UK Cypriots urge PM May to defend reunification efforts in meeting with Erdogan

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to stress her Government’s support in the efforts to reunify Cyprus in a meeting with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan next Tuesday at Downing Street.

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK Christos Karaolis describes the meeting as an opportunity for Mrs May to make a lasting difference for Cyprus and to make a positive contribution towards efforts to reunify Cyprus for the benefit of all its people.

In his letter Karaolis urges the UK leader to ask President Erdogan if he is committed to the resolution of the Cyprus issue based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality as described by the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

A number of comments from officials in the Turkish Government since the unsuccessful outcome of the negotiations in Crans Montana last July, and even as recently as last week, have indicated a worrying shift towards a ‘plan b’, outside of UN parameters. Comments such as that undermine the efforts of President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to reunify the island. Such comments are also contrary the long-standing position of the UK Government and, therefore, should be condemned. Your meeting with President Erdogan provides an excellent opportunity to communicate the unequivocal position of the UK Government in favour of a solution based on the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and High-Level Agreements, and to make clear that the UK does not support ideas for a solution outside of the UN parameters or implementing any ‘plan b’, he notes.

Secondly, he asks the Prime Minister to communicate to President Erdogan that a solution which will see the continuation of the Treaty of Guarantees and the presence of Turkish troops on the island is neither just nor viable.

The UN Secretary General has been clear that there is a need for a new security system in Cyprus, and not a continuation of the old one. This means that the anachronistic system of guarantors and intervention rights must end, a position which I understand is shared by the UK Government. There must also be a rapid reduction from the first day of a solution and then a clear end-date for the presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus. A reunified Cyprus should be a modern, sovereign, and ‘normal’ member of the United Nations, and does not need guarantors with the right to unilateral military intervention, nor foreign troops on the island, states Karaolis.

Finally, he notes that UK Cypriots were appalled as Turkey deployed warships to block legally-permitted exploratory drilling in the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). We were satisfied to see our government support the Republic of Cyprus’ right to explore and exploit its natural resources, for the benefit of all Cypriots, in its EEZ but I would like you to urge President Erdogan to respect Cyprus’ sovereignty and rights in its EEZ and avoid actions or threats that escalate tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. Gunboat diplomacy should have no place in the 21st Century, particularly towards an island with such close economic, cultural and historical ties to the UK, concludes the UK Cypriots’ Federation President.

Source: Cyprus News Agency