On Saturday 6 May, the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK hosted H.E. the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, for a working dinner in London, on the occasion of his visit to London for the coronation of King Charles III. Representatives from the Federation’s member associations from across the UK, were in attendance along with the First Lady of Cyprus, Mrs Philippa Karsera-Christodoulides.
In his address, President Christodoulides said that breaking the deadlock on the Cyprus problem and the resumption of talks for a settlement constitute a priority for him and the Government, adding that the current state of affairs is not an option. He went on to say that “our efforts are to link the EU – Turkish relations with the resumption of the negotiations for a solution on the agreed basis and a European oriented content.” Noting that he is aware of the difficulties and the problems stemming from Turkey’s position on the Cyprus settlement, and that the passage of time creates more difficulties as regards the prospects for reunification, Christodoulides said, however, that his efforts are focused on the EU undertaking a leading role because it “has the toolkit and incentives” to create positive developments through a mutually beneficial situation.
The President recalled that he had a “very constructive and substantive discussion” with French President Emanuel Macron on the issue, noting that he will also travel to Berlin this month.
The reunification of Cyprus, he said, should be based on the agreed solution framework, with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality, according to UN resolutions and EU acquis Communautaire. He went on to say, “We are working for a solution which would render Cyprus a normal state, a functional state, with no dependencies, no anachronistic guarantees and, of course, not occupation troops.”
The President fondly recalled his strong connections with the National Federation of Cypriots and the UK-Cypriot diaspora over the last two decades, which started from his time serving as Consul General. He said: “As President of the Republic of Cyprus, I want to emphasize, that the members of the Cypriot diaspora in UK all share the strong desire to return to our occupied homeland, and the determination not to allow the consequences of the Turkish invasion to be normalized. This gives all of us the strength to continue the struggle until our homeland is fully liberated and reunited.”
He also praised the Federation for uniting the community saying that “you have consistently demonstrated, through your actions, that your only party is Cyprus.”
The President reiterated the importance that he personally attaches to the diaspora saying that shortly he will be appointing a Presidential Commissioner to specifically focus on diaspora issues.
In his welcoming remarks, the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, Mr Christos Karaolis, said, “with great pleasure we welcome you, together with the First Lady, Mr President, and your delegation and thank you very much for accepting our invitation to meet and update the Federation, so soon after your election.”
Mr Karaolis went on to say, “we warmly congratulate you on your election as President of the Republic of Cyprus, last February, and wish you every success in the difficult task you are undertaking.” He added, “On behalf of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, I would like to reiterate our unstinting support in your mission to deliver what all Cypriots want, a truly free and reunited Cyprus on the agreed UN basis.”
Mr Karaolis spoke about the need for unity and determination to address Turkish intransigence and propaganda aimed at promoting the partition of Cyprus. “Here in the UK, we are focused on challenging this propaganda and ensuring that our community’s voice is heard,” he said. “Our 2022 Hand Off Cyprus campaign reached 73% MPs, allowing us to engage with Parliamentarians across the country. Last year television adverts for occupied Cyprus were the third most complained TV adverts to the Advertising Standards Agency.”
Mr Karaolis highlighted the strong presence of young people from NEPOMAK UK at the dinner and their critical role as future leaders of our diaspora, to sustain our culture and traditions. He said, “for as long Turkish troops continue to occupy Cyprus, future generations will ensure that the Cyprus issue remains on the political agenda in the United Kingdom.”
Prior to the dinner, the Federation’s President, Vice Presidents and Treasurer met with President Christodoulides to congratulate him on his election. They also had an informal and friendly exchange of views on efforts to restart negotiations to reunite Cyprus and matters of importance for the Cypriot diaspora in the UK.
Also present at the dinner were the Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain; High Commissioner of Cyprus to the UK, Andreas Kakouris; the Ambassador of Greece to the UK, Yannis Tsaousis; Cyprus Government Spokesperson, Konstantinos Letympiotis; MP for Enfield Southgate, Bambos Charalambous; Director of the Diplomatic Office of the President, Mrs Marilena Raouna; Councillors Tony Vourou (Barnet), Stephanos Ioannou (Enfield), Andreas Ioannides (Barnet); President of POMAK, Andreas Papaevripides; President of NEPOMAK, Christos Tuton; Vice-Presidents of the Federation, Bambos Charalambous and Michael Ellinas; Treasurer of the Federation, Ninos Koumettou; President of Greek Orthodox Communities in the UK, Marios Minaides; Professor Kypros Nicolaides; Executive Secretary of the Federation, Andreas Karaolis; Assistant Executive Secretary George Alexandrou; and representatives of the Federation’s member associations.