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Progress in Cyprus dispute.

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FA46 2 April 2004


I welcome the UN Secretary-General’s final plan to settle the Cyprus dispute, and express the strong hope that the people of Cyprus will accept it. The plan was presented at the conclusion of a week of talks in Switzerland between leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and the Greek and Turkish Governments.

The Secretary-General’s plan calls for a federal government composed of two constituent states both largely running their own affairs. The Secretary-General has said that the plan is workable, fair and provides Cypriots with a secure framework for a common future.

Australia is a longstanding supporter of efforts to achieve a settlement to the Cyprus dispute. We have maintained a police presence on Cyprus since 1964 and our Special Envoy to Cyprus, the Hon. Jim Short, has provided a valuable Australian contribution to international efforts to achieve a settlement.

The settlement effort in Cyprus is at a critical juncture. Simultaneous referenda will be held by both communities on 24 April to decide whether or not the settlement plan is accepted. If both referenda succeed, Cyprus will be able to enter the EU as a unified country on 1 May 2004, an outcome that would be welcomed by the whole international community.

I urge Cypriot leaders to do all in their power to encourage their Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to seize the opportunity before them to achieve a lasting and peaceful settlement to the Cyprus dispute that all agree has remained unresolved for far too long.

Media inquiries: Andrew Park (Ministerial) 02-6277 7500 / 0418 253 285 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555