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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 09-11-07

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon has said that there is a window of opportunity regarding the Cyprus question, because of the confluence of several factors.

    Responding to questions during a press conference at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, Gordon said ``there remain important differences on both sides,`` adding that the United States policy is to support the process as they can. ``We continue to support the development of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus,`` he added.

    Invited to give his assessment on the Cyprus talks and asked what the US position on Cyprus is, Gordon said ``this is an important opportunity and a window of opportunity for Cyprus, because of the confluence of several factors; and most importantly, the leadership on both sides of the island being genuinely interested in a settlement, we believe, and having a relationship that might make a settlement possible.``

    He noted that the leaders on both sides have known each other for a long time and, unlike in many past years when we had hopes for a Cyprus settlement, they are involved in direct talks, which are serious, and ongoing and regular talks, under UN auspices, which is a good thing.

    ``It`s obviously very challenging. There remain important differences on both sides. But United States policy is to support the process as we can. We continue to support the development of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus,`` he added.

    We hope the parties move forward, and again, we`re prepared to assist in any way we can, the US official stressed.

    To a question about Turkey`s EU course, Gordon noted that the United States is not a member of the European Union and that whether Turkey joins the EU ultimately is a decision for the European Union member states to make, adding that ``therefore it`s not up to us.``

    He said that the US has long supported Turkey`s European aspirations.

    We think that this process has been a healthy one, a constructive one for Turkey, that a strong EU-Turkey relationship in Turkey`s membership path would be good for Europe and it would be good for Turkey. So we do encourage our friends in Europe to keep this process moving forward. And I think that the current Turkish government remains interested in joining the European Union,`` he added.

    Gordon expressed the belief that the Turkish public remains interested in joining the European Union. ``And I think it`s something that Europeans should do all they can to encourage, because the Europeans should also want a strong, prosperous, democratic Turkey as part of the union,`` he concluded.

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.


    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias will inaugurate today the new Larnaka International Airport, during a ceremony to be attended by Cypriot and foreign officials.

    The cost of the new Larnaka International Airport is estimated at 656.3 million euros. From 10 November, Cyprus Airways and Easy jet will fly out until 17 November when the rest of the airlines will move to the new airport.


    British MP Theresa Villiers has urged British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to use the celebrations taking place on 9th November to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall as an opportunity to push Cyprus up the international communitys agenda and to send a strong signal to Ankara that it is time to reunite the island.

    In a letter to Brown, Villiers said that ``it is time for the international community to push Cyprus much higher up its list of priorities. As a Guarantor Power and a fellow Commonwealth member, the UK Government has an important role to play in facilitating and supporting Cypriots in their search for a settlement.``

    ``I would appeal to you to bring your influence to bear on the Ankara Government to persuade them to comply with their obligations under the Ankara Protocol (as a candidate country to the EU), with UN resolutions on Cyprus and with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights,`` Villiers said.


    Cyprus House of Representatives President Marios Garoyian said that Cyprus` and France`s views both on the Cyprus settlement and on Turkey`s EU bid coincide.

    Garoyian met with French Minister of State for European Affairs Pierre Lellouche at the presence of Presidents of the Parliamentary Committees of European and Foreign Affairs, Nicos Cleanthous and Averof Neofytou respectively.

    The meeting covered the present phase of the Cyprus problem and certain aspects of the problem as well as Turkey`s accession course in view of the December Summit when the EU leaders will assess Turkish progress in meeting its commitments towards the EU.

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