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Verheugen: no complacency justified
2003-06-17 09:21:23

Nicosia, Jun 17 (CNA) -- European Union Commissioner responsible for enlargement Gunter Verheugen has stressed that no complacency is justified in the effort to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus before the country joins the Union, in May 2004.

Speaking after a meeting here today with Cyprus House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias, he expressed the highest appreciation for what Cyprus has achieved in its accession course, in spite of problems and threats.|

The Commissioner said he received assurances that the Greek Cypriot side is firmly committed to the resumption of the talks, on the basis of a UN peace proposal.

''I have the highest appreciation to the Parliament for its strong efforts to adopt EU legislation, this has not been very easy thing but it had to be done, Cyprus was able to finalise the whole process based on its own merits and this is extremely important,'' he said.

He said he discussed future tasks relating to the European Parliament, including the 2004 elections and said he was pleased that the House would ratify the EU Accession Treaty probably before the summer recess.

''Cyprus' accession process is really a true success story, if you consider how the situation was three or four years ago, now the process was finalised without a serious political crisis and the threats did not come true, on the contrary the situation is improving and this is out of our strong and common efforts,'' he added.

Turkey had warned the EU and Cyprus of serious repercussions if the country accedes to the Union prior to a solution.

On the present situation in Cyprus, he said ''we are in full agreement that we must not be complacent and must try very hard to find a political solution before the 1 May, there might be a window of opportunity before this date.''

Asked how and when a new effort for a solution should begin, he replied ''this is not my business, the peace process is the responsibility of the UN, this is a decision of the Secretary General.''

''I support fully his view that he should resume talks if and when he has sufficient guarantees that this time it will work, the Greek Cypriot side is clear and firm in its commitment, it is ready to discuss and sees the Annan plan as basis for the talks and shares the view that the final solution must be built on that,'' Verheugen said.

Today the most important thing was to get a clear message, and I got it, that the Greek Cypriot side stands ready and is prepared to do it, he concluded.

In his remarks, the House President thanked warmly the Commissioner for his contribution to the completion of the accession negotiations and said both he and the EU in general showed understanding for the problems Cyprus was facing, including the island's division as a result of continuing Turkish occupation.

''I assured him that the House will do all it can to fulfill our task for full harmonisation and said that we would continue to work to implement the confidence building measures as well as measures for the Turkish Cypriot community,'' he said.

He reiterated that these measures are not the solution and that the Greek Cypriot side is committed to begin peace negotiations with a view at finding a settlement before May 1, 2004.

Verheugen continues his contacts today and concludes his meetings tomorrow in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus. He leaves tomorrow afternoon.

CNA MM/GP/2003

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