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Vassiliou says Europe not ready to set dates for Turkey
2002-09-03 09:29:42

Larnaca, Sep 3 (CNA) - Europe is not prepared to give any definite dates regarding Turkey's European Union accession course, Cyprus' Chief Negotiator with the EU George Vassiliou said here today.

Vassiliou told CNA that Cyprus' EU accession course was "on the right track" and that the final decision of the European Commission, to be taken on October 16, was of paramount importance because it will show whether Cyprus meets all the necessary preconditions to become a member of the EU and a recommendation will then be made.|

Speaking on departure for Brussels, to participate in the discussion on the progress report the Commission is preparing for Cyprus' accession, Vassiliou said the report is "an evaluation of what has been done so far in Cyprus".

He added that "because this is the last report prepared before the European Council decision on accession, it is of paramount importance".

Asked what he expected the result of the report to be, Vassiliou said "we are on the right track".

Referring to Turkey, Vassiliou said Europe was not prepared to give any definite dates regarding its accession course "because it does not consider Turkey to be ready".

He added that "it is within Cyprus' interests for Turkey to proceed as far as it can and reach the point of being given a date for the start of accession talks because this would mean that Turkey is moving on the road towards democracy and Europe".

"It is unthinkable for Cyprus to be occupied by Turkish troops and for Turkey to seek EU membership," Vassiliou noted.

Invited to comment on the verbal attack by Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Sukru Sina Gurel against European Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen, Vassiliou said "with shouting and criticism" Turkey will get nowhere.

"If there is one thing we have learned all these years in the negotiations with the EU, it is that you achieve nothing by shouting. It is only through persuasion that you can move forward", he said.

Vassiliou added that "when the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs publicly starts shouting and criticising the European Commission he does not serve any purpose at all, least of all his own country, unless his oral remarks were made for domestic consumption, having in mind that Turkey is moving towards elections at the present stage".

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