Chris Heaton-Harris, the recently appointed Minister for Europe in the UK government, has reiterated London’s support for the UN-led process to advocate a solution in Cyprus “in line with UN parameters based on the model of a Bi-zonal, Bi-communal Federation with political equality.”
Responding to a letter by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, the Minister added that such a model is “broad enough to address the concerns of both sides.”
He also highlighted the benefits of a successful solution, such as the increased prosperity of Cyprus and the strengthened security and stability of the region.
Heaton-Harris said that UK Ministers and Foreign Office officials actively engage with all parties, not only to urge progress but to urge “restraint from any actions or rhetoric that could undermine the prospects of a settlement.”
He also referred to the tensions in Varosha, the fenced-off part of Turkish occupied Famagusta, repeating the UK’s support for relevant Security Council resolutions and statements, and the British support for Cypriot hydrocarbon activity in its internationally recognised EEZ.
The Minister for Europe commented that he assumed his position at a time when the UK-Cyprus bilateral relationship “has never been stronger.”
In his letter to Heaton-Harris, the Federation President Christos Karaolis had noted that “Turkey holds the key to a solution to the Cyprus issue but shows a distinct lack of support for reunification.”
He had also urged the Minister to play a positive and constructive role in seeking the reunification of Cyprus and the British Government “to do more to exert real pressure on Turkey to engage positively and constructively towards a just and lasting solution in Cyprus.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Varosha, the fenced off section of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, is often described as a ‘ghost town’.
UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN. UN Security Council resolution 789 (1992) also urges that with a view to the implementation of resolution 550 (1984), the area at present under the control of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus be extended to include Varosha.
Turkish Cypriot leader, Ersin Tatar, announced in July 2021 a partial lifting of the military status in Varosha. On October 8, 2020, the Turkish side opened part of the fenced area of Varosha, following an announcement made in Ankara on October 6.
Both the UN Secretary-General and the EU expressed concern, while the UN Security Council called for the reversal of this course of action. In his latest report to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Guterres underlines the importance of adhering fully to UN resolutions, underscoring that the position of the United Nations on this matter “remains unchanged.”