On Saturday 12 November the Conservative Friends of Cyprus concluded a successful Parliamentary visit to the island with a group of five MPs, a member of the House of Lords and a number of parliamentary assistants.
The visit included meetings with leading political, civic and religious leaders on the island.
Meetings were held with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, the Cyprus Parliamentary Committee on Foreign and European Affairs, the Committee on Refugees and Missing Persons and the Union of Occupied Cyprus Municipalities. The delegates also met with the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus HE Youssef Soueif.
The opportunity to experience Cyprus’ rich culture and history was also provided, with visits to the Leventis Gallery, the bicommunal CVAR/Severis Foundation and the Cyprus Railways Museum.
At a reception hosted by the British High Commission in Nicosia the group met with leading Turkish Cypriot political and civic leaders and had the opportunity to exchange views. They also had the chance to see the fenced of town of Famagusta in the occupied North of the island.
To mark Armistice Day on 11 November, the group participated in a Remembrance Service hosted by the UN Peacekeeping Force at Wayne’s Keep Cemetry in the Buffer Zone, where Matthew Offord MP laid a wreath on behalf of the delegation.
The group also held a Q&A with the UN Youth and Student Association of Cyprus, a bicommunal NGO comprised of high school and university students, who had the opportunity to ask the parliamentarians questions on a range of issues, from Brexit to the recent US Elections.
The group consisted of Matthew Offord MP, Sheryll Murray MP, Martin Vickers MP, David Morris MP, Mark Menzies MP, Baroness Liz Redfern and the group’s Chairman Jason Charalambous. For a number of the delegates this was their first visit to the island.
The visit coincided with President Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci’s talks in Switzerland aimed at agreeing a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus Problem. Matthew Offord MP who led the delegation said “This is a very important time for the island and we look forward to a successful negotiation at the talks in Switzerland. What those talks may achieve we don’t know, but we know that this is the time for something positive to happen”.
He added “We certainly want to see a just solution, a solution that is appropriate for the whole of the island and we certainly want to see a solution that is acceptable to everyone in Europe”.
Jason Charalambous who organised the visit said “Through visits like this we seek to engage British parliamentarians with Cyprus with the aim of enhancing understanding and cooperation between the two countries”. He continued “Cyprus and the UK share historic, economic and cultural ties, and enhancing the already very strong bilateral relationship is of great importance”.