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2003-01-24 14:19:58

The European Commission in favour of donor conference to support UN plan on Cyprus

Addressing the Committee for External Relations of the European Parliament, the European Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen, with the full backing of Commission President Prodi, today (23.1.03) expressed the European Commission?s readiness to organize an international donor conference to provide financial support in the context of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question.

The deadline for reaching such a settlement set by the United Nations and supported by the European Union is 28 February. The Commission has considerable experience in the mobilisation of international financial support for persons affected by political changes in countries which had experienced long standing conflict.

In this crucial phase of the UN negotiations aiming to reach a settlement in Cyprus, the international community should express solidarity? said Commissioner Verheugen. This means that it should be ready to support the costs linked to a political solution and the reconciliation of the two communities in Cyprus? he said.

The Commissioner recalled that the EU itself was ready to provide considerable financial support as soon as a settlement is reached to help overcome economic disparities on the island and to prepare the northern part of the island for EU membership as part of a re-united Cyprus.

The international community?s support would provide the necessary assurances and guarantees for the future of those persons affected by a comprehensive settlement.

The conference should be convened as soon as a settlement is reached and endorsed by the Turkish and Greek Cypriots. As a first step, the European Commission would be prepared to make a needs assessment and to contact countries and international institutions which are ready to contribute and to provide their expertise.

The Commission underlines the strong preference expressed by the Copenhagen European Council for the accession of a united Cyprus to the European Union and, with this in view, emphasizes the importance of finalising a comprehensive settlement by 28 February. It urges the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to seize this unique opportunity.

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