Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, April 10, 2003

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Now is Time to Resolve Cyprus Problem
House of Representatives Urges Action Before EU Accession

WASHINGTON) - The House of Representatives on Thursday called on Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to quickly resume negotiations to settle the Cyprus problem. In eleven days the government of Cyprus will sign accession papers paving the way for the southern part of the island of Cyprus to enter the European Union. The economic benefits for Greek Cypriots will be significant. If Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders can reach an agreement, Turkish Cypriots can share in the benefits of Cyprus' membership in the EU.
By a unanimous vote, the House approved H. Res. 165, which calls on Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to resume talks and urges the governments of Turkey and Greece to do everything possible to support the search for a settlement.

U.S. Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-NE), who introduced the resolution, said, "Now is the time for both sides to put aside their differences and make a serious commitment to resolve the problem of a divided Cyprus. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has been an impediment in this process. He has been unwilling even to permit Turkish Cypriots to express their views through a referendum on a new federal Cyprus.

"While the new government in Turkey certainly could have put pressure on Mr. Denktash earlier, it had its hands full with many issues," Bereuter said. "But now, more than ever, Turkey's government may want to demonstrate its cooperation and responsible leadership to the U.S. and international community by pressuring Mr. Denktash to resolve this issue."

Since 1974, the island of Cyprus has been politically divided in what has often been a bitter and violent dispute. The people of Cyprus have been culturally and socially isolated from each other by a fortified "green line" in what today represents something akin to the Berlin Wall. Bereuter said that when he visited the green line, a British peacekeeping force commander told him that some of the men serving in his unit had fathers who had served in that first Cyprus peacekeeping unit.

"For the past 29 years, numerous proposals have been put forward to bring Greek and Turkish Cypriots together to resolve what has become known as the Cyprus problem," Bereuter said. "None of these attempts to bring about reconciliation have been closer to achieving success than the efforts made over the past five months."
Last November, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan proposed a comprehensive "framework" for settlement of the Cyprus problem. Although the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders met with Annan twice, the Turkish Cypriot leader announced that he could not accept the plan and would not agree to put proposed referenda to the Turkish Cypriot people. Recently, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan announced that he would begin a new effort to reunite the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sectors of Cyprus. Also, Turkish Foreign Minister Gul announced that he would meet with Turkish Cypriot leaders and then with Greek leaders to discuss how to resume the peace negotiations.

In letters to the ambassadors of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, and to Secretary General Annan, Bereuter said, "The passage of this resolution demonstrates that the usual division between strong supporters of Greece and strong supporters of Turkey does not exist in respect to this resolution. The House of Representatives is saying that the current environment of the accession of Cyprus to the European Union is the point of maximum opportunity to resolve this long-standing division of Cyprus. We are asking for a redoubling of effort for a successful conclusion to the settlement initiative."