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Verheugen says enlargement not possible without Cyprus
2002-09-25 16:05:13

by Nicos Bellos Brussels, Sep 25 (CNA) - Without Cyprus the enlargement of the European Union (EU) is not possible, European Commissioner on Enlargement Gunter Verheugen said today, stressing that a solution to the Cyprus problem is not a prerequisite for the island's accession to the EU.

In statements in Paris, Verheugen appeared optimistic regarding the possibility of an agreement on Cyprus. He said, ''we do not have yet an agreement but an agreement is possible'', and reminded that according to the Helsinki European Council conclusions, a solution is preferable but not a precondition.|

Verheugen said the enlargement process should not be led to disaster because of the Cyprus problem. An agreement, which does not foresee Cyprus' accession, cannot be sanctioned by all member states, he added.

Regarding Turkey, Verheugen called on Ankara to achieve tangible progress on the human rights issue in order to seek accession to the EU.

He said Turkey has made impressive progress in the past 18 months, but there are still problems as far as human rights are concerned which should be taken care of.

Turks should abolish torture and open their prison doors and release political detainees, among them journalists and deputies, the European Commissioner added.

Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third, opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998.

The UN-led direct talks, which began in mid January, have yet to produce any substantive progress on the core issues under discussion (governance, security, territory and property).

The main stumbling block is Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's insistence on the creation of two separate states, which would come to an arrangement to cooperate under some kind of central administration.

President Glafcos Clerides advocates what the UN resolutions provide for, that is a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty, single citizenship and one international personality.

The President leaves next week for New York where he and Denktash are scheduled to meet UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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