37th Annual Rally for Morphou - Barnet's twin town

Chipping Barnet MP, Theresa Villiers, attended this year’s Morphou Rally in Astromeritis yesterday. In a two day visit to Cyprus, Ms Villiers was the guest of the exiled Municipality of Morphou and its Mayor, Victor Hadjiavraam. She took part in a number of engagements including crossing the green line to visit Morphou and St Mamas Cathedral, and a bilateral meeting at the Presidential Palace with Government spokesman, Nikos Christodoulides.

This is the 37th time this annual event has taken place to call for a united Cyprus and freedom for Morphou.

Ms Villiers was one of a number of speakers to address the rally, along with the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades. She was the only UK MP to attend the rally and was part of a Conservative delegation from Barnet consisting of the Mayor and Mayoress, Cllr Brian Salinger and Kate Salinger, and the leader of Barnet Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius and Cllr Alison Cornelius.

Speaking after the end of the rally, Ms Villiers said: “Morphou is twinned with Barnet and it is a great tragedy that thousands of its residents were forced to flee from their homes because of the 1974 invasion. I came to Cyprus this weekend with Conservative colleagues from Barnet to show support for the displaced residents of Morphou who are still unable to return to the homes over 40 years since they left them.”

“For over 18 years, I have been backing the Cyprus cause and campaigning for a free and united Cyprus. I have attended the Morphou Rally many times and I believe that few other MPs can match my commitment on this issue.”

“We need a negotiated settlement in Cyprus which can reunify the island and see all Cypriots living together again, and enable Morphou residents to return to their homes. Great hopes were placed in the recent round of talks. It is a source of huge disappointment and sadness that the Crans Montana process ended without agreement.”

“In my speech to the rally, I expressed strong support for a resumption of negotiations. Real progress was made on a number of very important issues. That should not be wasted. I know that my Conservative colleagues in the UK Government supported the negotiations process and I will be calling on them to engage with Turkey to make the case for a resumption of talks between the two sides in Cyprus.”

Events for the Morphou Rally started with church service and prayers for the Missing. Speeches then took place at the Astromeritis Cultural Centre. After that, wreaths were laid at the war memorial which is just a few yards from the green line on the road leading to Morphou. Ms Villiers and the Mayor of Barnet both laid wreaths, along with representatives of the many different delegations attending from various towns and cities in Europe.