British High Commissioner Irfan Siddiq expressed his encouragement at the excellent collaboration with government and industry in Cyprus regarding UK sanctions of Cypriot entities linked to Russians supporting Moscow’s war.
During a reception at the King’s Birthday Party hosted in Cyprus, Siddiq, on Wednesday, acknowledged the existence of challenges in the Cyprus – UK bilateral relations.
However, he also emphasised, he was “hugely encouraged” by the positive response of both government and industry and the excellent collaboration developed with British law enforcement agencies and other experts in tackling sanctions.
“This constructive response provides opportunities to improve regulation and compliance standards in the legal and financial sectors, which can only strengthen Cyprus’ attractiveness as a business and financial hub”.
Another challenge highlighted by the High Commissioner was education, specifically regarding Cypriot students’ higher costs for studying at universities in the UK after Brexit.
This has led to a shift in the choices of many Cypriot students who previously favoured the UK as their educational destination.
Recognising the real risks of this change, the High Commissioner emphasised the importance of maintaining a strong educational connection between the two countries.
“We cannot afford to sever this link between our two countries and are committed to exploring ways to try to resolve this problem.”
Siddiq said the UK continued unwaveringly supporting a just and enduring solution to the Cyprus Problem based on the agreed international framework of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality.
“We continue to work with the parties to find ways to resume negotiations, building on the President’s new initiative”.
He acknowledged the growing partnership between the military and security sectors of the UK and Cyprus, citing the successful collaboration during the evacuation of civilians from Sudan as a prime example.
“This humanitarian operation could not have succeeded without the fantastic collaboration between the Cypriot authorities, the British High Commission and the British Forces in Cyprus”.
Siddiq also referred to a promising future, highlighting the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Strategic Cooperation and the agreement on Non-Military Development of the Sovereign Base Areas last year.
“These agreements served as the foundation for a more modern partnership that respects the past while embracing the future.”
He said Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine continues to threaten international peace, security, and collective prosperity, adding that the UK and Cyprus share a strong determination to stand with Ukraine and against Russian aggression.