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EU Ambassador: Cyprus role in EU enlargement will be "instrumental"
2002-09-23 22:26:37

Nicosia, Sep 23 (CNA) - The new Ambassador of the European Commission to Cyprus Adriaan van der Meer presented his credentials to President Glafcos Clerides today, saying that Cyprus' prospective role in EU enlargement will be "instrumental".

He also reaffirmed commitment to the Helsinki and Seville European Council conclusions and expressed the EU's full support to the UN process and to the initiatives taken by the Secretary General towards a settlement of the Cyprus issue.

Receiving van der Meer's credentials, President Clerides said Cyprus looks forward to playing its role in the historic process of enlargement and expressed the government's firm belief that the prospect of accession is an important catalyst in efforts to find a solution to the political problem. |

Presenting his credentials, van der Meer conveyed a message of friendship and cooperation from the European Commission's President Romano Prodi.

He said "the Union's southward enlargement will indeed bring a new geographic dimension to the Union, providing access to the Eastern Mediterranean, to the Middle East", adding that "Cyprus' prospective role in this direction will be instrumental".

The new Ambassador noted that his intentions were, "together with the members of the Delegation, to accelerate financial assistance, to further stimulate bicommunal contacts and to increase understanding of the accession process among the citizens of Cyprus".

"I believe that the people of Cyprus should become fully informed both of the challenges as well as of the benefits of membership and how accession will positively affect their daily lives", he said.

Van der Meer added "we are fully aware that, for Cyprus, accession to the EU is an opportunity to reunify the island, a prospect that shall prove to the benefit of all" and reiterated the EU's "full support to the UN process and to the initiatives taken by the Secretary General towards a settlement of the Cyprus issue".

Replying, the President said that "the next enlargement of the EU constitutes an important step in the long process of European reunification and integration" and that "Cyprus looks forward to playing its role in this historic process".

"We firmly believe that the process and the prospect of accession is an important catalyst in the efforts for finding a solution to the political problem, which has tormented Cyprus for so many years", he added.

The President noted that "our primary goal is to reach a peaceful negotiated settlement to the Cyprus problem, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation, in accordance with UN resolutions", adding that such a solution should guarantee a state of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded.

"Any solution should also enable Cyprus to fully assume the rights and obligations of its membership to the European family, where it should be able to speak with a single voice", he added.

The President assured "we shall continue our efforts to achieve this internationally accepted goal, with the same spirit of good will and determination, despite the continued negative attitude of the Turkish side and its efforts to change the agreed basis for a solution".

President Clerides also said respect of the Helsinki conclusions, which said a Cyprus settlement was preferable but not a precondition for accession, was of "paramount importance if the necessary messages are to be correctly conveyed to the Turkish side in order to convince it to show the required flexibility for the successful outcome of the efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem".

Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

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