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Four more chapters in EU talks officially closed -Two still open
2002-06-11 09:18:29

By Nicos Bellos-- Luxembourg, Jun 11 (CNA) -- Cyprus has only two chapters to conclude in its accession negotiations with the European Union (Agriculture and Financial and Budgetary Provisions), having formally closed on Monday four more (taxation, Regional Policy, Institutions and Competition) during Spain's EU presidency.

Gunter Verheugen, EU Commissioner for enlargement, said Cyprus has made more progress in its membership talks than any other applicant country and welcomed the closing of four "politically sensitive and technically difficult chapters" during the current Spanish EU presidency.

Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Pique, speaking on Monday at the ninth Intergovernmental Conference between Cyprus and the EU, expressed hope that the Cyprus question is settled speedily, a position Verheugen advocated as well.|

The chapter on Competition, which closed Monday, was one of the most difficult to negotiate in that Cypriot legislation had to be amended to meet EU law. Arrangements agreed are considered particularly positive for Cyprus as the country's offshore sector will continue to enjoy tax incentives and other advantages until 2005.

Cyprus has closed 28 chapters out of 31. Latvia has also closed 28 chapters, with Slovenia and Lithuania in second place with 27, followed by Estonia.

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who represented the Republic at Monday's meeting in Luxembourg, thanked Spain for the transitional provision with regard to the offshore sector.

He also said that the valuable assistance and cooperation of all member states and EU institutions had helped Cyprus to move ahead in its membership talks.

Referring to the latest UN-led effort to find a negotiated settlement, he said the Greek Cypriot side will continue its constructive approach to help resolve the problem on the basis of UN decisions and stressed the need to have one Cyprus, speaking with one voice to the EU after a solution.

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

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