Foreign Secretary the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP joined the Conservative Friends of Cyprus at their annual gathering the Conservative Party’s conference in Manchester, this year marking the organisation’s 25th Anniversary since its establishment in 1992.
The event, on Sunday evening, brought together MPs, MEPs and members of the UK’s governing party, together with the High Commissioner of Cyprus HE Euripides Evriviades and the Ambassador of Israel HE Mark Regev.
Mr Johnson expressed his regret that the recent Conference on Cyprus in the Swiss resort of Crans Montana didn’t achieve a reunification agreement, but noted that “substantial gains” had been produced by the talks.
“We could see the way to the summit, we could see what needed to be done, some very simple steps that needed to be taken. Alas, it didn’t quite work out that way. We skidded back down the black piste a little bit, but not all the way. That is the crucial point. And there were substantial gains made in those conversations which we intend to build on and we intend to take forward,” said the Foreign Secretary.
Referring to the British-Cypriot ties after Brexit, Mr Johnson predicted a “fantastic” relationship: “Partly because of Brexit of course, we’re going to have a fantastic relationship… We will intensify our trading relationship, our political relationship and above all we will intensify the deep and lasting friendship that exists between Cyprus and the Conservative Party.”
The President of the Conservative Friends of Cyprus, the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, said it was “a huge disappointment for all” that “despite the hope and optimism that progress was being made” the Cyprus talks broke out without an agreement because of the issue of security and guarantees.
“After representation by my constituents I stated clearly in the House of Commons that such guarantees don’t have a place in a modern democracy. I think they are a relic of the colonial past and I am pleased to restate that on the anniversary of the independence of Cyprus. There are other, more effective ways to ensure the security of Cypriots,” said Ms Villiers.
She also assured the UK Cypriots present that the Conservative MPs will continue to support their cause in parliament.
Conservative Friends of Cyprus Chairman Councillor Jason Charalambous reminded everyone that this year the organisation celebrates 25 years since its establishment. He referred briefly to the initiatives and events undertaken through the years and announced that a Conservative parliamentary delegation would be visiting Cyprus again soon. He also praised the party’s MPs’ “commitment and passion” in supporting the Cypriot cause.
The High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in the UK HE Euripides Evriviades thanked the Conservative Party MPs who have given their “staunch support to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the Cypriot people’s quest to reunify their country.”
He described these MPs as “all-weather friends” and also noted that for the UK Cyprus is “a reliable, predictable and security producing ally in a volatile region.”