Klosson says Annan plan unique basis for settlement
Nicosia, May 28 (CNA) - US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson today expressed his country's position that a plan to solve the island's political problem, submitted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, offers a unique basis for a comprehensive settlement, noting that the absence of a solution is not cost free for either side.
In a speech at the Rotary Club of Limassol, under the title ''Toward the Future: Cyprus, the US and Europe'', Klosson noted that while confidence-building measures on the island do not constitute a solution, they improve the atmosphere for pursuing a just and durable settlement.|
He also said that Cyprus' signing of the EU Accession Treaty gives the country not only an opportunity but also the responsibility to step up to a broader role on a wider stage, the stage of Europe.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Klosson said ''the US believes firmly that the Annan plan offers a unique basis for a comprehensive settlement that takes into account the interests and needs of the parties'', adding that ''achieving a just and durable settlement is a top US priority''.
He noted that ''despite our disappointment, the US remains actively engaged in the search for a Cyprus solution'', adding that ''the Annan Plan was carefully crafted in consultation with the parties to be balanced and fair, addressing the needs of both sides''.
''It is by far the most comprehensive attempt at a settlement, although not everyone can be satisfied'', he said, noting that the plan can be modified through negotiation but ''expectations that drastic improvements may be achieved through negotiation must be tempered by realism''.
Klosson noted that ''the absence of a solution is not cost free for either side'', adding that ''restrictions certainly retard development in the north, but uncertainty about the future casts a shadow over the entire island, inhibiting Cypriots from achieving their full potential''.
Referring to the easing by the Turkish occupation regime of restrictions on the free movement of citizens, Klosson said ''the myth that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have to be kept apart to preserve peace has been exploded''.
Klosson noted that while confidence-building measures are not a solution, they ''improve the atmosphere for pursuing a just and durable settlement''.
On Cyprus' signing of the EU Accession Treaty last month, Klosson said ''accession gives Cyprus not only an opportunity but also the responsibility to step up to a broader role on a wider stage, the stage of Europe''.
''As the easternmost corner of the EU, Cyprus clearly can be a critical bridge, geographically and metaphorically, between Europe and the Middle East'', he said.
Referring to the US relationship with the EU, Klosson said it is ''all synergy and cooperation'', noting that despite some ''rough times'' in the past, ''our strong cooperation and collaboration have continued in critical areas''.
''Similarly, as Cyprus joins the European family, we cannot expect that our relationship with Cyprus as part of the EU will be free of disagreement. But we believe that the relationship between Europe and the US is a strong one, able to withstand disagreement, and this holds true for Cyprus as well'', he said.
On the Middle East, Klosson said developments can have a significant impact not only in the eastern Mediterranean, but also in Europe and the world, adding that ''the US and Europe have every reason to work together here to promote peace and stability''.
Referring to the ''war on terror'', Klosson said that terrorist attacks ''call for maximum effort by the international community to cut off terrorist finances, disrupt their planning, intercept their movement and just stop them in their tracks'', adding that ''vigilance and prevention are the watchwords for citizens and authorities everywhere, including in Cyprus''.
Concluding his speech, Klosson noted that ''at this time of regional and global opportunities and challenges, the US counts on our strong relationship with Cyprus to achieve success, success in our economies, success in the war on terrorism''.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The most recent effort to reach a settlement on the basis of the Annan plan collapsed due to the stance of the Turkish side.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY