By Jean Christou
Achieving a settlement of the Cyprus issue is more important than ever, new British High Commissioner Damian Roderick Todd said on Monday during a ceremony at the palace to present his credentials.
Addressing President Nicos Anastasiades, Todd, who is replacing Matthew Kidd, said a settlement of the Cyprus problem had been elusive for too long.
“I have already sensed how frustrated Cypriots feel. A settlement is in the interest of Cyprus, neighbouring countries of Cyprus, Europe and the region,” he said, adding that Britain would do what it could to help the process.
He also called the relationship between the UK and Cyprus was unique.
“Our relationship has always been a very rich and active one, not only at the level of governments, but also throughout society.”
He referred to the many British people who have made their homes in Cyprus, the large number who holiday on the island, and the educational and cultural bonds.
“The relationship between the UK and Cyprus is a priority for us both at this important time and we are witnessing a new vitality to our partnership,” he said.
“I am sure that the United Kingdom and Cyprus, working together and with our partners, can tackle the challenges facing us including: regional instability; terrorism; the environment; development; energy security and overcoming the economic crisis.”
Responding, Anastasiades said: “Unprecedented challenges and imminent threats lie upon us.”
He said Cyprus had been cooperating with the UK to jointly tackle asymmetric threats and address humanitarian crises, as shown by the government’s coordination with the British Bases in the case of Iraq and last summer in addressing the situation in Syria.
“Cyprus has proved its commitment in the common efforts to combat terrorism, nuclear proliferation and illegal arms trade and towards establishing collective security, regional stability and peace,” said Anastasiades.
He said the visit of the UK Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon in August was a testament to the enhanced strategic defence cooperation that Cyprus and the UK had established.
“We certainly stand ready to further our cooperation and coordination with the UK… where we can and wish to exert our role as a crisis management, safe refuge and evacuation hub for the broader region,” the president said.
The new Danish ambassador, Mette Knudsen, and the new Spanish ambassador, Angel Lossada Torres-Quevedo, also presented their credentials to the president yesterday.