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Raab: All parties must seize the latest opportunity (Update 2)

ΥΠ.ΕΞΩΤΕΡΙΚΩΝ Ν.ΧΡΙΣΤΟΔΟΥΛΙΔΗΣ – ΥΠ.ΕΞΩΤΕΡΙΚΩΝ ΒΡΕΤΑΝΙΑΣ Dominic Raab
Nikos Christodoulides with his counterpart Dominic Raab

The UK will play a supporting role in helping to resolve the Cyprus problem, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday after a meeting in Nicosia with counterpart Nikos Christodoulides.

Raab, in his first official visit to the island ahead of the informal five-party summit on the Cyprus problem to be convened by the UN secretary-general in March, said the UK was “a problem-solving nation, a guarantor power and a permanent member of the UN Security Council”.

“But above all, the UK feels we are also a long-standing friend of the Cypriot people across the island,” he added.

“And we also want to play a supporting role in helping the people of Cyprus, both sides of this dispute, to move things forward, to break the deadlock, to find a settlement that works in everyone’s interest.”

Raab met earlier with President Nicos Anastasiades and was scheduled to also meet with Turkish Cypriot leader in the afternoon.

He said all parties should seize the opportunity presented by the UN Secretary-General’s 5+1 talks “to really change the conversation and give the children, the young people of the island, the brightest prospects for the future in years ahead.”

Failure to reach a settlement will benefit no-one, he added.

“So, again, I urge all sides to come to the talks with a willingness to demonstrate flexibility and compromise and I was very heartened by my conversations at the scope for that.”

He said the UK would work with the Cypriot people and the UN to finally resolve the Cyprus problem and achieve a just and lasting settlement, “so that the young people, the next generation of Cypriots, can fulfil their aspirations, their dreams and evade their fears and anxieties that appear in both communities.”

“A reunited Cyprus can achieve its full potential as a beacon of democracy, stability, prosperity and, frankly, the underlying values that Nikos and I, that Brits and Cypriots share.”

Raab also said the UK-Cyprus relationship is strong and the two countries have growing partnerships in many vital areas such as education, science, research, and security. “We want to continue strengthening these links.”

He added that the UK-Cyprus relationship was built on shared history.

“A lot of water under the bridge in our relationship. We have shared values, shared legal systems, joint membership of the Commonwealth, and a very big web of people-to-people relations, including students – we talked a bit about that as well today.”

He added that the two countries would continue working together to uphold the values they share and deal with the challenges both face, whether that is including tackling Covid, climate change and regional challenges.

“You can count on our friendship, you can count on our support and you can count on us on playing an active and full role,” Raab said.

Raab also thanked Anastasiades, and Christodoulides for their hospitality, and for the constructive discussions and said he looked forward to meeting Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, later in the day. He was to also meet with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar.

Christodoulides said this was the first visit by a UK foreign secretary since 2016, and following Brexit. “It heralds the opening of a new, very promising chapter in the long history book of the special relationship Cyprus and the United Kingdom share.”

He said that Raab’s visit was as important as it was timely, given that it also coincides with efforts by the UN Secretary-General to resume negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem for a bi-zonal bi-communal federation (BBF).

Christodoulides said they discussed extensively the latest developments. “Needless to say that the UK’s role – both as a result of its capacity as a contracting party to the Treaty of Establishment and the Treaty of Guarantee, as well as its capacity as a permanent member of the Security Council – is of critical importance.”

“I shared with Dom our expectation that negotiations will resume soon, from the point where they were suspended at Crans-Montana and reiterated our unequivocal commitment to this end.”

He added that he expressed the government’s readiness to continue negotiations based on the Guterres framework, the existing convergences and the joint declaration of February 2014, “while expressing the hope that the same level of commitment will be displayed by all involved.”

While stressing that a comprehensive settlement must be in line with UN Security Council resolutions, the UN Charter and EU law values and principles, he said a reunited Cyprus “must be a functional state, a viable member state of the EU, a stable, reliable actor in its region. “

“A modern European state not tied back by anachronistic systems and structures that have no place in the 21st century.”

Christodoulides said he and Raab agreed that it was important to impress upon everyone involved the need to refrain from provocations that pose the risk of derailing the effort.

He added that they discussed at length the diverse, long-standing partnership Cyprus and the UK enjoy, and the array of shared interests. “As close partners, we also exchanged notes on issues on which we do not see eye-to-eye, and on which we will continue discussing.”

Prior to his visit to Cyprus, Raab had spoken with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu ahead of the informal UN talks on Cyprus. In a tweet on Wednesday, Raab said he spoke to Cavusoglu and “and reinforced the need for all sides to be flexible.”

The UK, along with Greece and Turkey are Cyprus’ guarantor powers.

Cavusoglu was in the north earlier in the week to coordinate with Tatar ahead of the five-party summit. They both reiterated that they would not discuss a federal solution, which is the basis the two sides had been discussing on for the past five decides.

Raab also met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in London on Tuesday.

 

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