By Matthew Kidd and Rea Yiordamlis
MARCH 13 arks Commonwealth Day – an opportunity to celebrate the diverse partnership of nations which make up the modern Commonwealth: 52 member states spanning six continents and which make up a quarter of the world’s land mass and one third of the world’s population. It is also an organisation of the future as one billion, or 60 per cent of all Commonwealth citizens are under the age of 25.
Because of its diversity and scale, we both believe the Commonwealth is a unique organisation with a network that can deliver on global issues like no other. We also share a desire for the Commonwealth to deliver on its full potential, responding to changing international dynamics, modernising and setting a new vision of a strong and effective contributor to world security and prosperity.
This will be a core aim of the UK’s hosting of the next Commonwealth Summit in 2018, which we hope will be one of the most ambitious yet, demonstrating a Commonwealth that is truly relevant for the 21st century and focussed on trade, prosperity, youth and small states.
For Cyprus, the Commonwealth represents another way for a relatively small country to play an important role on the global stage. Cyprus currently plays a particularly important role, as Chair of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in co-ordinating Commonwealth action on respecting the values of international peace and security, sustainable economic growth and development and the rule of law which are at the core of what the Commonwealth stands for. Cyprus sees other new opportunities for making the most of its Commonwealth ties, through forging new links between the Commonwealth and other international organisations.
In the last year, we have both been particularly pleased to see young people in Cyprus benefiting from some of the opportunities the Commonwealth presents, to gain a more global perspective and increase their understanding of important global issues from new angles. This includes one of the Queen’s Young Leaders programme participants coming from Cyprus in 2016; and 2 young winners of the Commonwealth young essay-writers’ competition.
Over the months to come as we build up to the next Commonwealth Summit in London, both of us look forward to working together with the rest of the Commonwealth family to deliver the above vision of a Commonwealth for the 21st century in order to deliver an event which works for everyone: governments, business, civil society and youth groups who will all have an important role to play.
We look forward to starting that conversation this week as we mark Commonwealth Week.
Matthew Kidd is the British High Commissioner in Cyprus and Ambassador Rea Yiordamlis is the Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus