VOA SPECIAL REPORT: U.S. COORDINATOR FOR CYPRUS PLEDGES CONTINUED U.S. SUPPORT FOR REUNIFICATION
Washington, D.C., Feb 20, 2004 - Ambassador Thomas Weston, the U.S. State Department's Special Coordinator for Cyprus, pledged continued U.S. support for the reunification of the island. Amb. Weston participated yesterday in the Voice of America's special live multimedia roundtable discussion entitled "Cyprus 2004: How Close To a Settlement?"
The roundtable’s participants agreed that there is enthusiasm and willingness to settle the Cyprus issue among both the Turkish and Greek communities on the island. "We have every expectation that this process will succeed," said Amb. Weston. He was questioned on the program by Umit Enginsoy, Washington Bureau Chief for NTV Network of Turkey, and Dimitris Apokis, Washington Bureau Chief for New Greek Television (NET).
"Those who do not take advantage of this opportunity will bear enormous responsibility for the future," Amb. Weston warned. He urged the people of Cyprus to learn as much as they can about U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan for Cyprus before the planned referendum. The plan was recently accepted by Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, who pledged to work on reunification in time for the island's May 1 entry into the European Union.
Enginsoy said that there is "major enthusiasm" among Turkish Cypriots regarding the settlement plan, with the entry into the European Union as a major incentive. Apokis noted that "Greek Cypriots really want a solution", adding that the government in Athens is also committed to the settlement for strategic reasons of Greek foreign policy. The Greek journalist echoed Amb. Weston's comments, stressing that both communities now have a "historic opportunity".
Amb. Weston pointed out that there is a lot of interest in the international community that "this effort succeed". According to him, the U.S. "will concentrate all our efforts on the finalization of the settlement and the successful outcome of the planned referendum". "The diplomatic support of the U.S. has made a difference and will continue," he added, noting that “those who work on the settlement for Cyprus were either participants or victims of history”.
The participants also heard a phone-in report by VOA stringer Nathan Morley in Nicosia on the latest round of talks between the leaders of the two sides. The roundtable discussion was moderated by VOA's Greek Service Chief George Bistis and VOA's Turkish Service Chief Taclan Suerdem.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of 94 million people. Programs are produced in English and 54 other languages, including Greek and Turkish.