Royal visit highlights blossoming UK-Cyprus ties

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A first visit to the island by royal couple Prince Edward and Sophie underscores the evolving and improved relations between Britain and its former colony Cyprus,  President Nicos Anastasiades said Tuesday.

During their three-day visit, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and First Lady Andri Anastasiades welcomed the Earl of Wessex Prince Edward and Countess of Wessex Sophie.

Welcoming the Royal couple, the President said that the Cyprus-UK bilateral relations “constantly improve and evolve”.

He said Tuesday’s meeting was an opportunity to evaluate the level of bilateral relations.

In a written statement, Anastasiades said: “Bilateral relations are based on strong bonds”.

Around 300,000 Cypriots reside in the UK, while 60,000 Britons call Cyprus their home, many of them following their retirement.

The island is also a favourite destination for British tourists – making up one-third of all holidaymakers to Cyprus, its largest market.

UK universities are also a popular destination for Cypriot students.

Anastasiades said there is a “will for further enhancing cooperation between the two countries in all fields”.

He also congratulated the Royal couple on their 23rd wedding anniversary, celebrated on 19 June.

On Monday, the Earl and the Countess attended an event organised by the UK High Commission to celebrate the Queen’s Birthday Party and Platinum Jubilee.

During their visit, Prince Edward and Sophie will visit troops stationed at British bases on the island and those serving in the UK contingent of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

Cyprus became independent from Britain in 1960 after a bloody campaign.

Under that treaty, which Greece and Turkey signed, Britain retained control over two military zones – RAF Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

The island has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded following a Greek-sponsored coup.

The Republic of Cyprus, a European Union and Commonwealth member sees Britain as a key trading partner despite Brexit.