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05 October, 2023
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Outgoing Cypriot president congratulates Sunak

Anastasiades looks forward to work with new PM as neutrality questions on Sunak's foreign policy remain


Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades took to Twitter to congratulate Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and say he was looking forward to restart UN talks to reunify the divided island, but elections in Cyprus and past comments by the new Tory leader could potentially complicate things.

Anastasiades congratulated Sunak in a Twitter message on Tuesday, saying he was “looking forward to working with you towards a stronger and deeper bilateral relationship, already rooted in our shared values, history and close ties between our people.”

The Cypriot president also said he looked forward to work with Sunak on restarting the process to reunify the island “in a bizonal, bicommunal federation, with political equality” as defined by resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Sunak became popular with the British public after he was appointed chancellor in February 2020, as he set up a multi-billion pound scheme to protect salaries of struggling businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the new British prime minister’s skills are not widely known to focus on foreign policy, according to political pundits, who pointed out Sunak was keeping in place Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

Sunak was criticized in the summer by Turkish Cypriots for allegedly adopting a pro-Greek language on the Cyprus Problem in a letter to a UK lobby that seeks out to statements from politicians

Earlier this year, Cleverly said told the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK that the British government’s position on the conflict “remains unchanged” and pointed to “complex and sensitive issues” while reiterating British support for a UN-led process.

“We continue to support to the UN-led process to advocate a solution in line with UN parameters based on the model of a bi-zonal, bi-communal Federation with political equality – a model that we believe to be broad enough to address the concerns of both sides,” read Cleverly’s response according to statements attributed to the Cyprus News Agency.

But Sunak was criticized in the summer by Turkish Cypriots for allegedly adopting a pro-Greek language on the Cyprus Problem also in a letter to the same group, a powerful lobby that often seeks out UK politicians’ positions on the Cyprus Problem.

Turkish Cypriot media said while former prime minister Liz Truss had adopted a neutral position in a similar letter to the Greek Cypriots, Sunak used references that obscured equality between the two sides on the divided island.

Anastasiades has one foot out the door as he is not running for a third term in February 2023.

But the Cypriot president’s congratulatory message on Twitter did not point to any timeline but only a hope the two would work together “in multilateral fora, such as the Commonwealth, but particularly the UN” to press on with a settlement.

Greek Cypriots have renewed their commitment to political equality in a federal solution of the Cyprus Problem while Turkish Cypriots in the north are calling for sovereign equality between two states.

The British government publicly supports UN-led calls for a federal Cyprus but London has stopped short of ruling out other arrangements that could be sought by way of agreement between the two sides.

Cyprus  |  British  |  Greek  |  Turkish  |  Cypriot  |  Sunak  |  prime minister  |  Cyprus Problem  |  Cleverly  |  federal  |  two state  |  Anastasiades  |  UN

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