By Stefanos Evripidou
UK MINISTER for Europe David Lidington yesterday welcomed the “constructive work” done by the Cyprus government over the sensitive issue of title deeds, still pending for thousands of property owners, both foreign and Cypriot.
Speaking after a meeting with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides in Nicosia, the British minister said he welcomed the “constructive work” done over the vast question of property.
“I know that this is not something that has only affected British people, but a very large number of citizens here in Cyprus have been beset by the same legal problems over housing arrangements that in some way have gone wrong. And it’s in both our interests to hope for a way forward for those families that go through a great deal of anguish and uncertainty,” he said.
Kasoulides said the two ministers had a chance to “map out our coordination in relation to the sensitive issue of title deeds and the problems faced by a number of our British friends who have purchased property in Cyprus and also, of course, to thousands of Cypriots who face exactly the same problem”.
“This is an important issue for the Cypriot government that we are determined to effectively address,” he said.
The two also discussed the Cyprus problem, bilateral relations, European issues and regional developments.
On the Cyprus problem, Kasoulides said they had “conducive and in depth discussions” on the latest developments, particularly the government’s position on the resumption of negotiations, including the proposal for the return of the fenced off part of Famagusta as a “game changer”.
For his part, Lidington told reporters that he was “encouraged” by what he has learned regarding the latest steps in the search for a solution, which, he argued, would be “so much in the interest of every family on the island”.
A solution would offer a “huge economic prize” that could bring great prosperity to people from every community and every background in Cyprus, he said.
“I can think of no other political event which would send such a clear signal to international investors in Europe and all around the globe that the prospects for economic development in a reunited island were better than ever before in our lifetimes.”
The UK and Cypriot ministers discussed bilateral cooperation, highlighting the recent work between the Cypriot and UK authorities concerning the restructuring of the public sector, and Cyprus’ economic obligations towards the Troika of international lenders.
Lidington said the British government was pleased to be able to provide Cyprus technical support during the crisis earlier this year and since then in the ongoing work of the government for reform of the public sector.
“I think that President (Nicos) Anastasiades and his government showed very courageous leadership at a time of grave economic difficulty and we want to continue to do whatever we can to help the people of Cyprus to gain a more prosperous future by getting people back into work, getting the economy going again,” he said.
The two also discussed regional issues, including the “ongoing humanitarian turmoil in Syria, as well as managing the event of a possible escalation, in which Cyprus can and is ready to provide a safe refuge for EU nationals and others”, said Kasoulides.
The British minister said the UK and Cyprus “share a determination to do whatever we can to resist the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to resist international terrorism that looks for fruitful soil in the Middle East, in North Africa and in the Sahara”.
Summing up, Kasoulides described the UK as “a partner of unique importance for Cyprus, and certainly one with which we share a strong, pragmatic and deeply founded relationship of decisive potential on the basis of reciprocity”.
During his two-day visit which ended yesterday, Lidington also met with with Anastasiades on Tuesday and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu yesterday.