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12 April, 2000
US State Department Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston has said the Republic's accession course to the European Union, rapprochement between Greece and Turkey and the unified and strong US and other international backing for a settlement on the island is the best opportunity for a solution presented in years.
In a statement on Monday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as nominee for the rank of ambassador, Weston also said the division of Cyprus has continued too long at a "great cost to the people and with substantial risk to the stability of the eastern Mediterranean".
"I believe that the current situation presents the best opportunity for a settlement in Cyprus in years," he said, and outlined three factors to back this assertion.
Weston said the first is the fact that "Cyprus continues to move towards accession to the EU", noting that "as it does, it has the opportunity to resolve many of the historical, political and security concerns on the island".
He said that at the same time a decision taken by the EU during December's Helsinki summit to extend Turkey candidacy "added a new dimension to, and incentives for, a comprehensive settlement".
"As Turkey moves closer to the EU, European stability in all areas, including Cyprus, should be reinforced," he added.
The American diplomat said the second factor is "the rapprochement between Greece and Turkey", as over the last year "the leaders of both countries have taken historic steps together, strengthening their bilateral relationship".
"This factor helps improve the atmosphere between two states that have a real stake in a resolution of the Cyprus problem," he added.
Greece and Turkey, along with Britain, guaranteed the Cyprus Republic's sovereignty and independence, when the island gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1960.
The third factor, which helps towards a settlement, Weston told the Senate, "is the unified and strong US and international backing for the UN's efforts to facilitate a comprehensive settlement".
He referred to two rounds of proximity talks, separate UN-led meetings with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides held so far, which he described as "successful".
"We continue to work hard to ensure that the re-commencement of talks on May 23 in New York moves the parties towards a just and durable settlement that addresses the legitimate concerns of both sides," Weston added.
Source: Athens News Agency