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Austria says Cyprus' reunification must be based on viable agreement
2005-04-22 14:38:33

Nicosia, Apr 22 (CNA) -- Austria believes the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal state should be based on a viable agreement between the two communities, reached and guaranteed under the United Nations umbrella, and on a solid basis in international law, the first resident Ambassador of Austria to Cyprus Eva Hager said today, presenting her credentials to Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.

Speaking at the formal ceremony for the presentation of the credentials, President Papadopoulos assured that ''we seek an agreed solution that should be the product of negotiations, without strict deadlines and arbitration and which would promote the true reunification of Cyprus, its territory, societies, economy and institutions.''

He also said that ''in view of the recent developments, any new round of negotiations must be very carefully prepared in order to ensure that the negotiations will not be led to a new deadlock and failure.''

The Cypriot President also stressed that ''the Republic of Cyprus will continue to cooperate within the framework of Turkey's accession process, provided that Turkey meets its obligations, as a candidate country, towards the European Union, the Republic of Cyprus and the Conclusions of the 16-17 December 2004 European Council, and acts accordingly.''

Ambassadress Hager noted that ''from the very outset of the establishment of the UN-Force in 1964, Austria has actively contributed to the UN peacekeeping operations and offered its good offices,'' adding that ''Austria is ready to consider further contributions in the light of changing operational needs.''

She noted that ''Austria highly appreciates the support the Republic of Cyprus together with some other countries offered on a multilateral level with respect to promoting a solution to the question of South Tyrol both in advocating a resolution of the Security Council as well as in the relevant debates at the UN General Assembly in the 1960s.''

''Our cooperation in multilateral fora clearly shows that Cyprus has much intuition into Austrian sensitivities whereas Austria understands the concerns of Cyprus, especially with regard to overcoming the divisions between the two Cypriot communities,'' she noted.

She also welcomed the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, noting that ''Cyprus is adding the potential of a stable and amazingly well-performing economy of a small country to Europe, whereas the Union could and should prove its effectiveness as leverage in the process of the reunification of the island.''

Referring to the two countries' bilateral relations, Hager described them as ''very active and dynamic.''

She noted that they are characterised by a dense and vivid exchange both at the highest political level as well as in a wide range of different areas of cooperation between ministries, interest sections and the private sectors.

''Our economic and commercial relations show a high level of mutual benefits with some scope for further increase and improvement,'' she added.

She said that by the establishment of a resident Austrian Embassy in Nicosia, Austria wishes to send a strong signal of appreciation for Cyprus as a new member of the European Union and valorise at the same time the already existing excellent relations to further enhance the benefits for both countries.

Replying, the Cypriot President said ''the opening of the Austrian Embassy in Nicosia contributes to the enhancement of our relations and to the further strengthening of the bonds of friendship and understanding between our peoples.''

He said that within the European Union, Cyprus and Austria have established a close and productive cooperation, noting Cyprus' eagerness to enter into cooperation with Austria in other areas of interest, particularly in the field of health as well as in research and technological development.

As regards efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, he noted that ''we remain deeply committed to a solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, on the basis of the decisions of the Security Council of the United Nations and with full respect of the acquis communautaire, where the human rights of all the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike, will be fully guaranteed and safeguarded.''

He also said that the Anan Plan may provide the basis for a new round of talks, after it has been substantially improved and amended.

''This can only be effected through the removal of provisions of the Plan which render doubtful the functionality and viability of the state and lead to the division of the people, the society and the economy on the island,'' he pointed out, noting that ''we cannot accept provisions that would allow foreign troops and foreign settlers to remain in our country ad infinitum.''

President Papadopoulos said it is important that the post-solution Cyprus will be a state able to meet fully its obligations in the European Union and participate effectively in the Union's institutions and decision-making process, without cumbersome internal constitutional procedures that would render it a second-class member state and unable to perform speedily and effectively its obligations towards the European Union.

He noted that the Cyprus government strongly supports the economic development of the Turkish Cypriots within the framework of respect of international law and the acquis communautaire and in this context has submitted proposals to the European Union in the field of economic aid and trade that would enhance confidence building and cooperation between the two communities, facilitating at the same time the ultimate goal of reunification.

''A significant step towards trust-building between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, would be the realisation of the Government's proposal for the return of the deserted and uninhabited, since 1974, city of Famagusta, to the control of the government of Cyprus, this being combined with the Government's authorisation of the re-opening and operation of Famagusta Port under an independent bicommunal authority and with the supervision of the European Union,'' he said.

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