The Conservative Friends of Cyprus reception at the House of Commons on Monday evening, attended by a number of Conservative MPs, reaffirmed the strong ties between Cyprus and the UK.
It also gave the opportunity to the MPs to renew their commitment to keep promoting the Cypriot interests and actively support the reunification of the island, terminating the Turkish military occupation of the northern part of Cyprus.
In their introductory remarks to the large audience in the Jubilee Room, the Chairman of the organisation Jason Charalambous and the Parliamentary Chairman David Burrowes MP stressed the exceptional cooperation between the two countries.
“In recent years British-Cypriots relations at all levels have been the best they’ve been for some time,” said Mr Charalambous, while Mr Burrowes added that “Conservatives are there with Cyprus, hand in hand and we saw no better way of that than last year’s delegation to Cyprus – the largest group of parliamentarians visiting the island in living memory.”
Jason Charalambous also said that “while certain barriers remain, there is a shared sense optimism that the reunification of the island is on the horizon and the British role remains essential to helping secure the best outcome for all Cypriots.”
He noted that following the vote for Brexit in the recent referendum, “Cyprus can also offer the UK invaluable support in helping the country negotiate the best possible deal with the EU for a bright and prosperous future outside the EU.”
He added, given the political developments in the Conservative party following the referendum, that he hopes “the positive bilateral relation will continue to thrive, whoever takes on the party’s leadership. And our organisation will work hard to ensure so.”
The main speaker at the event was Cabinet Minister and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party the Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, who praised the contribution of the Conservative Friends of Cyprus to the development of the close relation between the two countries.
Asked how Cyprus would be kept high on the agenda of the new Conservative government, following the change in leadership this September, Mr Halfon referred to the party’s manifesto, which includes a clear commitment to supporting the efforts for the reunification of the island. He also said that the many Conservative MPs who have been working tirelessly to promote the interests of Cyprus will continue to do so and will keep the issue high on the political agenda of the next government.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus Sir Roger Gale said that the island should be visited by as many British MPs as possible, as there is no “substitute” to the physical presence there in order to understand what Cyprus is all about and what the division means for the people.
Sir Roger also urged the organised diaspora to create some kind of register of Cypriots in the UK, so that many more MPs could be prompted by their Cypriot constituents to learn about the situation in the island. “We need more and younger MPs to go and see the division caused by the occupation of an EU member country by another country that aspires to enter the EU. This cannot continue,” said the Conservative MP, promising that he and his colleagues will stand with Cypriots “for as long as it takes.”
Members of Parliament Mathew Offord, Sheryll Murray, Martin Vickers and Byron Davies who took part in the visit to Cyprus last November described their experience, stating their intention to return to the island. Another delegation to Cyprus is planned for later this year.