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US reaffirms commitment to just settlement in Cyprus

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The commitment of the United States to finding a just and lasting settlement reunifying Cyprus, as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, is reaffirmed in a cover note, accompanying a report by US President Barack Obama, prepared by the State Department, to the US House of Representatives and the Senate.

Obama’s bi-monthly report covers developments in the Cyprus problem during the months April and May 2016.

In the cover note, State Department Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield notes that UN-facilitated efforts towards a comprehensive solution continued in this reporting period, during which “the leaders and negotiators continued to make progress in settlement talks”.

“The United States is committed to finding a just and lasting settlement reunifying Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation”, she says.

In his report, Obama says “the UN Secretary-General’s Good Offices Mission continued efforts to support the reunification of Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation in April and May 2016” and that “Republic of Cyprus President and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci formally met twice in April and once in May”.

“Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland visited Cyprus April 20. She was accompanied by then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs Amanda Sloat. Assistant Secretary Nuland met with Anastasiades, Akinci, and UN Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide”, the report says.

It adds that “Nuland and Anastasiades discussed bilateral issues, US economic investment in Cyprus, and regional security relations as well as the Cyprus settlement talks” and that “in her meeting with Akinci, they discussed steps toward achieving convergences on several key issues related to the settlement talks”.

“In her public remarks, Nuland assured that the United States remained ‘eager to help the sides come to the agreement that all the Cypriot people need and deserve.’ During her visit, Sloat also met with Deputy Minister to the President Constantinos Petrides, Republic of Cyprus Spokesperson Nikos Christodoulides, and lead Turkish Cypriot Negotiator Ozdil Nami. Lead Greek Cypriot Negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis visited Washington April 20 and met with State Department and White House officials”, it says.

The report points out that “on May 13, Eide joined Special Representative to the Secretary-General and head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) Elizabeth Spehar in New York to brief the permanent members of the IIN Security Council; both urged the UNSC to remain united in support of the settlement process”.

“On May 15, Anastasiades and Akinci issued a joint statement marking the one-year anniversary since they resumed settlement talks in 20I5. In their statement, the leaders underlined their commitment to intensify their efforts in the months ahead with the aim of reaching a comprehensive settlement agreement within 2016. On the anniversary, US Ambassador Kathleen Doherty commended the leaders` progress and assured that `the United States will continue to offer our support in any way we can while maintaining, as we always have, that Cyprus` collective future will be determined by Cypriots, for Cypriots`”, it says.

Furthermore, it notes that “the Republic of Cyprus held its parliamentary elections on May 22, and eight parties comprise the new parliament. The two larger parties DISY and AKEL won 18 and 16 seats, respectively. Several smaller parties also gained seats: DIKO won nine; EDEK three; Çitizens` Alliance three; Solidarity Movement three; Green party two; and ELAM two. The new parliament elected Dimitris Syllouris of the Solidarity Movement President of the House of Representatives”.

“Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Kenneth Hyatt visited Cyprus May 25-26 to highlight the economic benefits of potential reunification as a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Hyatt delivered the keynote address at a joint business event between the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce. He noted that Cyprus has become increasingly attractive to U.S. businesses and investors, and given its strategic location in an increasingly complex region, Cyprus is a more appealing commercial venue than it has ever been. During a bilateral meeting with Petrides, Hyatt congratulated Cyprus on officially exiting its IMF-funded bailout in March and stressed that a settlement would reinforce that Cyprus is a welcoming place for U.S. business investment. He advocated for Cyprus to create conditions that will allow entrepreneurship and innovation to flourish. During his visit, Hyatt also hosted a roundtable discussion with U.S. energy companies in Cyprus”, the report says.

It adds that “on May 25,Vice President Biden spoke by phone with both leaders. The Vice President encouraged Anastasiades to seize the moment to negotiate a settlement that would reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation. The Vice President conveyed the same message in his call with Akinci. The Vice President also pledged continued U.S. support to help both sides reach a successful agreement before the end of the year, and praised the commitment and courage of the leaders for the historic steps they are taking to reunify the island”.

Finally, the report notes that “a US Congressional delegation visited Cyprus May 27-29. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) led the delegation, which included Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX). During their visit, the delegation met with Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, and several Members of Parliament from the DISY party. The group also visited the Famagusta/Varosha area) the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque, and the Church and Tomb of St. Lazarus”.


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