British Foreign Secretary Donimic Raab urged on Thursday all sides to proceed to the talks aiming to solve the Cyprus problem with a willingness to demonstrate flexibility and compromise.
In statements after the talks he had in Nicosia with his Cypriot counterpart, Nikos Christodoulides, Raab expressed hope that all parties will seize the opportunities that the 5+1 talks present to really change the conversation and give the children, the young people of the island, the brightest prospects for the future in years ahead.
“I think it’s an opportunity to push for a settlement which will benefit both sides but also have a premium dividend, if you like, for regional stability, security and prosperity. I think a failure to reach a settlement after so many efforts will benefit no-one,” he added.
On his part, Christodoulides said that he shared with his British counterpart “our expectation that negotiations will resume soon, from the point where they were suspended at Crans-Montana and reiterated our unequivocal commitment to this end. I specifically expressed our declared readiness to continue negotiations on the basis of the framework of the UN Secretary General, the existing convergences and the joint declaration of February 2014, while expressing the hope that the same level of commitment will be displayed by all involved.”
Moreover, he said that a comprehensive settlement must be in line with UN Security Council Resolutions, the UN Charter, EU law values and principles and that a reunited Cyprus must be a functional state, a viable member state of the EU, a stable, reliable actor in its region.
In his statements Raab urged all sides “to come to the talks with a willingness to demonstrate flexibility and compromise, noting that he was very heartened by his conversations at the scope for that.
He noted that “we will work with the Cypriot people and the UN of course, to finally resolve the Cyprus problem and achieve a just and lasting settlement. So that, again, the young people, the next generation of Cypriots, can fulfil their aspirations, their dreams and evade their fears and anxieties that appear in both communities.”
He stressed that “a reunited, Cyprus can achieve its full potential as a beacon of democracy, stability, prosperity and, frankly, the underlying values” that Brits and Cypriots share.
Raab said that the UK-Cyprus relationship is strong. We have a lot of history, a lot of water under the bridge in our relationship.
“We have shared values, shared legal systems, joint membership of the Commonwealth, and a very big web of people-to-people relations, including students – we talked a bit about that as well today,” he noted.
He went on to say that “we have got great partnerships and a network of personal relations, particularly in education, science, research, and security, all of which serve our joint interests and contribute to our friendship.”
Raab stressed that “we want to continue strengthening those links and we want to reinforce and nurture these relations, and perhaps widen them as well. So, we will continue to work together to uphold the values that we both share and deal with the challenges we both face, whether that is including tackling Covid, climate change and regional challenges. You can count on our friendship, you can count on our support and you can count on us on playing an active and full role.”
He noted that “we also want to play a supporting role in helping the people of Cyprus, both sides of this dispute, to move things forward, to break the deadlock, to find a settlement that works in everyone’s interest. We are a problem-solving nation by instinct, we are a Guarantor Power, we are a permanent member of the UN Security Council.”
“But above all, the UK feels we are also a long-standing friend of the Cypriot people across the island. So, we want to see a permanent, enduring and lasting end to the dispute,” he added.
On his part, Christodoulides said that Raab`s visit heralds the opening of a new, very promising chapter in the long history book of the special relationship Cyprus and the United Kingdom share. Our countries have been close partners within the EU, and I assure you that our effective rapport will continue and will be strengthened.
He went on to say that is as important as it is timely, given that it also coincides with efforts by the UN Secretary General to resume negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus Problem for a bi-zonal bi-communal federation.
“With the Secretary of State we discussed at length the diverse, long-standing partnership Cyprus and the UK enjoy, and the array of shared interests. As close partners, we also exchanged notes on issues on which we do not see eye-to-eye, and on which we will continue discussing,” Christodoulides noted.
Furthermore he said that “the potential for advancing our relations is immense and the goal is common – to build a strategic partnership with the UK. An array of fields is open for enhanced cooperation, ranging from education, technology and business to security and defense. To this direction, we discussed ways of building on the momentum created by this visit, and mapping out concrete steps in the immediate and longer term,” he added.
He went on to say that as expected, and following Raab`s meeting with Cyprus President, Nicos Anastasiades, earlier today, he and Raab discussed extensively the latest developments with regard to the Cyprus problem.
Christodoulides noted that the UK’s role – both as a result of its capacity as a contracting party to the Treaty of Establishment and the Treaty of Guarantee, as well as its capacity as a Permanent Member of the Security Council – is of critical importance.
He said that he shared with his British counterpart “our expectation that negotiations will resume soon, from the point where they were suspended at Crans-Montana and reiterated our unequivocal commitment to this end. I specifically expressed our declared readiness to continue negotiations on the basis of the framework of the UN Secretary General, the existing convergences and the joint declaration of February 2014, while expressing the hope that the same level of commitment will be displayed by all involved.”
The Cypriot FM stressed that “it has to be abundantly clear that a comprehensive settlement must be in line with UN Security Council Resolutions, the UN Charter, EU law values and principles. Reunited Cyprus must be a functional state, a viable member state of the EU, a stable, reliable actor in its region. A modern European state not tied back by anachronistic systems and structures that have no place in the 21st century.”
Moreover, he said that they agreed with Raab “that as we strive for a meaningful process, it is important to impress upon everyone involved the need to refrain from provocations that pose the risk of derailing the effort. Dominic is a scholar of international law, and very much understands the importance of upholding international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
As regards Varoshia in particular, Christodoulides said that he noted the UK’s constructive stance on agreeing on a strong Presidential Statement by the Security Council last October and that he repeated how regretful it is that despite international condemnation Turkey was not deterred from proceeding with the implementation of its violations within the fenced area, contrary to UNSCRs.
He went on to say that “concerning developments in our region, I had the opportunity to brief Dominic on the active engagement of Cyprus, in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf together with a good number of likeminded states, within the expanding framework of our trilateral cooperation platforms, aiming to foster synergies through a positive agenda. The vision is to strengthen the prospects of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”
“I emphasized that this positive agenda network is diversifying to include partners with a common geopolitical vision with the aim of preparing the ground for more extended and institutionalised regional partnerships. The UK knows the region well, and we certainly see prospects for enhanced cooperation on this front as well,” he concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The latest UN backed round of talks took place in the Swiss resort of Crans Montana but failed to yield any results.
The Turkish side illegally opened on October 8 part of the beach of the abandoned town of Famagusta, in violation to numerous UN resolutions.
Varosha, the fenced off section of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, is often described as a ‘ghost town’. UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN. UN Security Council resolution 789 (1992) also urges that with a view to the implementation of resolution 550 (1984), the area at present under the control of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus be extended to include Varosha.