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Britain believes crucial opportunity has arisen for Cyprus
2003-01-30 13:28:03

By Kyriacos Tsioupras-- London, Jan 30 (CNA) ? The British government believes that a crucial opportunity has now arisen for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement in Cyprus, based on the UN Secretary-General's proposals by 28 February.

Minister of State for European Affairs Denis MacShane outlined the position in the House of Commons, during written answers to questions by Shadow European Minister, Richard Spring, on the British government's role in the negotiations to unify the island of Cyprus.

MacShane said Britain fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto. The government "believes that a crucial opportunity has now arisen for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement in Cyprus", he said.|

The British minister said that while it is for the two sides in Cyprus to agree on the details of a settlement, "we strongly urge the parties to reach agreement, based on the UN Secretary-General's 10 December 2002 proposals, by the UN deadline of 28 February".

This, he said, "would enable referenda to be held on both sides on the island and a reunited Cyprus to sign the Treaty of Accession with the EU on 16 April".

"Our aim", MacShane said, "remains for a reunited island to accede to the EU. We believe this is in the best interests of Cyprus, of Greece and Turkey, and of the wider European community".

MacShane said this is a "vital opportunity" and urged the two sides "not to let it slip away".

Answering another question, MacShane said that following Cyprus' accession to the European Union, the British Sovereign Bases Areas in Cyprus "should remain outside the EU, with technical adjustments to ensure the continued smooth functioning of the relationship between Cyprus and the SBAs."

Britain has retained two sovereign military bases in Cyprus under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus.

CNA/KT/EC/GP/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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