A reunified Cyprus can achieve even greater things, new UK High Commissioner says

A reunified Cyprus can achieve even greater things as a country, and so can our bilateral relationship, new UK High Commissioner to Cyprus Stephen Lillie said on Friday, adding that his country will support the process for a Cyprus settlement, “which is our duty as a guarantor power and permanent member of the Security Council, but which is even more so our wish as a friend of the Cypriot people.”

Presenting his credentials to Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Lillie noted that “the British Government and I personally as High Commissioner will continue to support a just, democratic and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue.”

On his part, referring to the Cyprus problem, President Anastasiades said “we warmly welcome the intention by the Secretary – General to appoint an envoy in order to explore the prospect of resuming the negotiating process.” He stressed that both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci “are called to clarify with clarity their positions on whether or not they accept the framework presented by the UN Secretary – General in July 2017, in order not only to avoid misinterpretations or statements that aim to impress, but also for the UN Secretary – General to have a clear picture if the necessary conditions that will allow the resumption of the dialogue are in place.”

The UK High Commissioner noted that “as we leave the EU, the British High Commission will work to build an even wider and deeper relationship between Britain and Cyprus: a relationship founded on shared values as liberal free-trading democracies and the rule of law, shared membership of the Commonwealth, shared institutional links and the common law system, and of course the wealth of personal connections between our citizens to which I have referred already.”

Referring to UK-Cyprus relations, Lille said that apart from personal connections, “we enjoy a wealth of cultural, economic and institutional ties. All of this provides a firm foundation for further expanding our relations across a whole range of areas: trade, finance and investment; tourism; education and science; law enforcement; public sector and economic reform; foreign and defence policy.”

“In other words, while we must always respect, learn from and build on our history, my focus as High Commissioner will be very much on what we can achieve together in future,” Lillie said.

Receiving the credentials, the President of the Republic underlined that “as recently conveyed to the Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May, in the clearest terms that we remain strongly committed to negotiate a solution within the parameters that the Secretary General set, for a viable and comprehensive settlement, fully in line with international and EU law, that reunites Cyprus as modern, truly independent and sovereign state, free of any third country dependencies that will offer the prospect of prosperity and peaceful co-existence for all its citizens.”

Furthermore, he expressed high appreciation to “the strong support of the Government of the United Kingdom to our continuous efforts to reach a just, viable and comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, in line with the relevant UN Council Resolutions, the EU law, values and principles, and the High Level Agreements between the leaders of the two communities and the Joint Declaration of February 11, 2014 and your contribution towards that aim.”

Anastasiades noted that following the failure of the Conference on Cyprus in Crans Montana in July 2017, due to Turkey’s insistence, in stark contrast to the framework presented by the UN Secretary – General during the said Conference, on its longstanding position to retain the right to unilaterally intervene in Cyprus through the continuation of the anachronistic system of guarantees and the permanent presence of Turkish troops, the negotiating process is at an impasse.

Regrettably, he added, “Turkey’s most recent illegal actions in our maritime zones amount to escalated provocations and to flagrant violation of our sovereign rights to explore and exploit our natural resources and do not create the necessary conditions for resuming negotiations.”

“What I would like to stress and what I have made clear to the UN Secretary General and the international community, is that if Turkey’s illegal actions cease as well as the unacceptable positions and demands put forward by the Turkish Cypriot side, I am ready to immediately engage in a new dialogue as regards the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem and also to take part in a new Conference on Cyprus, provided that the necessary preparation has taken place and that the five permanent members of the Security Council and the EU will assume an active role,” Anastasiades said.

Noting that “during the last five years, our relationship has indeed entered a new phase,” Anastasiades, said, inter alia, that “we are now entering an important period in the modern history of the United Kingdom, during which its future relationship with the EU will take shape,” and expressed his sincere commitment “to continue working closely with your Government towards ensuring that our two countries forge a further dynamic and constantly growing bilateral relation.”

“It is with deep regret that we will lose such a close and valued partner within the European Union, but we fully respect the will of the British people,” he added, while referring to the ongoing discussions between Cyprus and the UK on the British bases, within the context of the wider Brexit negotiations, he stressed that “we look forward to concluding them in time. We would highly appreciate your support in order to maintain the bases in the EU customs territory and ensure that the rights and interests of EU citizens residing and/or working in the bases are safeguarded,” he added.

The President also referred to Cyprus current economic situation, noting that the country has achieved a remarkable rebound. “The primary objective of our economic policy is to see a continuation of our economic recovery and sustainable growth. The combination of fiscal discipline with real economic growth has been the hallmark of our economic policy. And, of course, we shall continue to promote further economic reforms and consolidation of all that has been achieved so far,” he noted.

Furthermore, he said that “we have established a vibrant pro-business environment and we are confident that, by pursuing the same prudent and forward´┐Żlooking economic path, Cyprus can become one of the fastest growing economies in the EU.”

Source: Cyprus News Agency