UK MP BACKS 2-STATE DEAL

  Feb 19, 2024 10:10 am Ibrar Younas 6499
Two-state solution to Cyprus problem ‘must be the most viable option’ Tory tells Cyprus Today .

UK MP BACKS 2-STATE DEAL
Pauline Latham MP

 EXCLUSIVE 

By ELTAN HALİL 

 

A BRITISH MP has voiced her support for a two-state solution to the Cyprus problem.

Pauline Latham, who has been the Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire for the last 14 years, was asked by Cyprus Today for her views following a visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus last week as part of a delegation of politicians from the UK. 

Latham, who was visiting North Cyprus for the first time, said that she came with “no preconceptions” about the Cyprus issue but had “learnt a lot” during her time on the island.

Responding by email to questions from this newspaper, she stated: “I think the way forward must be negotiations again with the south because it is 50 years [since the events of 1974] and it should be possible to work together. 

“If not, the north needs a plan to develop the country to attract inward investment and decide what it wants the north to be.”

Asked for her opinion on what represents the best solution to the Cyprus problem, she replied: “A two state solution must be the most viable option. Then the north can move forward.”

She added that she will be “talking to ministers” in the UK “to discuss how we can help” on issues regarding the TRNC and Turkish Cypriots.

 

From left, Heather Wheeler MP, TRNC President Ersin Tatar, Baroness Mobarik and Giles Watling MP

 

On calls to establish direct flights and trade between the TRNC and the UK, which the British government has consistently rejected, Latham said that direct flights “would make a huge difference to all” and that “the UK and others should trade with the country”.

Latham was part of a delegation that visited the TRNC between February 8-11 that also included fellow Conservative MPs Heather Wheeler and Giles Watling, Baroness Nosheena Mobarik and David Reed, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Exmouth & Exeter East.

The trip was arranged by the UK-based Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus campaign group as part of a major ongoing effort to lobby British politicians, which is supported by the lobbying team of the TRNC-based British Residents Society (BRS). 

During the visit the delegation met with President Ersin Tatar, Parliament Speaker Zorlu Töre, Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu, former diplomat Osman Ertuğ and members of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and the BRS.

They also visited Maraş, the Girne memorial to British servicemen and police killed by Greek Cypriot Eoka terorrists during the 1950s and the sites where Turkish Cypriots were murdered and buried in mass graves by Eoka in 1974.

‘COMPELLING’ ARGUMENTS

Wheeler, the MP for South Derbyshire, also responded to Cyprus Today’s questions. In a written statement provided to this newspaper, she said: “This visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was my first. Having enjoyed family holidays in other islands in the area it was interesting and valuable to see the reality of North Cyprus compared to other islands which are not segregated.

“As Members of Parliament, we are open to listening to all sides of an argument to fully understand a debate. Cyprus is no different – which is why I participated in this visit with my colleagues.

“During our meetings, including with President Tatar and Foreign Minister Ertuğruloğlu, we learnt of the many occasions in which a bizonal, bicommunal federation model has been proposed as an effective solution to the Cyprus issue, and how each time progress has stalled. 

“Whilst I return to the UK with an open mind on the matter, it is important to consider how many times such talks have failed, and the UK’s role in progressing the situation – this of course can include looking at fresh approaches.

“During discussions with other groups such as the British Residents’ Society, and the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO), we also heard about the challenges of the lack of direct flights and direct trade with the UK. 

“I found their arguments in favour of commencing both compelling and interesting and look forward to seeing how these can be resolved. . . I enjoyed visiting the TRNC to see it for myself and listen directly to the calls for Turkish Cypriot equality on the world stage.”

Baroness Mobarik, who was also visiting the TRNC for the first time, said in a statement: “It is important to listen to both sides of an argument. That is why I was pleased to visit the country and learn about its culture, history and institutions during this official trip. 

“The TRNC has been a de facto State for 50 years. Many attempts to reunify the Turkish Cypriot North and the Greek Cypriot South under a bizonal, bicommunal federation have failed, so it was an excellent opportunity to see for myself the reality on the island.

“I went to Northern Cyprus with an open mind to hear the side of a story that isn’t often told. I found it very interesting to meet President Tatar in Lefkoşa and listen to him speak about his vision for a two-state solution for Cyprus.

“I listened to Speaker Töre’s personal recollections of the massacres of Turkish Cypriots in the 1960s and 70s. 

“I enjoyed meeting some of the 15,000 British expats from the British Residents Society who now call the TRNC home. 

“And I have come away more informed on the UK’s obligations on how to move this issue forward – including by considering new approaches to resolve the status quo which extends to the challenge of the lack of direct flights.

“Overall, I was interested to listen to the TRNC’s desire for sovereign equality and their hope for a future of sustainability, peace and stability for the whole island – a vision I’m sure everyone shares.”

MP DELETES SOCIAL MEDIA POST

Meanwhile Watling, the MP for Clacton in Essex, was subjected to online abuse from Greek Cypriots after posting about his visit to the TRNC on the social media site X, formerly Twitter.

In a since-deleted post published on Tuesday, February 13, Watling wrote: “I’m grateful for the recent opportunity to travel with other Parliamentarians to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to learn more about the situation, and inform Parliament on how we approach diplomatic matters such as these.”

The post included a photo taken inside President Tatar’s presidential offices of Watling and Tatar inspecting the biography of the President, A Cry for Justice.

 


The now deleted X post by MP Giles Watling

 

BRITISH MPS IN SOUTH CYPRUS

Following the visit of British parliamentarians to North Cyprus, a separate group of pro-Greek Cypriot UK MPs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Cyprus travelled to the South for a two-day counter visit on Tuesday, February 13.

They included MPs well-known for their anti-Turkish views, such as Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale and the Labour Party’s Bambos Charalambous and Fabian Hamilton.

The delegation was accompanied by Christos Karaolis, head of the Greek Cypriot-run National Federation of Cypriots in the UK (NFCUK).

During the visit the delegation met with Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Christodoulides, the South’s parliament speaker Annita Demetriou, and attended a reception hosted by the UK’s Deputy High Commissioner Ben Rawlings at the British High Commissioner’s residence in South Nicosia.

At the event, the MPs “spoke with Cypriots from all communities, Cypriot and British diplomats and leaders in UK-Cyprus relations” according to the NFCUK.

The APPG members also visited the buffer zone-based anthropological laboratory of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, met with Greek Cypriots who still regard themselves as the “mayors and councillors” of the TRNC towns of Gazimağusa and Güzelyurt, and held a meeting with four Turkish Cypriots who support unification with the Greek Cypriot side.

They included Fikri Toros, an MP from the main opposition Republican Turkish Party, and Mine Atlı, the leader of the Communal Democracy Party. 

 

*A version of this story first appeared in the print edition of Cyprus Today on February 17, 2024



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