British minister hopeful about Cyprus solution

The status quo on the war-divided island of Cyprus will not continue and a solution should be found soon, the British minister of state for Europe has said.

Speaking to journalists after his meeting with Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat, British minister Chris Bryant said the ongoing reunifying talks between the two rival Cypriot presidents were very important.

“Cypriots should not miss this opportunity,” he added.

In an article posted on the official Web site of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British minister said he regarded the current settlement talks in Cyprus as “a golden opportunity that should not be missed.” The current round of negotiations is the best chance there has ever been to solve the Cyprus problem, he added.

“A solution will create a better future for the people of Cyprus. This is a golden opportunity. It must not be missed,” said Bryant.

The British minister also praised the genuine determination displayed by Talat and his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Dimitris Christofias, noting, however, that there was still much to be done. Bryant said he did not take sides regarding the Cyprus issue, other than seeking a fair settlement.

Saying he was aware of the obstacles that the Cypriot leaders were facing, Bryant expressed his hope that with courage and flexibility, they could reach an agreement for the benefit of all Cypriots.

Land offer

Bryant also announced that as a sign of British support for the negotiations, the London government was ready to concede nearly 50 percent of the territory of the U.K.’s Sovereign Base Areas to a unified Cyprus if talks yield a solution.

He said a reunited Cyprus would bring long-term peace and security to Cypriots on both sides of the island.

“Both communities will gain from the political, economic and social implications of a settlement. All Cypriots would benefit from the enormous boost a settlement would make to the island’s economy: reconstruction, reunifying two economies, the introduction of the euro and EU funding in the north,” Bryant said. “There will be new opportunities for tourism and the prospect of regional economic development. A solution will offer stability and security to all communities. And the whole island can realize the benefits of EU membership.”

Saying that a reunited Cyprus would present a real opportunity for Turkey as it works toward EU accession, Bryant added that Britain supports Turkey’s EU candidacy and the reforms the country has made as part of the process.

“Cyprus needs a lasting solution for a secure and sustainable future and for the development of a new relationship with Turkey, based on peace and common interest,” the British minister said.

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