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Congressmen say US assistance should facilitate reunification

Sixteen members of the US Congress support the position that the country should facilitate a successful reunification of the island through assistance to Cyprus.

In a letter dated March 16, the members of congress called on House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Nita Lowey to “include language stating the United States’ position that assistance appropriated for Cyprus should support measures aimed at solidifying the reunification of Cyprus and the unified government in Cyprus” in the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2019.

“It is important for the United States to continue to play an active role in ensuring that Cyprus – a strategic partner of the United States – and the new federal structure that would arise out of a settlement will be able to cope with any political and financial challenges in order to safeguard a smooth and stable transition” they said.

The 16 members of Congress, including the co-chairs of the Hellenic Caucus at the US Congress, Gus Bilirakis and Carolyn Maloney, said that they want to ensure that these funds are used for needs arising from a reunified Cyprus “so that a settlement has a chance to succeed”.

They also express hope that the US administration provides notification to the government of the Republic of Cyprus as to the nature of the programs and the amount to be funded by the US “to assure maximum transparency in their allocation”.

In particular, they request an addition to be included in the bill stating that “any assistance provided to Cyprus under this Act should foremost ensure that the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) can fully implement its mandate, while remaining available to also contribute to the creation of a conducive environment for the settlement talks under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General’s Good Offices.”

“In the event of reunification, further assistance should be used to contribute towards the cost of reunification, including towards monitoring provisions, facilitation for the settlement of the property issue, supporting and underpinning the new federal structures of a reunified island and assisting with the construction of a strong unified Cypriot economy able to cope with the new challenges, and strengthening the contacts between the two communities as conducive to reunification, in a way agreed to between the United States and Cyprus.”

The 16 members of Congress also say in their letter that since the 1974 Turkish invasion, the United States supported the reunification of Cyprus and express hope that the progress achieved in the latest round of negotiations is soon followed by substantial action that will justify the sense of optimism that a Cyprus solution is within reach.

The bill proposed by the State Department says that “Unficyp will continue to support a bi-zonal, bi-communal, federal solution to the Cyprus problem by monitoring the ceasefire between the parties to ensure stability while UN-facilitated, Cypriot-led settlement talks continue”.

Moreover, the State Department suggests that the 2019 contribution to Unficyp is reduced to $5.3m, compared to $9.4m in 2018.

 

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