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With or without solution Cyprus will accede EU, says Verheugen
2003-03-04 13:46:53

By Nicos Bellos -- Brussels, Mar 4 (CNA) ? Enlargement Commissioner, Gunter Verheugen, made it clear that with or without a settlement Cyprus is expected to accede to the European Union (EU) by 1 May 2004.

Speaking at an enlargement seminar with UK parliamentarians in London, Verheugen said a settlement ''would also bring peace and stability to Cyprus and the whole region" and urged both parties to "seize this unique opportunity" noting "it will not come back".

In his speech, Verheugen said "efforts to reach a settlement on the unification of Cyprus will continue right up to the signing of the Treaty" but stressed: "Let me be clear on one point. With or without a settlement Cyprus is expected to accede to the EU by 1 May 2004".|

Verheugen said "our preference is clear. We hope that it will be a united Cyprus that we will welcome as member. We therefore strongly support the UN led efforts to reach a solution. We have reiterated at several occasions the EU's willingness to accommodate the terms of a settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principals on which the EU is founded".

The UN proposal on the table would benefit all Cypriots", said Verheugen, adding "it would also bring peace and stability to Cyprus and the whole region. The parties should therefore seize this unique opportunity", the EU Commissioner said, noting, "it will not come back".

Verheugen said it is not only about peace and stability, remarking "no settlement would lead to continued economic decline and isolation for the northern part. We can also expect that the affluent Turkish Cypriots will leave the island. The massive demonstrations we have seen over the last weeks show the concern in the Turkish Cypriot community".

He advised Turkey to "reflect over the consequence of a non-settlement for its EU aspirations", stressing that he has made this very clear during his recent visit to Turkey.

Verheugen stressed that "after 1 May 2004 they would face a situation where Turkey does not recognise one of EU's member states. It is difficult to see how it would be possible to start accession negotiations under such circumstances", he added.

The EU Commissioner said "on our part, we are prepared to give substantial support to the northern part of the island once an agreement has been reached" and reminded that he has taken initiative to a donors' conference, immediately after a settlement, that would raise funds for meeting costs relating to in particular the resettling of Turkish Cypriots on the island, as well as resettling of Turkish settlers in Turkey.

"If we don't have a settlement, the Treaty will include provisions making it clear that the EU legislation does not extend to the northern part but with an enabling clause making an extension possible in the event of a settlement in the future", he added.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.

The UN Secretary-General Annan said last week he expects the leaders of the two communities on the island to travel to The Hague on 10 March to tell him whether or not they would sign a commitment to submit the Foundation Agreement to approval at separate simultaneous referenda on 30 March in order to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

CNA/NB/EC/MK/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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