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Weston: Several elements give hope for Cyprus settlement
2003-01-29 14:38:44

by Apostolis Zoupaniotis -- New York, Jan 29 (CNA) -- There are several elements in the Cyprus talks which give some hope that a settlement will be achievable, US State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, has said.

Speaking last night in Astoria, New York, at a gathering organised by the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) and the Cyprus Federation of America, Weston said he would leave Monday for a visit to the region, assuring that the US will do everything possible to try to get a solution.|

As regards the elements which give hope for a settlement, Weston referred to the work of the two ad hoc technical committees ''which are designed to fill in the large gaps that exist in the Secretary General's plan which relate to treaties, to the necessary legislation and so on.''

''That work has been going on at a pace that at some days is encouraging and at others is discouraging but it continues to go on and make progress to the point that because there is an obvious willingness to keep working in those two commissions on the part of both sides, I think that's encouraging,'' he added.

He pointed out that another area that is encouraging ''is Greece's very concerted attempts to resolve with Turkey outstanding issues in the security elements of the settlement. Greece has been very forceful in doing everything possible to try and resolve those questions and they will continue to do so including this week when we will have the Foreign Minister of Greece in his capacity as President of the EU and Commissioner Verheugen and Javier Solana in Ankara and one of the items of the agenda is to continue to try to resolve this question,'' Weston said.

He also noted that in the talks themselves there is a regular work programme going on, the core issues are being discussed in a sense that both sides are making their views known in what they believe needs to be changed in the plan, to make the plan rather acceptable or more acceptable.

''There is an awareness by both sides of the time constraint that they face. Are we going to get there? I can't give you an answer to that question. I can tell you that we will do everything possible to try to get there,'' Weston said.

He also referred to the 2002 EU Copenhagen Summit and stressed that ''Copenhagen was very important in terms of fostering a Cyprus settlement and it has two elements.''

''The pressure of Copenhagen was instrumental in getting the types of revisions to the existing plan of the Secretary General which came about with revisions on December 10. There were revisions that some of which can be viewed as in favour of the Greek side and some of them can be viewed as in favor of the Turkish side'' the US diplomat added and expressed the belief that '' those revisions made it more likely that we will actually get a settlement based on this plan.''

''The second and even more important point- that because of the participation of the new government of Turkey in Copenhagen, as a candidate country, I believe that it was made crystal clear to the new government of Turkey the importance which is the Cyprus settlement as in terms of Turkey's European aspirations and that was very important in creating the sort of atmosphere which makes it more likely to the Cyprus settlement,'' he noted.

Weston expressed that belief that it is still viewed by all the participants in the process that it would be far better to have a settlement prior to the actual signature of the accession treaty on April 16.

''Because if you have it before that, not only can the elements of the settlement be incorporated as necessary in the accession treaty but you walk in as a settlement which is in essence guaranteed by the European Union. Moreover a settlement achieved before the actual signature of the accession treaty also means that it is a settlement already endorsed by the Treaty of Cyprus in a referendum, endorsed not only as settlement itself but endorsed in terms of the participation in the accession of all Cypriots to European Union,'' he added.

Furthermore he noted that the target date for a settlement set out in the Annan plan, that is February 28, 2003, comes from an assessment that if you are going to have a settlement in effect by the time of the signature of the accession treaty on the 16th of April which is a date where there is no flexibility because it involves so many other countries to European Union, you need some period of time between the completion of referendum and the signature of the accession treaty.

''We are working against that deadline-is too strong a word-but very important period of time, a point in time in which a settlement will be tested in referendum and be incorporated in the accession treaty of Cyprus to the EU,'' Weston said.

He noted that the key question is if we are going to get there and assured that ''the United States are going to do anything we can in order to get there and that includes the involvement at the highest levels of the American government on this issue which have been going on in private diplomatic exchanges and will continue to go on to make the maximum effort possible to get to where we want to be.''

Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash are engaged in direct negotiations on a UN proposal for a comprehensive settlement. The UN have said they want to see a negotiated agreement by the end of February to enable a reunited Cyprus to join the EU and sign the Accession Treaty in mid April.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.


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