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Ambassador Tom Weston Speaks at AHI Noon Forum-Audience Addresses Tough Questions Regarding the Need for Changes in the Annan Plan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: ANGELIKI VASSILIOU
March 8, 2004—No.16 (202) 785-8430

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 speaking at the AHI Noon Forum.

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:

  • On the 22nd of March Greece and Turkey will join the negotiations if there is no agreement during the first stage;

  • in case there is still no agreement, on the 29th of March the Secretary-General will step in to "fill in the gaps" of the Plan "at his discretion;"

  • the 31st of March will be the date for finalizing the text of the Plan; and

  • on the 21st of April the final text will be put in two separate referenda.

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.

For additional information, please contact Angeliki Vassiliou at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information on AHI, see our Web site at www.ahiworld.org.