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Tension in E. Mediterranean must cease: Koenig

3 December 2014

The USA Ambassador to Nicosia John Koenig, has said that tension in the Eastern Mediterranean must end in order for the suspended Cyprus negotiations to resume.

In an interview with ‘Havadis’, the US Ambassador said that it was the responsibility of both sides to find a way back to the negotiating table.

Pointing out that time is not working in favour of those who want a solution in Cyprus; Koenig said that it is absolutely necessary for everyone to do whatever they can to resume the talks.

Koenig expressed the hope that the negotiations will resume at the beginning of 2015 at the latest, noting that they very much wish for the resumption of the talks, but that tension in the area must be reduced in order for this to happen. “Therefore, we are working very closely with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide and we are supporting his efforts on the issue of creating the conditions for the resumption of the talks”, he added.

Asked how the elections in North Cyprus might influence the negotiations, should the talks resume, Koenig noted that he could only repeat what the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu had told him on Friday, a while after announcing his candidature. He noted that Eroglu told him that until the beginning of the official election campaign and even after this campaign begins, he intends to dedicate himself to the continuation of the negotiations. “Therefore, he is aiming at doing whatever he can for the continuation of the negotiations during the first period of 2015”, he said.

In reply to a question regarding the stage at which the efforts for promoting confidence building measures and especially the issue of the fenced off city of Varosha has come, Koenig described as “very valuable” the view that courageous steps should be taken in the direction of changing the climate in Cyprus and of building confidence in both communities, that this negotiating process is different from other processes and that it is effective.

He noted that such steps are very useful from the point of view of creating models of cooperation for the future of Cyprus and not at the stage of implementing an agreement. “From our point of view Varosha or other confidence building measures have never been elements substituting the efforts for the solution”, he said adding that the main idea here was to create processes that support and reinforce each other.

Koenig pointed out that, in this sense, bi-communal contacts or contacts between civilian organisations, businessmen, technical committees or religious dialogue, are very important, especially at a time when the negotiations have been suspended.

On the subject of hydrocarbons, he expressed the belief that this issue could be a catalyst for the solution and added that both sides should see hydrocarbons as an opportunity for the solution and discuss the issue “more focused on cooperation, in a more creative manner and with a stronger vision”.

Koenig noted that in case of a solution, Cyprus will become a stronger partner for the USA, the relations between Turkey and Greece would be normalised and a stronger bond would be created between NATO and the EU. “Therefore, there is not only one reason but many more for us and the area for having a solution in Cyprus”, he concluded.

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