The UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she is hopeful that talks to agree on the reunification of Cyprus will continue and reach a successful conclusion, adding that her Government is ready to play its role as a guarantor power.
During a House of Commons session on Wednesday afternoon, Mrs May was prompted by David Burrowes, a Conservative north London MP representing thousands of UK Cypriots, to “seek support for a united and independent Cyprus, free of Turkish troops” during her visit to Ankara at the weekend.
The Prime Minister will be in the Turkish capital this Saturday to hold talks with President Tayip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. She will be flying to Ankara straight from Washington D.C. where the previous day she will have been the first foreign leader to be received by the new US President Donald Trump at the White House.
Responding to Mr Burrowes’s question, the Prime Minister said: “I am hopeful the talks will be able to continue to come to a solution; I think we are closer to a solution than we have been before. I have already talked both to PM Tsipras and to President Erdogan already about the need to ensure that we are creative in the thinking and finding a solution for this and I had further telephone call with Nicos Anastasiades over the weekend about this very issue.
“We stand ready as a guarantor to pay our part to ensure that we can see a successful conclusion of these talks and see that reunification of Cyprus which people have been working for some time.”
The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman had earlier told the Cyprus News Agency that Theresa May will convey to Ankara her Government’s will to continue to help keep up the momentum in the Cyprus settlement talks and to assist in reaching a positive outcome.
The spokeswoman confirmed that the Cyprus issue is expected to be discussed during the Ankara meetings. She noted that Prime Minister May had spoken to President Erdogan before the Geneva conference on Cyprus, highlighting the importance of reaching an agreement. “Since the Geneva talks,” added the No10 spokeswoman, “there have been useful follow up talks between officials, which we welcome.”
The spokeswoman noted that the Prime Minister decided early on after taking up her duties that Turkey would be one of the countries that she would want to visit sooner rather than later, as it is “such an important partner” on security, defence and trade.
She added that the visit will be an opportunity to discuss the bilateral cooperation on security issues, such as intelligence sharing and combating Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. A new UN-led effort to reunite the island has been under way since May 2015.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci continued their negotiations on pending issues relating to the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem, in Geneva on January 9-11, while a Conference on Cyprus took place there on January 12.