US discussing Cyprus with EU; UN plan still on table
Washington, Dec 18 (CNA) - White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said the United States ''fully supports the UN Secretary General's efforts to forge a Cyprus settlement, and we concur with his assessment that the Cyprus settlement plan he tabled in March and which Turkish Cypriots accepted remains on the table, unchanged.''
Furthermore, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said the Cyprus problem comes up in conversations Secretary of State Colin Powell has with European leaders, ''because it is one of the issues that is being discussed in Europe,'' noting that ''obviously the United States has an interest in that, Turkey has had an interest in that, and I think we will continue to work together, along with others, to try to help resolve that.''
Commenting on the European Council's decision to grant Turkey a date to open accession negotiations for EU membership, McClellan welcomed the decision and said ''Turkey's full integration into the European Union will be good for Europe and the world.''
Powell's statement, which was read out to the press by Boucher, was along the same lines. ''The United States welcomes the decision by the EU to begin accession negotiations with Turkey on October 3rd, 2005. We congratulate both the EU and Turkey on this historic day,'' Powell says.
Replying to questions at his press briefing, Boucher said ''the Europeans and the Turkish government have worked on the issues involved in Turkish entry'' to the EU and ''we have also all worked on trying to solve the Cyprus problem.''
''There were certain matters related to Cyprus that the EU and Turkey appear to have moved, have worked out. Not questions of settlement or even questions of recognition, just some questions about how it is handled in the accession process. We are glad that they have done that,'' Boucher said.
He noted that ''it is not a question of reviewing the entire Cyprus issue,'' adding that ''we know that the United States worked hard over the years to try to bring about a settlement.''
''We had the Annan plan. We had a positive vote among the Turkish Cypriots and a negative vote among the Greek Cypriots. That is where we remain. We are trying to open up some space with the Turkish Cypriots and keep their interest in a settlement. But at this point, we will just have to see what happens in Cyprus,'' he added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. A fifth version of a solution plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was put to the two communities on the island at separate simultaneous referenda in April 2004.