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Verheugen says no EU talks for Turkey with Cyprus issue pending
2003-11-17 09:26:41

Nicosia, Nov 16 (CNA) - The Cyprus question may not be included in the Copenhagen criteria for Turkey's accession to the EU, but no serious person would think it possible for Turkey to commence accession negotiations with the EU while the Cyprus issue remains unsolved, Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen has said.

United Democrats President George Vassiliou told CNA that Verheugen also pointed out that the key to a Cyprus solution is not in Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash' hands but in the hands of Turkey.

Verheugen was addressing the Europa Forum organised by the Helvet Quand foundation in collaboration with Financial Times. The Forum wrapped up its works in Berlin yesterday.

In a speech during the panel discussion, Verheugen noted that some time in the future all Balkan countries would be able to join the EU, based on the same values and conditions that apply for Turkey.

According to Vassiliou, Verheugen said the Cyprus question is not officially a criterion to Turkey's EU bid, adding however that the person who thinks that accession negotiations could start with Turkey, with the Cyprus question unsolved, is not serious.

''We should all know that the key for the solution of the Cyprus question is not in Denktash' hands but in Turkey's'', Verheugen said, adding ''it is inconceivable to me that we should hold negotiations with a country which maintains 30.000 troops in a European country''.

During the discussion, British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane referred to the Cyprus question noting that Britain decisively supports the reunification of the island.

Vassiliou told CNA that MacShane said he could not think of any reason why Ankara is not proceeding towards a Cyprus settlement, taking into account the advantages Turkey would obtain from the reunification of the island.

He also pointed out that a blueprint for the reunification of the island is on the table, and this is UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan.

In his remarks, Vassiliou said Turkey is obliged to solve the Cyprus question, adding that the solution could assist Turkey's EU bid.

''A solution is necessary and desirable by all Cypriots but even more by Turkey'', Vassiliou pointed out.

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