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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Releases > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Remarks > 2002 > June

The U.S. and Cyprus

Michael Klosson, Ambassador-Designate to Cyprus
Confirmation Hearing Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
June 25, 2002

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am deeply honored to appear before you today as President Bush's nominee to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus. I am grateful for the trust placed in me by President Bush and Secretary of State Powell.

I would like to introduce two members of my family who are with me today. My wife, Boni Bender-Klosson, who also served in the Foreign Service, and my older daughter, Emily Klosson, who just completed tenth grade. My youngest daughter, Karen Klosson, had to stay in Hong Kong, very reluctantly I might add, to finish the school year.

It is a particular pleasure for me to be back in this room, where I spent many hours and days in the late 1990's on NATO enlargement and other issues when I served in the State Department's Bureau of Legislative Affairs. I know that numerous members of the Senate have a deep interest in Cyprus, and that considerable expertise on this issue rests in this body. If confirmed, I will continue to consult and work closely with Congress to advance the full range of American interests in Cyprus.

In my twenty-seven years as a career Foreign Service officer, I have spent roughly equal periods working on European and Asian issues as well as substantial time on global ones in offices such as that of the Secretary of State and Legislative Affairs. This diverse pattern has helped me develop experience and approaches that have been mutually reinforcing. In fact, as I have prepared for my next assignment, pending the Senate's advice and consent, I was struck by some similarities between in our bilateral agenda with Cyprus and Hong Kong, where as chief of mission I have worked to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation, promote American exports, boost protection of intellectual property rights, enhance anti-money laundering systems, and counter proliferation.

My three assignments involving Europe were spent working in support of a strong and stable Europe closely allied and related to the United States in the broader transatlantic partnership. As a deputy director in the Office of European Regional and Political affairs as well as deputy chief of mission in Stockholm and The Hague, I contributed to U.S. policy toward the OSCE, NATO and the European Union (EU) as well as enlisted the support of the Swedish and Dutch governments for various U.S. initiatives.

The Bilateral Relationship

The state of our bilateral relationship with the Republic of Cyprus is strong. Visits to the United States this year by former President Vassiliou, House of Representatives President Christofias, and House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Anastassiades reflect the closeness of our ties. If confirmed, it would be one of my major goals to continue cultivating and strengthening the bilateral relationship in support of key U.S. priorities.

The United States appreciates Cyprus' cooperation in counter-terrorism since September 11, and its willingness to be a good friend and partner on other matters of importance to us. Recently, the Government of Cyprus was of enormous help when it agreed to allow the thirteen Palestinians in Bethlehem to stopover temporarily on their way to final destinations in the EU.

We also have a very good track record on working with the Government of Cyprus on other bilateral issues of mutual interest, including law enforcement cooperation. For example, I was pleased to note that the Cypriot House of Representatives recently ratified an important MLAT agreement with the United States.

If confirmed, I will make it one of my top priorities to continue to focus on the commercial side of our relationship with Cyprus, as I have done in my other assignments in Europe and Asia. The Republic of Cyprus has a dynamic, thriving economy, and our commercial ties will be even more important for U.S. businesses as Cyprus heads toward a future in the European Union.

I want to say a particular word about the $15 million in ESF funds that Congress provides each year for Cyprus. This supports our critically important bi-communal programs on the island, and we are grateful to Congress for providing it. I will work to ensure it is well-spent and advances our interest in a comprehensive settlement.

Prospects for a Settlement

The United States has long believed that is it is important to achieve a just and durable comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem because it would benefit Cyprus, the region, and U.S. interests. There is a real window of opportunity now to reach a settlement in the direct talks between the two leaders, before the EU takes its decision on enlargement at the Copenhagen Council in December.

The UN Secretary General and his Special Advisor Alvaro de Soto, through the Good Offices mission, are playing a critically important role in this process. We will continue to make every effort to support their efforts, to press others to do the same, and to call for greater urgency in the negotiations. If confirmed, I look forward to working as part of the team of U.S. officials -- Special Coordinator for Cyprus Tom Weston, our Ambassador in Athens Tom Miller, our Ambassador in Ankara Bob Pearson and others who are engaged in this effort.

It is ultimately up to the two leaders, with the support of all in the international community who care about the Cyprus issues, to reach an agreement that will lead to a comprehensive settlement. As the United States has articulated many times over the years, however, we believe that a Cyprus solution must be based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, and that it is possible to reach a settlement that addresses the legitimate concerns of both sides and promotes regional stability.

Conclusion

Mr. Chairman, I greatly appreciate this opportunity to appear at this confirmation hearing today, and, with the Senate's advice and consent, look forward to working on all of these important issues with the Congress. Thank you.



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