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Cyprus chief negotiator certain of accession to EU
2002-09-23 23:26:28

Nicosia, Sep 23 (CNA) Cyprus' chief negotiator in accession talks with the European Union, George Vassiliou, pledged that on December 14, the European Council in Copenhagen would approve Cyprus' accession to the European Union together with the remaining nine candidate member states.

He again called for "vigilance" and "nerves of steel" in handling provocations, while regarding the Turkish threats in the event Cyprus enters the EU before a settlement to the Cyprus problem, Vassiliou replied that they should seriously be taken into consideration. However, he estimated the Turks are trying to create impressions within the EU and are not something, which could be implemented.|

"We are progressing well and surely we comply with the Copenhagen criteria and I am certain the European Commission's report which will be given to us in Brussels on October 9 will be very positive for Cyprus", Vassiliou said when asked to comment on Greek press reports about the draft of the progress report.

"Based on the facts that we have before us today, I can state for sure that on December 14 in Copenhagen the Council will approve Cyprus" accession to the EU with the remaining nine countries", Vassiliou added.

Regarding the need for the Copenhagen European Council to judge Cyprus' candidature based on the Helsinki conclusions, Vassiliou said "Cyprus has done whatever possible during the negotiations to achieve progress and the fact that we have had no progress is unfortunately due to (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash and his advisors".

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash have been engaged in direct talks since January this year, with a view to reach a comprehensive settlement.

The EU is expected to invite Cyprus and other candidate countries this coming December to join the Union. The 1999 Helsinki conclusions said a political settlement would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition for it and that all relevant factors will be taken into consideration.

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