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Two more Congressmen speak out on the Collapse of the Talks
2003-03-27 17:17:02

Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-NE)
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 25, 2003
CYPRUS PEACE SETTLEMENT

(Mr. DOUG BEREUTER (R-NE) asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks and include therein extraneous material.)

Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, last November U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan proposed a comprehensive framework for a just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem. He then asked the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to accept the plan by February 28. Because of the forthcoming EU membership for at least the Greek portion of Cyprus and other factors of leverage, this was the best opportunity in decades for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

When neither side could resolve their problems by the end of February, the Secretary General asked the two leaders to meet in The Hague on March 10 to sign an agreement to put the framework to simultaneous referenda on the island.

Two weeks ago, we learned with great disappointment that the Secretary General was told by Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash that he could not accept the settlement plan and would not agree to the referenda despite the fact that informal polling indicated that the majority of the Turkish Cypriots were prepared to support the plan.

Madam Speaker, this Member urges the Greek and Turkish Cypriots to quickly resume negotiations to resolve this problem, to seize this rare opportunity for a peaceful settlement and urge the United Nations and the Bush administration to redouble their efforts to get the talks going once again, and to seek a Cyprus solution which at long last seems to be within our grasp.

Madam Speaker, it was highly regrettable, to this Member, that Mr. Denktash refused to let the Turkish Cypriot people have the opportunity to determine their own future on an agreement which would have reunited the island and which would have served the best interests of the Turkish Cypriot community. This Member was also disappointed with the government of Turkey for their apparent unwillingness to exert influence on Mr. Denktash to agree to the plan at such a critical time.

Attached is a recent editorial from The Economist on this subject.

[From the Economist, Mar. 13, 2003]

SETTLING CYPRUS-WHAT A WASTE

THE COLLAPSE OF TALKS TO REUNITE THE ISLAND MARKS A STUPIDLY MISSED OPPORTUNITY

Over the years it has been hard to apportion blame for the failure of the divided island?s Greek and Turkish leaders to strike a deal to give their people security and prosperity in a loosely federal but reunited Cyprus. Recently, under the blandishments of the United Nations and the European Union, they had come within finger-touching distance of a settlement. All the sadder, then, that this week the Turkish-Cypriots? truculent leader, Rauf Denktash, rejected the UN?s sensible proposals for a deal. The government in mainland Turkey must also share blame by failing to bludgeon Mr. Denktash into accepting the plan. A further gloomy outcome is that, while the island?s Greek-run part will almost certainly join the EU on its own next year and the Turkish part will fester in isolation and poverty, mainland Turkey?s own hopes of starting negotiations to join the Union have been dented too.

Both of the island?s communities had a lot to gain. The Turks would have given back control of around 8% of the island?s territory to the Greeks-a substantial chunk of the land taken in 1974 when the Turkish army intervened after a short-lived Greek-Cypriot coup on the island. The Turks, 18% of the population before the invasion, have since held 37% of the land. The Greek-Cypriots? new president, Tassos Papadopoulos, at first complained that the latest UN compromise did not adequately address his people?s grievances. But he wisely accepted it. This time it is overwhelmingly Mr. Denktash?s fault that a settlement has been blocked.

Indeed, the Turks had even more to gain than the Greeks. They would have kept a vast amount of autonomy in their still disproportionately large zone. They would have enjoyed an influx of EU cash had the whole island been joining the Union next year, not to mention the rapid lifting of sanctions long imposed by the EU against their breakaway statelet.

The Turkish government may have been too preoccupied by the political wrangling and tortuous diplomacy over Iraq (see article). Many of Turkey?s still-too-influential generals see the Turkish-run bit of Cyprus as a strategic asset, while some Turkish politicians regard the island as a bargaining chip in Turkey?s quest to join the EU. They are wrong. Turkey?s failure to persuade Mr. Denktash to say yes to compromise will make it much harder for the EU to smile on its application, due for consideration at the end of next year, to start negotiations to join. Many governments are already queasy about the idea of Turkey as a fellow Euro-club member.

WHAT NEXT?

The UN?s secretary-general, Kofi Annan, had suggested a ruse to force Mr. Denktash?s hand and to strengthen that of the Greek-Cypriots? leader by holding a referendum on the proposals next month-on both sides of the island. Both communities would probably have said yes. But Mr. Denktash wrecked that idea too. If stalemate prevails, as seems likely, Mr. Annan says he will abandon all further efforts to settle Cyprus during his time as UN boss. It would then be up to the EU to reopen proceedings. By the end of this year the Turkish-Cypriots are due for a general election. Mr. Denktash?s opponents on his own side of the island, who approved of Mr. Annan?s plan, may well take power in parliament but the presidential term has a few years yet to run. One day, perhaps mercifully soon, the ailing Mr. Denktash will go. Then, maybe, a fair deal can at last be done. But a golden chance has been stupidly wasted.

The Honorable Jim Langevin (D-RI)

Statement Expressing Dismay over the End of U.N. Negotiations in Cyprus. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 25, 2003


Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Hellenic Caucus, I rise to register my dismay that negotiations between the President of Cyprus, Tassos Papdopoulos, and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on a United Nations settlement plan to reunite Cyprus ended two weeks ago without a final outcome.

Mr. Denktash has put most of the blame on his own shoulders for this lost opportunity. By not allowing the Turkish Cypriots to vote on the UN settlement plan by a referendum, Mr. Denktash has made the decision for the Turkish Cypriots that they will not live under the European Union?s laws or reap its economic benefits. Mr. Denktash should not just look at this as a personal matter, or even a dispute between Turkey and Greece, but should rather take into consideration what is the right choice for the people of Cyprus.

As many other members have expressed, I do not want the recent reunification talks, the fourth attempt since the Turkish invasion of Northern Cyprus in 1974, to end in an impasse. The UN settlement cleared a path for all of Cyprus to unite once again, to share in the European Union?s prosperity, and to end military zones. Now with just the Republic of Cyprus poised and ready for membership into the EU in 2004, a deeper divide between the two sides may grow without a push for future negotiations.

The US must continue its role in supporting negotiations so that there is still potential for all of Cyprus to join the EU. Consequently, I recently sent a letter to President Bush asking that we continue to encourage reunification negotiations in Cyprus. Although frustration levels at this point are high, the US should still play a positive and supportive role that will lead to a final Cyprus settlement. I urge Congress to continue to support Cyprus? membership to the European Union and the United Nations? settlement plan.
Thank you.

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