The United Kingdom and Cyprus have a strong historical and current relationship. The UK has a significant presence in Cyprus, leading to strong people-to-people links. This is evident in the large Cypriot diaspora in the UK and the large British resident population in Cyprus. The education sector is a huge connector between the two countries, with many Cypriots choosing to study for higher education in the UK and there are also many business links, particularly in retail, with many British retailers having a presence in Cyprus.
“The foundation of the relationship is strong, and both countries have shown commitment to further developing it” said the British High Commissioner in Cyprus, Mr. Irfan Siddiq. “Recent high-level visits, including the President of Cyprus visiting the UK and the Princess Royal visiting Cyprus, have been a sign of this commitment” he added. In addition, a bilateral strategic agreement was signed to boost cooperation in various areas. There have also been agreements to support the development of digital government services in Cyprus.
Overall, the relationship between the UK and Cyprus is strong, with a solid foundation and commitment to further development.
The UK and Cyprus have established a digital services factory in Cyprus with the support and advice from the UK Government Digital service. This project has been in the works for over a year, and the two sides have signed a formal agreement to further the cooperation in this area. “This project aims to improve digital government services in Cyprus and is a testament to the strong relationship between the two countries. There are many other areas of cooperation, and both sides hope to continue to strengthen their ties going forward” highlighted Mr. Siddiq.
The market in Cyprus is relatively small, but there are several areas where cooperation between the UK and Cyprus can be strengthened as there is also a strong history of cooperation in professional financial and legal services. “With the sanctions on Russia and the change in some investment profiles, these sectors will continue to be important as facilitators for investment, particularly in the green sectors such as green financing and development. The UK has a lot of expertise in these areas that can be shared with Cyprus to support its development” assured the High Commissioner. “The UK government is keen to support Cyprus in attracting investment.” Cyprus has advantages for British companies looking for a base in the EU, while still being active in the broader region of North Africa, the Near East, Israel, and Turkey.
Regarding innovation, Mr. Siddiq noticed that there are great opportunities for Cyprus to become a hub for startups and tech companies, especially with its growing reputation and the expertise present from cooperation with Israel. The advantages of being in the EU while also having access to neighboring markets could make it an attractive option for UK tech companies as well. “It’s encouraging to hear that the government is thinking about how to support and promote this” he mentioned. Education is also a big area of growth, with UK universities setting up or partnering with superior institutions to provide more services.
With his term as British High Commissioner in Cyprus nearing one year, Mr. Siddiq places the resolution of the Cyprus problem as a top priority, as he is certain that this would have a significant positive impact on the country and the region as a whole. Further cementing Cyprus’ Western orientation and further strengthening the UK-Cyprus bilateral relationship, especially in areas such as innovation, education, and healthcare is on top of his agenda as well. “I see an opportunity for Cyprus to further cement its shift towards a clear Western orientation and move away from non-alignment, particularly in light of recent events in Ukraine.”