Danish Premier urges parties in Cyprus to find solution
By Maria Koniotou--
Copenhagen, Jun 3 (CNA) - Danish Premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen said
EU would be reluctant to accept unsolved border problems within the Union
and urged the parties in Cyprus to find a solution as soon as possible to the
protracted Cyprus problem, expressing satisfaction that "this is exactly the
attitude of the Greek Cypriot side".
Rasmussen, who met here today with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, also said that Denmark, which takes over the EU rotating presidency as of July 1, aims to conclude negotiations with up to 10 candidate countries at the Copenhagen Summit in December and that the timetable for enlargement will be implemented.
He also expressed support to the UN Secretary General's efforts for a solution in Cyprus and noted that although the solution is not a precondition for Cyprus' EU accession, "it would be an advantage", and "we have to take all relevant factors into consideration".
President Clerides said that "we do want to find a solution of the Cyprus problem as soon as possible" and noted he saw no reason why the Helsinki decision on Cyprus should not be implemented.
He also noted that proposals brought forward by the UN to the peace talks, aimed at solving the Cyprus problem, could not easily be rejected and that one has to treat them with great care and great respect as they may be helpful.|
Rasmussen noted he ascertained Cyprus' strong wish to become member of the EU and noted the island's "real progress in the preparation for membership". He said Cyprus was "one of the front runners" in this preparation.
"Denmark takes over the EU presidency from the 1st of July and we aim to conclude negotiations with up to 10 candidate countries at the Copenhagen Summit in December, and I really do hope that Cyprus will be among the new member states of the EU", he said.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, he expressed appreciation for the efforts of the UN Secretary General for a solution to the Cyprus problem, noting that "the UN have a crucial role to play in this process".
"We urge both parties in the Cyprus conflict to do their utmost to find a solution. I think it would be to the benefit of all Cypriots, north and south, if a solution is found and I have used this opportunity also to appreciate the efforts Mr. Clerides has made in order to find solutions", Rasmussen said and added that "the present process is very important and we urge both parties to show flexibility".
Invited to say whether promises had been made to Cyprus for its accession to the EU, the Danish Premier said that "at this stage there is no promise to anybody".
"As far as Cyprus is concerned, the attitude of the coming Danish presidency is expressed in the Helsinki declaration which contains three elements: Firstly the EU states that a solution to the Cyprus problem would be an advantage but secondly it is not a precondition for enlargement and thirdly, but not least important, at the end of the day the European Council will take all relevant factors into consideration, which includes the security situation and other relevant factors", he added.
He also noted "the EU would be reluctant to accept unsolved border problems within the Union and this is the reason why we urge the parties in the Cyprus conflict to find solutions as soon as possible and I am happy to learn that this is exactly the attitude of the Greek Cypriot side".
"I think that the UN SG has a key role to play in this process and we strongly support the efforts of the UN SG", Rasmussen said.
Invited to say whether Turkey's stance on Cyprus would affect the island's accession course, the Danish Prime Minister made it clear that "we do not want to provide anybody with a veto".
He also said that "we stick to the timetable of enlargement of the EU", and that he as President of the European Council intended "to make a decision at the Copenhagen Summit on enlargement with those candidate countries which are ready at that time".
Asked whether a divided Cyprus could become member of the EU, Rasmussen said "in principle yes but at this stage I have to emphasise that a solution to the problem would definitely be an advantage".
Invited to say whether the Danish presidency would play an active role in the peace negotiations, he noted that at this stage the UN and the UN Secretary General have a key role to play in this process.
President Clerides stressed that, despite the Helsinki decision for Cyprus that a solution to the Cyprus problem is not a precondition for accession, "we do want to find a solution of the Cyprus problem as soon as possible".
"The island has been divided for too long and there are reasons which seem to be making it absolutely necessary for us to find a solution, irrespective of whether we are going to join the EU or not", he added
Invited to say whether his face to face talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, that were launched in mid January this year with a view to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, would conclude before July 1, President Clerides said that was what the UN Secretary General has proposed and he accepted but Denktash had some reservations on whether there was sufficient time until the end of June.
Asked what he would do to prevent the Cyprus problem from becoming a stumbling block to the eastwards expansion of the EU, President Clerides noted that Cyprus was an applicant country and could not create a stumbling block.
Invited to say how confident he was that the Copenhagen Summit would bring Cyprus into the EU, the President replied: "I always believe that decisions which are taken are implemented, and therefore I see no reason in this case why the decision should not be implemented".
Commenting on statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots would not necessarily have to accept a UN- brokered deal for Cyprus, President Clerides said that, as the UN Secretary General has explained, any proposals put forward by the UN would not be a "give and take".
He added that "you cannot easily reject" UN proposals but treat them with great care and great respect, as they may be helpful.