For IMMEDIATE Release
CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202)
226-7875; Carol Lawrence, (202) 225-4806; March 7, 2003
(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-NE) today called on the leaders of Greek and Turkish Cyprus to schedule separate and simultaneous referenda on a United Nations plan to reunite the island. "The people of Cyprus have been provided an historic opportunity to resolve the longstanding division of the island," Bereuter said.
Cyprus has been a divided nation since 1974. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in November proposed the "Basis for an Agreement on a Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem." The United Nations plan provides a framework for negotiations for an overall settlement that would result in a federal, bicommunal, bizonal republic on the island.
Bereuter, who is Chairman of the House International Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Europe, has introduced a resolution that urges Cypriot leaders to meet with Annan on March 10th in the Hague to sign an agreement to proceed with the referenda by March 30, 2003. Bereuter has described the United Nations plan as "an honest attempt to provide a peaceful, just and lasting settlement" for the people of Cyprus.
"Past negotiations between the two sides have failed to provide a final resolution for a variety of reasons," Bereuter said. "What better way to assess the true feelings and desires of both the Greek and Cypriot peoples than to ask them directly if the United Nation's plan is an acceptable way to reunite the island, bring about a lasting peace and prepare the Cypriot nation to enter the European Union as a nation, whole, free and at peace?" Bereuter's resolution also calls on the people of Cyprus to participate in the referenda and to vote in support of the United Nation's plan.
The European Union has invited Cyprus to join the Union in 2004 and is hoping to welcome a united nation at that time.