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Verheugen says accession timetable not to be pushed back
2002-04-24 10:02:03

Nicosia, Apr 24 (CNA) -- EU enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen has been quoted saying that the European Commission would not accept any dilution of the 1999 EU Helsinki Summit agreement on Cyprus, that says a political solution in Cyprus is desirable but not a precondition for membership.

Verheugen was speaking to a group of Cypriot from London, currently visiting Brussels, accompanied by British Member of the European Parliament Theresa Villiers, who noted that the EU Commissioner "was adamant that the accession timetable would not be pushed back, even if a settlement seemed imminent."

According to Villiers, Verheugen said that "the EU could put an enabling clause in the (accession Treaty) to ensure that any settlement coming shortly after accession could be recognised by the EU without further Treaty changes."|

Verheugen also said that the EU Commissioner noted "the Commission had set aside substantial funds that would be made available for economic regeneration in the north of Cyprus once a political solution is reached."

"In his view Turkish Cypriots have much to gain from EU membership", Villiers added.

She said Verheugen said he had very much hoped that the talks would be concluded by June and that he was working closely with UN Secretary General's Special Advisor on Cyprus Alvaro De Soto and US and British emissaries, Tomas Weston and Lord David Hannay, and others "on this 'most sensitive of issues' on EU enlargement."

As for Turkey the Commissioner said, according to Villiers, "it was inconceivable that accession negotiations would even be opened with Turkey unless it reformed its approach to human rights and complied with the human rights requirements of the EU."

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

CNA/MK/GP/2002

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