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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nicholas Burns: Need for Justice in Cyprus

From the Cyprus Weekly:

Need for justice in Cyprus – Burns

By Demetra Molyva

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns yesterday urged ``the need for justice in Cyprus,'' and called for a US-backed initiative for the reunification of the island in a federal form.

"We cannot forget the need for justice, the need to resolve the conflict that has gone on for too long and we need to put the determination and strength of the United States as well as Europe behind a fresh and new initiative by the Secretary General of the United States for peace for Cyprus.

“I think our policy has been very clear. The United States supports one government on Cyprus and we recognise only one government on Cyprus that is the government of the Republic of Cyprus,'' Burns said.

He was addressing the Nicosia conference of Overseas Cypriots in a video address from Washington. He expressed his intention to visit Nicosia in the autumn.

He stressed Washington's desire to improve relations with Cyprus saying that, "I want to express a commitment by the United States to improve our relationship with our friend, the Republic of Cyprus...We've had our share of disagreement over the past few years particularly over the Annan Plan of the United Nations.


“But I think what we have to do is put those disagreements behind us, we know we have a friend in the Government of Nicosia, the Republic and we have to honour that friendship. And that would be the basis of our trip. We will elevate this relationship to a new level and will put our energy behind the effort to support a settlement for Cyprus.''

He went on to declare that "we know the Cypriots are friends because we have been friends since the beginning of the state. We know they are friends because the Cypriot American community, which has been such a strong and vibrant community, throughout the United States. We certainly felt that friendship a year ago now, during the horrible war in Lebanon when 15,000 American citizens were evacuated from the war zone in Beirut and they managed to get to Cyprus by ship and all of them were greeted there by the Cypriot people. They were put up, they were fed, and they were clothed.

“They were received very warmly and then managed to get on their way back to the United States. We'll never forget that act of friendship of the government of the Republic of Cyprus and the people of Cyprus."

Burns gave examples of the US and Cyprus working together in a practical sense, for peace in the world and the maintenance of stability.

"I know all of you are concerned, as you should be, about the lack of peace on Cyprus, the lack of justice, the fact that the island was occupied by force and that the island has been divided for so long.

“I know that many of you have lost your homes, many of you have had families divided, this is a great tragedy and we Americans cannot and should not forget about this tragedy.

"I know that Cyprus has been divided and Nicosia has been divided longer than Berlin was divided. So it seems to me and it seems to our government that we need to make a renewed effort now to try and resume the international negotiations, led by the United Nations to seek a just resolution of the Cyprus problem.

Need for justice

"As you know, we work with the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community as part of our efforts to promote a settlement but that does not in any way shape of form signify diplomatic recognition.

“We only recognise the Republic of Cyprus. It's been our long standing policy to support a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Cyprus must be in our view one country, structured to recognise and to protect the rights of all the communities on the island.

"Some polls say the Greek Cypriots may prefer a unitary state, meaning a multi-ethnic state in which there is no separate governing entity for the Turkish Cypriot community. Other polls show that there is a sentiment among Turkish Cypriots to break away and have a separate state on the island of Cyprus. Our policy is federalism, and that is also the policy of the European Union and that is also the basis of what the United Nations are saying on Cyprus."

He referred to the success of the federal system in the US.

"Our view is that we should have one Cyprus, on a bizonal, bicommunal basis and we hope that progress can be made on that basis.

"We were encouraged a year ago in the summer of 2006, when President Papadopoulos and Mr Talat met when they agreed to establish technical committees and working groups to discuss day-to-day and substantive issues.

"It was a positive step forward. This kind of spirit can lay the ground and we believe that this kind of spirit of working together could lay the groundwork for a re-engagement of the United Nations in Cyprus for negotiations.

“So we will support this process, we will use the influence of the United States to encourage the United Nations to re-engage.

"And when I make my trip to Nicosia, this autumn, it's one of the leading issues that I will talk about with the government of Cyprus. And this is how we will be supportive in a renewed effort for peace, in a renewed effort for justice.

"We know the situation is difficult for families, for all the Cypriots who now live apart from their country, all over the world as distinguished citizens of democratic nations.

“We hope that the future of Cyprus will be one, of course, of democracy and freedom and justice on a bizonal and bicommunal basis for the peace that must come to the people on the island."

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