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Bulgarian FM says Cyprus negotiations should be well prepared
2006-06-06 14:32:39

Nicosia, Jun 6 (CNA) - Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivailo Georgiev Kalfin said today that any further negotiations on the Cyprus problem should be well prepared and touch all the issues that are important, adding that Bulgaria supports the integrity and unity of Cyprus.

Speaking after talks in Nicosia with Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou, the Bulgarian official said it is very important to have Turkey in the process of European integration, but pointed out that Ankara still has to fulfill its commitments towards the EU.

Today, an agreement will be signed between Cyprus and Bulgaria on social insurance issues, which will protect Bulgarians and Cypriots working in each other's country in issues of social insurance.

Iacovou said ''Cyprus and Bulgaria have excellent relations and now that Bulgaria will be acceding to the EU on the 1st of January 2007, we will be partners and thus many opportunities will be given for closer cooperation.''

''Bulgaria has supported Cyprus for many years and of course the Republic of Cyprus returned the support in Bulgaria's accession prospect and course,'' Iacovou added.

He said Kalfin has already met with President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and that during talks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between Kalfin and himself, they covered the Cyprus problem, Turkey's EU accession course, Turkey's obligations towards the EU, the Western Balkans, Montenegro, Kosovo and broader international issues, such as the Middle East, Iran and others.

Kalfin said ''we are very happy with the very constructive and fruitful talks we had'' with Iacovou, adding that they found ''very close positions'' on many issues.

He thanked the Cypriot government for supporting Bulgaria in its EU accession course, noting that ''your experience was very important for us, now Cyprus is a member country of the EU and the friendly for Bulgaria voice of Cyprus in the EU is very encouraging and stimulating.''

''Of course Bulgaria is doing its homework. We hope to be absolutely prepared and ready by the end of this year to join the EU and again the cooperation with Cyprus in this aspect is very important and very fruitful and useful for us,'' Kalfin added.

Referring to Turkey's EU course, the Bulgarian Minister said ''we are absolutely supporting the principle that every side has to exercise and to obey its commitments,'' adding that ''there are current commitments, requirements for Turkey to accomplish, and this is going to be watched in the EU.''

''We would like to see all the commitments taken by Turkey being fulfilled. For us it is very important to have Turkey in the process of European integration, but this European track needs taking and meeting commitments. This is for us the process of negotiations and we are very much sure that this should be and this will be the position of all EU member countries,'' he pointed out.

Kalfin noted that Bulgaria supports ''all the efforts made by the government in Cyprus, by the President also, for bringing new initiatives for tackling further the Cyprus issue.''

''We share the opinion that there should be results. That is why any further negotiations should be well prepared and should find a way to touch all the issues that are important. Bulgaria is supporting the integrity and the unity of Cyprus,'' he said.

He added that it was very interesting to hear Iacovou's views on other issues, such as the Middle East, the Western Balkans and Iran. ''I find the expertise, the experience and positions of Cyprus very important and very relevant,'' he noted.

Referring to bilateral relations, Kalfin said they are excellent and noted that an agreement for cooperation in the social security field will be signed today, adding that ''bilateral relations, both in political and in economic terms, are developing very well in the latest years and what we have to do is to further stimulate the very practical aspects.''

Replying to questions, Kalfin said ''Turkey still has to finalise its commitments and what we also have to see is a very clear political will and commitment,'' adding that it was ''not acceptable'' to reject its commitments.

Asked what was expected in the European Council conclusions regarding Bulgaria, Iacovou said ''there has been a Commission report, there are some comments, the number of chapters that the Commission still has some concerns about have been limited, cut down to six.''

''I think Bulgaria has made a major effort to fulfill its commitments to the Union. I think the comments will be encouraging with a view of first getting Bulgaria to really complete its preparatory work before the 1st of January and also to encourage member states to ratify the accession treaty before the 1st of January. My personal conviction is that Bulgaria will be joining us together with Romania on the 1st of January 2007,'' Iacovou noted.

Asked about the agreement to be signed today, Iacovou said many Bulgarians are currently working in Cyprus and a few Cypriots are working in Bulgaria, so this agreement ''is based on the principle of reciprocity and protects the workers of both countries in issues of social insurance.''

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