The British Government continues to support a settlement in Cyprus, UK Prime Minister Theresa May told MP Theresa Villiers known for her opposition to security guarantees on the island.
May wrote a letter back in June in response to Villiers, according to CNA News Agency, in response to the MP who had previously asked about the UK government’s position on the Cyprus talks and negotiating process going forward.
The prime minister noted that “last summer in Crans Montana, the two Cypriot leaders and three guarantor powers, supported by the UN Secretary General, came closer than ever before to reaching a settlement.”
'I do not believe any future settlement should include third country guarantees,' Villiers said in a public statement
“All sides demonstrated remarkable courage and commitment and all parties engaged with serious intent to reach a deal. I share both your disappointment that it was not possible to reach agreement and your assessment that the talks made important progress,” May told Villiers.
But the prime minister also pointed out a number of challenges ahead, saying “all sides will need to build trust as they seek to restart talks, and an agreement will require flexibility and willingness to compromise from all sides.”
UK continues to support just and lasting peace
The British government believed that “a just and lasting settlement is within reach,” said May.
“We continue to work towards that goal,” May added.
Villiers, a conservative MP whose constituents include Greek Cypriots in north London, had spoken out against Turkey maintaining military troops on the island. She also expressed her opposition to Cyprus having guarantor powers, which are Britain, Turkey, and Greece.
“I do not believe any future settlement should include third country guarantees. I have spoken out against such guarantees in Parliament because they are unnecessary and unjustified,” Villiers said in a public statement.
No change on direct flights
The MP also probed the government about UK’s position on direct flights between British airports and Ercan in north Nicosia, a Turkish Cypriot airport and unofficial port of entry on the island.
Following reports that fellow conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith was in favour of direct flights between UK and Ercan, Villiers had written to Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling asking whether the government had any intention to allow direct flights between the United Kingdom and the north.
“This country will continue to work with our friends in Cyprus to try to achieve that goal, but our policies on flights have not changed,” Grayling responded.
Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines between Greek Cypriots in the Republic of Cyprus in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north, a regime recognised only by Turkey who invaded militarily in July 1974 in response to a short-lived coup engineered by Athens.
Turkish Cypriots favour security guarantees, citing fears of threat and violence against their community, while Greek Cypriots have spoken against such a system, calling it anachronistic and unfitting for a modern EU state. Britain says it would go along with whatever the two sides can agree on, without saying whether they would be in favour or against giving up guarantor status.
After a number of failed attempts, most recently last year, the UN is currently sounding out all sides to assess whether there could be a genuine effort to reach a settlement.