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A Letter To UK Nationals Living In Cyprus – Issue 3

Latest in a series of letters from High Commissioner Stephen Lillie to UK nationals living in Cyprus about the UK´s departure from the EU

British High Commissioner, Mr Stephen Lillie CMG

British High Commissioner, Mr Stephen Lillie CMG

Over the last few months my team and I at the British High Commission have had the pleasure to meet many of the British citizens who have made Cyprus their home. We spoke to hundreds of you at Brexit-specific meetings we organised in Oroklini, Paralimni, Limassol, Paphos, Peyia and Nicosia and we continue to hear from you through different channels.

Things have moved on since then, and I know many of you are concerned about what the future holds.

Latest Developments

As you will know, on 16 January the UK Parliament rejected the Withdrawal Agreement because of their concerns about the Irish Border ‘backstop’. A majority of MPs have said that they will support a deal with changes to the backstop. The Prime Minister is taking this mandate forward and seeking to agree legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, while guaranteeing no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The Government recognises that these discussions will not be easy but both sides recognise that a No Deal outcome is in neither of our interests. The Prime Minister has promised to update the House of Commons again on 26 February and, if she has not got a new deal by then, to give Parliament a say on the next steps in non-binding votes.

Citizens’ Rights

The UK Government is working hard to conclude a deal with the European Union: this is our absolute priority. The Withdrawal Agreement provides citizens with the certainty you need about your rights and means Britons in Cyprus can continue living their lives broadly as you do now.

The Cypriot Government’s comprehensive guide on residency under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement is available on our Living in Cyprus Guide. In addition you may find it helpful to refer to our previous Brexit columns in the Cyprus Mail, which addressed a range of various Brexit issues.

At the same time, as a responsible government we continue with No Deal contingency planning. I have been confident for some time that the Cyprus government will take the necessary steps to ensure that, even in a No Deal, Britons can continue to live in Cyprus on the same broad basis as now. I was therefore pleased to be able to welcome Foreign Minister Christodoulides’ public confirmation on 13 February that the rights of UK nationals in Cyprus will be protected even in the case of a No Deal Brexit.

In practical terms, what this means for British nationals in Cyprus is – as we have always said – you need to regularise your status in Cyprus by applying for either an MEU1 or MEU3. We know that many of you have already done this. But it is important to remind anyone who has not yet formalised their status to do so now.

I remain confident that with your residency papers in order you will be able to continue to enjoy the same rights and privileges that you enjoy now. We are working with the Cypriot authorities on the practical arrangements of this announcement, including on any deadlines for getting an MEU1, and will keep Britons in Cyprus updated.

How to Stay Updated

Although the Government does not wish or expect to leave the EU without a deal, we are taking steps to ensure that people and businesses are prepared the possibility of a No Deal exit.

There is detailed information available at gov.uk/euexit. We have also published further information on citizens’ rights in a No Deal which details the support and assistance that the UK Government will make available to UK nationals in the EU in a No Deal scenario.

At the High Commission, we continue to receive inquiries on many different aspects of Brexit. Some of the answers to these you may find by visiting gov.uk/euexit or by referring to my previous columns in the Cyprus Mail.

I am also pleased to announce that we will host a “Facebook Live Q&A” on 27 February (further details will be published in due course). This will be your chance to raise the most burning issues affecting you. If you have pressing questions that you need to ask us before then please contact us at ukincyprus@fco.gov.uk and our team will do our best to provide a timely response.

Stephen Lillie, British High Commissioner

Previous High Commissioner’s letters to British nationals resident in Cyprus:

David Mundell Speech: 20 Years Of Scottish Devolution

In a keynote speech in Edinburgh today [21 January] the Scottish Secretary will mark twenty years of Scottish devolution

Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland

Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland

In a keynote speech in Edinburgh today [21 January] the Scottish Secretary will mark twenty years of Scottish devolution

Two decades on from the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, Mr Mundell will reaffirm that Brexit will further strengthen the devolution settlement, with new powers being transferred directly to Holyrood. He will also note that work is progressing well in developing new ways of joint working between the UK and Scottish governments. In the speech, he will also reject ‘power grab’ accusations.

Mr Mundell will say:

Devolution is working well:

I am a passionate supporter of devolution. I was proud to be elected as an MSP in that first intake in May 1999.

Two decades on, Holyrood has become one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world. Power and accountability are better balanced than ever before.

The vote in 1997 was re-affirmed by our decision in 2014 to remain part of the UK. And in the 2017 general election there was overwhelming support for devolutionist parties and support for a strong Scottish Parliament within the UK.

Reject ‘power grab’ accusations:

It was claimed that the Sewel Convention was breached or, if it hadn’t been breached, it was not fit for purpose and must be changed. In fact, the Sewel Convention remains an essential element in the devolution settlement.

To listen to the rhetoric coming from some of my political opponents, you could be forgiven for thinking that Holyrood is being stripped of a whole raft of powers it currently exercises. It is complete fantasy; an invented grievance. The reality is that more than 100 powers previously exercised in Brussels will transfer to Edinburgh on the day we leave the EU.

To characterise this process as a ‘power grab’ is nonsense.

“We should remain deeply suspicious when opponents of devolution try to present themselves as its champions and protectors.”

New ways of joint working with the Scottish Government:

In the years ahead, our two governments – and the devolved administrations elsewhere in the UK – will need to work more closely than ever before.

Going forward, I want to see a Scotland’s two government’s working closely together for the benefit of people in Scotland.

Scotland would be ill-served if one government cannot add to the work that is being done by another. The time is right for this. Scots expect their two governments to work together and politicians on all sides accept the need to work together.

Brexit will strengthen devolution:

I reject completely the argument put forward by opponents of devolution that it has been crushed by Brexit.

I do not believe Brexit will damage devolution. I want it to strengthen devolution, and I believe that can and will happen. Leaving the EU will bring new powers to Holyrood and new responsibilities to the Scottish Government.

Mr Mundell will be speaking this morning to an audience of businesses, academics and stakeholders at the Dovecot Studio in Edinburgh. The full speech will be available later today.

Speech: Standing United Behind Ukraine’s Sovereignty

Statement by Ambassador Karen Pierce at the General Assembly debate on the situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine

General Assembly Seventy-third session: 67th plenary meeting

General Assembly Seventy-third session: 67th plenary meeting

Thank you very much Madam President,

We welcome this debate and the opportunity to discuss the situation in Ukraine. I would like to start by joining those colleagues who reiterated the unwavering support to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, including within its internationally recognised borders and territorial waters.

Today marks the annual commemorations of the lives sadly lost during the 2014 Euromaidan protests. We offer our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones.

Today also marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Russian military operation to illegally annex Crimea from Ukraine.

Madam President, last week my Russian colleague stood with Foreign Minister Arreaza and pledged to defend the UN Charter, this included ‘respect for the sovereign equality of members’ and ‘respect for the territorial integrity and political independence of all states’.

However, the forcible Russian seizure of 10,000 square miles from Ukraine broke the first principle of international law: that countries may not acquire territory or change borders by force. It also violated a number of international agreements and commitments, including; Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the Budapest memorandum and the 1997 Russia-Ukraine Treaty of Friendship.

The General Assembly reacted to Russia’s actions by passing resolution 68/262 on 27 March 2014, affirming the territorial integrity of Ukraine – within its internationally recognised borders and the absence of any legal basis to change the status of Crimea.

Madam President,

As my German colleague said earlier, in another context in the Security Council, to listen to the Russian account of what happened in Crimea, one would think it was Ukraine that had invaded Russia. And not the other way round.

Madam President,

We do not only oppose the illegal annexation because it violates international law, we oppose it also because of the serious human rights violations Russia continues to commit in the Crimean peninsula. This includes the widespread persecution of ethnic and religious groups such as the Crimean Tatars and those who express opposition to the illegal annexation of the peninsula. In detention centres, these victims have been mistreated and tortured to punish or to extort “confessions”. It is no coincidence that Russia continues to ignore calls in General Assembly Resolutions for the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Crimea.

Madam President,

The United Kingdom is also deeply concerned by the ongoing militarisation of Crimea and the Sea of Azov by the Russian Federation. In December last year the General Assembly adopted a new resolution calling on the Russian Federation to withdraw its military forces from Crimea and Russia has ignored this.

Only three months ago, the Russian Federation used force to seize three Ukrainian naval vessels and took 24 servicemen captive – including three who were severely injured during the incident. Russia’s use of force, including use of firearms against Ukraine’s vessels, constituted clear aggression and escalation. These unacceptable actions are not in conformity with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and they have no basis in international law.

We cannot and will not ignore such a serious challenge to the international rules based order. We call on the international community to continue to stand united and remain focused on Russia’s behavior and attempts to consolidate its illegal annexation of Crimea.

Madam President,

Turning to eastern Ukraine, the conflict there remains volatile, fueled by Russia’s total disregard for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia has incited and then supported military activity by armed formations, including through the deployment of Russian troops into Ukrainian territory. Russia’s refusal to allow the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to carry out its mandate within non-government controlled territories gives the impression she has something to hide and it threatens both the security of Ukraine and the wider region.

Russia’s concerted campaign to destabilise Ukraine includes its support, last November, for illegitimate elections that do not represent the will of the people in the non-government controlled territories. Such action unnecessarily fuels tension between parties to the conflict. Moreover, it is a clear breach of the Minsk Agreements.

Madam President,

As with all conflicts, it is sadly the civilians that suffer the most. Since the fighting started, over 10,000 people have lost their lives, almost 25,000 have been injured, 3.4 million are in need of humanitarian assistance and there are around 1.5 million internally displaced persons.

Ukraine’s crisis is not a frozen conflict. Russia created this conflict and, rather than use its considerable influence to ensure Russian-backed armed formations comply with their Minsk commitments, Russia continues to supply weaponry and personnel to these armed formations. Russia needs to withdraw its military personnel and weapons, cease its support for the armed formations and abide by the Minsk Agreement commitments she signed up to. This would be a much more convincing way to demonstrate commitment to ‘the principles of the founding charter that governs the behaviour of the international community’ than by giving a press conference.

Madam President,

The United Kingdom once again calls on the international community to stand united behind Ukraine and oppose Russia’s continued attempts to destabilise another Member State of the UN, undermine her sovereignty and steal her territory.

Thank you.

Troika Statement On Escalating Conflict In South Sudan

The UK, US and Norway have issued a Troika statement on the conflict in South Sudan

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are alarmed about the escalating conflict around Yei, which represents a flagrant breach of the December 2017 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and the September 2018 revitalized peace agreement. These military actions, and the trading of blame, must stop.

We are particularly disturbed that fighting by all parties in the Yei area has severe humanitarian consequences for the local population. Thousands of South Sudanese have been displaced and fled across the border into the Democratic Republic of the Congo in recent days to escape fighting and violence against civilians, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees has confirmed.

This renewed violence risks undermining the peace agreement and lowers confidence of the Troika and other international partners in the parties’ seriousness and commitment to peace at a critical time of the pre-transitional period of the revitalized peace agreement.

We are concerned that if the situation escalates, the progress made in implementing the peace agreement will be irrevocably set back. In addition, if violence against civilians continues unchecked, it could fuel further cycles of retribution and atrocities.

All parties – the Government of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-IO), and National Salvation Front – must end the violence immediately in fulfilment of the commitments they made in the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. Namely, they must ensure the safety of civilians and their freedom of movement, and guarantee safe routes for civilians to leave conflict areas. The parties must allow unrestricted access to Yei and the surrounding area for the UN Mission in South Sudan, the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, as well as all humanitarian actors, to enable them to effectively carry out their roles.

Regional leadership will be essential to securing progress on this matter. We urge the region to respect the UN Arms Embargo and to hold those responsible for violations of the peace agreement and Cessation of Hostilities Agreement to account in line with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) statement of 31 January that called for all parties to “cease hostilities and military preparations immediately.” The Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) has a central role in holding the parties to these agreements accountable to their commitments. We urge IGAD to appoint a credible and empowered R-JMEC Chair as a matter of urgency.

Charity Art Auction For Mind West Cumbria

Artwork produced for the Art of Reprocessing exhibition will be auctioned for Mind West Cumbria

Charity auction for Mind West Cumbria

Charity auction for Mind West Cumbria

Sellafield Ltd employees have chosen Mind West Cumbria as the company’s charity of the year for 2019.

Workers at the nuclear site voted for the mental health charity in a recent poll, which would decide where their fundraising efforts will be directed for this year.

Fundraising activities will start with the auction of artwork produced for the Art of Reprocessing exhibition at the Beacon Museum, Whitehaven on Friday 15 March.

Local, regional, national and international artists were commissioned to produce artwork inspired by the life of Sellafield’s Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp). The plant sheared its last batch of used nuclear fuel in November last year and the artwork has been on display in the museum ever since.

Head of Community Relations, Gary McKeating, said:

Mind West Cumbria provides a life changing service to people in our area who need practical help and someone to listen.

Our employees at Sellafield raised over £22,000 for the Great North Air Ambulance in 2018 so I am excited to see how much we can raise for Mind.

Almost 6,000 people have been to see the Art of Reprocessing exhibition so we know that there is a real interest in the artwork. There are so many different pieces in different styles that there really is something for everyone, and what better way to mark the end of the exhibition than by raising money for such a great charity.

Dr Brian Campbell from Mind West Cumbria said:

We are delighted to have been chosen, especially because it is the people who work on the site who voted for us.

Every year we help hundreds of people here in West Cumbria, from Silloth and Wigton right down to Seascale and Gosforth, and everywhere in between.

We provide counselling and work with families and for many people suffering mental illness we are the first port of call.

They’re all different, and they all have their own stories. Mental illness does not discriminate and can affect anyone at any time. We rely completely on fundraising and volunteers and the money raised by Sellafield Ltd employees will make a huge difference to us.

The Art of Reprocessing exhibition is still open to the public – it closes the day of the sale on March 15th – so there is still time to go along and see the artwork before it is auctioned.

The evening will start at 1800 and will see 18 pieces auctioned. Tickets for the auction are free and available via Eventbrite. For more information and to view the artwork, visit the Beacon Museum website.

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