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British MPs express regret over ''not good relation''
2005-02-28 11:36:19

Nicosia, Feb 28 (CNA) British Labour MPs visiting Cyprus expressed regret here today for the quality of their country's relations with Cyprus, which they have described as ''not good'' at present, adding that they will make an effort to help improve bilateral ties.

Speaking to CNA British MPs Tom Cox and Eddie O' Hara said that if there was true willingness on the part of the Turkish side for progress in Cyprus, there would be movement to open the Turkish-occupied fenced area of Famagusta and to operate the city harbor, noting that such a development would be a ''win - win win'' situation for all in Cyprus.

As regards a report on Cyprus published at the House of Commons by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, they said that there are aspects of it that they welcome but there are other things that concern them deeply.

''We hope that we will be hearing from the senior Cypriot politicians and parliamentarians their early views on that report. We are aware that sadly the relationship between the United Kingdom and Cyprus is at the moment not a good one and we deeply regret that'', Cox told CNA after a meeting with House President and Acting President of the Republic Demitris Christofias.

He added that the British Labour government ''should be doing everything in their power to help Cyprus'', a Commonwealth country with which links go back a long way.

Asked if they were briefed by the House President over the first reactions to the report, Cox said that they were aware of a preliminary statement adding that ''it is early days for the government to have had the opportunity for an in-depth'' study of the report.

''He (Christofias) indicated that there are aspects of it that were welcomed here in Nicosia and we also welcome them, but there are other things that concern us deeply and when we go back to the UK, we are hoping for a meeting in the very near future with the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and will talk about that'', he said.

Commenting on the report, O' Hara welcomed the analysis of why a UN-proposed solution plan (the Annan plan) was rejected by the Greek Cypriots, noting that ''that helps us to reinforce what we have been doing already in making it clear to the British government that the Greek Cypriot community should not be punished for voting the way it did and that the Greek Cypriot community was not voting against a solution but against that solution''.

As regards the issue of the fenced city of Famagusta, Cox said that ''if there was real willingness on the part of the Turkish Cypriot administration and our friends in Ankara, there would have been movement in Famagusta and the British government could play, if they wished, a very major role in that''.

He added they outlined to the House President ''the kind of things that we would willingly do in our Parliament in the form of tabling parliamentary questions, seeking a debate on the present position here in Cyprus on a number of issues''.

O' Hara said that the opening of the harbor would be ''a win win win situation'' and they will stress that during their efforts with regard to Cyprus.

''It is a win situation for the T/C to have Famagusta open as a port, it is a win situation for the Greek Cypriots to have 50 thousand refugees returning and it is a win situation for the normalization and unification of Cyprus'', he said.

Noting that they had already expressed concern within their Parliament about the quality of relations between the British and the Cypriot government at the moment, O' Hara said that one of the reasons of the visit was to talk directly to important representatives of the Cyprus government in order to go back and ''reinforce the message''.

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