The prospects for a unification of Cyprus are the best they have been for a generation, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in an article published after his visit to the island last week.
Published on the website conservativehome.com, Hammond said the leaders of the Greek and Turkish communities were committed, the guarantor powers – Greece, Turkey and the UK – were supportive, and the international community was committed to help. Significant challenges remained, however, he said.
Hammond said the two leaders, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had made good progress, and renewed hope and momentum.
“A settlement would be good for all Cypriots, creating significant economic opportunities,” said Hammond.
“It would also strengthen Cyprus as a beacon of stability in a troubled region, providing a boost for regional security, and opening the possibility of new energy and economic partnerships in the region. It would contribute new momentum to the EU accession process of Turkey, a crucial EU partner in tackling security and migration challenges,” he added.
Hammond reiterated that in the event of a settlement, the UK would be prepared to cede nearly half of the land mass of the British base areas to a reunited Cyprus and as a guarantor power, he said he had made it clear in Cyprus that the UK was prepared to consider whatever security arrangements for a reunited Cyprus the parties could agree on.
The British foreign secretary said he was not alone in focusing on Cyprus and that his German colleague, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was also in Cyprus last week, plus US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese representatives all planned to visit over the next couple of weeks “to lend their backing for a deal to unify the island”.
“Experienced Cyprus watchers will counsel that we shouldn’t raise our hopes too high. The most intractable issues of property (the rights of those who lost property in 1974) and security (what, if any, security guarantees will remain in force after the settlement) are still not resolved. But real progress has been, and is being, made,” said Hammond.
“I and my international colleagues will keep supporting and pursuing this effort to re-unify the island of Cyprus, supporting two leaders who genuinely want to find a solution.”