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British Minister: We look forward to seeing Greek Cypriot proposals
2004-10-21 09:37:23

Nicosia, Oct 21 (CNA) -- Britain is looking forward to seeing Greek Cypriot proposals on moving the process for a Cyprus settlement forward, British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane has said.

He added that ''if we believe the proposals are reasonable and have a realistic chance of success, we will encourage the UN Secretary General to re-engage and put all our resources and influence behind finding a solution that is acceptable to all sides.''

In a statement on the occasion of his arrival in Cyprus this morning MacShane said that ''now that the Turkish Cypriots have turned a page on the past, we need to help them continue on the road towards Europe and reunification,'' noting that doing so will make a solution much more likely, easier to consolidate and less costly.''

''This does not mean we ignore legitimate Greek Cypriot concerns on recognition and property rights. On the contrary, we should ensure that everything that the EU does takes account of these concerns. We have reached agreement on financial assistance with goodwill and dialogue we can do so on trade,'' the British Minister added.

He noted that the issue of direct trade is particularly contentious and expressed the belief that the deep economic divide between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots makes a solution much more difficult.

The British official said his country remains committed to the reunification of Cyprus, adding that ''it is in everyone's interests to see an end to the island's division as soon as possible. We want to work with the Government of Cyprus towards this goal.''

MacShane said he is visiting Cyprus to listen but also to explain Britain's policy and expressed hope to discuss next steps on the Cyprus problem with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Foreign Minister George Iacovou as well as with Turkish Cypriot politician Mehmet Ali Talat and other Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

''We understand the concerns that made Greek Cypriots vote 'no' to the UN plan and look forward to seeing Greek Cypriot proposals on moving the process forward. If we believe the proposals are reasonable and have a realistic chance of success, we will encourage the UN Secretary General to re-engage and put all our resources and influence behind finding a solution that is acceptable to all sides,'' he concluded.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

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