I am very pleased to accept your Letter of Credence, which appoints you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States of America. I also acknowledge the Letter of Recall of your predecessor, Ambassador Jacovides.
On behalf of the American people, I would like to extend my best wishes to President Glafcos Clerides and to the people of Cyprus.
Mr. Ambassador, yours, as we all know, is a small island nation, but, because of the talents of its population, bears enormous potential. Well- situated at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Cyprus could become a vital regional business, communications, educational, and health center.
Our desire to see Cyprus reach its full potential is one reason my administration has placed such importance an efforts to end the island's division. This sad division has prevented the country from playing its rightful role in the region. No nation can flourish as long as U.N. peacekeeping troops are needed to patrol its territory, as long as a no- man's zone cuts across its land, and as long as its capital city is divided. Prosperity requires peace, and it is peace we seek for Cyprus and the entire Eastern Mediterranean.
When I appointed Richard Beattie as my special emissary for Cyprus in January 1995, the first such emissary in 17 years, I wanted to demonstrate my personal commitment to promoting a Cyprus peace settlement. Since then, Mr. Beattie and others among my representatives, including Ambassador Albright, have engaged with resolve and have tried to move things forward. Never easy, their work has been particularly challenging in recent months after a series of violent and tragic incidents on Cyprus last summer and fall. This violence heightened tensions to their worst level since 1974 and was yet another reminder of the danger of the status quo on the island.
In the coming year, we will assess developments in the region and consider how the United States can join with the international community to facilitate an intercommunal agreement on Cyprus. Our aim is to see the two Cypriot communities reconciled and to promote lasting stability in the eastern Mediterranean. Nonetheless, our role can be that of facilitator only. It will be up to the people of Cyprus, with the support of Greece and Turkey, to conclude a durable agreement that will meet their needs equitably. In this endeavor, Cyprus can be assured of the backing and good will of the United States.
As we receive a new ambassador, it is also important to note that for the United States, Cyprus represents more than just a "problem." Our two countries have enjoyed a solid and enduring friendship for many years. I am pleased that this relationship has deepened under the stewardship of President Clerides. Today, we cooperate on a number of important issues, such as trade control matters and regional law enforcement. It was during President Clerides' visit to Washington last June that we concluded a bilateral extradition treaty, further enhancing our law enforcement cooperation.
As well, our commercial ties continue to strengthen. In 1995, the United States became the number-one exporter to Cyprus, surpassing even the United Kingdom, the former colonial ruler. We were very gratified by this achievement. Today, we continue to work with Cyprus in eliminating all remaining barriers to fair trade.
Mr. Ambassador, I have no doubt that yours will be one of the most challenging assignments a Cypriot ambassador to the United States has had in many years. Many believe 1997 will be a critical year for Cyprus because of EU accession talks, now expected to begin in early 1998. We look forward to working with you on efforts to achieve a solution for Cyprus and on expanding our bilateral relations even further.
I understand you studied in the United States and that this is your third posting to Washington. We are very fortunate to have an ambassador who is already so familiar with the United States. We are confident you will use your insights and experience to the benefit of both our countries. I wish you and your family a warm welcome and hope you will find your time here rewarding.