On Tuesday 26 March 2024, the Secretariat of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK hosted a farewell dinner in honour of the High Commissioner for the Republic of Cyprus in the UK, Mr Andreas Kakouris. Also in attendance at dinner was Bambos Charalambous, MP for Enfield Southgate. The Secretariat expressed its thanks and appreciation to Mr Kakouris’ for his four and half years of tireless service in the role, as well as their very best wishes for his next posting, as he returns to Cyprus to assume the role of Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Federation President Christos Karaolis began his opening address by detailing Mr Kakouris’ “over 30 years at the very frontline of foreign affairs and the Cyprus issue.” In the 1980s and 90s, Mr Kakouris represented Cyprus at the United Nations General Assembly and then worked around the world in a number of missions and embassies, from Washington DC, Belgium to the European Community. In the 2000s and 2010s, Mr Kakouris became Ambassador to Ireland and the United States of America, High Commissioner to Canada as well as Director of the Diplomatic Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cyprus Question and Turkey Division.

The President added that Mr Kakouris became High Commissioner in the UK during the most historic period of the UK’s recent history with Brexit and COVID-19 both beginning in 2020. Mr Karaolis stated that despite Brexit, Cyprus and UK relations have never been stronger. He told the High Commissioner that this “outstanding achievement is, in no small part, due to your tireless diplomatic efforts – not least, your work in facilitating the 2022 Memorandum of Understanding between Cyprus and the UK.”

Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Karaolis praised “the close partnership between the Federation and High Commission that enabled us to rapidly create our support platform for UK Cypriots and Cypriot nationals during the pandemic”.

In closing, Mr Karaolis thanked the High Commissioner for his tireless and longstanding cooperation as well as Mrs Kareen Farrell Kakouris for helping “make the High Commission as open and friendly of an environment as our community could ask for.” He assured the High Commissioner that the UK diaspora “will always maintain our efforts to end the Turkish occupation and ensure a free, united Cyprus.” He said that “this is especially important for us this year, given the 50th tragic anniversary of the illegal Turkish invasion.”

Mr Kakouris highlighted that he is the first UK Cypriot to have been appointed as High Commissioner of Cyprus in the UK. He said that he was grateful to have been tasked with such an important posting in the Diplomatic Service. His time as High Commissioner, he added, is an example to all UK Cypriots that they are also able to serve their nation and that he encouraged the Cypriot diaspora youth to do so.

The High Commissioner said that he will be taking up the role of Permanent Secretary of Cyprus’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will bring his over 40 years’ experience in the Diplomatic Service to the role. Mentioning his longstanding friendships and collaborative efforts with many in the Secretariat, he said it has been a pleasure to work and know so many in the UK Cypriot community and that he hopes these relations will continue to go from strength to strength as he takes his new role.

The High Commissioner also gave his best wishes to the incoming High Commissioner, Ambassador Kyriacos Kouros. Mr Kouros, the High Commissioner said, has most recently been the Permanent Secretary of Cyprus’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Additionally, Mr Kouros held the post of National Security Advisor to the President of the Republic and Head of the Intelligence Service, while also having served in different overseas posts and in various departments within the Ministry since 1996.

Concluding his address, the High Commissioner thanked the members of the Secretariat for their efforts toward a free, united Cyprus and the advancement of the UK Cypriot community. He emphasised that whilst the Cyprus problem is not an easy problem, we should never get tired working towards a just and lasting solution even if 50 years have passed since the invasion. Paying tribute to the diaspora, the High Commissioner added that “all of you are ambassadors of Cyprus in the UK through the work you do with the Federation and your associations.” Following his remarks, the Federation Officers then presented the High Commissioner with a commemorative plaque in honour and gratitude of his service.