EU Commissioner:enlargement timetable for Cyprus in place
Nicosia, May 16 (CNA) -- The timeframe for Cyprus' accession to the
European Union will not change because of the political situation on the island
nor will the EU to accept Cyprus as a member, without a settlement, EU
Commissioner responsible for enlargement Gunter Verheugen has said.
The Commissioner also said the EU does not oppose trade with the Turkish Cypriots but obstacles to trade are put forward by the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island.|
"The current situation in Cyprus does not change the timetable for enlargement and this is what I stressed in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. This means that decisions on enlargement will be taken at the end of this year," Verheugen said at the European Parliament, replying to questions.
He said he was convinced that membership talks with Cyprus, which are progressing extremely well, would be concluded by December, when the EU will decide on the country's accession.
Expressing full support for the ongoing UN-led direct talks to end the division of the country, Verheugen said the Turkish Cypriots have yet to accept an invitation to participate in the Cyprus team negotiating accession.
"What we have agreed on at Helsinki still stands, a political settlement would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition," he said.
Questioned on trade between the Turkish Cypriots and the EU, Verheugen stressed that the EU cannot act in contravention of Court decisions that require certificates from the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus, for health purposes, in order to accept their products into the EU.
The Turkish Cypriots have long claimed that Nicosia imposes a so-called trade embargo and deprives them of the economic benefits of commercial transactions.
The Court of Justice of the European Communities ruled in July 1994 that citrus fruit and potatoes originating from the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus have to have a health certificate, issued by the legal authorities in Cyprus, namely the government, to be imported into EU countries.
"We are not refusing trade with the Turkish Cypriots and the Commission wishes to include the northern part of Cyprus in its trade transactions" because it is sad to see the occupied part of the island steeped in poverty and the free areas developing fast, Verheugen said.
The problem, he pointed out, is that "the Turkish Cypriots are prevented by their own 'authorities' which refuse to adhere to the appropriate preconditions."
He explained that certificates of origin cannot be issued by these "authorities" but by the recognised Republic of Cyprus, in accordance with international law.
"The Commission cannot change anything in this crystal clear legal framework. If we were to do so, we would be violating the law," he said.
The UN have declared "illegally invalid" the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus and called on all states not to recognise it. Only Turkey does.
The European Court of Human Rights, in a separate ruling, said that the self- styled Turkish Cypriot regime is a local subordinate administration to Turkey.