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2003-04-11 18:35:26

U.S. House of Representatives Unanimously Supports Renewed Effort to Find ?Peaceful, Just and Lasting Settlement? to Cyprus Problem

House Expresses ?Very Strong Regret? that Turkish Cypriot Leader Rejected U.N. Framework; Urges Conclusion of Agreement to Reunite Island

In a strong expression of Congressional commitment to a comprehensive solution for the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of the United Nations parameters rejected last month by the Turkish side, the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously on April 10 to approve House Resolution 165, which calls for a renewed effort to find "a peaceful, just and lasting settlement to the Cyprus problem." The resolution was introduced by Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-NE), Chairman of the European Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, and was approved by a vote of 422-0.

In Washington, Cyprus' Ambassador to the United States Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis stated: "The House Resolution is a strong vote of appreciation for the efforts of the UN Secretary General and of strong support for a peaceful, just and durable settlement to the Cyprus problem. The Republic of Cyprus is grateful to Chairman Bereuter for his initiative and to our many friends in the US Congress and applauds its commitment and deliberative contribution to bringing lasting peace through the reunification of our country for the benefit of all the people of Cyprus."

The Resolution expresses the House of Representatives' "very strong regret that Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, rejected the comprehensive settlement offered by the Secretary General and, by refusing to offer the settlement proposal to referenda, denied the Turkish Cypriot community the opportunity to determine their own future." The measure also states that the House "remains committed, despite the recent setback, to giving any assistance necessary for finding a just and durable settlement for the Cyprus problem and urges the maximum effort by the United States Government and others to redouble their efforts to seek a just and lasting settlement to the Cyprus problem."

Speaking from the House floor during debate on the resolution, Chairman Bereuter put the intent of Congress in context, noting that "an historic moment in the history of Cyprus was about to be lost if the momentum which had been building over the past 2 years to bring about a resolution of the Cyprus problem was allowed to slip away. ?House Resolution 165 commends the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, for his tireless efforts to seek a resolution to the Cyprus problem."

Several other House members took the floor or submitted statements to speak on behalf of a reunified Cyprus. Here are excerpts from their remarks:

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA):

"On July 20, 1974, thousands of Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island, which since that time has been separated by a green line, actually a line of barbwire, analogized by Mr. Bereuter to the Berlin Wall. ? Nicosia today is the only divided capital in the world.

Today Turkey maintains 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus and that area is one of the most highly militarized areas of the world."

Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL):

"With Cyprus poised to join the European Union in May 2004, Secretary General Annan chose to get personally involved in bringing the two sides together, asking the two community leaders to put the U.N. plan before their people in a referendum. President Papadopoulos of Cyprus said he was prepared to do so. Unfortunately, Mr. Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, was not prepared to agree to put the plan to a referendum.

It is a shame that the Secretary General's personal diplomacy was met by this kind of flat-out rejection. The bill expresses strong disappointment that the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, rejected the comprehensive settlement offered by Secretary General Annan, thereby denying the Turkish Cypriot people the opportunity to determine their own future.?

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ):

?Despite the lack of a settlement, Cyprus' European Union accession is going forward. Next Wednesday, April 16, is the date of the signing ceremony of the accession treaty in Athens. The Republic of Cyprus will join with nine other nations in signing the treaty. Sadly, however, the residents of the Turkish-occupied areas will be left out, due to the obstinate Mr. Denktash and his short-sighted supporters in Ankara.

I am encouraged that the statements coming out of the State Department have expressed regret over Mr. Denktash's refusal to let the Turkish Cypriots vote on a referendum. I would be further encouraged if the administration put the necessary pressure on Turkey to be part of the solution and not just part of the problem. Mr. Annan stressed that ?my plan is still on the table,? and I am sure that the Security Council will suggest that we go forward with the U.N. plan. But Mr. Denktash and the government of Turkey must understand that there are costs for walking away from the table and benefits to be derived if they cooperate with the U.N. process.

I still believe that the U.S. and this administration can do a lot more to put pressure on Turkey to go ahead with the U.N. plan and try to come to some sort of settlement. I am hopeful and I know that this resolution will help in that regard, and that is why we should all support it.?

Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA):

?Rauf Denktash, the self-styled head of the Cypriot separatists, refused to negotiate in good faith to resolve this 30-year-old dispute. In fact, Denktash went so far as to refuse to put a Cyprus peace agreement to his people in a referendum. His refusal is likely because he knows full well that even the Turkish Cypriots he purports to represent would embrace peace if given the opportunity.?

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY):

?According to the report of the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, released on April 7, and I would like to put his testimony into the record, ?In the case of the failure of this latest effort, I believe that Mr. Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, bears prime responsibility.?

Despite my concerns and disappointment, I appreciate the comments of President Papadopoulos, who has stated that the Greek Cypriot side will ?continue the efforts for reaching a solution to the Cyprus question both before and after Cyprus joins the EU.??

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ):

?Tens of thousands of Cypriots have taken to the streets in recent months, particularly in the Turkish areas, in support of this settlement, but Denktash ultimately imperiled the recent round of talks by refusing to take the plan directly to the Turkish Cypriot people for a referendum.

We must not accept the end of this latest round of talks as the end of the road. Peace rarely comes easily. Peace in Cyprus is still possible, and as Cyprus prepares to enter the European Union, let us do our part to get the peace process back on track.?

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY):

?Indeed, the Turkish intransigence hurts first and foremost Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots themselves. The failure of the unification endeavors complicates Ankara's own efforts to join the EU. The European Commission warned Turkey after the breakdown of the talks that the Greek Cypriot part of the island is going to join the EU in May 2004 with or without the Turkish Cypriots. But without an agreement on the Cyprus issue, Turkey will be in a position of not recognizing a member of the European Union.?

Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL): ?It is going to take an even greater commitment from the United States and the international community to a achieve lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue. I believe the debate we are engaged in today is a clear signal that Congress will remain firmly engaged on this issue, and that we are serious about achieving a comprehensive settlement that benefits both Greek and Turkish Cypriots as well as the entire region.?

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) :

?The European Commission clearly and unequivocally has linked Turkey's ambitions to join the EU to a solution to the conflict. Turkey is eager to join the EU, and the Turks of Cyprus, isolated and living in poverty, look forward to sharing the benefits of EU membership. One only has to look to the massive rallies recently held by Turkish Cypriots in support of a resolution.?
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