Between 11th and 14th November seven British MPs led by Parliamentary Chairman David Burrowes MP and Conservative Friends of Cyprus (CfC) Chairman Jason Charalambous visited Cyprus to show solidarity and support for the settlement of the Cyprus Problem.
The delegation included longstanding friends of Cyprus Matthew Offord MP and Sir David Amess MP, Sheryll Murray MP and Martin Vickers MP who were making their first visit to Cyprus, Byron Davies MP who was recently elected for Gower in Wales and Chris Pincher MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary. The delegation was supported by leading members of CfC and the British Cypriot community.
The busy itinerary included informative meetings with leading Cypriot politicians, cultural and historical tours which included visits to the Cyprus Archaeological Museum and Byzantine Museum in Nicosia, and an overview of the consequences of the continued division of the island, including a visit to Nicosia’s abandoned airport in the buffer zone.
The visit began with a briefing by the British High Commissioner HE Mr Ric Todd and Defence Attaché Col Sebastian Pollington which followed a reception at the High Commissioner’s residence with political, academic and civil representatives from across the island. The delegation then met with President of the House of Representatives Mr Omirou; the Greek Cypriot negotiator for the Cyprus Problem Ambassador Mavroyiannis; members of the Foreign Affairs Standing Committee including Chairman Averof Neophytou; the Standing Committee on Refugees-Enclaved-Missing and Adversely Affected Persons; and also attended a House of Representatives plenary session. The delegation then met the Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Mr Lakkotrypis and visited the bi-communal Committee on Missing Persons and the Anthropological Laboratory in the buffer zone.
On Monday 16th November David Burrowes MP led a historic debate in the House of Commons on a substantive resolution supporting a comprehensive solution and the return of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants. The resolution was passed unanimously and saw all members of the delegation contribute to the debate.
David Burrowes MP said “I was delighted to lead the largest delegation of MPs that I have ever known from the Conservative Party to Cyprus. It demonstrates at this crucial time of intense negotiations our support and solidarity for a comprehensive solution. We were greatly encouraged by the genuine progress being made towards a settlement. On our return we had an immediate opportunity in Parliament to demonstrate our support as we debated my motion on Monday and I am pleased that the resolution was passed unanimously and the message from MPs is clear that we support justice and freedom for Famagusta and all of Cyprus.”
CfC Chairman Jason Charalambous said “I am pleased so many MPs from across the UK joined us on our Parliamentary visit to Cyprus at this critical time in the efforts to reunite the island. The level of interest in the visit reflects the importance of the relationship between Britain and Cyprus and the recognition that Britain can and does play an important role in shaping the future of the country. I sincerely hope that our next visit will be to a reunited island”.
CfC is a member-led organisation that hosts regular initiatives that seek to strengthen the ties between the Conservative Party, Cyprus and the Cypriot Community in Britain. At their recent reception at Conservative Party Conference, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who is visiting the island this week, expressed his optimism for a solution saying that he very much hopes “we are on the brink of something really historic here”.