A cross-party group of MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus visited Cyprus last week as delegates. The MPs were hosted as guests of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus to discuss the latest developments on the Cyprus issue, Cyprus’ geostrategic role in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well the continued strengthening of UK-Cyprus collaboration.
APPG for Cyprus Chair Caroline Nokes MP led the delegation, including Honorary President Sir Roger Gale MP, Vice-Chair Fabian Hamilton MP, Honorary Secretary Bambos Charalambous MP and member Paulette Hamilton MP. The delegation was accompanied by APPG for Cyprus Secretariat Christos Karaolis.
Caroline Nokes commented on the trip, saying that, “It was a privilege of mine and my colleagues from the Cyprus APPG to meet with the President and Parliamentary Leadership during our visit. These meetings provided an insight into the important efforts to restart reunification negotiations with the appointment of a new UN Envoy as well as the critical role of U.K.-Cyprus security cooperation.”
Ms Nokes added that, “In all our meetings, we emphasised our collective cross-party commitment to ensuring that the British Government is doing its utmost to reunite Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, with political equality as outlined in UN Security Council Resolutions. This commitment is only furthered when we see the tragic reality of Turkey’s continued occupation for ourselves, be it walking along the Green Line or viewing the ghost town of Varosi. On behalf of the whole delegation, I would like to express our gratitude to the President of the House of Representatives for hosting us and the International Relations Department, as well as our Secretariat, Christos Karaolis, for coordinating the trip.”
In his comments, Sir Roger Gale remarked that, “It was an honour to be presented, by the President of the Cypriot Parliament, the Medal of the House of Representatives. I dedicate this Medal to the memory of my late constituent, George Gerolemou, of Herne Bay, as a reminder that, as well as part of Ukraine being illegally occupied by Russia, there is a part of the island of Cyprus that was invaded and has been under illegal Turkish occupation for fifty years.”
Sir Roger highlighted that, “The illegal occupation remains as unforgivable as it always was and the passage of time is no reason or justification to make it legal. This is an outstanding ‘frozen conflict’ that has to be resolved and we are committed to ensuring that His Majesty’s Government takes action to ensure that talks to reach a settlement recommence in the immediate future and start where they were last terminated at Crans Montana.”
Fabian Hamilton remarked that, “Witnessing the sad consequences of the on-going illegal occupation first-hand, it is clear to me and my colleagues that no more time should be allowed to pass before a solution is found. Speaking with individuals from both communities in Cyprus, it is also clear that reunification, in line with agreed UN framework, is the only viable solution, for which there is common support. We will now take this message of reunification back to Westminster and continue our active support for such a just cause.”
Reflecting on the trip, Bambos Charalambous said, “We are all hopeful that the appointment of the UNSG’s Personal Envoy on Cyprus, Ms Holguin, will soon lead to the resumption of meaningful negotiations that will end this 50-year-long occupation. The common ground that we have found through our meetings, is that which has already been accepted by the U.K., EU and UN – namely a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality. As a Guarantor Power, P5 UN Security Council Member and UN penholder on Cyprus, the UK has a critical role to play at this pivotal moment.”
Paulette Hamilton stated following the trip that, “As it was my first visit to Cyprus with a Parliamentary delegation, I was inspired by the resolve of the Political Leadership and civil society to reunite the island. I was also moved to see firsthand the consequences of the occupation, both in the Buffer Zone and also the painful stories of the Missing Persons at the Committee of Missing Persons Laboratory. This trip reaffirmed my view that it is so important that new MPs across the House of Commons are educated about what happened in Cyprus through the work of the APPG for Cyprus.”

Strengthening UK-Cyprus collaboration

The delegation met with the President of the House of Representatives, Annita Demetriou MP, to discuss shared parliamentary work between the British and Cypriot legislatures and areas for expanding their inter-parliamentary collaboration, as well as the ongoing efforts to start reunification talks. The House President also awarded Sir Roger Gale MP with the Medal of the House of Representatives in recognition of his efforts to support Cyprus and its people.
Following the meeting, delegates also met with the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Foreign and European Affairs and its Chair, Harris Georgiades MP and Head of Cyprus’ Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation, Aristos Damianou MP. The parliamentarians exchanged views on efforts towards restarting negotiations on the Cyprus issue and the role that the UK and other Partners can play, regional stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the UK and Cyprus’ extensive United Nations, European and Commonwealth ties.
The ties between the UK and Cyprus were celebrated and recognised at a reception hosted by the Deputy British High Commissioner to the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Ben Rawlings, at the High Commissioner’s Residence. MPs were able to exchange views with guests from across Cyprus’ political, business and civic spheres, from both of the island’s community.

Meeting with President Christodoulides

The MPs also met with President Nikos Christodoulides at the Presidential Palace on the final day of their visit. The President discussed with MPs the latest developments on the Cyprus issue, recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus’ crucial role (including the coordination of humanitarian support for Gaza with the UK), as well as the continued strengthening of bilateral cooperation with the UK.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, the President updated MPs on recent developments including the appointment of the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy María Ángela Holguín. The President emphasised that the only solution to the Cyprus problem is one that is based on the internationally accepted model, as set out in UN Security Council Resolutions.

Engaging on Humanitarian Issues

The APPG for Cyprus delegation visited the Committee for Missing Persons Anthropological Laboratory. MPs were introduced to the work and aims of the CMP, which are focused on recovering, identifying, and returning the remains of those who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963 to 1964 and Turkey’s illegal invasion in 1974 to their families. MPs were able to speak with Committee Members, as well as Laboratory technicians to understand the challenges that they face in identifying remains and committed to support the valuable work of the CMP.

Witnessing the consequences of the occupation firsthand
MPs were able to witness the tragic consequences of the illegal occupation firsthand in tours across the island. The delegates first departed for the UNFICYP Headquarters at Ledra Palace, where they began a walk through the UN Buffer Zone in Nicosia, the world’s last divided capital city. MPs also exchanged views with Peacekeepers about their important work on the island.
The MPs were also hosted by Famagusta Mayor, Simos Ioannou, and Councillors at the Municipality’s Cultural Centre in Deryneia. The Mayor and Councillors also accompanied the MPs to a viewpoint to observe the illegally occupied city of Famagusta and Varosi, its fenced off ghost town. Additionally, the MPs met with the Mayor of Morphou, Victor Hadjiavraam, and Councillors.

Turkish Cypriot support for reunification

MPs also met with a group of Turkish Cypriot civic leaders and groups to discuss their perspectives on the situation in the illegally occupied north of Cyprus. MPs heard firsthand about the continued grass roots support for reunification of Cyprus, in line with the agreed UN framework and international law.

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