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Finnish Premier: Turkey must fulfill all EU criteria before accession
2006-03-16 14:34:58

Nicosia, Mar 16 (CNA) -- Turkey, like any other European Union candidate countries, must fulfill all necessary criteria in order to be able to become a full EU member state, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen stressed here today.

Vanhanen, the first Finnish Prime Minister to pay an official visit to Cyprus, held today official talks with President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos and was earlier received by President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias. He also met with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Nicos Anastasiades, President of the main opposition party, Democratic Rally (DISY).

The Prime Minister of Finland also visited the headquarters of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, (UNFICYP) and met with Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Chief of Mission, Michael Moller.

“Turkey is an applicant country. We have started serious negotiations with Turkey. It can become a new member of the EU if and when it can fulfill all criteria, which are needed before the membership. These criteria are the same to all other applicant countries”, Finnish Premier said during statements with President Papadopoulos.

The Cypriot President expressed his gratitude for the constructive attitude of Finland regarding the Cyprus problem and the decoupling of the EU regulations for the Turkish Cypriots.

«We are grateful for the constructive attitude of Finland regarding the Cyprus problem and issues which concern the Republic of Cyprus. I feel the need to thank publicly Mr. Vanhanen for the extremely helpful attitude of the Finnish government in our efforts in the EU for breaking the impasse regarding the EU regulations for Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriots, which resulted in the agreement of the 25 member states, on 27th of February, 2006”, President Papadopoulos stressed.

He added that among the issues discussed were the Cyprus problem, the excellent bilateral relations, the program of the Finnish EU Presidency which begins in July 2006, as well as the Constitutional Treaty, the Lisbon Strategy, the Future of Europe, the situation in the Western Balkans and the Middle East.

President Papadopoulos also thanked Finland for its contribution in manpower to the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, “at very difficult times for the people of Cyprus.”

He also reminded that the first UN mediator for Cyprus, Sakari Tuomioja, was Finnish, whilst UNFICYP Commander was late General Martola, who was also Finnish.

«Cyprus, being the eastern border of the EU, and Finland being the northern one, can make their own contribution in the process of European integration, each utilizing its geographic position and its experiences with its neighbors”, he added.

The Cypriot President said he was also grateful to Finland because “many thousands of its citizens choose to visit Cyprus every year for their vacations, thus contributing to the better understanding between our peoples and to the enforcement of our economic relations”.

The Finnish Prime Minister leaves Cyprus tonight.

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