On Saturday 14th January 2023, the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK hosted a “Celebration of Cyprus” Gala Dinner to mark the independence of the Republic of Cyprus and the immense contribution of the Cypriot diaspora to the Republic of Cyprus and the UK.

The Guest of Honour at this vibrant diaspora celebration was, H.E. the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, who was also honoured by the Federation at the Gala.

Addressing the 500 distinguished guests, President Anastasiades praised the contribution of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK and the diaspora saying “I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to each and every one of you for your effective campaigns and efforts to promote Cyprus and its national issue”. He went on to reflect on his Presidency saying that he felt “satisfaction and, humbly, pride” for his legacy. Making special reference to the economic strength of Cyprus “as recognised by the European Commission, the IMF, but also the international rating agencies”.

Mr Anastasiades commented on the Cyprus issue, remarking that he would be “happier” if he was speaking as the President of a reunited island. However, he went on to say, that “despite my and my predecessors’ copious efforts, Turkey continues to demonstrate for almost five decades the same intransigent and unacceptable stance.”

Turkey’s intransigence, Mr Anastasiades told the audience, laid bare Ankara’s intention to make a protectorate of Cyprus under Turkish control or achieve the permanent division of the island through upgrading the illegal entity in the occupied north of the island.

The President concluded, assuring his audience that “despite Turkey’s provocative and intransigent stance, we will never accept and will never allow the abolishment of the Republic of Cyprus.”

Minister for Europe, Leo Docherty MP, in his remarks, praised the President for strengthening the bilateral ties between the UK and Cyprus over the last decade and the “remarkably immense contribution of the some 300,000 of the Cypriot diaspora in the UK.”

Mr Docherty reiterated the UK Government’s support for “a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement” to the Cyprus issue and its commitment to the UN-led efforts in that direction. A reunited Cyprus, he added, would enhance investment, trade and tourism to secure a more stable future for all parties.

In his remarks, Shadow Minister for Europe Stephen Doughty MP praised the “immeasurable” contribution of the Cypriot diaspora to British society as well as reiterating his and the Labour Party’s “firm and steadfast commitment to reuniting Cyprus, to ending the occupation” – a solution based on the internationally recognised model of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality.

Mr Doughty added that Cyprus is “a stable, secure and crucial ally in so many areas,” not least due to President Anastasiades’ efforts to strengthen the bilateral ties.

Federation President, Christos Karaolis, welcomed the President and First Lady of the Republic of Cyprus, the Archbishop of Thyateira & Great Britain and the distinguished guests to the event. In his address, Mr Karaolis referred to the “last 100 years in which, Cypriots in the UK have been actively contributing to, and shaping, the UK’s success story,” and added that “we are delighted that we are joined by so many of these standard bearers for our diaspora tonight.” On behalf of the diaspora, Mr Karaolis expressed gratitude for President Anastasiades’ “unstinting support.”

Thanking the many Parliamentarians that attended the Gala, Mr Karaolis said “Through our work, the Federation continues to ensure that the Cyprus issue remains on the political and parliamentary agenda and we will continue to do so for as long it takes”. He added that “We are proud that our Federation brings together the community, its leaders and our parliamentary friends across the political spectrum, by identifying the common grounding and uniting efforts. There are no parties and no personal interests. We have one party and that is Cyprus.”

President Anastasiades was presented with a commemorative plaque by the Federation’s President, Christos Karaolis, and Vice-Presidents Andreas Papaevripides, Michael Ellinas and Bambos Charalambous for his dedication and commitment to promote the struggle of the Cypriot people and his tireless efforts to find a just, viable and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue.

Sir Roger Gale MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus, along with Vice-Chairs Bambos Charalambous MP, Theresa Villiers MP and Caroline Nokes MP, also presented President Anastasiades a commemorative plaque. Sir Roger remarked that the President of the Republic is “a man of enormous determination” who has not shied away from difficult decisions. He then assured the Cypriot people that the APPG “will stand for you, fight for you and support you for as long as it takes.” President Anastasiades said “Allow me to place on record my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the APPG on Cyprus, led by Sir Roger Gale, who have been instrumental in keeping the Cyprus problem on the radar screen in this country.”

The Gala programme was presented by Antonia Michaelides, member of the Federation’s Secretariat. Following the speeches, Guests celebrated and danced with an entertainment programme and live music and from showband Enthimion and Angeliki Darra.

The dinner was attended, among others, by the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain Nikitas, the Republic of Cyprus’s High Commissioner to the UK Andreas Kakouris, the Greek Ambassador Ioannis Raptakis as well as Diplomats from the Cyprus High Commission. Parliamentarians in attendance included: Leo Docherty MP (Minister for Europe); Mike Freer MP (Minister for Justice);  Stephen Doughty MP (Shadow Minister for Europe); Rt Hon Sir Roger Gale MP (Chair, Cyprus APPG);  Bambos Charalambous MP (Shadow Minister for the Middle East); Lord Ray Collins (Shadow Foreign Minister); Fabian Hamilton MP (Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament, Latin America and the Caribbean); Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP (Chair of Women & Equalities Select Committee); Mike Wood MP (Assistant Government Whip); Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, Dr Matthew Offord MP; Geraint Davies MP; Feryal Clarke MP; Rt Hon Lord Andrew Adonis; Lord Chris Rennard. Also in attendance were former MP, Sir Alan Meale; Councillors Spiros Vassiliou, Tony Vouros & GLA Member Anne Clarke; Former West Ham Captain, Mark Noble; John Christodoulou, Theo Paphitis, Professor Kypros Nicolaides, Dame Janet Paraskeva, Andria Zafirakou, Constantine Cotzias, Len Lazari, Dr Linda Papadopoulos and Tom Toumazis.

The Federation would like to thank the Gala’s main sponsor, John Christodoulou & the Yianis Group, for their generous support. The Federation would also like to thank Cyprus Ministry of Agriculture, KEO, LOEL, SODAP, Chris Harmanda Foundation, Lazaris Investments, Ocean Basket UK, Michael Kyprianou Advocates and Marathon Foods, who donated the wines, table decorations and facilitated the wonderful entertainment for the night. The Federation would also like to express its gratitude to the Event Team: Christos Karaolis, Adrian Patsalos, George Alexandrou, Tony Vouros, Katia David-Harmanda, Antonia Michaelides and Andreas Karaolis.