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Hannay: Cyprus Solution Possible Within the Next Six Months
2001-12-24 21:43:59

Nicosia, Dec 17 (CNA) -- Britain's special representative for Cyprus Lord David Hannay believes that the Cyprus problem can be settled within the next six months. He also made it clear that the solution of the problem will have to be decided by the Cypriots themselves and not by any outsider.

Speaking after his meeting today with House President Demetris Christofias, Hannay said "it's a good time to be here because there is a little bit of hope now while previously there was just a lot of frustration," noting that Cyprus' friends abroad have "unreservedly welcomed the rather courageous decisions taken by the two leaders which led to the meeting of the 4th of December and is now leading on to a negotiating process to begin on 16 January."

At their first face to face meeting in four years, on December 4 President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash agreed to begin UN-led direct talks with no preconditions, with all issues on the table, and said they would continue to negotiate in good faith until a comprehensive settlement is achieved and that nothing will be agreed until everything is agreed.

Lord Hannay said that the EU Laeken summit had unreservedly welcomed these initiatives and added that "there is a real prize to be obtained which is to get a settlement under the UN aegis and see a reunited Cyprus join the EU."

He said he would be working for a settlement but pointed out that this issue is not for outsiders to settle but for the Cypriots.

"The future of the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots is going to be decided by yourselves and not somebody else," Hannay told journalists, explaining that outsiders have the task of "helping but not interfering with the peace process."

Asked if he believed whether it is possible to find a solution within the next six months, he replied "yes".

Hannay dismissed press suggestions that Britain has prepared proposals for the two sides, adding that it is not his job to do that.

Denktash has said that the problem should be solved by June 2002, a statement President Clerides welcomed.

Asked whether he will be here during the negotiations, Hannay said he will be here "when needed."

On his part, Christofias said he had an in depth discussion with Lord Hannay about the latest developments in the peace process and expressed hope a solution can be found prior to EU accession.

"I have assured Lord Hannay that our side will show all the good will to help reach a settlement, as we need a settlement," Christofias said.

Tomorrow Hannay will have a working breakfast with President Clerides and later on meet Denktash.

Prior to his departure tomorrow afternoon, Hannay will give a press conference.

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