In Cyprus Today | Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes flies into Ercan Airport

This article about Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes is worth spreading:

A SENIOR British politician in government has become the first to fly into the island through Ercan Airport – and says he did so to “make a statement of solidarity” with the Turkish Cypriots.

Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the junior coalition partner Liberal Democrats and MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said he would “with urgency” be reporting back to the government and all political parties the need to reach a solution in Cyprus and for the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriots to be ended.

He also said he agreed with the Turkish Cypriots that the peace talks should not be open-ended — something he called “a reasonable approach” — adding there was a need to change the method of negotiation to make it more inclusive and to add impetus to the process.

Mr Hughes, who arrived at Ercan on a Pegasus flight from Stansted on Sunday, said the main purpose of his visit was to hear from both sides about the Cyprus problem.

He told Cyprus Today: “I have visited the North and have spoken with the government and the people here. I have seen the difficulties arising from the isolations on trade, sports and business – [an end to] these would, I believe, help the process and bring about a solution.

“The best future for Cyprus is for the whole island to be open to the wider world. Keeping one part of the island isolated is not in the interests of Cyprus, the region or Europe.”

Mr Hughes added: “We have to find ways of ending the isolations . . . I know the complexities. I understand the history. Time is running out for a settlement but the needs of the people of the North are not going away.

“There should be trade and business with the North. I visited North Cyprus through Ercan to make it clear that I am supportive of the Turkish Cypriots and indeed both communities.

“I have travelled many times to Larnaca and wanted to make it clear that I am supportive of both communities.”

Mr Hughes talked with President Dervis Eroglu and Prime Minister Ürsen Kucuk on Monday and also met other politicians, trade union officials and civil groups.

He talked of the need for a different approach to be used in the Cyprus peace talks, involving other political parties and “key players” on the island, including trades unions.

He also suggested the UK government should be more closely involved, along with other governments, to try to add impetus to the negotiations.

He added that there was a need for “political will from both sides” if there was to be a comprehensive settlement.

“Upon my return to the UK I will brief the government and political parties on my visit and the urgency to help make the talks a success. I personally am very committed to bringing peace and a settlement. I have been involved in Cyprus for 40 years since I was a student. I want to bring this issue to the agenda of the EU.

“The Olympic games are coming up in the UK, but not all people of Cyprus are taking part in this event. It is not right for the Turkish Cypriots to [have to take] part through Turkey.”

Mr Hughes was expected to fly to Ankara today (Wednesday), where he will meet with Turkish officials, before returning to the UK.

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