British Cypriots last night welcomed the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, to London, applauding his efforts to build momentum around new talks for the island’s reunification and his plans to lead Cyprus from economic crisis to more prosperous times.
At a public event organised by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, Mr Anastasiades was warmly received by huge numbers of UK Cypriots, filling out the large venue at the Cypriot Community Centre in Haringey, North London. He was introduced by the Federation’s President, Peter Droussiotis, who spoke of the Cypriot President’s efforts to prepare the ground for substantial negotiations on the reunification of the island and his government’s plans to stabilise and re-energise the Cypriot economy.
Mr Droussiotis said: “The Federation and the whole of our community in the United Kingdom remain fully committed to the cause of a free and reunited Cyprus and will work closely with President Anastasiades and his government to ensure that the Cyprus issue remains high on Britain’s foreign policy agenda. We will continue to demand a solution based on the implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations and the European Union which will safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Cypriots in their own country.”
The President of the Federation also pledged the support of the British Cypriot community in the field of economic diplomacy stating that UK Cypriots and, in particular, successful British Cypriot entrepreneurs, would act as ambassadors for Cyprus in this country and in Europe and would lend their weight to initiatives designed to attract inward investment to the island.
At the beginning and end of his speech, President Anastasiades, who expressed his gratitude to the Federation and the community for all their hard work and solidarity, received a standing ovation and enthusiastic applause from the audience. The main themes of his speech centred on his efforts to create a new dynamic for meaningful and outcome-driven negotiations on the reunification of the island and on his government’s initiatives to support, modernise and restructure the Cypriot economy.
He said: “The new set of negotiations to reunite Cyprus must have substance and must not be turned into a stage for mutual accusations by the two sides nor should these evolve into talks for the sake of having talks.
“I would like to reiterate in the most categorical way that this Government considers that the Cyprus problem was and remains the biggest national challenge and its resolution constitutes a top priority. In this direction, a new process must render the occupation power accountable for the proposals it submits on the negotiating table.” Mr Anastasiades added that the new procedure must take into account that Cyprus is an EU member state and that substantial involvement of the European Union is required in the negotiating framework.
The President also said, inter alia: “The return of Famagusta to its legitimate inhabitants will change the climate in Cyprus in a positive way, will contribute to economic development on the island and, above all, will enable enhanced co-operation and will build confidence between the two communities. For this to happen, it is vital for Turkey to respond positively to our proposals in this respect.”
President Anastasiades revealed that during his attendance at the 68th UN General Assembly in New York he is scheduled to have a series of bilateral meetings including with Ban Ki-moon, General-Secretary of the UN, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister and, also, with the Foreign Minister of China. He also stated that he will then travel to Washington for a meeting with US Vice-President Joe Biden. The President also said that he hopes to return to London for a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in late November. He emphasised Britain’s role as a country which should exert influence on Turkey to change its stance on Cyprus.
The President’ speech also addressed the challenges facing the Cypriot economy following the decisions of the Eurozone authorities and the IMF earlier in the year. He said that steps must be taken to turn the economic crisis into an opportunity for the island and expressed his determination to pursue disciplined policies which would modernize and make the Cypriot economy more effective and more efficient.
Joining a significant number of senior representatives of the UK Cypriot community from across Britain were His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain, His Grace the Bishop of Tropaiou Athanasios, His Excellency the Cyprus High Commissioner to the UK Mr Alexandros Zenon, the Cypriot Minister of Agriculture and the Environment Mr Nicos Kouyialis, the Cyprus Government Spokesman, Mr Christos Stylianides, the First Secretary at the Greek Embassy in London, London MEP Marina Yiannakoudakis, the Cyprus Deputy High Commissioner, Yiorghos Christofides, the Cyprus Counsel-General, George Georgiou, the Director of the President’s Diplomatic Office, Mr Nicos Christodoulides, Presidents of Pomak and Nepomak, Andreas Papaevripides (also Federation Treasurer) and Christos Karaolis, respectively, Vice-Presidents of the Federation Bambos Charalambous and Michael Ellinas, respectively, Marios Minaides, President of the Association of Greek Orthodox Communities in Great Britain, Deputy Mayor of Cambridge Cllr George Pippas, prominent UK Greek-Cypriot property entrepreneur Christos Lazari and many others.
Following the public event, a dinner was held in honour of the Cyprus President by the President and the Secretariat of the Federation.