Other key messages at the event hosted by several Members of Parliament, in association with the President of the Federation at the House of Commons , related to the need for the UK Cypriot diaspora and its supporters to use the opportunity presented by the next general election to broaden the base of support for Cyprus at Westminster. The critical importance of the United States in pushing Turkey to support actively the islandís reunification was also highlighted by many of the speakers.
The annual event was organised by the Federation in co-operation with Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum to mark the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in July 1974. It was attended by Cypriot community representatives in the UK, and attracted many UK politicians committed to the Cyprus cause.
Eddie OíHara MP, whose outspoken support in Parliament for the reunification of Cyprus has spanned decades, spoke for the last time as a parliamentarian at the Federationís annual July lobby, as he will not seek re-election in the next general election. Mr OíHara praised Cyprus President Christofias for his role in the ongoing negotiations on the island:
I pay tribute to his integrity, his consistency, his cogency and most of all, his indefatigability in his negotiations with Mr Talat. The negotiations are often three steps forward and two steps back but, crucially, the overall effect is a step forward. The onus is with Ankara and we must continue to make it clear that Turkey must recognise the Cyprus Republic and allow access to their ports and airports to the Republic, and give incentives to Turkish settlers in Cyprus to return home. And Turkey must withdraw its troops.Ē
Roger Gale MP echoed Mr OíHaraís sentiments and then turned to the issue of people still missing since the invasion of 1974:
The relatives of missing people have the right to closure, a right to know the truth. Is their suffering acceptable? Of course itís not: itís inhumane. Itís a breach of virtually every human right that there is. We have a duty to help to bring about justice for the missing and their relatives.Ē
Mr Gale added that although the solution lies with Turkey, the United States is key to progress, saying I donít believe that Turkey will act without pressure from the USĒ adding that entry to the EU should also be deployed with more leverage.Ē
The meeting was chaired by Peter Droussiotis, President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, who thanked all Members of Parliament for their participation and support. In his opening address, Mr. Droussiotis listed the breaches of human rights and international law perpetrated by Turkey in Cyprus since its invasion in 1974, adding:
All of these things have been done, and continue to be done, by a country that is knocking on the door of Europe, that has been voted as a non permanent member of the UN Security Council and which is often held up as an example of a democratic state in the Islamic world.
Turkey needs to understand that it will not be accepted as a member of the EU without a solution in Cyprus that is freely negotiated by Cypriots. Turkey must understand that it will suffer a cost, if it refuses to allow a settlement based on the UN Charter and the principles of the European Union and international law. The United Kingdom, a close ally of Turkey, with historic responsibilities to Cyprus, must exert real pressure on Turkey to support with deeds -not merely with words - the true unity of the island.Ē