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It's Time to Find Common Ground in Cyprus

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring renewed attention to the ongoing difficulties taking place on the island of Cyprus.

This decades-long struggle to find common ground for an agreement between the two people on the island--Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots--has frustrated many in the United States and the international community. Cyprus occupies an important geo-political, economic and strategic region for the United States.

As a member of the European Union, the island of Cyprus remains divided. This is in spite of the Turkish Cypriots approving 3 to 1, and the Greek Cypriots defeating by a similar margin, the United Nations Peace Plan of 2004--which foresaw a comprehensive settlement to the decades-old dispute through a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation based on the political equality of both sides. Instead of a fair and prosperous agreement for both sides, the Turkish Cypriots remain isolated from the international community.

Almost ten years have elapsed. And leaders on both sides of the island offer promising hope for serious and substantial talks to take place. Although previous talks were outlined with difficulties, and a major push for peace failed in 2004, we must not let this deter our-will to resolve an issue that is so important to American interests.

An agreement will take political courage from both sides. But the United States should do--everything it can--to support both sides in this process. The Eastern Mediterranean is a region of key strategic importance to U.S. interests, and a settlement in Cyprus with active

American involvement and contribution will no doubt set a long-deserved example of peaceful relations and economic cooperation.

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