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Straw: UN proposals best opportunity for a prosperous Cyprus
2002-12-03 14:56:13

Constantinople, Dec 3 (CNA) ? British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the UK believes that the proposals of the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan form the best opportunity for a stable and prosperous future for both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

In statements in Ankara, Straw said he hoped that there would be progress on the Secretary-General's proposals submitted early November and that it would be possible to come to an agreement before December 12 when the Copenhagen European Council will take place.

Straw said he discussed with Turkey's President Ahmet Sezer and leader of the Justice and Development Party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the "issue of Cyprus and the recommendations and proposals from the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan".|

"We in the United Kingdom government believe that this represents the best opportunity there is for a stable and prosperous future for both the Greek- Cypriot and the Turkish-Cypriot communities on the island of Cyprus", Straw said.

The Foreign Secretary said he discussed "the progress that we wish to see made to agree these proposals and our hope that it may be possible to agree them before 12 December".

Straw was expected to meet Prime Minister Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis.

Regarding Turkey, Straw referred to the "very important constitutional and legislative changes, which have been made here in Turkey over the last 18 months".

"I think this progress on reform and change here in Turkey is very impressive and is one more reason why we in the United Kingdom government are so actively in support of Turkey's application for membership of the European Union and for, as our Prime Minister has told our Parliament, a firm date to be set for the beginning of these negotiations".

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory. The island is expected to finalise accession negotiations with the European Union by the end of the year.


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