Sir Alan Duncan assures of continuing UK support for a Cyprus settlement

UK Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan has assured the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK Christos Karaolis that London continues to support efforts for a just and lasting settlement to reunite Cyprus.

The assurance was provided by Sir Alan Duncan in a letter to Karaolis, who had written to Prime Minister Theresa May last month to mark the 44th year since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The UK Minister has also reiterated the British belief that the internationally accepted model of a bizonal, bicommunal federation is “the best way to achieve that goal.”

On security and guarantees, the letter states: “The UK has always made clear that we are open to whatever arrangements the two sides and other guarantor powers can agree to meet the security needs of both Cypriot communities. A final deal will also only be possible if it passes referenda in each community.”

The UK Minister for Europe adds that all parties were engaged “with serious intent to reach a deal” at last year’s Conference on Cyprus, although in the end it was not possible to bridge the gaps. He goes on to say that since then the British government has urged all parties to avoid words or actions that risk escalating tensions in the region or that could have a negative impact on the prospects for resuming the talks.

Sir Alan Duncan also makes a reference to the recognition by the UK of the Republic of Cyprus’s sovereign right over the natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone, repeating that London “wants to see exploration go ahead.”

Noting that the hydrocarbons development should be done for the benefit of all Cypriots, the Minister for Europe adds that while the UK continues to work with all parties for a fair and sustainable settlement, it is now for the parties to decide the way forward.

“Reaching agreement on the remaining issues will require tough choices and compromises, but with political will we judge a settlement is still achievable,” ends the letter addressed to the Federation president.

In his letter to Prime Minister May, dated 20th July, Karaolis was calling upon the UK government “to do more and use the leverage it has in order to exert real pressure upon Turkey to persuade that country, which holds the key to a solution in Cyprus, to engage positively and constructively towards a just and sustainable solution.”

Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and since then occupies 37% of the island`s territory. The latest effort to reach a Cyprus settlement was concluded in summer last year in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana without a result.

source: CNA