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Under Secretary of State Grossman remarks on Cyprus and Turkey
2002-11-07 18:24:05

November 4, 2002 (extract from the remarks of Under Secretary Grossman to the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, on US-Greece Relations, Athens)

"....Between now and the December 12 EU Summit in Copenhagen, we have an opportunity to achieve two important goals -- dare I say simultaneously -- for the region: a settlement in Cyprus and advancement of Turkey's EU candidacy.

On October 25, the European Union announced its determination to conclude accession negotiations with Cyprus. We support the accession of Cyprus to the EU, and believe that the accession process provides an incentive to a settlement. We also support the UN Good Offices Mission and the EU Council's decision at Helsinki.

I believe President Clerides and Mr. Denktash want history to know them as peacemakers and they can. This is the best chance we have had in over a decade -- perhaps longer -- to resolve the Cyprus problem. The whole international community stands ready to support the agreement they reach.

But a Cyprus settlement is not the only opportunity that exists this Fall. The Copenhagen EU Summit, like the 1999 Helsinki Summit, offers an opportunity for the EU to take further bold steps that have already contributed to the historic reforms in Turkey. While credit goes to the Turks first and foremost for what they have done in their own interest, it is fair to say that the groundbreaking August 3 reforms -- which reflect the desire of the Turkish people for enhanced democracy and rule-of-law -- might not have been passed without the EU's 1999 decision that designated Turkey as a candidate for EU membership.

Although we are not members of the EU, and this is an EU decision to make, I agree with Foreign Minister Papandreou that setting a date for Turkey to start accession negotiations would be a remarkable incentive for Turkey to continue along the reform path its people want.

The Government of Greece has recognized the possibilities in these weeks to come. Greece has a crucial role to play in conveying this message to others, not that the rules of the EU should be bent on Turkey's behalf, but rather that the EU should ensure that Turkey has the incentive to keep meeting the standards for membership.

The period to the Copenhagen Summit on December 12 is one of remarkable simultaneous opportunity: Everyone must do their part.

A settlement on Cyprus, Cyprus in the EU, and a Turkey even more securely anchored to the West will profoundly change the region. We have seen this boldness with Greece and Turkey's decisions to cancel military exercises on Cyprus for the foreseeable future. Let us seize the opportunity to change the future of the region......."

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