British Cypriots, Members of Parliament and delegates at the Conservative Party‘s annual conference were last night assured of the party’s commitment to the delivery of a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Cabinet-level support was reiterated at a fringe event in Birmingham, organised by the group Conservatives for Cyprus, the Democratic Rally (DISY) UK (the Conservative Party’s Cypriot sister party) and the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, welcomed guests, including the Cyprus High Commissioner, H.E. Euripides Evriviades, and the Greek Ambassador to the UK, H. E. Konstantinos Bikas, Members of Parliament, and Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Party Chief Whip in the Lords). Ms Villiers said that she and her colleagues stood solidly alongside the Hellenic cause:
“We are all determined to fight for freedom and justice for Cyprus. It is a huge tragedy that, four decades on, Cyprus is still divided.”
Ms Villiers cited the example of Famagusta as a particular example of the injustices of a divided island saying, “the empty streets and decaying buildings of Famagusta graphically demonstrate how a just and lasting settlement is imperative.”
Ms Villiers introduced Dr Charles Tannock MEP, who spoke of the need to overcome the “absolutely obdurate, intransigent position of the Turkish force occupying the north of Cyprus”, pledging his future support in the European Parliament.
The Chairman of the Democratic Rally UK and President of the World Federation of Cypriots, Mr Andreas Papaevripides, then addressed the function. He welcomed the guests and thanked them for their support, and for the patronage of Tony Yerolemou, who sponsored the event. He added:
“What we are looking for from Turkey, is to stop the rhetoric theoretical statements and contribute constructively towards finding a settlement. We look to the UK government to put pressure on Turkey to come to terms with its responsibilities and to contribute to the negotiations for a solution. In times of need and hardship, you know who your friends are. Cyprus is very grateful to the UK: the only country who stood by Cyprus during the economic crisis of 2013 was Great Britain, who immediately offered assistance. We are grateful to this government. Now we need it to apply pressure on Turkey to act in the interests of Cyprus.
Nick de Bois MP, said:
I can only hope that the leaders in the discussion now, understand that we owe it to the people `who suffered in the invasion of 1974, to deliver a solution within their lifetime. For as long as I am in Parliament, I shall make every effort to lend my support to achieving that goal.”
David Lidington MP, Minister for Europe, opened his address by recognising the cooperation of the Republic of Cyprus – via the British military bases in Cyprus – in assisting the British current incursions into Iraq. He went on to state his Government’s commitment to negotiations to reunite Cyprus. Mr Lidington said:
“I believe that there is a willingness on all sides but it won’t be easy to reach a settlement. But the prize is enormous: the prize of greater security and prosperity. We in the UK government can do all that we can to support Cypriot-led efforts for a settlement. It is in the interest of Cyprus, of the UK, and of Europe.”
Other elected politicians at the reception included Andrew Rosindell MP, Cllr Richard Cornelius (Leader of Barnet Council), Cllrs Joanne Laban and Nick Dines (Enfield). Cllr Nick Halebi (Chingford) and Cllr Holly Ramsey (Sutton and Cheam). Prominent Cypriot community activist, Demtrios Markou attended, and ex-Conservative MP and stalwart friend of Cyprus, Ian Twinn, medicines4all.com online eu, co-hosted the event.