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Civil Society Would Flourish with Solution - Lidington

A solution to the Cyprus problem would provide the much needed space for civil society to flourish and for leaders to spend more time to find solutions to global issues, said UK Minister for Europe David Lidington in a speech in Westminster, London yesterday.

“Achieving an agreement will require vision, statesmanship and courage. I have faith in the leaders and their negotiating teams to seize what is a historic opportunity to reunite the island and bring stability and lasting peace to all of its people," said Lidington.

Through reunification of the island's economies and political institutions, the Cypriot people would "come out of the current global economic downturn well placed to enjoy a prosperous and sustainable future,” he said.

“The UK strongly supports the UN’s efforts to achieve a settlement based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined by the relevant Security Council resolutions. We are committed to a settlement by Cypriots for Cypriots which will deliver a stable, prosperous and united island, operating as a valued partner within the EU,” said Lidington.

The UK and Sweden are both fervent supporters of Turkey's EU membership, arguing that it will bring a largely-Muslim country into the European fold and help counterbalance extremism and fanaticism in the region.

But Turkey's EU progress, while not at a standstill, is at least considerably slowed by the deadlock over Cyprus, where Turkey has kept occupation troops in the northern third of the island since 1974. Unless Turkey recognises the Republic of Cyprus as the country's official government, it is clear that the EU will be opposed to opening further chapters in accession talks.

The likelihood of that happening in the near future is slim - Turkey sees its support of the Turkish-Cypriot community and unilaterally-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a national consensus issue. It refuses to recognise Cyprus and implement the Ankara Protocol until the EU ends the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots by trading directly with them and bypassing the Cyprus government. So far, that has not happened because of legal reasons, but the European Commission has granted some 280 million euros in aid to the Turkish-Cypriot community. The aid is to help develop the north's infrastructure and prepare for reunification, says the Commission.

Click here for the latest on the Cyprus talks.


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