Former Parliamentary friends of Cyprus and the British Cypriot community were honoured on Tuesday evening at a reception at the Conservative Party’s headquarters in Westminster.
David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate, 2005 to 2017), Dr Ian Twinn CBE (Edmonton 1983 to 1997) and Nigel Waterson (Eastbourne, 1992 to 2010) were paid tribute to in the presence of Averof Neophytou, President of Cyprus’ Democratic Rally Party (the ‘sister party’ to the Conservatives), and a packed room of members of the British Cypriot community and senior Conservative Party officials.
The work of other former Members of Parliament was recognised in their absence, including Anthony Coombs (Wyre Forest, 1987 to 1997), Nick de Bois (Enfield North, 2010 to 2015), Cllr John Marshall (Hendon, 1987 to 1997) and Michael Portillo (Enfield Southgate, 1984 to 1997 and Kensington and Chelsea, 1999 to 2005).
Chairman of the Conservative Friends, Jason Charalambous, said that the event was an expression of gratitude to “great friends of Cyprus and the British Cypriot community” who often went “above and beyond” what was expected to help their constituents.
He noted, however, that in politics thanks is not “only expressed in words, but also with feet during elections” where he called upon those gathered to offer practical support campaigning for the re-election of those friends who are re-standing.
Under the gaze of Sir Winston Churchill, Mr Neophytou thanked the Conservative Party for its “long standing and consistent” support for Cyprus and for the Cypriot community in the UK, adding that “Cyprus maintains excellent relations with the United Kingdom, and the Democratic Rally party has close ties with the Conservative Party.”
Mr Neophytou also thanked the Conservative Friends of Cyprus “who for over 25 years have, in a volunteer capacity, have helped encourage these important relationships”.
Mr Neophytou went on to describe Cyprus as “a pillar of stability in a region with a long history of instability; a country with a Western oriented democracy that respects the rule of law.
“Beyond this, Cyprus understands more and more herself as a bridge between Europe and the Near and Middle East and we have made this a central aspect of our foreign policy,” Mr. Neophytou added.
He also referred to the prospect of using hydrocarbons to support a settlement of the Cyprus problem, and thanked the British government for its “clear” position in favor of the recognition of the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit natural resources in its EEZ, stressing that hydrocarbons should be developed for the benefit of all Cypriots.
He concluded by saying that the UK “is leaving the EU but not leaving Europe”, that “Cyprus will continue to work together and cooperate with the United Kingdom to defend and protect our values and democratic principles” and that “I know that in the United Kingdom and the Conservative Party, we have a trusted friend, ally and partner whom we can work with to overcome these challenges.”
With each ‘award’, warm anecdotes and tributes were provided for each recipient by Cllr Maria Alexandrou, Andreas Papaevripides and Doros Partasides.
The reception followed productive meetings held between Mr Neophytou with the Conservative Party Chairman, the Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, Europe Minister the Rt Hon Alan Duncan MP, and Minister for Exiting the EU Lord Callanan.