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2003-05-15 17:40:31

May 9, 2003
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker΄s announced policy of January 7, 2003, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.

Mr. Speaker, if I could just turn to another foreign policy issue and then I will conclude this afternoon. I have been very concerned over the last month or so about the fact that even though the time seems to be right for a settlement between the Greek and Turkish sides in Cyprus that it has not occurred, and we still have not had negotiations start up again since they fell apart a couple of months ago. And I basically came to the floor this evening to highlight actions taken last week by President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos that will help continue the process of reunifying the people of the island of Cyprus despite the fact that a political settlement has still not been reached over Turkey΄s 29-year illegal occupation of 37 percent of the island.

On April 30, President Papadopoulos announced several measures aimed at enabling citizens living in the Turkish-occupied territory the ability to enjoy all the benefits other citizens of Cyprus enjoy. The President and the Council of Ministers finalized measures covering the fields of transportation, including the movement of goods and vehicles, employment of Turkish Cypriots, measures to help relatives of missing Turkish Cypriots and critical measures working for the improvement of medical care, education, and telecommunications.

While the President said that his government will do everything in its power to effectively implement these measures, he also strongly stated that these measures should not be interpreted as a substitute for the efforts to reach a political settlement in Cyprus.

Mr. Speaker, these measures show the length the Cypriot Government is willing to go to ensure that Turkish Cypriots no longer have to endure the poor economic conditions they have been living under since the occupation in 1974. The measures come less than 2 months after peace negotiations came to an end thanks to the intransigence of Turkish-Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash. Despite the giant setback, President Papadopoulos stressed the Greek Cypriot side will not only continue efforts to reach a solution but also once again pledge to continue the efforts for a Cyprus settlement that would properly serve the interests of both Cyprus communities, and the President΄s action last week clearly shows he plans to back these words up with action.

Mr. Speaker, over the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed another milestone, the free movement of Cypriots from both sides of the wall, something that has not occurred since the occupation. The action came after the Turkish Cypriot regime eased restrictions on movements of residents to and from the occupied areas. At the same time, the Turkish Cypriot regime said it would allow Greek Cypriots to cross into the occupied areas but put restrictions on this travel, including the showing of passports. The United Nations estimates that since the easing of restrictions, more than 170,000 Greek Cypriots have crossed into the occupied area, while 75,000 Turkish Cypriots have made the reverse trip.

This peaceful and orderly movement of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots during the last couple of weeks clearly demonstrates their shared desire and ability to live together on a reunited Cyprus. The actions have also disproved Denktash΄s claim that the presence of the occupation army and the maintenance of a dividing wall area are necessary for the security of the two communities. It shows his statements to be both false and, I think, totally unfounded.

Mr. Speaker, I continue to believe that the only solution to the Cyprus question must be sought through negotiations conducted on the basis of the Kofi Annan United Nations plan, and I also continue to believe that the Bush administration did not put enough pressure on the Turkish Government to force Denktash to negotiate in good faith. Turkey must finally realize that by supporting Denktash΄s intransigence, it is causing harm to its own long-term interests as a potential full member of the European Union. After the setback of the U.N. efforts, the Bush administration must redouble its effort to persuade Turkey and the Turkey-Cypriot leader to work constructively within the U.N. process to achieve a negotiated settlement to end the division of Cyprus; and I am hopeful, Mr. Speaker, that the Bush administration will change its policy and finally exert pressure on the Turkish Government.

I think it is time for all the citizens of Cyprus to be reunified so they can all reap the economic awards available with the nation΄s recent accession to the European Union; and I only hope that both these cases, in both the cases of Cyprus and Northern Ireland, that we can see a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

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