Justice Minister Stephie Drakou hailed the “excellent relations” shared between Cyprus and the UK in comments made at a charity event in the British bases to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee.
“Queen Elizabeth is a remarkable world leader,” Drakou said at the event on Thursday night, adding that: “For seventy years now, she is leading the United Kingdom with skill and dedication, turning herself into an example to all nations.”
The justice minister praised the long-standing friendship between the two countries as being based on the common past, the strong people-to-people ties and bilateral cooperation.
She emphasised that the largest community of Cypriots overseas is in the UK, while also reiterating that the UK is an important education hub for Cypriots.
The minister also pointed out that Cyprus is home to more than 60,000 Britons and is a holiday destination for a further million.
“I would like to thank the UK government for its principled stance regarding the Cyprus problem,” Drakou also said.
The warm wishes from the minister are in stark contrast to comments made amid a controversy just a few weeks ago, which saw a series of politicians and political parties condemning the event.
The subsequent fallout led to the British bases shifting the event from the ancient site of Curium to Happy Valley, within the defence estate at Episkopi.
In announcing the change, the bases expressed their regret at “the hostile response of a very small minority”.
That response included comments such as “killer queen”. Subsequently, the two charities initially billed as participating in the event withdrew, along with a dance and chorus group.
Queen Elizabeth II was the head of state during Eoka’s 1955-1959 liberation struggle from colonial rule during which nine young fighters were executed.
But Drakou congratulated all those who contributed to the “wonderful” event.
“I kindly ask you all to raise your glass for a toast to the health and happiness of Her Majesty the Queen,” she told the audience.