The Rt Hon David Lidington, Minister for Europe, reaffirmed the Government’s continued support for the Republic of Cyprus in a meeting with Parliamentary friends of Cyprus David Burrowes MP, Nick de Bois MP and Matthew Offord MP.
THE RT HON DAVID LIDINGTON MP:
“We are still hopeful that there will be serious progress on the settlement talks. When I was in the island two weeks ago leaders of both communities told me they were committed to trying to reach a peace settlement. There is intense diplomatic work going on to try to solve the current stand off over drilling for gas in the EEZ. If that can be sorted, then I think settlement talks can resume rapidly with the new year. But I also had a very good discussion with the foreign minister of Cyprus about our bilateral relationship which is stronger than ever, about how we are working together to counter the threat of extremism and terrorism which is a menace to us both. He came with me to visit a Royal Navy destroyer which was moored in Limassol, and I also raised with the Cypriot government the issue of property owned by British citizens in Cyprus and the problems that some of these people are facing.
This is the EEZ of Cyprus, this is the case under the UN law of the sea, and Cyprus has every right to develop those resources. And we also say every community ought to benefit from whatever oil and gas resources are discovered there. It is for the Cypriot leaders to find a way forward now and the UN special envoy Espen Eide is doing his best to help work towards such an agreement. The sooner this happens the better; then we can get back I hope to talks focused upon on the final peace settlement which is so much in the interest of every Cypriot community.
Message to President Anastasiades: My friend you are in good hands, please get well soon, make a full recovery over Christmas and we look forward to working with you again in the New Year.”
DAVID BURROWES MP:
“It was encouraging to hear from the minister who had a first-hand view having visited Cyprus very recently. He made very clear that in terms of the particular issue in relation to the encroachment on the Cyprus EEZ Britain lies full square behind the rule of law, that the Republic of Cyprus has every right to be able to exploit the hydrocarbons. He made that very clear. It is also very encouraging that there are active steps being taken – some have to be said publicly, others privately. But that doesn’t in any way go against respecting the full sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus. Also we talked about the great progress that Nicos Anastasiades’ government has made in relation to dealing with the economic problems and the UK government as it was in the very beginning is very much there, willing to lend a hand of support. In terms of the message the APPG members gave to him, it was that we have a very important responsibility. We, as the guarantors of the independence of Cyprus, need to make sure that we have a pre-emptive role to make sure that when these issues appear we are there standing shoulder to shoulder with Cyprus doing what we can to support a solution.
This is the time to really impress upon politicians to really stand up and support Cyprus. So I encourage all the community members to make sure that they are getting hold of their MPs to say they need to speak out for Cyprus. We are doing as much as we can but we need the whole community to say that this is the time and place for real justice for Cyprus.“
MATTHEW OFFORD MP:
“What we can certainly accept is that our European minister has a great relationship with the government of Cyprus. He has worked in that role longer now than many other ministers have done previously and he really has an understanding of the issues involved. I look forward to the new year when he will continue to work with many different players, including many people in the British government, and the House of Commons and indeed the House of Lords to ensure that Cyprus one day gets the peace that it so desperately wants.”