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EU Ambassador says Cyprus' accession adds new focus
2003-04-16 12:46:19

Nicosia, Apr 16 (CNA) -- Cyprus' accession to the EU will add a new focus to the work of the Union, Ambassador Adriaan van der Meer, Head of the European Commission's Delegation in Nicosia said here today, adding that the EU strongly supports the continuation of UN efforts and negotiations in order to reach a lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Speaking during a ceremony in the gardens of the Nicosia Municipality on the occasion of the signing in Athens by Cyprus of the Accession Treaty with the EU, van der Meer said the Union would do all it could to support projects in Cyprus that would further build trust and common understanding between the two communities, adding that the whole of Cyprus would be acceding to the bloc and the acquis communautaire ''will be suspended in the northern part of the island'' until a solution is achieved.

Van der Meer said today's enlargement of the Union is ''without doubt one of Europe's most important achievements'', adding that ''this enlargement is not an opportunity to reunify our continent, it is very simply a historical obligation to address and remedy our past''.

''The accession of Cyprus will add a new focus to the work of the EU. Together with Cypriots, we will have to work to defend our common values and goals in the Mediterranean. This southward enlargement will indeed bring a new geographic dimension to the Union, providing access to the Eastern Mediterranean, to the Middle East. Cyprus's role is crucial'', he added. |

He noted that today's enlargement was different, as ''it is the best prepared in our European history''.

''We are now adding 10 new countries with 75 million citizens to the Union. This will increase the population of the European Union by 20% and the area by 23%. The average GDP per capita of approximately 40% of the existing numbers signifies a clear difference compared to previous Enlargements'', van der Meer said.

The Ambassador noted that ''today's signature is very important, it is the last step towards full membership'', adding that ''Cyprus will participate in the work of our institutions, in the European Parliament, in the Council and in the various committees under the Commission''.

He noted that ''preparations by the new Member States should continue, reforms are still needed and preparations for accession to the EU must be finalised at full speed'', adding that ''this also applies to Cyprus''.

Referring to the Cyprus problem, van der Meer said ''the EU strongly supports the continuation of the UN Secretary General's mission of good offices and of negotiations on the basis of his proposals in order to reach a lasting settlement'', adding that ''the division of the island should soon be brought to an end''.

''The EU will do all it can to support projects in Cyprus that will further build trust and common understanding between the communities. We will accelerate our activities where possible'', he said.

The Ambassador noted that ''the whole island of Cyprus will accede to the European Union'' and that the acquis communautaire ''will only be suspended in the northern part of the island in case of no solution at the moment of accession''.

He said ''a special procedure is foreseen in the Accession Treaty to lift this suspension as soon as possible after a settlement under the good offices mission of the UN Secretary General''.

''This so-called enabling facility will allow Turkish Cypriots living on the island to become part of our European family very quickly'', he added.

Van der Meer said ''our arrangement reflects the Union's readiness to accommodate the terms of a comprehensive settlement in the accession arrangements for Cyprus, it enables the institutions of the Union to decide on the necessary adaptations to these arrangements in order to take account of the specific situation of the Turkish Cypriot community'', adding that ''the purpose is precisely to allow integration of the Turkish Cypriots in the EU''.

''The EU underlines that the arrangement will only enter into force on 1 May 2004 if there is no solution. There is still more than one year before accession and the EU trusts that a settlement can be reached before that date. In this event the relevant protocol would be adapted to the new state of affairs before the Accession Treaty will have legal effect'', he said.

The Ambassador also paid a ''special tribute to all peace-loving Cypriots, in particular Turkish Cypriots'', noting that ''as the UN Secretary General had said in The Hague we have not given up on them, on the contrary we are with the Turkish Cypriots who have clearly shown their wish to be included in the EU''.

''Cyprus will soon participate with equal rights and equal obligations in the EU's decision-making process. The EU is a Union of minorities where no single country has a majority. The EU is a unique case in world history in terms of respect for the rights of all its members irrespective of whether they are big or small'', he said.


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