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30 October, 2020
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Cyprus welcomes British statement on treatment of EOKA fighters

Important lessons to be learned from history

Newsroom / CNA

The Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus has welcomed the statement by the United Kingdom regarding the treatment of fighters during the EOKA struggle for independence from British colonial rule, noting that this is “a courageous act” on behalf of the UK.

“We welcome the statement made by the government of the United Kingdom regarding the treatment of fighters during the EOKA 1955-59 struggle and the regret expressed for the fact that Cyprus’ Independence was preceded by five years of violence and the loss of human lives,” the press release says.

It adds that “this is a courageous act, in the framework of the mutual sincerity and understanding, with which historical facts should be addressed.”

“Today, with full respect to History, and overcoming the passion of the past, we must be taught by History and look ahead. What we see now and in the future is the excellent relations between our two peoples and our two countries, and what we aspire to is room to deepen and strengthen them,” the Presidency press release concludes.

The legal settlement had been announced in a UK government statement. The statement noted that “the settlement does not constitute any admission of liability and is not a precedent in respect of any potential future claims against the Government: the passage of time means that it is now no longer possible to establish all of the facts with certainty. The Government has settled the case in order to draw a line under this litigation, avoid the further escalation of costs, and to focus firmly on the future in its relations with Cyprus.”

It adds that in reaching this settlement, the UK Government reaffirms its highest respect for the memory and sacrifice of British and Cypriot service personnel and employees of the Crown who gave their lives, who lost family members or loved ones, or whose lives suffered permanent disruption as a result of the “Emergency”.

The statement also “acknowledges the strongly held views of many Cypriots about the Emergency” and concludes that “it is a matter of regret for the UK Government that the transition of Cyprus from British administration to independence should have been preceded by five years of violence and loss of life, affecting all residents of the island”.

The statement stresses the importance of learning from the past, but also looking to the future and underlines the bilateral relationship that the UK shares with Cyprus today as “one of friendship and close partnership; spanning a broad network of security, personal, business, administrative, cultural and educational ties.”

The UK Government reaffirmed its commitment towards building a modern, forward-looking relationship between the UK and Cyprus, built on shared values of mutual respect and full equality.

The civil law claim was brought against the UK Government in July 2015.

High Commissioner Stephen Lillie said: “This is an important milestone in our bilateral relationship. I know there are many strongly held views about the final years of British rule in Cyprus. We recognise and respect that. But now we must look to the future. UK-Cyprus relations are at the highest level they have ever been, and there is scope for expanding those links even further in the coming years. The UK is committed to building a modern, forward-looking relationship with Cyprus, built on shared values of mutual respect and full equality.”

EOKA  |  Emergency  |  Independence  |  British  |  UK  |  Cyprus

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