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CoE SG says UN plan presents window of opportunity
2003-01-29 14:42:49

Nicosia, Jan 29 (CNA) -- Council of Europe Secretary-General, Walter Schwimmer, has said the current UN plan on Cyprus presents a unique window of opportunity to find a lasting solution.

Schwimmer made the statement yesterday in the opening paragraph of his speech before the Parliamentary Assembly Session where he set out the CoE's priorities for 2003.

He said three weeks ago when he was on the island, as he "was sitting in the Ledra Palace in Nicosia, the last divided city in Europe, having discussions with political representatives of both communities on the island, I was encouraged by what I heard and stressed my own conviction that the current UN plan presents a unique window of opportunity to find a lasting solution".|

Schwimmer said it "would be an historic breakthrough. Equally historic, and I think that the term has not been used too lightly in this respect, were the decisions taken by the European Council in Copenhagen".

Asked by CoE Rapporteur on Cyprus, Hungarian deputy Matyas Eorsi, why he did not visit the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, Schwimmer said the "Republic of Cyprus is recognised internationally and by the Council of Europe. It is a member of the Council of Europe" and he visited Cyprus at the invitation of its government.

Subsequently, that did not allow him, he said, "to visit that part of the island that is not under the control of that government".

"Nevertheless, I expressed my wish to meet representatives of the Turkish community so I met them in the Ledra Palace in the buffer zone on the island. Not all parties represented on the Turkish northern part of the island were present, but I already announced in Cyprus that I would invite all representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community to come to Strasbourg to continue the dialogue that is necessary".

Schwimmer said "those Turkish citizens, as well as the Greek Cypriots, are among the 800 million European citizens represented in the Council of Europe. We must take care of them, and I support the view that they expressed for the unification of the island and to live in peace and prosperity with their Greek Cypriot compatriots. I am sure that there is a window of opportunity, and we should use it", he added.

The CoE SG praised Turkey's Prime Minister Abdullah Gul who was "very clear in saying that, from Turkey's point of view, a non-solution would not be a solution. We know that the Turkish government wants to use that window of opportunity, and I hope that everyone will succeed together", he added.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.

UN-led efforts currently underway aim at finding a comprehensive settlement by the end of February so that Cyprus can sign the Accession Treaty in April as a reunited island.


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