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Weston: a settlement is possible by end of February
2003-01-16 10:03:51

Larnaca, Jan 16 (CNA) ? US State Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, said he very much believes that a settlement is possible and should be accomplished by the end of February, the timeframe which was set in a revised UN plan for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

Speaking on arrival to the island where he will hold meetings in the next couple of days before departing on Saturday, Weston said the date was necessary to give time to incorporate the settlement into the accession treaty and prepare the referenda, in order to make it an effective settlement.

Weston, who came to the island after trips to Athens and Ankara, said he had been "watching developments taking place on the island, particularly in the north, and discussing them in both Athens and Ankara".|

He was indirectly referring to the mass rally held on Tuesday in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus where about 60 thousand people demonstrated in favour of a Cyprus settlement, accession to the European Union (EU) and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's removal.

Weston referred to the Copenhagen European Council, saying that although it was not possible to have a Cyprus agreement, "we had a good result at that Council anyway" with Cyprus receiving its invitation for accession to the EU, without any conditions, something which the US "view that as a very positive result", he said.

Copenhagen also offered a date for the beginning of accession negotiations with Turkey, which "the US view that as a positive result" and that "a lot of the work that was done in preparation for Copenhagen on Cyprus itself, on the Cyprus issue, also was a very positive result".

"Being very persistent, although we did not achieve a settlement by Copenhagen, we obviously continue to try to do that, and believe very much in the kind of outline in the SG plan, which calls for a settlement by February 28", he said.

He said he looks "forward to be able to leave on Saturday, greatly encouraged by what is happening".

Asked about the date of 28 February, Weston said it was a very firm date because of the necessity, if a settlement is to function properly, to incorporate many elements in the settlement into the accession Treaty.

He explained that the Accession Treaty will be signed on 16 April and in order for the settlement to be into effect, two referenda are required. Weston said he did not know if February 28 is the absolute date. "I suppose it could be February 27 or March 1, but it can't be much after. I think you do really need a period of time like that, of six weeks, to do everything that is necessary to make this an effective settlement. So, I believe it is quite an important, firm period".

"I very much believe that a settlement is possible and should be accomplished by 28 February", he added.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.


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