Baroness Kinnock spoke of her understanding of the sensitivities surrounding the current negotiations and of her understanding of the EU perspective, having served as an MEP for some years, saying:
”The British Government supports a comprehensive settlement by the Cypriots for the Cypriots. A reunited Cyprus would bring huge benefits to the island and all interested parties.”
In his address to welcome attendees to the reception, Mr Peter Droussiotis, President of the Federation, said:
”We support wholeheartedly current efforts to reunite Cyprus but we have no doubt that Turkey’s role is critical to the success of the current negotiations. We call upon the British government to use its influence with Ankara so that Turkey accepts the need for a solution based on principles and European and international law.”
Haris Sophoclides, President of the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood, called upon the British media to readdress its perspective on the Cyprus problem, reminding attendees of the grave seriousness and personal suffering of the victims of the division of the island.
The gathering was also addressed by Andros Kyprianou, General Secretary of AKEL, who conveyed his party’s commitment to a solution which will serve the interests of both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities and emphasised AKEL’s strong support to President’s Christofias efforts to deliver a just and lasting settlement.
Apart from Baroness Kinnock, the event attracted a large number of Labour people including Lord Neil Kinnock, former Leader of the Labour Party, Ray Collins, General Secretary of the Labour Party, Caroline Flint MP, former Minister for Europe, Mike Gapes MP, Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Richard Caborn MP, Andrew Dismore MP, Joan Ryan MP, Andy Love MP, Siobhan McDonagh MP, David Lepper MP, Jim Sheridan MP, Virendra Sharma MP, Mary Honeyball MEP, former Labour Party General Secretary Lady Margaret McDonagh, Lord Toby Harris, Claire Kober, Leader of Haringey Council, as well as numerous Labour councillors including Enfield Cypriot Cllr Bambos Charalambous.
The reception was also attended by the Cyprus High Commissioner to the UK, Mr Alexandros Zenon, his deputy, Mr Demetris Hatziargyrou, and a large number of leading UK Cypriots.