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US: Urgent need to take advantage of the momentum on Cyprus
2006-07-19 11:06:14

Nicosia, Jul 19 -- The recent visit of UN Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambri has created a momentum on the Cyprus question and there is some degree of readiness on both sides of the Green Line to think in creative ways to try to build on the momentum, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza has said.

In statements after meeting with Cyprus Foreign Minister George Lillikas, Bryza said "we will be fully supportive of that process seeking as we always do a reunified island in a bizonal, bicommunal federation."

"There is it seems some momentum toward a comprehensive settlement, thanks to Under-Secretary General Gambari?s visit and thanks to the attitudes I?ve experienced among the leaders on both sides of the island," he noted and added that "there is an urgent need to take advantage of it, to exchange the lists on substantive issues, to get the technical committees working and to move forward on a comprehensive settlement."

Mr. Lillikas, replying to questions, noted that he could not say that Mr. Bryza tried in any way to convince him on the need to promote Turkey?s EU accession course, "given that our position is that we support Turkey?s European course under preconditions and I think that this position is understood today by the US and I hope by our EU partners too."

"If Turkey responds to its obligations, which are in no way associated with developments in Cyprus, and if at the same time we are satisfied, and our European partners as well, on Turkey?s good will, in practice and not in words, the collision of trains, expected in autumn, will not take place," he added, in an apparent reference to possible difficulties when the EU is to assess Turkey's compliance with EU rules and regulations.

He said that if this does not happen, "Cyprus will have no other choice but to choose the lesser of two evils, even if we believe that suspension of Turkey?s negotiations with the EU is not the best option."

"I think that this approach is understood by the US. But I haven?t felt any pressure by the US towards this direction," he added.

He noted that the US are interested in the success of the efforts that began with Mr. Gambari?s visit, "which coincide with our approach for the preparation of a round of negotiations and it is important that there is common ground to this point.?

Mr. Bryza said their meeting was very constructive. "I found our discussion quite insightful, constructive, thinking through these very complex issues I found a very warm spirit, a collaborative spirit and not a pessimistic spirit," he noted.

He noted that so many people have approached the Cyprus problem from the US government, so many times, so many ideas have been tried "and it?s only when there is a spirit that I could feel today and throughout my stay here that I think well we do have a real chance to make progress."

He said he looked forward to continuing this dialogue with the Minister and other officials of the Foreign Ministry and that he leaves here "feeling quite positive and sensing that there is some degree of readiness on both sides of the Green Line to think in creative ways to try to build on the momentum that Under Secretary-General Gambari?s visit created here."

Mr. Lillikas described the meeting as constructive and said Mr. Bryza briefed him on the contacts he had Tuesday with the Turkish Cypriot leadership as well as on those he had in Ankara.

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