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EU official says Cyprus to wrap up negotiations in 2002
2002-06-14 07:54:12

Nicosia, Jun 14 (CNA) - Director General of the European Commission's Directorate for Enlargement, Eneko Landaburu, said there is every reason to believe that negotiations with Cyprus will be successfully completed this year and reiterated the EU position that although a political settlement of the Cyprus problem is preferred before accession, it is not a precondition.

Delivering a keynote speech last night on "Making a Success of Enlargement", during a conference on the EU in the 21st century, organised by the Intercollege Research and Development Centre and the European Institute of Cyprus, Landaburu said that in the absence of a settlement, the EU will take its decision bearing in mind all relevant factors and expressed the EU's support to ongoing talks to solve the Cyprus problem.|

Landaburu said "all candidate countries have expressed their wish to belong to the family of European democracies, sharing common values" and that for the EU, "the political and strategic interest is to bring lasting stability to the region stretching from the Baltic to the Mediterranean and Black Sea".

"Instability in any part of Europe affects the continent as a whole", Landaburu noted.

Referring to the economic aspect of enlargement, Landaburu said "accession will provide unrestricted access to the biggest market in the world" and will boost economic growth and create jobs in both existing and new member states.

He also noted that member states are concerned about the cost of enlargement but expressed certainty that, as accession negotiations draw to an end, the member states will weigh the economic benefits.

Landaburu said accession negotiations "are advancing broadly on schedule", noting that "each candidate country is assessed on its own merits".

As regards negotiations with Cyprus, Landaburu said "we have been able to provisionally close 28 chapters" of the acquis communautaire, adding that the remaining chapters of agriculture and budgetary matters "are likely to be resolved in the framework of a broad approach on financial questions towards the end of the negotiations".

"In sum, there is every reason to believe that negotiations with Cyprus will be successfully completed this year", he added.

Landaburu noted that "the year 2002 is crucial for the future of Cyprus" and reiterated that in line with the conclusions of the Helsinki European Council of December 1999, "it is the clear preference of the EU that a political settlement be achieved before Cyprus' accession, even though this is not a precondition".

He said that "in the absence of a settlement, the EU will take its decision bearing in mind all relevant factors" and that "undoubtedly these factors will include the efforts made by the two sides in the talks which are currently underway" to solve the Cyprus problem.

"The EU fully supports these talks and the efforts of the UN in the search of a political settlement", he said, adding that "it would be a source of inspiration for us all if Greek and Turkish Cypriots were able to enter the EU together, on the basis of a settlement".

He also noted that "EU membership offers to all Cypriots the opportunity for political security and economic well-being" and that the Commission is ready to provide "special assistance to the northern part of the country, starting next year following a settlement".

Landaburu said that if a settlement is reached this year, "the EU will be ready to adjust accordingly the details of the accession negotiations" but stressed that "a member state can only have one representative to give its position within the Councils of the EU".

Concluding his speech, Landaburu said "Cyprus has formed part of the history of our continent since time immemorial and has always been a crossroads in the Mediterranean, bringing together different cultures and traditions", adding that "it has thus a tremendous heritage to contribute to our common endeavour, whose goal is to create unity, while expressing the diversity of each of our members".

Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash launched direct talks in January, with a view to negotiate until a settlement is achieved.

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