European Commission President Barroso: EU would accommodate a Cyprus settlement in line with the principles on which the EU is founded
Nicosia, Jun 25 – European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said that once the leaders in Cyprus agree on a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue, the EU will do its utmost to accommodate the terms of a settlement in line with the principles on which the EU is founded.
Speaking during a press conference in Nicosia, during his one-day visit on the island, Mr. Barroso said there is a unique chance this year to solve the Cyprus question that needs to be grasped, noting that he is impressed by the commitment of Cyprus President Mr. Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat to achieve a settlement.
Mr. Barroso, who also met during his visit here the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoon, said he highly appreciates his dedicated work and the efforts of the UN to help the parties to strike a deal.
Asked about Turkey’s stance in favor of a settlement providing for two states in Cyprus, Mr. Barroso underlined that this is a Cyprus-led process, noting that any agreement will be good if it respects basic EU principles, freedom, democracy and the rule of law. He also stressed that it is important from the European point of view to have a country that speaks with one voice in the EU.
He also said that in his contacts with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan he always underlines the need for Turkey to have a constructive position on the Cyprus settlement and that both of them told him that this is their position and that they are supporting a positive outcome of this process. “And of course we take note of this,” Mr. Barroso said.
Asked about the EU team of experts on Cyprus, formed under his presidency, Mr. Barroso said “the idea is to assist the process” by providing technical expertise since in case there is an agreement there will be the need to transpose the acquis communautaire to the northern part of the island, currently under Turkish occupation.
“So we are giving advice in many of those issues. Most of them are technical, legal matters and in fact we have already sent one expert from our team to the group led by Mr. Downer (UN Special Adviser), the UN, and he is available,” he said.
He also underlined that apart from providing help at the technical expert level the European Commission is supporting the process politically. “I am here to do that today. We wanted to give that message to the Cyprus people that we care about this and that it is important for the future of Cyprus to achieve a solution,” he added.
Asked if Turkey is expected to open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircrafts by December Mr. Barroso said “we have been consistently saying that to our Turkish partners, that they should respect and implement the Ankara protocol. It is not up to me to make a judgment,” he noted, adding that it is up to the Turkish side to respect the agreement.
Responding to another question, European Commission President said it does not mean that the EU does not try to look at the situation objectively because Cyprus is an EU member state.
Asked if the EU is going to support the process financially he said that in case there is a settlement “I cannot commit specifically but I am sure that we could work with our member states to find some ways to support that process.”
He added that what is important now is not the issue of financing but progress on the political level, noting that there has been some progress but there is still a lot to be agreed.