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EU leaders say Cyprus solution would ease Turkey's EU aspirations
2003-12-12 12:45:01

by Nicos Bellos

Brussels, Dec 12 (CNA) -- The European Council has underlined that a settlement of the Cyprus problem would greatly facilitate Turkey's EU membership aspirations.

In their conclusions on Turkey at the end of the European Council in Brussels today, EU leaders also stressed the importance of Turkey's expression of political will to settling the Cyprus problem.

They also welcomed "the considerable and determined efforts by the Turkish government to accelerate the pace of reforms, many of which are significant in political and legal terms", noting that the "legislative packages so far adopted, the first important steps taken to ensure effective implementation, as well as the progress in addressing many priorities under the Copenhagen political criteria and in the revised Accession Partnership have brought Turkey closer to the Union".

The EU leaders also said Turkey has "made significant progress in meeting the Copenhagen economic criteria", adding however that "further sustained efforts are needed, in particular as regards strengthening the independence and functioning of the judiciary, the overall framework for the exercise of fundamental freedoms (association, expression and religion), the further alignment of civil-military relations with European practice, the situation in the Southeast of the country and cultural rights. Turkey also has to overcome macro-economic imbalances and structural short shortcomings".

In the conclusions, "the European Council underlines the importance of Turkey's expression of political will to settling the Cyprus problem. In this respect a settlement of the Cyprus problem, based on the principles set out in section 4 below, would greatly facilitate Turkey's membership aspirations".

The European Council further "encourages Turkey to build on the substantial progress achieved so far in its preparations for launching accession negotiations and underlines its commitment to work towards full implementation of the pre-accession strategy with Turkey, including the revised Accession Partnership, in view of the decision to be taken by the European Council in December 2004 on the basis of the report and recommendations of the Commission?.

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