Members of Congress Renew Calls for Cyprus Reunification
Cypriot President, President Bush, US Representatives, and Governor Pataki commemorate Anniversary of Cypriot Independence and call for solution
Speaking at a special event to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the independence of Cyprus on October 1st, President Tassos Papadopoulos stated: ?We, the people of Cyprus, have the right and the obligation to celebrate the founding and the birth of our State. If today, the Republic of Cyprus is an equal member of the United Nations; if today, we are only seven months away from our official accession to the European Union, it is because forty-three years ago we won and preserved ? through hard struggle ? our statehood and international recognition as an independent, sovereign and lawful State.?
With the accession of Cyprus to the European Union (E.U.), President Papadopoulos noted: "The Cyprus problem now takes on a European perspective and prospect," adding that a viable and functional solution of the Cyprus issue "now becomes the wish, demand and aim of the European Union."
On the proposal by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to reunify Cyprus -- which Turkey?s military occupation keeps forcibly divided -- Mr. Papadopoulos reiterated that the Greek Cypriot side accepts the plan as a basis for negotiations. He expressed hope that "through negotiations, without terms and preconditions, we will achieve improvements to the Annan plan that will render the solution of the Cyprus issue more functional and thus viable."
The President explained that the components of a ?functional and viable solution? are: "the reunification of our people and our country, the abolition of dividing lines, the withdrawal of Turkish troops and settlers, the safeguarding of the fundamental freedoms and human rights, and the establishment of the basic preconditions for the smooth operation of the State."
He emphasized that: ?all our suggestions for improvements are within the parameters of the Annan plan and its philosophy, and more and more people involved in the process recognize the validity of our arguments and the need for amendments, especially as regards the economic provisions of the plan and those regarding our constructive participation in EU procedures."
He added that these improvements will also serve the interests of Turkish Cypriots, who desire to be a part of a reunified Cyprus when the Republic becomes a full member of the EU in May 2004.
President Bush Sends Warm Congratulations
U.S. President George W. Bush joined many other world leaders in congratulating Cyprus on its independence. In a warm message to President Papadopoulos, Mr. Bush stated:
?I extend my warmest greetings to you and the people of the Republic of Cyprus as you celebrate your Independence Day on October 1. The American people join in me welcoming the occasion and reaffirming the strong friendship between our two countries. The United States remains as firm as ever in its commitment to finding a comprehensive, just and lasting solution on the basis of U.N. Secretary General Annan?s plan to the differences that have divided Cyprus for far too long. I share you oft-expressed hope that it will be reunited Cyprus that joins the European Union on May 1st of next year. As we continue to work hard on this issue in the months ahead, I greatly appreciate your commitment and leadership. My best wishes to you and the people of Cyprus for the year ahead. May it be a year of peace of prosperity.?
Congress Salutes Cyprus Independence
On Capitol Hill, Members of Congress saluted the independence of Cyprus while expressing support for the country?s re-unification. Among those members marking the Independence of Cyprus:
Rep. Robert E. Andrews of New Jersey: ?At this crucial juncture, it is absolutely imperative that the United States government continues to show support for reunification of Cyprus. Fueled by international support, the Greek and Turkish Cypriots will continue their calls for reunification, and the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot leadership may be persuaded to reconsider their positions. In an effort to advance the peace process in Cyprus, I have introduced a bill, H. Res. 320, which calls for the removal of Turkish troops from the island.?
Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada: ?The government of Cyprus is to be commended for its continued efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the nearly thirty-year-old Turkish occupation. I?m proud that the United States has repeatedly supported international efforts, including dozens of United Nations? resolutions, to resolve this dispute. The international community clearly is in agreement that reunification underline any future settlement.?
Rep. Michael Bilirakis of Florida: ?As the Republic of Cyprus celebrates its 43rd Independence Day, I share the Cypriots? joy for having created a prosperous, open society based on solid foundations. Furthermore, I believe this is an opportunity for the United States of America and Cyprus to come closer together, as we stand united in our resolve to fight the battle on terrorism.?
Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York: ?Today--after 43 years of independence--Cyprus continues to grow economically, develop democratically and foster regional stability as it takes momentous steps toward joining the European Union. ? The accession of Cyprus will proceed whether it is as an island with a partition or as an island newly reunified. The positive impact of the forthcoming EU accession will bring great benefits to all Cypriots both Greek and Turkish. ? Having looked out across the Green line during my last visit to Cyprus, I strongly believe that the unification of Cyprus into a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation--as called for by United Nations Security Council resolutions--is the only solution that can guarantee economic development and equal political representation for all inhabitants of the island.?
Rep. Rush D. Holt of New Jersey: ?While the Cyprus problem continues to elude a final, just, and peaceful solution, never before in the 29 years since Turkish forces split the island in two, have Cypriots been so close to a settlement. And yet they are so far away. ? I will continue to do what I can in Congress to support a Cyprus solution based on the Annan plan. I will continue to urge the Bush administration to convince the Turks in Ankara that a solution in Cyprus will provide the gateway to Turkey's own goals of a European future.?
Rep. James R. Langevin of Rhode Island: ?I urge the Turkish government to take steps toward uniting Cyprus and also put pressure on Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, who has fallen out of line with the wishes of his people. The majority of Turkish Cypriots want to have the equality and prosperity of their neighbors. As the Republic of Cyprus has stood by the United States during its war on terrorism, we must continue to support negotiations so that all sides benefit from reunification. There is still potential for all of Cyprus to join the EU with continued support from the European Union and the United Nations. It may be a long road to mend the strains between Turkey and Greece, but reuniting Cyprus is an important step in the right direction.?
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York: ?Cyprus was among the first nations to express its solidarity with the United States immediately following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Cyprus has taken many concrete and active steps to target the perpetrators, collaborators and financiers of terrorism. ? However, the commemoration of Cyprus Independence Day this year, as in the past, is clouded by the fact that 37 percent of the Mediterranean island nation's territory continues to be illegally occupied by the Turkish military forces, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.?
Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey: ?Since the end of 80 years of British rule in 1960, this remarkable island of Cyprus and its people have endured great hardships and great triumphs. Despite being divided for the past 29 years, Cypriots have not given up hope to one-day see the end of the Turkish occupation and the reunification of the island. I recently traveled to Cyprus in August; and I firmly believe that all people, Greek, Turkish, Armenian and all of the inhabitants of the island, want to see the end of the intransigence of the Turkish leaders and greet each other as fellow citizens once again.?
?Republic of Cyprus Independence Day? Declared in New York
In New York State, Governor George Pataki proclaimed October 1st as ?Republic of Cyprus Independence Day.? In his proclamation, Governor Pataki asserted that efforts being made by the world community to resolve the Cyprus issue have increased awareness of Cyprus and its people. Mr. Pataki noted that recognition of the independence of Cyprus calls to mind in many people ''its illegal occupation by Turkey in the northern part of the one true Republic and the sense of injustice Greek Cypriots feel in this matter continues to be a source of disheartenment and dismay.''