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Public Statements

Supporting International Efforts for the Reunification of Cyprus

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge the Administration to join in the international effort to reach a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus as a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation. This continued dispute has real regional and global implications. It threatens effective NATO-EU cooperation, affects regional stability, and also remains an obstacle to Turkey, our key partner and ally, gaining full membership to the European Union, which the United States has long supported.

I continue to believe that a just and viable solution to the longstanding Cyprus problem is not only achievable, but also urgent and necessary. The key to the settlement in Cyprus is the renewal of the Partnership between the two equal co-owners and co-founders of the ``Republic of Cyprus'', as established in 1960: Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. As a matter of fact, Turkish Cypriot people have long proven their readiness to renew the Partnership State. In 2004 they demonstrated the necessary political will for a comprehensive solution by voting strongly for the UN Settlement Plan in the separate and simultaneous referenda, a proposal that was overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek Cypriot side.

Since assuming the European Union term presidency on July 1, there is no better time for the Greek Cypriot government to take the long-awaited substantial steps towards a comprehensive settlement with the Turkish Cypriots. I hope this new EU role for Cyprus will not hinder the continuation of reunification talks. In fact, I believe that Cyprus' six-month term in the presidency of the EU brings extra responsibilities to show sincere efforts towards peace.

The international community and the United States will have to answer a fundamental question in the days ahead: Are we going to put in place all necessary efforts in order to reach a comprehensive solution in Cyprus, and thus demonstrate the political will to that effect, or are we going to let an achievable settlement slip away once again, all the while perpetuating the illegitimate and unjust isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people? A continued status quo in Cyprus is not beneficial to any party, and the time is now to solve a dispute that has lasted for more than forty years.

In light of recent actions by Syria and others in the Middle East, Turkey has continued to operate as an important U.S. ally in the region, and all parties acknowledge that Turkey's membership to the European Union cannot be achieved without first tackling these issues in Cyprus. Therefore, all sides should return to the table and set a timeline for action, and this Administration should work with all stakeholders to ensure that any agreement respects human rights and ensures the fundamental freedoms for all Cypriots.

While the people of Cyprus must ultimately decide their own fate, there is no better time for the international community to support such reunification efforts. As all eyes remain on Cyprus during its term with the EU presidency, and continued talks would signal to the world that both parties are committed to establishing a peaceful and prosperous future for all Cypriots.

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