The cooperation between Cyprus and Britain in the post-Brexit era in various fields, especially in the field of higher education, where a specific initiative was decided, was at the centre of a meeting on Tuesday between President of Cyprus House of Representatives Annita Demetriou and Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who is paying an official visit to Cyprus.

During a joint press conference Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he hoped that, despite the current challenges, “we will see Cyprus reunited in a bizonal, bicommunal federation – a settlement which will allow Cypriots to live in conditions of prosperity and security and has the support of the UK.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

President of the House of Commons also pointed out that it was the first time a serving UK Speaker has visited Cyprus, something that it was way overdue and so he thought it was about time.

“The bonds of friendship are already there – we have so much in common when it comes to security, diversity and inclusivity within Parliaments”, he said.

Citing his predecessor as Speaker, Baroness Betty Boothroyd`s words for Cyprus, who during her holidays here said that it was a ‘heaven on earth’, Hoyle said “I am beginning to see why”.

He furthermore noted that the UK and Cyprus have a long history of friendship and common values and that they are both members of the Commonwealth. He added that the two countries had established cooperation in many different areas, from trade to defence, and education to research.

At the same time he stressed that 300,000 Cypriots live in the UK, and 50,000 or more Brits have made Cyprus their home, while more than one million UK tourists visit the country every year.

He also said that it’s a great honour to make his first speech since he was elected to an overseas Parliament, to the Cyprus House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, the House of Commons Speaker had meetings with the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Members of the House Standing Committee on Foreign and European Affairs.

On her part Demetriou said that the current visit of Sir Lindsay Hoyle to Cyprus, which was his first official visit abroad, but also the first official visit of a Speaker of the House of Commons to Cyprus, underscores the special relationship between the Republic of Cyprus and the United Kingdom and the common will to work towards further strengthening dialogue and cooperation between the two Parliaments.

“My counterpart and I agreed to enhance inter-parliamentary exchanges at various levels, as well as to undertake joint initiatives and actions, within the framework of our competencies, as it is only with collective action that we may tackle the small and great challenges we face,” she said.

The House President also said that she briefed the Speaker of the House of Commons on current developments regarding the Cyprus problem, reaffirming “our unwavering commitment to the negotiation process, which we wish to resume as soon as possible, with a view to achieving a just and lasting solution, based on bi-zonal bi-communal federation, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, for the benefit of the entire Cypriot people and especially the younger generations.”

She also said that they exchanged views on the co-operation that continues to develop between the two countries in the post-Brexit era in a number of areas with specific reference to the areas of higher education and tourism. Regarding higher education she said that the they decided to undertake a common initiative. Furthermore, she noted that they discussed issues of common interest, such as the migration crisis and climate change, as well as issues related to strengthening the rule of law, including tackling misinformation and “fake news”.

“I am convinced that, through enhanced cooperation, both bilaterally and within the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and other international parliamentary organisations, in which our Parliaments participate, we can achieve a lot, thus highlighting the added value of parliamentary diplomacy,” she said.

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