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2003-03-14 17:55:31

No. 3 ? 2003 March 13, 2003

Backed by Turkey, Turkish Cypriot Leader Rejects U.N. Plan to Reunify Cyprus

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos ?very disappointed? but determined to achieve functional, viable solution

The people of Cyprus and the international community at large saw their hopes for the reunification of Cyprus dashed once again at The Hague on March 11, 2003, when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, in collusion with the government of Turkey, bluntly rejected the framework presented by the U.N. Secretary General to end the 29-year-old division of the Republic of Cyprus imposed by Ankara since Turkey?s forces invaded and illegally occupied nearly forty percent of the islands? sovereign territory in 1974. The Hague talks were the culmination of a long U.N. initiative spread over three years.

President Papadopoulos to ?intensify efforts?

The rejection of peace plans for Cyprus by the Turkish side has become an all too familiar scenario since 1974. The disappointment felt this time around, however, has been particularly poignant ?from the failure of the most intense effort for a solution to the Cyprus problem,? as President Tassos Papadopoulos stated upon his return to Cyprus, following the marathon talks at The Hague. Nevertheless, the President declared most emphatically his determination to push the peace process forward, stating that, despite this ?understandable sense of disappointment, we will not abandon the efforts for a Cyprus solution, which would be functional and viable.?

In reaffirming his commitment to achieve a comprehensive settlement on Cyprus in the context of the U.N. initiative, the President announced that ?we will intensify our efforts so that we will promote a solution which will serve the proper interests of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.? The President pledged to ?find ways to turn the disappointment which Turkish Cypriots feel about the conclusion of The Hague to the same levels with us, to show that working together we can reunite our country.?

S.G. Kofi Annan: ?Not giving up on the people of Cyprus? In announcing the impasse created at The Hague by the Turkish side, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan left no doubt as to who was responsible. On the key issue he put before the parties of submitting the U.N. Plan before the people of Cyprus as a referendum, Mr. Annan said that: ?Mr. Papadopoulos answered that he was prepared to do so, as long as the people knew what they are being asked to vote on.? In sharp contrast, Mr. Annan then stated: ?Mr. Denktash answered that he was not prepared to agree to put the plan to referendum. He said he had fundamental objections to the plan on basic points.?

The Secretary General expressed his disappointment at the collapse of the talks stating: ?I share tonight with all peace-loving Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Greeks and Turks a deep sense of sadness. Nevertheless, I want the people of Cyprus to know that I have not given up on them. I saw in their eyes their longing for peace and reunification. I regret that they have been denied the chance to decide their own future.?

U.S. State Department: ?severe disappointment? at Turkish rejection

International reaction was swift and clear following the breakdown of the process. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, noting the strong support to the U.N. effort by the United States, stated that: ?We find it very regrettable that Mr. Denktash has denied Turkish Cypriots the opportunity to determine their own future and to vote on such a fundamental issue.? Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Beth Jones expressed to Congress on March 13 ?severe disappointment? at the rejection of the U.N. Plan by the Turkish side but said ?Despite this setback, the U.S. remains committed to seeing a just and durable settlement to the Cyprus problem.?

?Dismay? in U.S. Congress; calls for end of Cyprus division

Reaction was also strong from the U.S. Congress which backed the U.N. initiative as well.

Representatives Michael Bilirakis (R-Florida), Robert Andrews (D-New Jersey), Frank Pallone (D- New Jersey) and Carolyn Maloney (D- New York), addressed the issue from the floor of the House expressing a ?profound sense of disappointment? and ?dismay? at the breakdown of the U.N. effort. All declared that responsibility for the setback rests with the Turkish Cypriot leader and Ankara.

?If the government of Turkey were sincere about settling the Cyprus problem,? said Mr. Bilirakis, ?they could have put the necessary pressure on Mr. Denktash to say ?yes,?? to the U.N. proposals.

?It is a tragedy,? declared Mr. Andrews, ?that the voices of the Turkish Cypriots have been silenced by Mr. Denktash and his military sponsors? in Turkey.

?Let there be no doubt,? added Mr. Pallone, ?that Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash is to blame for this sorry conclusion,? noting that ?Both the Turkish government and Denktash refused to listen to the thousands who have taken to the streets in the occupied section of Cyprus and voiced support for a solution based on the U.N. plan.?

Rep. Maloney, too, blamed the ?intransigence of Mr. Denktash,? for the failed talks and she joined her colleagues in urging the government of Turkey to ?take constructive steps for resolving the Cyprus problem,? and the Bush administration to ?persuade Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader to work within the U.N. process to end the division of Cyprus.?

The legislators also praised President Papadopoulos for his constructive approach to the U.N. process, his determination to continue the peace efforts and his willingness to submit the entire U.N. proposal to the people.

E.U. warning to Turkey

The European Union, which Cyprus will soon join, and which Turkey aspires to join, had warned on March 4th that ?if Cyprus settlement efforts failed, it would be very difficult to start accession talks with Turkey,? since Turkey would be in the untenable position of not recognizing a member of the E.U. that it wants to join, and would also be occupying militarily part of E.U. territory. ?This occupation,? the E.U. confirmed, following the collapse of the talks, ?has always been considered illegal by the international community, including the E.U. Nothing changes there.?

Cyprus will sign the Accession Treaty to the European Union along with nine other countries at a special ceremony in Athens, Greece, on April 16, 2003. President Papadopoulos has already pledged that the Greek Cypriot community and his government will ?continue the efforts to reach a solution to the Cyprus question both before and after Cyprus joins the E.U.?

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