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Cyprus Problem and the EU
2003-04-15 18:12:56

By Emilia Christofi-- Nicosia, Apr 15 (CNA) -- As Cyprus signs the Accession Treaty of the European Union on Wednesday, it remains the only divided country in Europe, with 37 per cent of its territory under Turkish occupation since 1974.

The accession process was widely believed to act as a catalyst in efforts to solve the political problem.

As UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had said, the European Council decision in Helsinki in 1999 that opened the door to Turkey's candidature for accession, as well as the prospect for enlargement of the EU by ten new members, including Cyprus, produced an EU factor which provided a framework of incentives to reach a settlement, as well as deadlines within which to reach it.

So the great venture began. Annan decided by the end of 1999 to launch a new effort that would allow the Treaty of Accession of the EU to be signed by a united Cyprus, which culminated with the submission of his plan on 11 November 2002 which was a basis for agreement on a comprehensive settlement.

This proposal was constructed in such a manner that the two leaders could sign a two-page Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem, the essence of which was that they would commit themselves to finalising negotiations, with United Nations assistance, on the basis of the substantive parts of the plan by 28 February 2003, and submit the plan to separate simultaneous referenda for approval on 30 March 2003.

This would have allowed a new state of affairs to come into being and a reunited Cyprus to sign the Treaty of Accession to the European Union on 16 April 2003.

After intensive consultations, he put forward a revised plan on 10 December, hoping to help the parties reach an agreement in time for the Copenhagen Council on 12 and 13 December, 2002.

As the Copenhagen European Council invited Cyprus to join the European Union, the talks for a political settlement collapsed.

Former Cyprus President, Glafcos Clerides, who is due to attend Wednesday’s ceremony, said in a statement:

"It is with great satisfaction that I announce to the people of Cyprus that the great national aim of Cyprus' accession to the EU has today been completed with the invitation of the Republic of Cyprus to become a member state.

For a long time now we have been waiting for this historical day to come. Today is a landmark in the process or unification of the European continent and a start for a brighter common future.

Our joy for this historical event would be complete if the Cyprus problem was already solved. We are deeply saddened because an agreement for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem was not achieved, despite efforts all these years, efforts which over the past few weeks reached a dramatic height.

However, our commitment to achieve this aim the soonest possible remains, as always, strong.

I address especially our Turkish Cypriot compatriots and call on them not to lose their faith in the necessity to live together in a reunited and prosperous Cyprus, member of the EU.

I would like to assure that until a solution of the Cyprus problem is achieved, the Cypriot government will do everything possible, so that all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, can enjoy the benefits and rights deriving from Cyprus' accession to the EU.

The accession of our country to the united Europe provides us with the necessary certainty to take, over the next few weeks, daring measures that will help create a favourable climate for achieving a solution of our political problem".

After the Copenhagen development and the end of the elections in Cyprus, where Tassos Papadopoulos took over, Annan visited Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, in the last week of February 2003.

Annan formally presented a third version of his plan on 26 February, and invited the leaders to The Hague on 10 March to inform him whether they were prepared to sign a commitment to submit the plan for approval at separate simultaneous referenda on 30 March 2003.

On 11 March, following negotiations with the two leaders and the guarantor powers lasting more than 19 hours, he announced that there had been no such agreement, and at that point the process which had begun in December 1999 reached the end of the road.

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash refused to put to a referendum Annan's proposal for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus and said he wanted radical changes to it.

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said he would put the plan to a referendum but asked for the legal aspects of the plan to be completed and for sufficient time to inform the people about its contents before they voted on it.

So the Greek Cypriots were led to continue the road to the EU, without the Turkish Cypriots.

However, the Government of Cyprus said it would announce measures in support of Turkish Cypriots after the signing of the Accession Treaty with the European Union.

Government Spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said these practical measures aim to create a climate of cooperation and to assist the search for a political settlement.

This way, Turkish Cypriots can enjoy all the benefits of all citizens of the Republic of Cyprus to the greatest degree possible, until a solution is reached.

The wording of the Protocol on Cyprus to be included in the Accession Treaty has been prepared accordingly.

The application of the acquis communautaire in those areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control is therefore suspended. In the event of a solution to the Cyprus problem, this suspension shall be lifted and the EU is ready to accommodate the terms of such a settlement in line with the principles on which the EU is founded.

Membership of the European Union will provide a productive forum for a fair and lasting settlement in Cyprus, and will grant Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots a feeling of security, where their fundamental human rights will be safeguarded, within the framework of the acquis communautaire.

EU position on Cyprus
The European Union has long maintained a clear and unequivocal stance on the Cyprus problem, noting it considers the status quo on the island as unacceptable and supports the UN Secretary-General's efforts for a negotiated, comprehensive, just and lasting settlement, consistent with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the EU said in a declaration on 31 October 2000. Despite the repeated opposition by Rauf Denktash and Turkey towards Cyprus’ accession, and the threats unleashed over and over again, the EU, in a landmark decision at the Helsinki European Council in December 1999, explicitly stated that a solution to the Cyprus problem is not a precondition for the island’s accession to the EU.

This development was mainly achieved by Greek Foreign Minister, George Papandreou and the late, Cypriot born Foreign Undersecretary of Greece Yiannos Kranidiotis, who had played an instrumental role in bringing his homeland closer to the EU.

Fifty-two year old Kranidiotis, with his son Nicholas and another four persons, were killed during a flight to Romania on the Greek Prime Minister's Falcon jet, in September 1999, when the plane lost altitude.

This position has been reaffirmed by the European Council in the conclusions of its Nice summit on 9 December 2000 while the European Parliament said in a resolution on 5 September 2001, that it expresses support for the creation of a “joint state with a single sovereignty and indivisible, which would have a single citizenship and guarantee fundamental freedoms and human rights”.

Specifically, the paragraph read:

"The European Council underlines that a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the EU. If no settlement has been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the Council’s decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition. In this, the Council will take account of all relevant factors".

Joint Parliamentary Committee
In early 1992, the joint Cyprus-EC Parliamentary Committee was established which composed of 31 members, 19 of which were members of the European Parliament and the remaining 12 members of the House of Representatives.

The committee plays an important role in strengthening relations between the Cyprus Parliament and the Euro Parliament.

It is scheduled to meet again on April 22 in Nicosia for its 23rd meeting. The JPC will continue meeting until Cyprus formally enters the EU in May 2004.|



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