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2003-04-24 10:43:50

Nicosia, 23 April 2003

The EU?Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) held its 23rd meeting on 22-23 April 2003 in Nicosia. It was co-chaired by Mrs Mechtild ROTHE (Party of the European Socialists ? Germany) and Mr. Nicos CLEANTHOUS (Democratic Party- Cyprus).

In their statements , they deplored the fact that due to the overall negative stance of Mr. Denktash and Turkey, Cyprus has not been able to accede to the EU re-unified. They pointed to Cyprus? substantial role as a bridge between the EU and the wider Middle East, which presents advantages for the EU, particularly as far as its Euro-Mediterranean policy is concerned. They stressed the great importance of the JPC in assisting in the implementation of the wish of Cyprus to join the European family and expressed gratitude to all those who had contributed to this end. Mr. CLEANTHOUS pointed out that Cyprus? accession to the EU was the result of hard work and sacrifices made by its people and that Cyprus is aware of and ready to honour its commitments. As regards the Cyprus problem, he underlined the commitment of the Greek Cypriot side to a just and viable settlement based on the pertinent UN resolutions despite the negative attitude of the Turkish Cypriot leader and the Turkish government. Mrs ROTHE noted that by 1st May 2004, Cyprus, the first candidate country to have submitted an application for accession, will be a fully fledged member of the Union. Stressing that as long as the Cyprus problem remains unresolved, Turkey cannot aspire to join the Union, she drew attention to the hope still existing of Cyprus acceding to the EU as a re-unified country by 2004. The JPC welcomed the assent given by the European Parliament on 9 April to the application by the Republic of Cyprus to become a member of the European Union.

Furthermore, the JPC regretted the repression of freedom of expression and of opposition in the occupied part of Cyprus exercised by the Turkish Cypriot leader against supporters of a positive response to the UN peace efforts.

A welcome message from H.E. the President of the Republic and former Co-Chair of the JPC, Mr. Tassos PAPADOPOULOS, was read out. In his message the President referred to the failure of the efforts of the UN Secretary General pertaining to a comprehensive settlement of the problem, which was due to the intransigent attitude of the Turkish Cypriot leader who had the backing of the Turkish government. The President pointed out that despite this setback, he remained committed to a just and viable settlement of the problem. Such a settlement would lead to the reunification of Cyprus and to conditions of prosperity, security and respect of the European principles and ideals for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike.

The members of the Joint Committee had been received by the President at the presidential palace that morning.

Mr. Christos PANAGOPOULOS, Ambassador, representing the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Mr. George IACOVOU, Foreign Minister of Cyprus and Mr. Adrian VAN DER MEER, Head of Commission Delegation to Cyprus addressed the meeting, and took part in the discussions. In their statements, they focused on the political situation in Cyprus and EU-Cyprus relations, in the light of the signature of the Treaty of Accession of Cyprus to the EU, signed in Athens on 16 April.

Mr PANAGOPOULOS reminded the Joint Committee that the UN Secretary-General?s plan remained on the table but that both sides would have to state a firm commitment to proceed if the UN was to continue its efforts.

Mr. IACOVOU deplored the fact that despite efforts exerted by the Government of Cyprus, the United Nations and the European Union, Cyprus was not to accede to the EU as a reunified country, due to the intransigent position of Mr. Denktash and his ultimate rejection of the UN Plan. This refusal, backed up by Turkey, had denied hope and future prospects to Turkish Cypriots. He stressed the will and commitment of the Government of Cyprus to pursue negotiations in good faith, under the aegis of the United Nations Secretary-General and on the basis of UN resolutions. Noting the Cyprus Government?s commitment to ensure peace, security and prosperity for all its citizens, he announced that a policy of measures to support Turkish Cypriots is in its final stage of preparation.

Mr Van der MEER welcomed the signature of the Accession Treaty and the progress in moving towards its ratification but drew attention to the need to accelerate implementation of commitments made during the accession negotiations and the need to promote knowledge about the EU amongst all Cypriot citizens and to respect as far as possible the voting rights of Turkish Cypriots in the proposed law on European Parliament elections. The European Commission continued to support the UN plan as the best solution for all parties.

In the ensuing discussion the following issues were also raised:

- the outcome of an informal exchange of views with representatives of Turkish Cypriot political parties which had taken place with H.E. the Greek Prime Minister, Mr SIMITIS in his role as President-in-Office of the European Union
- the possibility of a more active role for the EU in promoting a solution to the Cyprus problem, in particular with regard to influencing the position of the government of Turkey
- the amount and use of the EU?s budget for facilitating change in the occupied part of Cyprus
- the compatibility of the UN plan?s constitutional proposals with the practical requirements of EU membership.

A discussion on Cyprus? preparations for accession to the European Union was introduced by Mr. Jacques POOS, rapporteur for the European Parliaments? Committee on Foreign Affairs on Cyprus? application for membership of the European Union, by Mr. Takis HADJIDEMETRIOU, head of the negotiating team for the accession of Cyprus to the EU and by Mr. Leopold MAURER, the European Commission?s chief negotiator for Cyprus? accession negotiations with the EU. The remaining practical problems in implementing the Community acquis were also addressed.

The assessment of the Commission?s report on the results of the negotiations on Cyprus? accession, the monitoring of the progress made with regard to Cyprus? commitments in the pre-accession period and the ratification of the Accession Treaty in the EU Member States, as well as the European Parliament?s preparations for enlargement were at the core of the discussion which followed.

The JPC supported the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly within the Barcelona Process in order to promote the goals of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, including security and stability in the region.

The JPC also held an exchange of views on the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe. Mrs Fran?oise GROSSET?TE and Mrs Androula VASSILIOU briefed the Members on the positive results obtained, as well as on the issues still subject to negotiations, after a year?s work, to be concluded by the end of June. They stressed the significant input the Convention is expected to bring to the forthcoming Inter-Governmental Conference to be concluded in the second half of 2003. While welcoming progress made so far, they deplored the lack of political will on behalf of states to achieve a Common Foreign and Security Policy, which is essential if the European Union is to play a political role on the international scene corresponding to its economic weight.

Lastly, the Joint Parliamentary Committee dealt with issues concerning city planning and the proposed reconstruction of the desolate city of Famagusta on the basis of a presentation by Mr. Demetris SYLLOURIS. He underlined the urgent need for the adoption of a programme for the reconstruction of Famagusta to be funded by the European Union, which would incorporate comprehensive town planning. Τhe meeting was also addressed by the Mayor of Famagusta, Mr. Yiannakis SKORDIS. The JPC will be visiting the Famagusta area in the afternoon of 23 April 2003 and meet the Mayor and members of the Municipal Council of Famagusta.

The JPC will also meet the Mayor of Nicosia, Mr. Michael Zampelas and be briefed on the Nicosia Master Plan.

The next meeting of the JPC will be held in Brussels in the autumn of 2003.

For further information contact:

Mr. Henrik OLSEN
Mr. Socrates SOCRATOUS
European Parliament
House of Representative of the Republic of Cyprus
Tel (32 2) 284 27 79
Tel (357) 22407304
Fax (32 2) 284 6830
Fax (357) 22668611
e-mail: holsen@europarl.eu.int
e-mail: convention@parliament.cy

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