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Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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The search for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus Problem has been and remains a high priority for the Government. For seven years, our contribution has been led with great distinction by Lord Hannay as Special Representative for Cyprus. But in the light of recent developments, we have been reviewing the arrangements for ensuring an active British input into Cyprus diplomacy.My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have therefore accepted Lord Hannay's recommendation that his term should end with effect from the date of this announcement, and I have decided, for the time being at least, not to make any further appointment of this kind. Lord Hannay has worked with enormous professionalism and dedication, in support of the United Nations, to bring peace, security and prosperity to Cyprus in the form of a comprehensive settlement to enable a reunited Cyprus to join the European Union in 2004. Lord Hannay's support and advice during his time as Special Representative—invaluable here in London, but also singled out for praise by the UN Secretary-General and many of our international partners—have brought this country great credit.The UN process culminated in the second revision of the Plan which the UN Secretary-General presented to the parties on 26 February, and in negotiations which reached a climax in The Hague on 11 March this year. For reasons set out in the subsequent report by the UN Secretary-General and endorsed in UN Security Council Resolution 1475, this final effort ended in failure, for which the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Denktash, bore the prime responsibility. It is the British Government's firm view that the Annan Plan remains the best way forward. We also concur with the Secretary-General's judgement that he should not take a new initiative unless and until he is given solid reason by all the parties to believe that the political will necessary for a successful outcome exists and that they are prepared to commit to finalising the Plan by a specific date and to putting it to separate simultaneous referenda on a date soon thereafter.The House will understand that this announcement in no way indicates a weakening of the Government's determination to work with others under the aegis of the UN to find a solution to the Cyprus Problem. Should events again make it appropriate for a Special Representative to be appointed, the Government will not hesitate to do so.