US Senator stresses the need for a Cypriot solution
Nicosia, Aug 27 – Any settlement of the Cyprus problem must be from the people of Cyprus, by the people of Cyprus, for the people of Cyprus, without imposed timelines and parameters, Senator Robert Menendez has (D-NJ) stressed.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Congress of the World Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) in Nicosia, Senator Menendez stated that thirty-five years is long enough to wait for a solution that ends the divisions on Cyprus.
“The time has come for the return of refugees to their homes and property, safely, securely, with honor and dignity and with the full expectation of a better future for themselves and their families. The time has come to forge ahead toward a lasting settlement that reflects President Obama’s call before the Turkish Parliament for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation,” he said.
He also said that although thirty-five years is long enough, “it is not in the best interest of the negotiating process to impose arbitrary deadlines or impose parameters. Such conditions, like what we saw in the Annan Plan, would turn back the clock on the progress we are making.”
Senator Menendez said that he has been encouraged by the determination of the President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias in these talks, and that he strongly supports the continuation of the talks. “But I also opposed any artificial deadlines or coercion of the sort that proved to be so counterproductive in 2004, and I believe President Obama and Secretary Clinton share those views,” he pointed out.
Menendez said that he “finds it difficult to believe that Turkey supports the talks. Turkey wants to impose conditions on property occupied by the settlers, and wants to insist on being the guarantor of Turkish Cypriots’ security. “Insisting on terms that undermine the sovereignty of a member state of the EU, that is not being supportive of any talks,” he stressed.
Referring to the policy of President Obama’s Administration, Senator Menendez said that this should be based on principles and values. “Let us urge reasonable settlement proposals that are consistent with our principles and values as reflected in the criteria for membership in the European Union. Let us overcome the history of punitive actions taken against the government of Cyprus since Greek Cypriots exercised their democratic right in 2004 to not accept a foreign drafted constitution for their country,” he added.
The US official expressed optimism about the ongoing negotiation process. “Looking at the negotiations moving forward, let no one think Cyprus can afford either error or inaction. Let no one think a solution will come quickly. But let us remain cautiously optimistic as we are today that progress can and will continue to be made. That, ultimately, a solution will be a Cypriot solution, and will be achieved without arbitration, without timelines or time constraints,” he stated.
He also reiterated the importance “that Turkey give the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community the latitude to negotiate a good faith solution, one that is within the established framework, and that Ankara will see fit to facilitate that solution with the removal of its troops from Cyprus.”
“For those who might argue that Cyprus may not want a solution, let me remind them: Who was invaded, who lost their homes, who are refugees, who remain occupied, who sought to start these negotiations? The answer to that is Greek Cypriots and the Government of Cyprus,” he stressed.
Finally, Menendez said that the Greek Cypriots have his hand in friendship and the power of his office as a US Senator, and the use of “that power until that day in which the last boot of the last Turkish soldier leaves the island of Cyprus so the occupation and division can end once and for all and once again Cyprus can be reunited between Greek and Turkish Cypriots,” he concluded.