AMBASSADOR TOM WESTON SPEAKS AT AHI NOON FORUM—AUDIENCE ADDRESSES TOUGH QUESTIONS REGARDING THE NEED FOR CHANGES IN THE ANNAN PLAN
WASHINGTON, DC—On February 26, 2004 the American Hellenic Institute hosted U.S. Special Coordinator on Cyprus, Ambassador Thomas G. Weston, at an AHI Noon Forum. Ambassador Weston updated AHI members and guests on the latest Cyprus developments. The audience addressed tough questions regarding the need for changes in the Annan Plan.
Ambassador Weston began with an overview of the current situation and focused on the outcome of the New York talks. He also touched on specific provisions of the Annan Plan by answering questions from the audience.
Mr. Weston named the commitment of the two sides on a methodology as the most important achievement of the New York talks. Specifically he stated: "I, and the U.S. more broadly, welcome that political will and spirit of compromise which did lead to what I believe is an agreement on a methodology to reach a Cyprus settlement which basically changes the likelihood of getting a settlement from something very negative…to one that is just the opposite, very positive one."
Mr. Weston reiterated the commitment of the two sides for direct negotiations on the basis of the Annan Plan, which started on February 19, 2004, and stressed the following key dates:
He also stressed the creation of a fourth technical committee dealing with economic and financial issues, with the EU participating, as an important achievement of the New York talks.
Ambassador Weston named two crucial elements that will influence the outcome of the referenda: the first is the financial resources needed for the settlement, and specifically the financial assets needed for compensations for the resettlement of the refugees and of property. The second crucial element for a positive outcome in the referenda that he stressed was the "degree to which the political leadership supports the settlement in a referendum."
Responding to numerous questions from the audience, the role of the European Union emerged as a major issue. The crucial question was the degree to which the Annan Plan is in accordance to the body of laws of the European Union, namely the acquis communautaire. The questions specifically addressed the issues of majority rule versus minority veto, property rights, freedom of movement and decision making within the European Union. Mr. Weston stated that "the European Council has said that they will be able to accommodate the settlement based on the EU values."
Ambassador Weston was repeatedly asked on the viability of the Annan Plan and more specifically whether the U.S. supports majority rule or the 18% Turkish Cypriot minority rule by veto power over all legislative matters and in the Executive Council. Mr. Weston sidestepped the above question by answering that this is not a decision of the U.S. to make and that the U.S. supports a settlement that is agreed to by the Cypriots.
Ambassador Tom Weston Speaks at AHI Noon Forum-Audience Addresses Tough Questions Regarding the Need for Changes in the Annan Plan