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Ambassador Tom Weston Discusses Current Status Of Cyprus Talks, EU Accession At AHI Noon Forum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
April 16, 2002 No. 18/02 (202) 785-8430

Ambassador Tom Weston Discusses Current Status Of Cyprus Talks, EU Accession At AHI Noon Forum

WASHINGTON, DC — On April 11, 2002, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted Ambassador Thomas G. Weston, U.S. Special Coordinator for Cyprus, at a noon forum at Hellenic House. Ambassador Weston provided a candid overview of progress on United Nations (UN) -led direct talks currently underway between Republic of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, as well as a forecast of upcoming benchmarks in the negotiation process. He focused particularly on the U.S. position in helping to engender a resolution of the long-standing impasse, and on the implications of Cyprus' European Union (EU) accession on the talks.

Ambassador Weston pointed out that, with a target resolution date forecasted for June 2002, a recent midterm evaluation in New York by the UN Security Council noted several areas of concern on the progress of the negotiations. Most notably, it was expressed that the pace of the talks is not proceeding rapidly enough to reach the June goal. While positive moves have been made by both sides, remarks from members of the Security Council underscored that Mr. Clerides has demonstrated greater flexibility and cooperation.

Highlighting the U.S. position in the Security Council during this midterm evaluation period, Ambassador Weston stated:

"We have seen positive moves by both leaders in the talks, but we have seen far more in the way of positive moves from President Clerides. We had seen moves of flexibility, openings on President Clerides' part on the areas of greatest concern to the Turkish side. And although we had seen some — not the equivalent amount — moves from the Turkish side, we have not seen any moves or signs of flexibility on the areas of key concern to the Greek Cypriot side and in areas of concern that we believe have to be addressed if there is to be a settlement."

Responding to a question from the audience regarding the type of political solution the U.S. supported, Ambassador Weston reiterated that "we do not believe there will be a settlement unless it is a bizonal, bicommunal federation."

Ambassador Weston expressed his full confidence in Cyprus' accession to the EU, and in the broader process of enlargement being forged by the EU member states and candidate states. The U.S. has had a long-term policy promoting both these goals and "we continue to believe that the accession of Cyprus and the whole process of accession should lead to a settlement," said the Ambassador.

Additionally, Ambassador Weston emphasized the tremendous advantages — for all sides involved — of accession to the EU by Cyprus as a united island. Regarding U.S. interests in the issue, "It is in the national interests of the United States to have a just and durable settlement on the island of Cyprus. It is in our security interests. It is in our economic interests. It is in our political interests. It is in our moral interests." He also noted the exceptionally strong degree of support from both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots for a resolution of the problem.

Ambassador Weston specifically thanked the American Hellenic Institute and the Greek American community for keeping the Cyprus issue alive before the Congress, the White House and the American people. He expressed his great appreciation "of the support that is forthcoming from the folks in this organization — I'm referring to the American Hellenic Institute — on keeping the Cyprus issue at the forefront of American diplomacy."

Ambassador Thomas G. Weston assumed his current position as Special Coordinator for Cyprus in August 1999. He is a career Senior Foreign Service Officer and has been a member of the U.S. Foreign Service since 1969. During 1996 and 1997 he was Charge d'Affaires to Canada. Also notable among his extensive and distinguished career experience is his service as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs, responsible for multilateral diplomacy with Europe including U.S. participation in NATO, the OSCE, and the OECD, and U.S. relations with the European Union, and the Council of Europe. He also served as Charge and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to the European Communities.

For additional information or digital photographs from the AHI's noon forum featuring Ambassador Thomas Weston, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or at info@ahiworld.org. For general information on AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.