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EU grateful to Cyprus for temporarily hosting Palestinians
2002-05-13 15:03:25

by Nicos Bellos Brussels, May 13 (CNA) -- The EU Foreign Ministers have expressed their gratitude to the Republic of Cyprus for temporarily accepting the 13 Palestinians who were brought to the island after being released from Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity last Friday.

In a statement issued after the General Affairs Council in Brussels, the 15 Foreign Ministers note that "the Council welcomes the end of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem crisis, calls on all sides to respect religious and cultural monuments of the region and reiterates its gratitude to the government of the Republic of Cyprus for its valuable assistance to the EU governments in provisionally accepting the 13 Palestinians on its territory".

"The EU, in accordance with the undertakings given to the government of the Republic of Cyprus by the EU presidency, will relocate these Palestinians in certain EU member states", the statement adds.|

The Council also "welcomes the offer by member states to provide a temporary stay on humanitarian grounds within the EU to a number of Palestinians until recently held up in the Church of the Nativity".

The EU has delayed its decision on the fate of 13 Palestinians and has instructed the member states' ambassadors to the Union to come up with a solution by the end of this week on taking in the Palestinians.

Six of the 15 EU member states, Greece, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, indicated they might accept some of the Palestinians.

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