By Jean Christou
The foreign ministry on Tuesday said the UK government’s explanation for a meeting in London between Britain’s Minister for Europe David Lidington and Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Ozdil Nami was far from satisfactory.
Both the Foreign Office and the British High Commission had made almost identical statements to the Cyprus News Agency saying that the UK, as “a friend of Cyprus and a strong supporter of the settlement process, maintains high-level contacts with both communities. That allows us to encourage the two parties to intensify their efforts for the reunification of Cyprus.
Britain’s stance on Cyprus had not changed, the Foreign Office said. “We do not recognise the so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’. As such, we do not recognise the title of ‘minister’ other than for members of the government of the Republic of Cyprus.”
Earlier, British High Commission spokesman Michael Howes had said Nami was in London on his own initiative, “and asked to see Mr Lidington”. It was a private meeting in the House of Commons, he said.
According to Turkish Cypriot media, the Monday meeting lasted one hour and discussions focused on the Cyprus negotiations and the reasons for the current stalemate in the Turkish Cypriot side’s opinion.
After the meeting with Lidington, Nami met with Shadow Minister for Europe of the Labour Party Gareth Thomas where he repeated his positions.
But the Cyprus foreign ministry in a written statement on Tuesday evening, condemned the meeting, which it said was held “despite the intense and repeated warnings of the Republic at various levels, which have been disregarded by London”. It was deeply disappointed, it said.
“The response of the Foreign Office and the explanations of the British High Commission in Nicosia that Britain does not recognise the ‘TRNC’ cannot be considered satisfactory,” the ministry said.
“As regards London’s position that the aim is to maintain contact with both communities… the only result of this meeting was to provide Mr Nami a platform allowing him to engage in the blame game, and call himself a ‘foreign minister’ who makes high-level contacts,” it added.
Nami also met recently with US officials. Commenting yesterday, a US embassy spokesman told CNA that Washington engages with members of both communities in Cyprus to further the goal of reunification.
Meanwhile, it was reported that new Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was scheduled to visit the north on September 16.
Davutoglu will be arriving on the island the same day as the leaders are due to have dinner with the UN’s newly-appointed Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide – the evening before the two leaders are due to meet for the first time since July.
Prior to becoming Prime Minister Davutoglu was Turkey’s foreign minister, and was the ‘go-to’ man in Ankara on the Cyprus issue having had good working relations with Greece and with the US.