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Britain urges Cypriots to seize chance for settlement
2003-03-06 14:11:51

by Kyriakos Tsioupras -- London, Mar 6 (CNA) -- Britain has called on the people of Cyprus to seize the opportunity afforded to them by a UN peace proposal to find a political settlement, warning that such an opportunity will not come again for years to come.

British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane has said that the future of Cyprus lies in the European Union and reiterated his government's support for the UN Secretary General's efforts to secure a negotiated settlement.|

His comments come as the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides are considering their response to a call by Kofi Annan to put his peace proposal to separate but simultaneous referenda to the people on 30 March. Annan is meeting the leaders of the two sides on Monday, 10 March, in The Hague to get their reply.

Annan has repeatedly said that approval of his peace plan would allow a reunited Cyprus to join the Accession Treaty to the EU in mid April.

''The British government fully supports Kofi Annan's efforts to secure a settlement of the Cyprus problem. His final proposals are excellent and balanced,'' MacShane said.

He pointed out that ''it is now time to let the people of Cyprus have their say,'' warning at the same time that ''this opportunity will not come again for generations.''

''The future of Cyprus lies in the EU. The quarrels and differences and passions of the 20th century in Cyprus should be laid to one side. A better future beckons for all the people of Cyprus from both communities. They should seize it,'' MacShane added.

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos is in Athens today for consultations with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis with regard to Monday's meeting with Annan.

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who is currently in Turkey, has said he would reject Annan's proposal for a referendum and will go to The Hague to explain to the Secretary General the reasoning behind his thinking.

Turkish troops have been occupying 37 per cent of Cyprus territory since 1974, in violation of repeated UN resolutions calling for their withdrawal.


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