Washington, D.C. By Apostolis Zoupaniotis
US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried described the joint statement issued after Friday’s meeting between Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat as the ”most productive steps taken to reach a settlement on Cyprus since 2004.”
Fried was briefed on the results of the meeting by Cypriot Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou, during a meeting they had in the US capital.
The statement after the meeting read out by the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun notes that the two leaders ”reaffirmed their commitment to a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions” and that ”this partnership will have a Federal Government with a single international personality, as well as a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, which will be of equal status.”
”We welcome it. By reaffirming the commitment to a bizonal, bicommunal federation it shows that the two leaders are acting in accordance with their promises to do everything they could to support reunification of the island,” Fried said speaking to the GreekNews adding that ”this statement is a strong and welcome platform on which we hope the two sides can build.”
Reiterating that the US supported a bizonal, bicommunal federation, the US diplomat added ”we support a reunited island and this statement language about a federal government with a single international personality, a Turkish Cypriot constituent state and a Greek Cypriot constituent state, which will be of equal status, is something which we think is both constructive and enables us to move forward.”
”We hope that the discussions and talks now underway, the working groups and the technical committees, will make sufficient progress so that Cyprus can move on to the next stage in forging a settlement,” he said.
Replying to a question on how the US will support the process, Fried said the US is supporting the process ”by making clear to all parties that we think this is the right track, that constructive practical steps now leading to more steps in the future is the right way ahead.”
”There is more we can do, especially plan to do as these talks make progress,” he added.
Fried also praised President Christofias’ actions since his election to the presidency of the Republic.
”President Christofias has done as President what he said he would do in the campaign. He said Iʼm going to move ahead. He has done so,” he said, adding that Talat ”has long been a proponent of the settlement and he has done through this statement what he said he would do, he has basically responded to possibilities constructively.”
Asked whether more progress is needed in the technical committees and working groups, established after the first meeting of President Christofias and Talat on March 21, so that full-fledged negotiations would begin, Fried referred to the leaders’ remarks on Friday that more progress needs to be made.
”This isnʼt an American decision. The two leaders have said in this statement that their representatives should examine within the next two weeks the results of the technical committees and consider the confidence building measures and another opening of crossing points and then in the second half of June the leaders will come together again to make a new assessment,” he said.
To a question whether the US State Department is planning any visits to Cyprus, Fried said he looks forward to visiting the island ”when it can do the most good.”
Asked if Turkey will support the process in Cyprus, given the situation in the country, Fried recalled Cyprus’ and Greece’s support for Turkey’s EU bid, adding that ”we all support Turkeyʼs European future and it is our belief that as Turkey sees this European future more real, it will take even more steps to reach it.”
”Now, of course, we are watching the Turkish political scene and we hope it is resolved in a way consistent with democratic norms,” he concluded.