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Cyprus: One step forward towards completion of accession talks
2002-10-02 08:25:41

By Nikos Bellos -- Brussels, Oct 2 (CNA) -- The 10th meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference at a ministerial level in Brussels allowed Cyprus to make one step forward towards completion of the accession negotiations with the European Union, after significant progress was made in the agriculture chapter.

The President of the Council of Ministers welcomed Cyprus' progress while Enlargement Commissioner assured the Cypriot side that the strategy and deadline for accession is clear and will not change for anything.

Cyprus was represented at the meeting by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Chief of the Negotiating Team for the island's accession to the EU, George Vassiliou, Cyprus' Permanent Representative to the EU, ambassador Theophilos Theophilou, and officers and diplomats of the negotiating team.

In his speech, Kasoulides referred to the efforts made by the Cyprus side to adopt and implement the acquis communautaire, noting Cyprus is fully ready for the European Council. He said Cyprus has additional reasons to be ready and part of the European family.

"We hope that our accession to the EU will prove to have catalytic effect in the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem", said the Foreign Minister who clarified that the intransigence of the Turkish side has led to a stalemate of the UN-sponsored direct talks.|

He cited the Security Council's reaction of last July, which registered the Turkish side, is less constructive in finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Kasoulides assured community officials that the government's top priority remains the accession of a united Cyprus, which will speak with one voice in the EU and international arena.

On his part, Vassiliou referred to the huge progress made by Cyprus in the accession negotiations, stressing that it is the result of excellent cooperation between the executive and legislative authority, which aims to successfully complete the harmonisation process.

He further expressed the hope the report of the European Commission on Cyprus will reflect the progress.

Danish Foreign Minister and President of the Council, Per Stig Moller, referred to the progress made in the negotiations from the Cyprus side, and made special reference to the difficult chapter which all candidate states face, that of agriculture, noting Cyprus has covered the largest part of it.

Referring to the Cyprus problem, he said the EU supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to find a settlement and the procedures of the direct talks. According to Moller, the accession procedure will help both sides work constructively for a solution.

The German Commissioner, responsible for Enlargement, Gunter Verheugen, underlined that the strategy and deadline for the enlargement are not changing.

Referring to the meeting he had with Verheugen, Foreign Minister Kasoulides described it as "excellent", adding that the Commission fully realises the meaning of Cyprus' candidacy and the fact that Cyprus and enlargement are two "undivided, unified issues''.

During yesterday's meeting, the agreement on the veterinary and phytosanitary sectors of the Agriculture chapter were confirmed and will be closed once the "15" agree between them on the issue of subsidies to producers of the new EU member states. Vassiliou said Cyprus would probably be the first among the candidates to close this chapter.

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