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Cyprus and EU Constitution on Papadopoulos' Brussels agenda
2005-03-01 11:56:17

by Nicos Bellos

Brussels, Mar 1 (CNA) -- The European Constitution and the question of Cyprus were the focus of a meeting here today between President Tassos Papadopoulos and Commission vice president Margot Walstrom, whom he briefed about moves by the Cyprus government for the ratification of the constitution.

Papadopoulos said the ratification process will begin in May at the House of Representatives to give time to inform the public at large about the Constitution, noting that May coincides with various events to mark ''Europe week''.

He explained there will be public debates, lectures, TV discussions, school events and a variety of other functions to air both sides of the argument, for and against the Constitution.

Walstrom said the EU could help with suggestions for the promotion campaign and with other material, as needed.

On the question of Cyprus, the Swedish Vice President reiterated what Commission President Jose Barroso had said Monday that the EU must have a more active role.

Papadopoulos and Walstrom exchanged views on how this could be done.

Replying to questions, Papadopoulos said the EU regulation on direct trade between the Union and Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas is problematic not only because of the legal basis on which it is founded but also because of what it proposes.

''It is obvious that no exports can take place from illegal ports in Cyprus because the Court of Justice of the European Communities (in Luxembourg) has ruled to this effect,'' President Papadopoulos said.

Exports from such ports or airports are illegal if the government of the Republic of Cyprus has not declared them legal ports of entry, he said, adding that the Commission cannot take decisions to revoke the specific Court ruling as it is bound by them.

The Luxembourg Court ruled in the mid 90s that citrus and potato exports to the EU from Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas must be accompanied by health certificates issued by the government of the Republic.

On his meeting on Monday with Barroso, Papadopoulos said he referred to government gestures aimed at creating a climate of trust in Cyprus and said his proposal to operate the occupied port of Famagusta by a joint venture with the participation of Greek and Turkish Cypriots could be combined with the return of the fenced off area of Famagusta.

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