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EU Commissioner commends Cyprus' "impressive" progress
2002-06-18 11:25:22

By Nicos Bellos-- Luxembourg, Jun 18 (CNA) -- European Union Commissioner responsible for enlargement Gunter Verheugen has praised the progress Cyprus has made in its bid to introduce reforms in line with the acquis communautaire, noting that 28 chapters in the accession negotiations are already provisionally closed.

Addressing a meeting of EU foreign ministers here, he said he has no direct involvement in the UN-led peace process but is in touch with all sides, especially the UN, pointing to the need to have a solution that would be consistent with EU laws and regulations and allow Cyprus to speak with one voice as an EU member.

Verheugen said that the Turkish Cypriot side and Ankara should make a greater effort, adding that other international players in the Cyprus question share this view.

The German Commissioner said the positive efforts of the Cyprus government will be taken into consideration when the time comes for the EU to decide on enlargement, in accordance with the Helsinki EU summit conclusions which say that a political settlement would facilitate a settlement but it is not a precondition.|

Verheugen's remarks come in the wake of comments by Turkish minister responsible for Cyprus Sukru Sina Gurel before the EU-Turkey joint parliamentary committee, which met Monday in Brussels. He told the meeting that there must be two equal authorities recognised in Cyprus.

Commenting on the course of the talks, Verheugen referred to "good intentions" on the part of the Greek Cypriot side, which has made considerable effort to help find a negotiated settlement.

President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have been talking directly since mid January this year, in the presence of UN Secretary General's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto. Talks are edging closer to the end of June target date, when the two sides are expected to have cracked the core issues (governance, security, territory, property). So far no progress has been achieved towards this goal due to Denktash's intransigent stance.

Verheugen said it is unlikely to have spectacular developments in June but noted that there are still some months to find a settlement and the window of opportunity remains open.

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