The two rivals in Britain’s leadership race to replace Boris Johnson, foreign secretary Liz Truss and former finance minister Rishi Sunak have both pledged support for Cyprus in separate letters to the UK-based Conservative Friends of Cyprus organisation.
While front-runner Truss spoke about ties between Cyprus and the UK, her carefully-worded letter avoided any mention of Turkey when she wrote about “the need to avoid actions that infringe international law and UN security council resolutions either in Cyprus or in the wider eastern Mediterranean”.
“As Prime Minister, I would continue to support Cyprus in its efforts for reunification under international law and in helping find a peaceful and lasting solution,” the letter said.
“As foreign secretary, I recognise the value that Cyprus brings as a pillar of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and its positive engagement with countries of the region,” it added.
Without the diplomatic shackles that bind a foreign minister such as Truss, Sunak’s letter went a few steps further when it came to the Cyprus issue, saying first and foremost he wanted to acknowledge “the pain and hurt caused by the invasion of 1974”.
“Many Cypriots had to flee their homes and have never been allowed to return. Others suffered the loss of loved ones, some of whom are still missing, and they deserve answers. All sides should engage with efforts to establish the fate of the missing people,” he said.
Sunak said he also believes the the British government should support Cypriots in their efforts to reunite the island and that he wanted to see a negotiated settlement, reflecting UN resolutions and leading to a bizonal, bicommunal federal state with a single citizenship and international legal personality.
“I believe that the Turkish Cypriot side should refrain from provocative actions that undermine trust and goodwill and thus render negotiations more difficult – for example, in the resort of Varosha, and in the waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone, which the Turkish side should respect and where it should discontinue drilling activities,” he said.