Ferrero-Waldner regrets the outcome of the referendum in Cyprus, "Division must not be permanent"
Vienna, 24 April 2004 - In a first reaction tonight Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner expressed her regret at the negative outcome of the referendum on the Greek side of Cyprus. "The will of the people must of course be respected. Nevertheless, despite our understanding for the fears and concerns that may have prompted a majority of people on the Greek side of Cyprus to reject the proposal, we would have liked to see them grasp this chance for a reunification of the long divided island and a historic reconciliation with the population in the Turkish part of Cyprus," Ferrero-Waldner said.
The Foreign Minister in this context expressed her acknowledgement and thanks to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his efforts and to Greece and Turkey for the constructive role they had played in the process. "As things stand at the moment, we should do all we can to prevent the division of the island becoming permanent. I therefore appeal to both sides of Cyprus to desist from any unilateral action that might prejudice a future solution and would like to encourage them to resume the talks as soon as the situation appears favourable. After all, thanks to the impressive effort made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, his comprehensive plan is still on the table. The fact that the referendum resulted in a positive vote on the Turkish side of Cyprus should be appropriately honoured by the international community," Ferrero-Waldner stated.
In this context, Ferrero-Waldner proposed that a practicable arrangement, paying due regard above all to the economic dimension, should be elaborated between the territories under effective control of the Republic of Cyprus and the territories outside this control. "In this connection I welcome the Commission's intention to prepare measures to support the Turkish side of the island," Ferrero-Waldner said.