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Washington pledges USD 400 million for Annan plan implementation
2004-04-15 19:10:02

by Rebekah Gregoriades

Brussels, Apr 15 (CNA) -- The US Agency for International Development has pledged 400 million US dollars towards covering the cost of the implementation of the Cyprus settlement plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which is set to be put to referenda on April 24.

The Agency's Administrator Andrew Natsios told an international pre-donors' conference today in Brussels that implementing the terms of the Annan plan will require sizeable financial and technical resources, which are not available to Cypriots, and urged other donor governments and international organisations to make a similar commitment.

In his remarks to the pre-donors' conference, Natsios said the US "supports the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented in Switzerland on March 31," adding that "this is a momentous opportunity for Cypriots, it is an opportunity to change their future and to create a better Cyprus for generations to come."

"The US government believes that this plan presents the best and last opportunity for a united Cyprus to join the EU on May 1. Like all worthwhile endeavours, this new beginning holds uncertainty and risk. For all its drawbacks, the status quo is familiar, and therefore, manageable," he said.

Natsios added that "Cypriots must make a heroic decision," noting that "no compromise solution can bring complete satisfaction for all."

He said "implementing the terms of the plan, especially the critically important provisions on territorial adjustment, property compensation, and reinstatement of property will require sizeable financial and technical resources, which are not available to Cypriots," noting that "these are unique, not recurrent costs."

"We are here today to offer a concrete demonstration of support. Given a positive outcome from the April 24 referenda in both Cypriot communities, the US pledges a total of USD 400 million, pending congressional authorisation, to support peace in Cyprus. USD 100 million of that amount would be available to meet immediate needs. We recognise that the need for international support will continue during the early transition. And so, we pledge the remaining USD 300 million, to be appropriated in future budgets, for a total of USD 400 million," he said.

Natsios urged "other donor governments and international organisations to make a similar commitment."

In statements to the press, Natsios said Cyprus, "although not a large country, has influence far beyond the confines of the island."

Asked if there was a possibility of delaying the April 24 referenda, Natsios said this would be "a serious mistake," noting that "delay is the enemy of a settlement, the vote needs to take place on April 24."

He added that he did not think it was likely that the UN would postpone the referenda.

Responding to questions, Natsios noted that the cost of one billion US dollars for the implementation of the Annan plan was an estimate and did "not know for sure what the final cost will be."

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