My aim is to finally render Cyprus a normal, functional state, President says

My aim is to finally render Cyprus a normal, functional state, laying the foundations for peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding, said the President of the Republic Nikos Christodoulides.

He was speaking during the 12 June reception by the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Cyprus, Irfan Siddiq, on the occasion of King Charles III's birthday.

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He also thanked the British government for its continued support of the Amalthea initiative, underlining the UK's significant contribution to the efforts being made through the initiative to provide humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

In his remarks, the President of the Republic said that today is a fitting occasion to pay tribute to King Charles' unwavering devotion to his country and nation, as well as an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the long-standing friendship and enduring bonds between the two countries and peoples.

“Cyprus and the UK share deep-rooted historic, economic, and cultural ties as well as close people-to-people contacts. These ties are underpinned by our mutual support to democratic values, peace and freedom”, continued President Christodoulides, adding that since Brexit, the two countries have embarked on a path of readjusting and deepening the institutional base of their cooperation in a wide range of fields, such as trade, investments, tourism and technology, security and defence and education.

The Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing a Strategic Framework of Cooperation between Cyprus and the UK, signed in November 2022, is a landmark of the Cyprus-UK bilateral agenda as it consolidates our collaboration on a tangible and results-oriented manner, he noted, also recalling in this context that the first Strategic Dialogue under the MoU between Cyprus and the UK took place last December where the two sides had the opportunity to discuss all policy areas related to the MoU, such as foreign affairs, defence, security, trade, maritime affairs, education, while also identifying new prospects for cooperation, “all with the aim of aspiring to a promising future, full of opportunities.”

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“The 2024 Bilateral Defence Cooperation Programme, the joint arrangement relating to the non-military development in the British military bases area, as well as the excellent cooperation we shared and continue to do so on the Amalthea plan, the maritime 'lifeline' to Gaza, are also speaking examples of the close cooperation between Cyprus and the UK”, continued the President and underlined his appreciation for the UK’s consistent support to the Cyprus' maritime initiative.

“Together, both with your help and other partners, we aim to facilitate the long-term political and socio-economic sustainability of the Gaza Strip, while providing a sustained tool to the international community for complementing existing routes”, he stressed, adding that from the 2023 test run with the Lyme Bay ship to assist the USA pier via the military planners in Larnaca, the UK’s engagement and efforts in breathing life into this initiative have been pivotal. “This maritime corridor can —and must— be part of a sustained effort to increase the flow of humanitarian aid to people who desperately need it”, he pointed out.

According to the President, today's event was also an opportunity to reiterate the RoC’s principled position for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, that will eventually lead to the reunification of the island, its people and its institutions.

“For us, the support and solidarity of the United Kingdom, a Permanent Member of the Security Council, towards our efforts to reach a just, viable and lasting solution is of great importance”, President Christodoulides went on to say, adding that the RoC attaches great importance to the role of the UK in ensuring that “all parties remain committed to relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and the agreed UN framework, calling for a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty, single citizenship and single international personality, and of course with political equality.”

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2024 marks a sombre anniversary, a milestone commemoration, for both Cyprus and Europe, as it marks the completion of 50 years since the illegal Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the ongoing military occupation of almost 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, continued the President, and stressed that since the very first day he assumed office, his absolute priority has been to work towards lasting peace in Cyprus, "to break the current deadlock so that negotiations can resume with the aim to reunify Cyprus on the basis of relevant UNSC resolutions".

“My aim is to finally render Cyprus a normal, functional state, laying the foundations for peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding”, he stressed, adding that in this respect, the Government has worked in a methodical and consistent manner and undertook initiatives to convince the international community of the urgent need to resume negotiations. He also welcomed the appointment of UNSG’s Personal Envoy, María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, adding the G/C side will continue supporting substantially her work in promoting dialogue and in breaking the deadlock.

Concluding, the President of the Republic conveyed his best wishes to the Royal Family for strength and resilience in overcoming recent health challenges.

On his part, the British High Commissioner, Irfan Siddiq, said in his remarks that the relationship between the United Kingdom and Cyprus remains unique and is defined by the historical, cultural and social links that tie the two countries together, best exemplified through the 400,000 Cypriots living in the UK and the more than 80,000 British nationals residing on the island, but also through the British tourists that continue to be the largest group of visitors to Cyprus, on track this year to break the record of 1.2 million visitors, as well as through the intense engagement in professions such as law, accountancy and business services, where the UK remains the reference point for qualifications for Cypriot professionals.

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“But in this last year, it is probably being seen most clearly through our vital military and humanitarian cooperation as we have worked in partnership to tackle regional threats and provide humanitarian support for those in need”, continued Siddiq, expressing his satisfaction for the fact that British military helicopters were able to support the efforts of the Cypriot authorities to tackle the wildfires that have struck the Paphos region, but also that the UK was the first country to stand beside Cyprus and recognise the potential of its Amalthea corridor initiative.

“We were the first country to deliver humanitarian aid to Cyprus, the first country to provide a vessel to transport such aid and the first partner country to attempt to deliver aid to Gaza from Cyprus”, he underlined in that regard, adding that although that first mission was only able to reach Gaza indirectly, the UK, together with the Republic of Cyprus, established the viability of the corridor and along with Cypriot, American and other partners it has now successfully operationalised the corridor with over 100 tonnes of UK aid.

“The success of this operation symbolises the fantastic collaboration between Cypriot and British political, defence and civil authorities. However, the Israel-Gaza conflict continues to be a horrific humanitarian crisis and a source of instability in the region. The UK, like the RoC, has been clear in its call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the lifting of all restrictions to the delivery of humanitarian aid and the immediate release of all hostages. We strongly welcomed the passage of the UN Security Council resolution of the US ceasefire plan and call upon both sides to agree it and implement it urgently”, he further stressed on the matter.

Referring to last week’s events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, the British High Commissioner said they recognised the supreme sacrifice and fortitude of those involved.

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“Russia's illegal war has unfortunately made such fortitude and sacrifice by so many brave Ukrainians necessary in Europe once again”, he went on to say, adding that Ukraine has shown that with the right support, it can defend itself and win a just peace, and noted that all countries of Europe must do more to provide Ukraine with essential military supplies. “We must also ramp up the economic pressure on Russia and to that end, we are proud of our partnership with the RoC to help establish a national sanctions implementation unit to ensure full compliance with all relevant sanctions”, he noted.

Siddiq added that the UK also continues to unwaveringly support a “just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, based on the agreed international framework of a Bizonal, Bicommunal Federation, with political equality”.

“We work closely as a guarantor power to support the efforts of the personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General to find common ground between the parties and resume negotiations, and will continue to do so”, concluded the British High Commissioner.

(Sources: CNA/PIO)

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