On Thursday 17th February, the National Federation of Cypriots organised and coordinated a Q&A session between Bambos Charalambous MP and a group of his constituents from Enfield, Southgate. The event was an opportunity for constituents to ask Mr Charalambous questions about issues that matter to them, and questions were asked about the Cyprus issue, Varosi, Brexit, COVID-19, some local issues in Enfield, and other topics.

The meeting was hosted by Christos Karaolis, President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, who began the event by welcoming Mr Charalambous and the group of constituents to the Q&A and then mediated throughout. He noted that Mr Charalambous is the only MP of Cypriot origin in the House of Commons and said that he is someone that the entire UK Cypriot community is incredibly proud of. Mr Charalambous then spoke about some of his recent work as MP for Enfield, Southgate and his new role as the Shadow Minister for the Middle East and North Africa.

Asked about Labour Party policy on the Cyprus issue, Mr Charalambous said that Labour “supports the reunification of Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal, federation and wants to see UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus and Varosi implemented”. Mr Charalambous also spoke about the importance of Britain holding President Erdogan of Turkey to account for his illegal actions towards Cyprus and in the wider region. He said that his new role as Shadow Minister for the Middle East and North Africa means that he has become even more aware of President Erdogan’s aggression and authoritarianism.

There were also questions about the rights of UK Cypriot refugees, who lost property or land during Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus in 1974. Mr Charalambous recommended that refugees read the landmark legal cases on this issue, including Loizidou v Turkey and Apostolides v Orams, to understand their rights. He also advised that Cypriot refugees, wherever they are in the UK, to write to their MPs to make them aware that they have lost property or land due to the invasion in 1974. He noted that the rights of refugees are one of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus’ main priorities and that there are many strong cross-party advocates for Cypriot refugees in the House of Commons.

Many constituents raised concerned about the recent adverts being broadcast on ITV for holidays to the occupied areas of Cyprus. Mr Karaolis informed the attendess that, earlier in the day, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had responded to the Federation’s complaints and said that they will be taking no further action regarding the adverts. Mr Karaolis said the Federation has escalated the Federation’s complaint on behalf of the community to Ofcom and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Nadina Dorries MP. Mr Charalambous said that the adverts are unacceptable and added that he would also raise a complaint with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Mr Charalambous spoke about the importance of UK Cypriots becoming increasingly involved in British politics and even standing for election where possible. He said that it’s important for such a large and dynamic community to have representation at all levels of British political life and that starts by joining political parties and helping with local campaigning. He also spoke about how proud he is to be able to make a real difference to people’s lives, particularly as a MP, but also as a local councillor in Enfield for many years.

Local residents highlighted major concerns about the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) that have been introduced by Enfield Council to parts of Enfield, Southgate over the past couple of years. Mr Charalambous said that he believes that LTNs have been shown to be “ineffective” and that they should be discontinued.

We would like to thank Mr Charalambous for taking the time to answer constituents’ questions and for his thoughtful and honest responses.