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2003-05-15 17:37:11

CYPRUS -- (House of Representatives - May 13, 2003)

(Mr. BEREUTER asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. BEREUTER. (R-NE) Mr. Speaker, several weeks ago, this House for the first time in 6 years spoke unanimously and decisively on the current situation involving Cyprus. On March 27, this body voted 422-0 to express our disappointment that a United Nations-backed settlement plan would not be presented to the people of Cyprus for their consideration. The resolution, introduced by this Member, also called for the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to quickly return to the negotiating table to find a fair and lasting settlement acceptable to all.

Since passage of that resolution, two extraordinary events have taken place on that divided island. The first took place over Easter holiday when Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Rauf Denktash, announced a freedom of movement policy whereby the border separating the two sides would be open for the free passage of the island's population. In another welcome move shortly thereafter, the Cyprus Government announced that it was initiating 19 confidence-building measures. Some of those included lifting of trade restrictions between the north and the south and the de-mining of the Greek Cypriot side of the buffer zone.

Mr. Speaker, whatever the impact the actions of this House had on events which have taken place on Cyprus, a new and positive attitude has taken hold on that island. This Member would like to commend Mr. Denktash for taking the bold and most welcome actions he initiated. In addition, this Member wishes to offer a special note of congratulations to President Papadopoulos for the comprehensive and impressive measures his government has put forward and has begun to implement.

Others include the hiring of Turkish Cypriot professionals in the Cyprus Government; restoration of direct telecommunications between the Greek Cypriot side and the north as well as with Turkey; permitting Turkish Cypriot athletes to participate as members of national sporting teams of the Republic of Cyprus; improved health care opportunities for Turkish Cypriots; and an accounting of missing personnel, just to name a few.

Of further interest, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan traveled to north Cyprus last weekend. It was this Member's hope that the visit would help pave the way for the eventual resumption of settlement negotiations between the two Cypriot sides. In the meantime, however, it was also this Member's hope that Turkey could be helpful in building confidence on the island by announcing several new initiatives as well. These could include the demining of the Turkish side to the buffer zone; placing the town of Famagusta under U.N. control for its reconstruction and return of its original inhabitants; addressing the issue of the enclaved people living in northern Cyprus, and to restart the missing persons' investigative committee.

Mr. Speaker, while open borders, telecommunications and demining will not ultimately settle the division of the island, these measures, hopefully, will lead to more trust and a willingness to quickly resume the negotiations, and find a settlement for this division, which is the strong desire of this House.

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