After five years as the Republic of Cyprus’ High Commissioner in the UK, Alexandros Zenon is due to return to Nicosia in early October, having been appointed to his previous position as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In an interview to CNA, the experienced diplomat said that the relations between Cyprus and the United Kingdom over the period of his tenure have improved. “We have established a very sincere working relationship with the Foreign Office. We explain our positions, we try to convince and many times we do achieve so; many times we accept that we cannot agree, but this is certainly a very sincere working relationship and I would also say an equal one,” explained Zenon. He added that after the redefinition of Cyprus’s foreign policy by the administration of President Anastasiades “even better conditions for closer and constructive cooperation between the two countries” have been created.

As regards the UK’s role on issues of mutual interest, the outgoing High Commissioner noted that “Britain is not always the villain in connection with Cyprus.” He referred to the Security Council resolutions 541 and 550, which were drafted by the UK with Margaret Thatcher’s government taking the lead in pushing for their adoption. He also referred to supportive and helpful interventions by London on multiple levels in the wake of the problems the Eurogroup decisions of last March caused for Cypriots.

Zenon confirmed that a mutually convenient date is being sought for President Anastasiades’ official visit to London and his meeting with Prime Minister Cameron, who is expected to express his full support for the renewed efforts on the Cyprus issue.

As far as these new efforts are concerned, Alexandros Zenon stressed that depends on the stance of Ankara. “If Turkey wants to cooperate in order to reach a settlement based on principles and international law as well as the European acquis, then I think things would be a lot easier,” said the Cypriot diplomat. He added that no one could question neither the credentials and the will of President Anastasiades to reach a solution or his volition to work towards this goal.

Zenon praised the significant work done in the UK by the populous Cypriot community, noting that the High Commission and the organised diaspora complement each other by pursuing the same objectives via different channels.

He stated that he returns to Cyprus to take on a role that has become even more difficult under the economic conditions in which Cyprus has found itself over the last years. However, he stressed that he believed “strongly” Cypriots “will make it through” the hard times, pointing to the way they dealt with the aftermath of the 1974 Turkish invasion. On a personal level, he spoke of the satisfaction a diplomat enjoys through helping his country and he renewed his appointment with the UK Cypriot community.

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