The UK Government has renewed assurances of its ongoing support for a just and lasting settlement to reunite Cyprus.
The assurance was provided by Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan in a letter to the long-standing friend of Cyprus Theresa Villiers MP, who had written to the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson last month to mark the 44th year since the Turkish invasion and the start of the Turkish occupation of Cyprus.
Sir Alan has also reiterated the British belief that the internationally accepted model of a bizonal, bicommunal Federation is “the best way to achieve that goal.”
On Security and Guarantees, the letter states: “The UK has always made clear that we are open to whatever arrangements the two sides and other Guarantor Powers can agree to meet the security needs of both Cypriot communities. A final deal will also only be possible if it passes referenda in each community.”
The UK Minister for Europe adds that “all parties engaged with serious intent to reach a deal” at last year’s Conference on Cyprus, although in the end it was not possible to bridge the gaps. He goes on to say that since then the British Government has urged all parties to avoid words or actions that risk escalating tensions in the region or that could have a negative impact on the prospects for resuming the talks.
Sir Alan Duncan also makes a reference to the recognition by the UK of the Republic of Cyprus’s sovereign right over the natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone, repeating that London “wants to see exploration go ahead.”
Noting that the hydrocarbons development should be done for the benefit of all Cypriots, the Minister for Europe adds that while the UK continues to work with all parties for a fair and sustainable settlement, it is now for the parties to decide the way forward.
“Reaching agreement on the remaining issues will require tough choices and compromises, but with political will we judge a settlement is still achievable,” ends the letter addressed to the north London Conservative MP.
The standard UK Government position of support for the settlement process and for resuming talks has also been expressed in a letter by the Foreign Office which comes as a response to a letter by 11 UK-based Cypriot refugees. The original letter had been sent to the new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The response letter adds that the UK encourages all sides “to engage with civil society and ensure the meaningful participation of women in the peace process; doing so is important in order for an agreement to be lasting and fair.”