British High Commissioner in Cyprus Stephan Lillie was interviwed on the subject of UK relations with North Cyprus post-Brexit.
In his interview, Lillie said that Brexit does not reflect on the Turkish Cypriots and the UK’s relations with the Turkish Cypriot community. He stressed that their relations with the community will not be affected in any way and will not change for better or worse.
“The United Kingdom has traditionally had very good relations with the Turkish Cypriot community. A large number of Turkish Cypriots live in the United Kingdom and a large number of Britons live in the Turkish Cypriot community. Our relations are very good. Therefore, Brexit is not going to affect our relations with the Turkish Cypriot community either positively or negatively”, he said.
Asked about the possibility of free trade between the TRNC and Great Britain in particular after Brexit, the British High Commissioner recalled that “The TRNC has no direct trade agreement with any country in the world, not even with Turkey”. Lillie was asked if, in his opinion, free trade between the UK and the TRNC was a realistic option, he replied that he didn’t think so.
Concerning the Cyprus issue, Lillie stressed that his country has always supported efforts for a solution of the bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in Cyprus on the basis of political equality and added that a possible solution to the Cyprus problem would create many prospects on the island. He also stressed the need for all parties to show willingness and to return to the negotiating table to resolve all issues that remained unresolved after the failure of the Cyprus Conference in Crans- Montana in 2017. He also hoped that a five-day conference on the Cyprus issue could be convened as soon as possible.
Asked whether he considers direct flights and direct trade to the northern part of the island feasible, Lillie replied that the issue of direct flights was never a European issue. He added that no country in the world has direct flights to the northern part of Cyprus except Turkey.
On the issue of hydrocarbons, the British High Commissioner expressed the view that the best way to resolve the issue is by the solution of the Cyprus problem. He added that Britain’s position on the matter is clear, arguing that his country fully respects all international agreements and actions of the Republic of Cyprus in its own EEZ and is against all unlawful actions of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.