The Division of Cyprus
Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
17th Annual Cyprus Conference
June 8, 2006
Thank you for inviting me to join you tonight. Senator Sarbanes, Congressman Bilirakis, Congressman Lantos, let me congratulate you for the honors you are receiving tonight. I have been fortunate enough to work with each of you over the years, and can say firsthand that your substantial contributions to U.S. foreign policy are both recognized and appreciated by all of us. I am honored to join you here tonight, and honored as well to be speaking before this gathering of individuals so deeply committed to resolving the conflict on Cyprus.
Let me get right to the heart of our concerns: the division of Cyprus has–to put it simply and plainly–gone on far too long. It is hard to believe that the historic, vibrant city of Nicosia is Europe’s last divided city, now separated longer than was Berlin.
American policy has been, is now, and shall remain clear and consistent: we support a settlement establishing a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation which will reunify Cyprus and its two communities into one country. We support and will continue to help energize and guide the UN process to reconcile differences and find common ground leading to a final settlement.
And let me stress to you unequivocally: we do not and will not recognize any government other than the Republic of Cyprus on the island of Cyprus. We are clear about this–none of our policies are aimed at or imply "creeping recognition" of any other political entity. Cyprus is one country. We have, and will have, only one embassy, one Ambassador.
Over the years, possible Cyprus agreements have been floated and they have foundered. If there is one common thread, it is this: zero-sum thinking will produce stalemate rather than agreement between two determined parties. Cypriots–Greeks and Turks–will have to make the hard choices and decisions on a mutually acceptable deal that majorities in both communities can support, if there is ever to be a deal. Through the UN and bilaterally, the United States will continue to help the parties as they work to find such a solution.
In my position, I deal with a host of separatist conflicts–Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria. In each of these cases breakaway regions are looking for a separate existence: secession, to put it clearly. Cyprus is different: at this moment, Turkish Cypriots say they are seeking reunification of their country. They and their Republic of Cyprus countrymen have in this sense set forth essentially the same goal: a common identity and future as Cypriots in one country. We must not let this moment pass. The Republic of Cyprus has an opportunity now that, if lost, may not recur: to join its people together again as Cypriots in a united nation, not as opponents, but as partners. We would like both sides to consider the end state to which they aspire–a bi-zonal, bi-communal, federation–and work backwards on how to get there.
We in the United States need to begin now to help prepare both communities for this eventual reunification. This should begin with expanding links across the Green Line. Likewise, we must promote economic development in every corner of the island to reduce the great economic disparity between the two communities, and thereby facilitate the island’s reunification.
Reaching out to each other as Cypriots with a common goal is an important element in reunification. In this context, we strongly support and encourage the decision of the Republic of Cyprus to work with the Turkish Cypriots and the UN Secretary General’s representative on the island to engage in technical talks, which will address important daily life issues while laying the groundwork for broader negotiations when settlement talks resume. The next step forward is to agree on an agenda for these talks. We urge both sides to look creatively at how to start these technical talks. We also hope that President Papadopoulos and Turkish-Cypriot leader Talat will be able to meet on the margins of the installation of the new third member of the Committee on Missing Persons in July.
We hope that with each step forward, the trust and cooperation between the two communities will increase. The island’s progress in demining and the peaceful crossings of almost ten million Cypriots over the Green Line point the way to a harmonious reunification.
Beyond our efforts to promote reunification of the island through a Cyprus settlement, we also want to strengthen our bilateral ties with the Republic of Cyprus. Cyprus is an important friend and a key partner on vital issues such as security and counterterrorism. Beyond shared interests, our relationship is rooted in the common ideals and shared values of freedom and democracy that link our two countries and peoples. And, of course, Cypriot and Greek Americans have an essential role in building bridges between our two nations. This is evident in the presence of all of you here tonight, and in your continued activism and commitment to our shared goal of a reunited Cyprus.
We want to keep our bilateral relationship on a sustained positive trajectory. We seek to expand trade and investment, and to develop new areas of international cooperation with Cyprus. Recently there have been many such positive developments. Cyprus was the first EU nation to sign a ship boarding agreement under the Proliferation Security Initiative, and Secretary Rice invited Foreign Minister Iacovou to Washington last year to sign that important document. When Cyprus joined the European Union, it added its own vitality, strength, and personality to Euro-Atlantic relations. Cyprus’ EU membership contributes another dimension to its partnership with the United States, as we begin to address a broader range of global issues together and through the Transatlantic partnership.
Like Cyprus, Turkey is a key member of the Transatlantic family. I am certain that all of us agree that both the United States and Cyprus are better off with a Turkey that is anchored more deeply in Europe through membership in the European Union. To achieve this shared objective, Turkey must fulfill its obligations to extend its Customs Union agreement with the EU to the Republic of Cyprus by opening its ports to Cypriot-registered ships and planes. Let me be clear: this is an obligation that Turkey has freely undertaken with the EU, and which it must fulfill if Ankara is to keep its EU accession process on track. That said, it is in all of our interests to help Turkey fulfill this obligation. This will require creativity on the ports issue that moves beyond zero-sum thinking. Such ideas are currently being explored in Nicosia and Washington and Brussels and throughout Europe by diplomats who are committed to a just and lasting Cyprus settlement that will lead to reunification of the island.
I look forward to continuing to work with all of you and welcome, as always, your frank views on ways we can reach our mutual goals. If all parties demonstrate the requisite good will, flexibility, and new ideas, we may be able to persuade the UN Secretary General to renew his good-offices mission. And that would be an important step toward helping us achieve the vision that binds us together: the vision of a reunited, peaceful and prosperous island for all the people of Cyprus.