US anticipates to see Cyprus achieve its full potential, says diplomat
Nicosia, Mar 29 (CNA) – US Ambassador in Nicosia Michael Klosson said his country looks forward to the day when Cyprus will be able to achieve its full potential in the EU and the day when the opportunities and responsibilities of the partnership can be shared by all Cypriots alike through a comprehensive solution.
He made the statement addressing a gathering of the Cyprus Fulbright Alumni Association entitled "Freedom: The Mission of American Diplomacy”.
In his speech, Klosson referred to the 1974 coup and Turkey’s military intervention noting they were “disastrous for the island and caused untold suffering to Cypriots from both communities” with substantially increased presence of foreign military forces on the island, stressing that the United States has long opposed the militarization of the island.
"The only realistic way to achieve the vision we all share -- that of a peaceful, stable and reunited Cyprus which puts behind it almost five decades of problems -- is through a comprehensive settlement negotiated by the parties under the auspices of the UN Secretary General’s Mission of Good Offices”, he said.
"We remain committed to supporting the UN Secretary General vigorously in pursuit of a settlement that will resolve all security concerns on the island and see the removal of foreign forces”, Klosson remarked, adding that “the passage of time does not work in favor of a solution”.
Developments create new complications, the ambassador noted, adding that the number of Cypriots, for example, who have first-hand experience of Cyprus’ multicultural heritage continues to decline as the population ages.
At a popular level, Greek and Turkish Cypriots are beginning to get back in touch and interact on a significant scale – about 7 million crossings of the buffer zone to date with no major inter-ethnic incidents, he said, adding there is dialogue between political parties across the Green line.
Klosson repeated that the United States policy on the Cyprus issue has been consistent since the referenda; “We support the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of the UN Secretary General’s settlement plan and in a manner acceptable to majorities on both sides of the island”.
He also said the US supports the UN Secretary-General’s approach calling on the parties to reflect on last year’s referenda and to come up with suggestions on how to move forward, including possible changes they seek in the plan.
The American diplomat said the fundamental question before the international community remains how can at least half of the Greek Cypriots who said “no” last April be encouraged to say “yes” without losing support of a majority of Turkish Cypriots. “A realistic Greek Cypriot response to the Secretary General would make an important contribution to resuming progress toward a comprehensive solution”, Klosson remarked.
Despite the current stalemate, the United States, the US diplomat added, continues to help pave the way for a comprehensive settlement and reunification.
“In order to promote reconciliation and tolerance on the island, we support building bridges between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. For the past three months, we have been actively supporting, for example, match-making activities to help businesses take advantage of the Green Line regulation’s liberalization. This support has already helped businesses on both sides conclude a number of significant deals with many more at various stages of development.
Klosson said the US support for easing the so-called isolation of Turkish Cypriots should be that “to reduce economic disparities between the two sides will enhance, not reduce, the prospects for reunification”.
“Improving the skills, standards and procedures in the north will enhance, not reduce, the workability of a solution. Our efforts over time should help the Turkish Cypriot community better shoulder its share of the economic costs of a settlement. Our measures will help address Greek Cypriot concerns that a settlement will be disproportionately and prohibitively expensive for the Greek Cypriot side. Our measures will also bolster support within the Turkish Cypriot community to continue to back a settlement and reunification”, he added.
At this point Klosson reminded that his country supports a comprehensive settlement negotiated under UN auspices that will reunify Cyprus.
Klosson remarked that Cyprus is now a member of the transatlantic partnership with a very broad common agenda. “We look forward to the day when Cyprus will be able to achieve its full potential in this partnership, the day when the opportunities and responsibilities of the partnership can be shared by all Cypriots alike through a comprehensive solution".
When Cyprus joined the European Union last May, it also joined the transatlantic partnership between the United States and Europe. That opened up a broader agenda of issues, creating new opportunities and new responsibilities. For example, Cyprus now is a member of the largest economic relationship in the world. The U.S. and the EU enjoy a 2 trillion dollar trade and investment relationship that has created millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
Referring to the gathering, Klosson said that said the meeting was held in the J. W. Fulbright Center on the eve of the 100th anniversary of Senator Fulbright’s birth, reminding Fulbright’s 43-year legacy in Cyprus.
"Financial contributions by both the Republic of Cyprus and the United States to the Fulbright programme reflect our common commitment to those noble purposes”, he concluded.