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SI Mediterranean Committee HOLDS MEETING IN LIMASSOL in support of negotiations for a united Cyprus

26-27 March 2004



The Socialist International Mediterranean Committee, meeting in Limassol, Cyprus, on 26-27 March 2004, at a moment when after years of division the people of this country have the opportunity to heal wounds, overcome differences and chart a common future for a united Cyprus, expresses its hope that the current negotiations underway will lead to an agreeable and mutually beneficial solution acceptable to all Cypriots.

This gathering, convening leaders and representatives from the EDEK Movement of Social Democrats of Cyprus, a member of the Socialist International and host of the meeting; the Republican Turkish Party, CTP; the Peace and Democracy Movement, BDH; and the United Cyprus party, BKP, demonstrates the clear will for a united country that exists among Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the capacity of the political forces participating in the meeting to work toward that end, and the potential for those political forces, inspired by the principles and values of social democracy, to shape a common future based on fairness, opportunity, democracy and solidarity for all.

In particular, the meeting focused its discussions on the five main themes of 'Advancing new economic opportunities for the people of a united Cyprus', 'Strengthening the common cultural heritage of the people of Cyprus', 'The role of local authorities in bringing people together in a united Cyprus', 'The contribution of social democracy in Cyprus', and 'The solution of the Cyprus issue as a contributing factor to peace and stability in the region'.

With regard to the first theme, there was agreement that a solution to the Cyprus question, with a unified Cyprus joining the European Union, would enhance the economic opportunities for all Cypriots.

The new economic potential under fair competition should not be hindered by restrictions on free market conditions, while efforts should be made to close the economic disparity between the two sides of the island. Peace in Cyprus will provide greater economic opportunities for the Turkish Cypriot side, which at the same time would be supported by relevant EU funding sources. Common efforts for a common economy are essential for a prosperous future for all in Cyprus. Joint ventures between investors as well as common labour unions will reduce the tendency toward ethnicity-based approaches, which will help to ensure a sustainable peace.

The cultural heritage of Cyprus is recognized as being a 'World Heritage'. It is a unique and manifest example of the miracle which has been achieved by the People of Cyprus over the past 2000 years. The monuments built on Cyprus are a living embodiment of the values to which all Cypriots aspire: Peace, Progress and Coexistence. The people of Cyprus aim to be natural and authentic citizens of a common culture in the context of a new European home. For Cypriots, this is a basic human right, part of the entire set of democratic rights that belong to the present and all future generations.

Local authorities must play a key role in bringing Cypriots together. Municipal governments are in daily and close contact with citizens and therefore should be instrumental in creating a united Cyprus. The experience of cooperation between the two municipalities of Nicosia, especially on sewerage and on the Nicosia Master Plan which are still in operation, will help in the task of developing further joint ventures in various areas of municipal responsibility. This in turn will promote and facilitate reconciliation, rapprochement and common actions between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Reunification of Nicosia and the restoration and revitalization of what has been the buffer zone will be challenging work for all. Twinning municipal programmes with foreign counterparts should be supported by the EU as a way to provide greater cooperation between municipalities and citizens of different countries.

The role of social democracy is crucial for the future of Cyprus. Within a difficult climate of intense polarization, social democracy is a strong catalyst for promoting unification of the country, as social democrats work to overcome ethnic and religious divisions by bringing people together based on the fundamental values of peace, security, democracy and respect for human rights. At the same time, the hope is for a common social democratic movement that incorporates all the ethnic communities of Cyprus. Social democracy provides the best guarantee for a viable, just and lasting solution in Cyprus, based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law and the acquis communautaire.

Such a positive outcome in Cyprus would contribute to the prospects for peace and stability in the region. A democratic solution to decades of division in Cyprus would serve as an inspiration to all those working to bridge differences and resolve conflicts in nations of the Mediterranean community, particularly in the Middle East. It would also underline that dialogue and negotiation are the only way to reduce tensions and to achieve an equitable and lasting peace, and that the process is strengthened when the role of women is enhanced as envisioned under UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

The Socialist International therefore stands today with Cyprus in this defining moment of its history and will continue to closely follow the developments in the coming days, mindful of the fundamental choice facing Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and committed to supporting in every possible way their efforts to achieve a united, democratic Cyprus.

Limassol, 27 March 2004

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