Theresa Villiers MP attended the annual Morphou rally in Astromeritis in Cyprus at the weekend to show her support for Barnet’s twin town.
She was invited to attend by the municipality of Morphou which is led by Mayor Charalambous Pittas. The borough of Barnet was represented by the Mayor, Cllr David Longstaff, the Mayoress, Gillian Griffiths, and the leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius.
Morphou is north of the dividing line in Cyprus in the part which is subject to Turkish occupation. Residents were forced to flee their homes during the 1974 invasion.
Addressing the rally, Theresa Villiers said: “It is an honour to be here to support the displaced residents of Morphou.
“Morphou has strong support from its twin town, Barnet. We all hope that a negotiated settlement can be delivered which will finally reunite Cyprus and enable residents of Morphou to return to their homes.”
“After so many years of negotiations without a successful outcome, I hesitate to be optimistic, but I feel a sense of hope. Both President Anastasiades and Mr Akinci have a track record of working for a solution, and I wish them well with their endeavours. I would like to read part of a poem by the late Seamus Heaney which expresses what I feel we should be thinking at this stage of the long campaign for freedom for Cyprus:
“History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.”
The rally concluded with laying of wreaths at the memorial in Astromeritis to the victims of war, just a few yards from the dividing line and the road leading to Morphou.
Of Cyprus’ 39 municipalities, nine are towns in the Turkish controlled northern part of Cyprus (Akanthou, Famagusta, Karavas, Kyrenia, Kythrea, Lapithos, Lefkoniko, Lysi and Morphou). Since the 1974 invasion, these nine municipalities have maintained their legal status, but have been “displaced” to areas controlled by the Cyprus Government.