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Cyprus problem should be on EU agenda, says Pera
2003-05-30 11:48:49

Nicosia, May 30 (CNA) -- The Cyprus problem could and should be put on the EU agenda, President of the Senate of Italy Marcello Pera said today. Pera is currently visiting the island at the invitation of Cyprus House of Representative President Demetris Christofias.

Speaking to the press after talks with Christofias, Pera said they had the opportunity to congratulate each other for the very good relations between Italy and Cyprus.

Welcoming the President of the Italian Senate, Christofias noted the close bilateral political, economic and cultural relations that are continuously strengthening.|

''I welcome him to Cyprus, as a friend, and of course a partner in the framework of the European Union, the presidency of which is soon to be undertaken by Italy, and of course as a partner in the Mediterranean and an area that has greatly contributed to the creation of the European civilization,'' Christofias said.

Referring to the easing of restrictions on the freedom of movement to and from the island's Turkish occupied areas, Pera said that ''there are some positive prospects now that people from the north of Cyprus are moving and there are some exchanges.''

On bilateral relations, he said that ''we have reached several agreements in different fields, such as security, illegal immigration, economy and culture, and we also have stressed our satisfaction for Cyprus entering the EU, which is not just an enlargement of the EU but it is a sort of a unification of Europe and also a rediscovering of the common Mediterranean roots.''

''That explains'', he added, ''why we have such a good relationship'' and noted that the EU could have a role to play in efforts to solve the problem of the division of Cyprus.

He expressed the view that ''this problem could be and should be put on the agenda of the EU, especially now that we are going to have a unique Constitution, a sort of a Bill of Rights, which in particular allows people to live together and to move freely.''

Asked what Cypriots should expect from Italy now that the country is undertaking the Presidency of EU for the second half of the year 2003, Pera said ''the situation is very complicated but I think that Europe could start talking and thinking seriously about taking this problem as one the points on its agenda.''

He added that ''of course the UN play a role'' but expressed the opinion that ''Europe, especially now that Cyprus is part of Europe and Turkey is going to be a part of Europe, something that Italy supports and favours, it is time for Europe's support, especially at the moment when we are talking about a single internal and foreign policy''.

Pera was accompanied by Italian Ambassador to Cyprus Gherardo la Francesca and Secretary General of the Italian Senate Antonio Malaschini.

At the end of their meeting, Christofias and Pera exchanged gifts.

Pera also met today with Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Interior Minister Andreas Christou and later on visited the UN-controlled buffer zone.

He departs from the island this evening.


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