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Verheugen says Cyprus solution still possible by February 28
2003-02-21 00:06:50

Nicosia, Feb 20 (CNA) -- EU Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen has said a solution to the Cyprus problem by February 28, 2003, was still possible and welcomed the forthcoming visit of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Cyprus (February 26).

In statements he made on Tuesday, in front of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Verheugen stressed that the Commission urges the parties to seize this unique opportunity and to reach a settlement in the coming week.|

''The peace process in Cyprus must proceed as foreseen,'', he noted and recalled the Commission's strong support for the continuing final efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem by February 28.

''A solution by that date is still possible and would thus allow a united Cyprus to sign the Accession Treaty,'' Verheugen added.

He pointed out that ''a solution would benefit all Cypriots and would help bring peace and stability to Cyprus and the whole region. With this in view, the Commission urges the parties to seize this unique opportunity and to reach a settlement in the coming week.''

The Commissioner also pointed out that the Commission and the Member States have consistently underlined that the acquis should not be an obstacle to a settlement and that they were ready to accommodate the terms of a settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principles on which the European Union is founded.

Moreover, he recalled the Commission's willingness to organise an International Donors' Conference for Cyprus.

Cyprus has been invited by the 2002 Copenhagen European Council along with other nine countries to join the EU.

UN has been conducting direct talks between the two sides in Cyprus with a view to reach a comprehensive settlement to the protracted problem of Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of its territory.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who will visit the island on February 26-28 has set February 28 as a target date for a solution to be found.


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