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Villiers pledges support for Cyprus

13 March 2013

Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland says that the UK government will always support Cypriots in their efforts to find a solution but “we can’t prescribe the terms of a settlement from London.” She added that “this kind of negotiation is only going to be successful if only the parties themselves find a settlement which has a real balance, which can command the support of the different parts of the community in Cyprus.”

Villiers expressed hope that the talks for the reunification of Cyprus “can resume but obviously the anxiety is that even if Cypriots themselves could come up with a solution that all sides are happy with, it is difficult for them to have the freedom to do that with Ankara looking over the shoulder of the Turkish Cypriots, and it is vital that Ankara basically allows Cypriots to determine their own destiny.”

I certainly hope that the UN will keep up its support for the peace discussions in Cyprus and also do what it can to really persuade, put pressure on Ankara to be supportive of that process as well, to give Cypriots themselves the right to determine what is going to be the right settlement for them,” she added.

Villiers noted that “the EU has a role to play here as well with Turkey wanting membership,” adding,  “so, if Turkey is serious about EU membership, it must demonstrate that it is supportive of achieving a just and balanced settlement decided by Cypriots in Cyprus and not in Ankara,” she said.

Referring to the recently discovered deposits of natural gas in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, Villiers said, “the new energy deposits can transform the geopolitical situation and I am, of course, delighted that these deposits have been discovered within Cyprus’ territorial watersI think it really could be a good financial boost for the Cypriots but also for energy security in the EU.”

It is great that we have a member state that appears to have some very significant hydrocarbon deposits, because getting those up and running and pumping out gas means that we are less dependent on trouble spots around the world where energy is concentrated,” Villiers noted.

She added that the UK government was “very, very clear that it is entirely within the rights of the government of Cyprus to exploit their natural resources and so we have no time for grandstanding by Turkey and threats in relation to those resources which are manifestly within Cyprus’ economic zone and it is not only right that Cyprus exploits those resources, it is, as I say, good for the rest of Europe as well to potentially have a great new source of energy.” Furthermore, she expressed hope that President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and British Prime Minister David Cameron “will have a chance to meet soon.”

Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks to reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish peace mission, have so far failed to produce a political settlement. The latest round of talks was suspended by the Turkish Cypriot side, days before Cyprus assumed the EU presidency in July last year.

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