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Bryza: ''Α special opportunity for a Cyprus settlement''
2009-07-02 14:40:19

Nicosia, Jun 30 - US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza spoke on Tuesday of a special opportunity for a Cyprus settlement, adding that the international community ''wants to make sure that this special opportunity is not missed''.

In a press conference upon the completion of his visit to Cyprus, Mr. Bryza praised the commitment showed by the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

''We have never been at a point like this where the Cypriot people themselves, their leadership have designed the ideas that are on the table, without any outside assistance. For the first time we have two pro-solution leaders leading both communities, we could never say that in the past,'' he said.

President Christofias and Mr. Talat began UN-led talks in September 2008 with a view to reach a mutually agreed settlement to the Cyprus problem, in what has been called ''a Cyprus-driven procedure''.

''The international community is ready to do whatever the parties would like. But these sorts of opportunities do not come all that often historically,'' Mr. Bryza said.

Welcoming the decision taken by the leaders of the two communities for the opening of Limnitis crossing point as ''a concrete contribution to accelerating the efforts of the parties to find a solution,'' Mr. Bryza announced that the US is ''ready to offer financial assistance, if the parties seek it, to help the reopening of Limnitis crossing go forward even faster.''

Replying to questions, Mr. Bryza expressed the conviction that a solution by the end of 2009 is possible. ''Seeing how the talks are proceeding it is evident to me and my humble judgment that that is possible,'' he said.

''There are no deadlines but of course obviously the process cannot go on forever. I mentioned earlier that we have this special opportunity right now with two pro-settlement leaders of both communities and strong interest by the international (community) and an international timetable that has provided incentives for the parties to more forward. So there is a confluence of positive factors like this on any issue only on limited time on any issues,'' he said.

Mr. Bryza was asked whether this international timeframe concerns the European Commission's assessment the coming December, on whether Turkey, has implemented the additional protocol to its customs union with the EU, opening its ports to ships under Cypriot flag.

''Everybody knows that Turkey has obligated itself to fulfill the additional Ankara protocol and to reopen its ports to Cypriot vessels,'' Mr. Bryza said, noting that this issue does not concern the US government but the EU and Turkey.

Mr. Bryza reiterated his country support to Turkey's accession to the EU, provided it fulfills the EU criteria, adding that ''the Turkish government has provided Mr. Talat space to negotiate in good faith.''

Replying to a question how Turkey is granting Mr. Talat space to negotiate when Turkish officials speak of two peoples and two states in Cyprus, Mr. Bryza said the democratically elected government in Turkey encourages, presses and wants a solution.

Noting that during ''private meetings with senior Turkish officials it appears that they do support this idea of bi-zonal, bi-communal federation that would reunify the island,'' Bryza added that ''what politicians say in public, well, that differs some times.''

''Now is the time for all of the leaders who are committed to such a settlement by the Cypriot people to let the Cypriot people do this on their own and I do feel that is happening'', he said.

Asked whether the two communities in Cyprus requested any assistance from the US, Mr. Bryza said no help was requested, adding ''the parties are doing fine on their own.''

Asked whether Turkey's objection to the Cyprus government's oil explorations in the Exclusive Economic Zone, Mr.Bryza said the energy dispute is ''a commercial and legal matter,'' adding ''I see no reason why this dispute has an impact on the negotiations.''

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