Britain’s Minister of State for Europe Sir Alan Duncan has reiterated the UK`s “generous offer” to return some land from the British bases first made in 2004 before the referendum on the Annan plan.
Speaking after he met President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday as part of his three-day visit to the island, Sir Alan said it was an important part of his visit to say how much the British government admired Anastasiades’ leadership in developing the talks to the stage which they had reached.
“I reiterated what I think many people thought was a generous offer the United Kingdom made in 2004 on the sovereign bases which I hope can underpin a lot of our contribution to encouraging a successful outcome,” he said.
In a meeting earlier in the day with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Sir Alan discussed the Cyprus negotiations, bilateral relations and Brexit.
“This [Cyprus] is very much at the top of my agenda… there is nothing we would like to see more than a successfully concluded settlement, to bring unity across the whole island,” he said.
Referring to the Brexit referendum, Sir Alan said the outcome was fully accepted. “In a democracy, when the people speak you have to listen and accept the outcome, and the verdict was that we will leave, and so we will leave the European Union, but do so in a way, which – I hope – keeps the United Kingdom as an outward-looking globally minded country,” he said.
Part of this would be maintaining bilateral relations, including with Cyprus. Regular discussions would be held in the upcoming months to address the concerns of the two countries, he said.
“It is a very complex process of decent handling from our current membership, but in ensuring that we can maintain prosperity, openness, trade and the social friendship we want,” Sir Alan said.
As for a UK role – Britain is a guarantor power – in a Cyprus settlement, Sir Alan said it was up to those who were negotiating to set the details and the terms. UK support would include leveraging Britain’s important “diplomatic influence” as a solution would need international support.
“There will be a point, where a measure for financial support is going to be required. So, everything we can do to assist the participants in bringing together any kind of useful support for this process, is exactly what we will do,” he said.
In his comments, Kasoulides referred to bilateral relations with the UK.
“With the UK, we are already cooperating in crisis management, humanitarian operations as well as in finding best ways to deal with growing asymmetric threats. I am pleased to observe that there is a momentum and willingness from both sides to keep expanding it,” he said.
“Cyprus also appreciates UK’s immediate response to our request for the dispatch of firefighting aircraft and a support team,” he added, referring to the devastating fire in the Solea region in June.
On Brexit, Kasoulides said they had discussed the evolving situation.
“On the European level we need to launch an internal process of introspection, in order to find the root causes of this feeling of alienation of our citizens and the perceived absence of democratic transparency and accountability, so that we can achieve a better and more efficient Europe,” Kasoulides said.
He expressed the belief that London should be afforded time to determine how it envisages its future relationship with the EU, “but the sooner this is determined the better for all of us, as the uncertainty is not without consequences for both”, he said.