Today (4th March 2017) marks the 25th anniversary of the Conservative Friends of Cyprus!
Originally known as the Conservatives for Cyprus, we were launched by the MP for Edmonton Dr Ian Twinn on 4th March 1992 at a public meeting with then Foreign Secretary the Rt Hon (now Lord) Douglas Hurd.
Under the leadership of Ian Twinn and Tony Yerolemou our volunteer and community run group remained active for over two decades in successfully encouraging engagement between the British Cypriot community and Conservative parliamentarians and ministers, and promoting constructive ties between the UK and Republic of Cyprus.
Community meetings with leading politicians such as the Rt Hon Michael Portillo (as Defence Secretary) and Rt Hon Malcolm Rifkind (as Foreign Secretary) continued throughout the 90s, and regular parliamentary visits to Cyprus have helped raise awareness of the key issues with Conservative MPs.
Since our establishment we have also hosted an annual reception at every Conservative Party Conference with leading parliamentarians (the Foreign Secretary addressed our most recent two) and we continue to grow and thrive as an organisation.
At the start of 2015, following the election of Jason Charalambous as Chairman, our organisation underwent a re-brand (from Conservatives for Cyprus to Conservative Friends of Cyprus), with a new logo, website and initiatives to increase awareness and engagement.
A community re-launch meeting was held with the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP (then Foreign Secretary) in April 2015, and our Parliamentary Group was established under the Chairmanship of David Burrowes MP in September 2015.
Together with our Conference Receptions attended by both the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP and the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP in the past two years, we have re-commenced our parliamentary delegations to Cyprus (in November 2015 and 2016) engaging many new Conservative MPs from across the United Kingdom.
Whilst growing our team and membership, many of our founding members remain involved in the organisation – including our Patron (and former Chairman) Tony Yerolemou, founder Ian Twinn, and founding members Demetrios Markou and Andreas Papaevripides (as Vice-Presidents). Photographer and party activist Doros Partasides also remains an active member.
With the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP as our President, and Sir Roger Gale MP and Charles Tannock MEP as Deputy Chairman – we are proud that long standing parliamentary supporters of Cyprus remain an integral part of the Conservative Friends of Cyprus.
We will be celebrating our ‘silver’ anniversary with an event later in the year, and look forward to maintaining our commitment to encourage closer ties between the Conservative Party, Cyprus and British Cypriot community for many years to come.