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FCO MEETING OF THE ASSOCIATION OF RIZOKARPASSO IN BRITAIN

A delegation from the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain consisting of Mary Karaolis (President), Michael Lidas (Vice President) and Executive Committee member Cllr Andreas Strongolou had a meeting at the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office with Christine Lufkin the Cyprus and Greece Team Leader on Monday 12th March.

The delegation raised many issues including the urgent need for restoration works to begin on Apostolos Andreas Monastery and the fact that Bishop Christoforos, Bishop  of Karpasia,  had that very morning, having waited for two hours at Ayios Dometios check point, been refused permission to visit his congregation in Karpasia without any reason being given.  The plight of the enclaved in Rizokarpasso was again highlighted with specific references to individuals who had sacrificed a lifetime of normal existence and denied basic human rights because they refused to leave their homes. Turkeys policy was clearly a waiting game since the passage of time will, in the end, see the natural demise of all Greek Cypriots in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus.

In a long, frank and open discussion the delegation covered numerous issues including the fact that the British Government was their Government; it had an obligation to represent the interests of the hundreds of thousands of British Citizens with properties in occupied northern Cyprus and it had an obligation as a Guarantor Power to ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, which Britain had failed to meet.  The delegation expressed concern and discussed the various statements made by Turkish politicians which revealed Turkeys real, intransigent position on Cyprus e.g.: President Gul during his official state visit described Cyprus as a half country which will lead a miserable EU during its EU Presidency; Prime Minister Erdogan, during his visit to occupied northern Cyprus there is no such state as Cyprus, there is southern Cyprus and there is the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu contemptuously referred to  Cyprus as that microscopic state and confirmed that Turkey would have a strategic interest in Cyprus even if there were no Turkish Cypriots on the island; Turkeys European Affairs Minister Engemen Bagis stated that the options on the table include annexation of the KKTC to Turkey.  Anxiety was also expressed and a dialogue took place over the threats made by Turkey regarding the Republic of Cyprus offshore hydrocarbons exploration.

The delegation expressed disappointment that their Government appeared to be rewarding Turkey for their behaviour; Turkey  refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus, which is a member of the EU, UN and the British Commonwealth as well as having two British Sovereign Bases. The Turkish President Abdullah Gul, has been given the honour of an official state visit and Turkish politicians official visits to 10 Downing Street.  Britain appears to be rewarding Turkeys bullying behaviour towards Cyprus as well as ignoring all their other issues e.g. Turkeys record on human rights including the fact they have the largest number of imprisoned journalists in the world. The delegation felt unease that their Government was putting aside moral and ethical issues because of Turkeys strategic importance and felt that ignoring the lessons of history was a dangerous path to follow.

It was agreed that the meeting had been informative and had allowed an honest debate and examination of the numerous issues.

20/3/2012

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ASSOCIATION OF RIZOKARPASSO IN BRITAIN DINNER & DANCE

The Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain held a very successful Dinner and Dance with over 200 people participating. First, second, and third generation compatriots from Rizokarpasso and their friends attended, making the evening a truly enjoyable family evening out and creating a great community atmosphere. Special Guests were Rt Rev Bishop Athanasios, Bishop of Tropaeou; the Honourable Representative of the Cyprus High Commission, George Georgiou, Consul General;  the Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP for Chipping Barnet & Minister of State Department for Transport;  Hon. Marina Yannakoudakis, MEP; Matthew Offord MP for Hendon; Cllr Brian Coleman, GLA Member for Barnet and Camden and prominent members, across the age range, of the Cypriot Community in the UK.

 

Guests commented on and were very impressed with the large gathering of Cypriots from all age groups and the obvious fact that there were many British born Rizokarpassides present, enjoying themselves in the company of family and friends, proud of their roots and not prepared to forget that Rizokarpasso belongs to them.  The food and service provided by the Cypriot Community Centre, as always, was superb whilst the music performed by the Venus band had people of all ages enjoying themselves on the dance floor.

 

Maria Karaolis, the President of the Association, in her speech gave a special welcome to the national and local politicians whose presence at the event was a clear indication of their support and was much appreciated by all concerned.  She then said: This evening our thoughts are of Rizokarpasso, with our enclaved friends, relatives and compatriots, who have sacrificed the last 37 years guarding our rights to our properties whilst they, on a daily basis are denied basic human rights including freedom of religious worship as evidenced by the illegal regime representatives stopping the Christmas Day service in St Synesios Church on 25th December 2010, making the priest and congregation leave and locking the church up.  Maria Karaolis continued: We were pleased that a couple of months ago Britain made clear its support of the right of the Republic of Cyprus to drill in its Exclusive Economic Zone in accordance with International Law.  However, we are disappointed that our Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his press statement on Tuesday, made no reference to Cyprus but said: Its a great honour to welcome President Gül to Number 10 Downing Street.  Turkey is a great friend of Britain, a vital trading partner, a strong NATO ally, and an influential leader in the region with a unique position at the meeting point between East and West.  Weve had some excellent conversations today covering all sorts of subjects, from Syria to Iran to Turkeys future in the European Union conversations between two very good, close friends with a deep relationship.  Our close relationship with Turkey is why I went to Turkey on one of my first trips as Prime Minister.   We expect our British Government to have integrity, to have an ethical foreign policy and not to subordinate human rights matters and the principles of international law to political concerns and strategic geopolitical and economic interests.  Maria Karaolis concluded by thanking all the past Presidents,  past and present Officers and Committee Members of the Association for their dedication and hard work and all the members and friends who have supported and sustained the Association since its formation in 1975.  She also thanked the national and local politicians and other high profile figures and organisations, including the community media, who are champions of freedom, justice and human rights.

The evening included the raffle prize draws with top prizes being return tickets to Cyprus, kindly donated by Cyprus Airways and Monarch Airlines.  Other raffle prizes included: pre-match table for 4 in the Directors Lounge at Barnet FC and Directors Box seats for the BFC game; two tickets to see an England friendly match at Wembley Stadium; BFC signed Shirt and football, (all donated by Barnet FC Chairman Tony Kleanthous): a basket of fruit, (donated by Despinas Food Store):  copies of  Trachilos The Boy Who Would Be King by Christodoulos Louvieris.   The winning ticket for Cyprus Airways return flight to Cyprus was won by a well known senior citizen born in Rizokarpasso, Katina Chrysostomou, who has always attended the annual rally for Cyprus in Trafalgar Square and picket outside the Turkish Embassy, everyone present applauded the result when her raffle ticket won the top prize!

 


Mary Karaolis President of the Association of Rizokarpason


Katina Chrysostomou wins the top prize Cyprus Airways ticket


Dancing with the mind at Rizokarpaso

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FCO MEETING OF THE ASSOCIATION OF RIZOKARPASSO IN BRITAIN

A delegation from the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain consisting of Mary Karaolis (President), Michael Lidas (Vice President), Yiannoulla Antoniades (Secretary) and Executive Committee members Cllr Andreas Strongolou and Nicos Hinallas had a meeting at the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office with David Reed the Cyprus, Greece  and Turkey Team Leader on Friday 11th November 2011.

The delegation ranged in age from 26 to over 70;  four of the five members of the delegation were second generation Greek Cypriots and one first generation.  All were passionate about Rizokarpasso and Cyprus and emphasised that the British Government was their Government and it had an obligation as a Guarantor Power to ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, which Britain had failed to meet. Furthermore, as UK citizens they expected their Government to fulfil its obligations and to work to secure the return of their properties in occupied Cyprus. The delegation reminded David Reed their meeting on Remembrance Day was significant since many Cypriots had fought for the UK in the Second World War as members of the Cyprus Regiment or as members of the British armed forces,  Mary Karaolis told David Reed that her father was in the Middx Regiment and in the D Day Normandy landings on 6th June 1944; however, Britain has, to date, not delivered for Cyprus.

They had a long, frank and open discussion on a whole range of other issues including the stopping of the Christmas Day Service in Ayios Synesios Church Rizokarpasso, the prevention of the repair and refurbishment of Apostolos Andreas Monastery, the continued denial of human rights of the enclaved 260 Greek Cypriots in Rizokarpasso by the illegal administration and the destruction of the cultural and religious heritage of occupied Cyprus.   They also discussed at length Turkeys aggressive stance over Cypruss sovereign right to exploit its own natural resources; Turkeys threatening remarks to the EU regarding Cypruss forthcoming EU presidency; Mr Erdogans recent statements which undermine the current negotiations and reveal Turkeys real, intransigent position on Cyprus. 

 


M. Lidas, M. Karaolis and  N. Hinallas

 

A. Strongolou, M. Karaolis and Y. Antoniades

 

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Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain General Meeting

Sunday 23rd October 2011

The 77th General Meeting of the Association of Rizokarpasso held in the hall of the Cypriot Community Centre, Wood Green, gave the opportunity for the members present to discuss the many issues regarding Rizokarpasso, especially in relation to the plight of compatriots who have been enclaved for the last 37 years and denied basic human rights, including freedom of religious worship, by the illegal occupying regime as evidenced by the stopping of the Christmas Day service in Ayios Synesios in December 2010. They deplored the ethnic cleansing which has taken place in occupied northern Cyprus. Once again, the members vehemently upheld that the return of the refugees to their homes and properties was a human right, morally correct and totally non-negotiable and passed a Resolution to be sent to the 5 permanent member states of the UN Security Council, EU, politicians and prominent world leaders expressing their steadfastness.  Maria Karaolis, President, presented a report of the Associations activities since the last meeting;  Kate Christoforou, the Treasurer, the financial accounts of the Association; Michael Lidas, the Vice President read very moving poems Apostolos Andreas and To Horio Mou written by Rizokarpassidisa Marina Takkides now a refugee in Limassol. 

 

RESOLUTION

Adopted by the members of The Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain at their General Meeting 23rd October 2011 

Rizokarpasso, in the occupied part of northern Cyprus, had 4,500 Greek Cypriot inhabitants 37 years ago when, in July1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus.  We now have only 260 enclaved Greek Cypriots in Rizokarpasso who on a daily basis are denied freedom of religious worship and other basic human rights.  Our Association members were either born in Rizokarpasso or their parents or grandparents were born there.  Most of our members are the legal owners of homes and properties in Rizokarpasso and since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus have been denied the use, enjoyment, benefit and income from their properties.  The continued occupation of Cyprus by troops and transporting of settlers from Turkey to occupy our homes and properties violates our members human rights, fundamental freedoms and social justice and the very principles at the heart of democracy.  Furthermore, Turkey is in flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention and relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions including General Assembly resolution 3212 (1974).  

Mr Erdogan and his Government have now resorted to unacceptable threats in response to Cypruss exploratory drilling for gas within its own offshore waters in the Republic of Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.  Furthermore, Turkey refuses to abide by EU requirements, which hinders its accession negotiations  with the EU and has stated that it will not recognise the Republic of Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU in July 2012.

Turkey is a big country, a regional power, a member of NATO and a strategic player with a mighty army. But these characteristics do not give it the right to invade, occupy and colonise the island; to destroy the cultural and religious heritage of Cyprus; and to bully and frighten Cyprus into surrendering its sovereign political and economic rights. Cyprus is a small European nation and has been admitted into the European Union because it met all of the accession criteria to the full. Cyprus is conducting exploration of potential hydrocarbon reserves within its own territorial waters in accordance with international law.  The notion that this small and militarily weak island should be held permanently hostage by an invading, occupying power, which behaves as though it can act against the authority of the UN, EU and international law with complete impunity, is unacceptable.

We ask you to put pressure on Turkey to respect peoples freedom of religious worship and to subscribe to European values, human rights, freedom and the rule of law especially since Turkey desires to join the EU and be regarded as a modern state. We also ask you to exercise your influence to ensure that any proposed solution for Cyprus honours democracy, human rights and international law, a solution which we believe should include the following:

a)      The return of all properties to their lawful owners.

b)      The return of all the refugees to their homes and properties in safety.

c)      The restoration of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots.

d)     The reunification of the island and people of Cyprus.

e)      The removal of all Turkish troops from Cyprus.

f)       The repatriation to Turkey of the over 200,000 illegal settlers in Cyprus.

g)      The full and effective investigation of the fate of all the missing persons.



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"Ankara shows region is assertive side" (Daniel Dombey article in Financial Time) and the answer from the President of the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain Mrs Mary Karaolis "Cyprus trilling is not provocation".

Daniel Dombey article in Financial Time)

he answer from the President of the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain Mrs Mary Karaolis Karaolis

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Resolution by The Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain

The members of our Association voted unanimously for  the Resolution below regarding Cyprus, which we have sent to the following together with an appropriately worded covering letter:

             i. The Secretary General of The United Nations

            ii. The President of the European Commission

           iii. The President of the European Council

           iv. The Commonwealth Secretary-General

            v. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

           vi. The Deputy Prime Minister & Leader of the Liberal Party

         vii. The Leader of the Opposition & Leader of the Labour Party

        viii. The Permanent Members of the UN Security Council

RESOLUTION

Adopted by the members of The Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain
20th July 1974 a tragic day for Cyprus

Rizokarpasso, in the occupied part of northern Cyprus,  had 4,500 Greek Cypriot inhabitants 37 years ago when, on 20th July1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus.  We now have only 260 enclaved Greek Cypriots in Rizokarpasso who on a daily basis are denied freedom of religious worship, as evidenced by the stopping of their Christmas Day Service on 25th December 2010 and other basic human rights.  Our Association members were either born in Rizokarpasso or their parents or grandparents were born there.  Most of our members are the legal owners of homes and properties in Rizokarpasso and since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus have been denied the use, enjoyment, benefit and income from their properties.  The continued occupation of Cyprus with 40,000 Turkish troops and 200,000 settlers from Turkey violates our members human rights, fundamental freedoms and social justice and the very principles at the heart of democracy.  According to the Treaty of Guarantee, Britain, Greece and Turkey undertook to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus.  Turkey is in flagrant violation of the Treaty,  the Geneva Convention and the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions including 541(1983) and 550(1984) and General Assembly resolution 3212 (1974).

We believe it is in the interests of major world powers to achieve a just and viable settlement in Cyprus and so have regional stability in south east Europe and the eastern Mediterranean especially since Cyprus is a key partner in counter-terrorism and security issues and an important player in terms of regional energy reserves. Cyprus shares the core values of freedom, democracy and adherence to the rule of law:  it is also a member of the UN, EU and Commonwealth of Nations. Therefore, countries and organisations can and, we believe in their own interests, should, choose to put pressure on Turkey to abide by UN Resolutions and the rules of international law and stop their illegal occupation of the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus and abuse of the Human Rights of Greek Cypriots.  The reunification of the island of Cyprus benefits all Cypriots and is important for stability in the region.

We ask you to put pressure on Turkey to respect peoples freedom of religious worship and to subscribe to 21st Century values, human rights, freedom and the rule of law especially since Turkey desires to join the EU and be regarded as a modern state. We also ask you to exercise your influence to ensure that any proposed solution should be by the Cypriot people for the Cypriot people; a solution which honours democracy, human rights and international law, a solution which we believe should be viable in the long term and include the following:

 

a)      The return of all properties to their lawful owners.

b)      The return of all the refugees to their homes and properties in safety.

c)      The restoration of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots.

d)     The reunification of the island and people of Cyprus.

e)      The removal of all Turkish troops from Cyprus.

f)       The repatriation to Turkey of the over 200,000 illegal settlers in Cyprus.

g)      The full and effective investigation of the fate of all the missing persons

 

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Letter to MP Mike Freer Member of Parliament for Finchley & Golders Green

Mike Freer MP, Member of Parliament for Finchley & Golders Green

Dear Mr Freer

I was interested to hear of William Hagues backing of President Barack Obamas call on Israel to retreat to its 1967 borders, which, I assume is our Governments position.   Surely, now is the appropriate time for Britain, which is a guarantor power of the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, to join with President Obama in calling upon Turkey to pull its troops and settlers out of occupied northern Cyprus, i.e. retreat to pre 1974 Cyprus position when Turkey invaded and still occupies over a third of the Republic of Cyprus.  Our Foreign Secretary said that British and American policies on the Middle East are as closely aligned as they have ever been surely, there should be no double standards in applying those policies.

Similarly, there can be no agreement and solution to the problem of Cyprus unless Turkey withdraws from the occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus. There must be an ending to Turkeys strong military presence in occupied Cyprus of 40,000 Turkish troops and over 200,000 Turksih settlers,  transported to change the demography of the island and occupy the homes and properties of the 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees  forcibly uprooted by the Turkish invading army and to this day not allowed to return to their land and properties.   Now is the time, with President Obama's visit to the UK, for our Government, together with the Americans, to tell Turkey to withdraw its troops and settlers from occupied northern Cyprus.

I would be grateful if you could raise this issue with our Foreign Secretary and look forward to the response.

Yours sincerely

Mary Karaolis OBE

23/5/2011

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Letter of protest to President of European Council Herman Van Rompuy

19th May 2011

His Excellency President Herman Van Rompuy

European Council
Rue de la Loi 175
B-1048 Brussels
Belgium

Dear President Van Rompuy

Our nationwide membership strongly condemns the demolition of the Chapel of Saint Thekla, a 200-year-old Orthodox Christian church located in the village of Vokolida in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, on May 2, 2011, as reported in a statement issued May 12, 2011 by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). For nearly 37 years, the people of Cyprus have endured an illegal occupation and massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Turkey, a member of NATO, a member of the UN and a country that aspires to join the EU.

Turkey is a signatory to a host of international treaties intended to safeguard religious freedom. This blatant violation of religious freedom under the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime supported by illegal Turkish troops reconfirms Turkeys disregard of those treaties.

The USCIRF also cites instances where the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime prohibited a bishop from performing an Easter liturgy and continues to require religious leaders to submit applications in order to be given permission to perform Divine Liturgies. In April 2011, Bishop Christoforos of Karpasia was prohibited from administering the Easter liturgy at Saint Synesis Church in Rizokarpasso village, where there are 260 enclaved Greek Cypriots who, for 37 years have been denied basic human rights by the illegal regime. Also, the Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis and Father Savvas Hadjionas were prohibited from celebrating the April 25th Divine Liturgy at the Church of Saint George in Vatili village. The two bishops and the priest had submitted applications through the UN, in full accordance and in ample time, for local Turkish Cypriot authorities to review and approve their applications. However, the applications were denied without explanation.

These flagrant violations of religious freedom follow the interruption and cancellation of Christmas Day services at St. Synesios Church at Rizokarpasso by police officers of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime.  The total disrespect of the religious heritage of occupied northern Cyprus by the illegal regime, is further shown by the 1 entry fee to worshipers who attend St Andrews monastery; the use of the Church of Archangel Michael in Yialousa as a dance school; the use of the Church of St Marina in Yialousa as a stable; the twin churches of the Templars in Famagusta as a night club and disco; and the church of St Francis in Famagusta as a pizzeria.

We ask that the European Council condemns Turkey for its uncivilized behaviour and, since Turkey aspires to become a member of the European Union, uses its significant influence to put pressure on Turkey and its illegal administration to behave in accordance with the requirements of basic human rights including religious freedom.

Thanking you in anticipation of your kind assistance and we look forward to your response.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Mrs Mary Helen Karaolis   OBE   BEd(Hons)   MA   NPQH   FCollT

President of the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain

 

(similar letters sent to other VIPs)

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The 37th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain

The 37th Annual General Meeting (76th  GM) of the Association of Rizokarpasso held in the hall of the Cypriot Community Centre, Wood Green, was very well attended,  and gave the opportunity for the members present to discuss the many issues regarding Rizokarpasso, especially in relation to the plight of compatriots who have been enclaved for the last 36 years and denied basic human rights, including freedom of religious worship, by the illegal occupying regime.  Once again, the members vehemently upheld that the return of the refugees to their homes and properties was a human right, morally correct and totally non-negotiable and passed a Resolution to be sent to the 5 permanent member states of the UN Security Council, EU, politicians and prominent world leaders expressing their steadfastness. 

2009-2011 Officers Maria Karaolis, President, presented a report of the Associations activities since the last meeting and Pavlos Pavlou, the Auditor, presented on behalf of Yiannis Chronias, the Treasurer, the financial accounts of the Association.  On behalf of the Association Mary Karaolis thanked the members for their unfailing support of their Association, the Auditors and her fellow Executive Committee members for their hard work and commitment.  Former President of the Association, Panos Hadjipanayi, chaired the remainder of the meeting and presided over the election of a new Executive Committee for 2011-2013. Present at the meeting was Christos Louvieris, born in Rizokarpasso, for the launch of his book Trachilos; Michael Lidas read a poem by Marina Takkides on Apostolos Andreas dedicated to all the members.  At the end of the meeting enjoyed each others company eating souvlakia, exchanging news and remembering old times in Rizokarpasso. 

The 9 Executive Committee members who will serve for the next two years is shown below. The strength of the Association is evident by the fact that nearly half of the committee consists of young professional Cypriots and two thirds of the committee are second generation Cypriots born in England.  This shows the success of the first generation in passing on their love of and commitment to Rizokarpasso, and Cyprus in general, to their children and grandchildren;  all are proud of their roots and are dedicated to working hard to support the enclaved and promote justice for Cyprus.

Executive Committee 2011-2013

President  Maria Karaolis
Vice-President Michael Lidas
Secretary
Yiannoulla Antoniades
Kate Christoforou
Yiannis Chronias
Nicos Hinallas
Maria Panteli
Christopher Poxamatis
Andreas Strongolou

Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain Presidents

1975-2013

1975-1976         Panayiotis Miltiades                                         

1976-1985         Panayiotis Hadjipanayi                         

1985-1986         Theodoulos Elia                                               

1986-1987         Michael Lidas                                                   

1987-1988         Demetra Ptohopoulou                          

1988-1989         Andreas Poyiadjis                                            

1989-1990         Katina Dicomites                                              

1990-1993         Pantelis Pitrakos

1993-1995         Andreas Synesiou

1995-1998         Pepi Polycarpou

1998-1999         Zacharias Stavrinou

1999-2003         Pepi Polycarpou

2003-2005         Vassos Plissi

2005-                Maria Karaolis

 

Resolution 2011

 

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Mike Freer MP insists on defending the religious freedom rights of the enclaved in Rizokarpaso

Mike Freer, Member of Parliament for Finchley & Golders Green, this week raised the stopping of the Christmas Day service in Rizokarpasso in the British Parliament during Foreign & Commonwealth Questions - please see his press release which I attach.  Also the website link below and the link in his press release.

Media Release

 2/2/2011 February 2011 Immediate release

Mike stands up for Christian services

Yesterday in Parliament, Mike Freer pressed Ministers to condemn the disruption of Christmas day services in occupied northern Cyprus.

Rizokarpasso, an enclave of 250 Greek Cypriots, has been under occupation by Turkish authorities since the 1974 invasion.  On Christmas day, Turkish forces entered the Greek Orthodox church in the village and disrupted the Christmas mass service.  The Turkish forces ordered the evacuation of the church, demanded that the priest remove his clerical clothing and then sealed off the church.

During Foreign & Commonwealth questions Mike Freer MP asked:

Mike Freer (Finchley and Golders Green) (Con): What discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on the disruption of a Christmas day service in Rizokarpaso, Cyprus.

 

The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): We have not had discussions in an EU context on this deeply regrettable incident, but my officials in Nicosia have met Archbishop Chrysostomos and made representations to senior political figures in the north of the island to emphasise the importance that we accord to allowing people in all parts of Cyprus to practise their religion freely.

 

Mike Freer: I thank the Minister for those words on the unacceptable behaviour of Turkey's troops in disrupting a Christmas day mass. Does he agree that Turkey should not be allowed to accede to the EU without guaranteeing religious freedoms?

 

Mr Lidington: Any candidate country that wants EU membership has to subscribe to, and apply, the democratic values that are central to the European Union, including the freedom to express religion and to worship freely.

After the Turkish forces actions came to light, Mike Freer joined the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain in condemning the Turkish authorities actions.

-ENDS-

 

For more information contact James Cox, Senior Parliamentary Assistant

0207 219 2690 or james.cox@parliament.uk

 

Editors Notes:

 

1.    Link to the question in Hansard - http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110201/debtext/110201-0001.htm#11020142000423

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