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UK Parliament debates Cyprus question

11 September 2014

A debate on Cyprus and the prospect of a settlement through the ongoing talks was held in the UK Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, on the initiative of the North London MP David Burrowes, ‘Famagusta Gazette’ reports.

The Conservative MP reminded his colleagues that after 40 years of division and continuing presence of more than 40,000 Turkish troops in North Cyprus “every year, every month, every week, every day that goes by is a human tragedy for all Cypriots.”

Burrowes noted that British Government and its parliamentary representatives, “must not rest until we have a solution to the Cyprus problem which delivers justice and respect for the human rights of all Cypriots.

The current situation in Cyprus is as unacceptable and intolerable in 2014 as it was in 1974.”

He explained that the purpose of the debate was “to emphasise that Cyprus and a solution to the Cyprus problem must be a priority”.

The debate which covered issues such as missing persons, Famagusta, religious and cultural heritage and hydrocarbons, David Burrowes said that comments made by Turkish President Erdogan on his recent visit to the TRNC referring to “two founding states” were damaging to the negotiations and that “they do not constitute a solution but a perpetuation of the division of Cyprus.

“The comments cast a dark shadow over the talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot and do not bode well for the future success of negotiations particular when opening sensitive chapters on territory and citizenship,” Burrowes alleged, who also called upon the Government to help end the “intransigence of Turkey on the Cyprus question.”

He concluded by asking the Minister for assurances ” that the Government is doing all it can to support a settlement.”

The Foreign Office Minister Tobias Elwood responded to the debate, whilst the Europe Minister was overseas. He revealed that the new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond raised the issue of Cyprus with his Turkish counterpart at the NATO Summit in Wales last week.

He emphasised the Government’s commitment to a just and lasting settlement and noted how London was working to “actively support the efforts under way” towards this goal. He described the prospect for a lasting solution as “promising” and noted how both sides were showing the right ambition to reach a lasting settlement. “We regularly discuss Cyprus with our Turkish counterparts, including at ministerial level, and we encourage Turkey to maintain its constructive engagement to make this round of talks successful,” he said.

The Minister also said the Government is ready to consider further contributing to the funding of the work of the Committee for Missing Persons and that is supports the return of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants based upon Security Council resolutions.

“No one should underestimate the scale of the challenges ahead, but the government firmly believe that a solution that meets the fundamental concerns of both communities is possible and that there has been no better time to achieve it,” concluded Mr Ellwood.

Andy Love MP said he regretted that Cyprus did not appear much on the agendas of the NATO summit in Wales. He also asked the Minister to “re-energise international involvement in Cyprus and to do whatever the United Kingdom can do.”

Mike Freer MP noted that it is “rather unusual” that the European Union seems exercised about Ukraine being occupied and divided by a military power while being oddly silent and acquiescent to the continuing occupation and division of Cyprus.

The Labour shadow Europe Minister Gareth Thomas described plans for a further joint meeting next week between the new UN special adviser for Cyprus and the leaders of the two sides in Cyprus as “encouraging”. He also asked the Government to present the steps it has put in place or is encouraging in order “to build dialogue between faith leaders and others in civil society, to help engender better relationships.”

David Burrowes MP will be following up other issues raised during the debate with a meeting with the Europe Minister. He will also raise concerns about the perception of the “upgraded status” given to the recent meeting with Ozdil Nami.

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