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Cyprus should make use of all EU benefits
2002-10-02 08:28:54

Nicosia, Oct 2 (CNA) -- Cyprus will have to take advantage of all the benefits of the European Union so that it can become one of the best member states, said the head of Cyprus Negotiating Team for Accession, George Vassiliou, and visiting Leopold Maurer, head of the EU Negotiating Team for Cyprus.

Vassiliou stressed there is no issue of Cyprus not becoming a member of the EU in the next enlargement phase.|

The Cypriot negotiator said the purpose of his meeting today with Maurer was to examine all pending issues and to see how "we can prepare for the future".

He explained that even though Cyprus is heading in the direction of completing its accession, at the same time "we should start the groundwork so that Cyprus is not just the best pupil in the preparation class but also one of the best members of the EU in the future".

Regarding the agriculture chapter, the former Cyprus President said although great progress has been made in Brussels, "we still have two or three serious issues to agree on". One of them is the quota for milk production and the second is the commitment which we have received in the original stage that the subsidies will remain on the same level".

However, agreement is necessary with the EU member states, Vassiliou said.

Regarding the budget, Vassiliou said the issue is to make sure there will not be a cash flow problem and prepare programmes, which will allow Cyprus to gain additional subsidies for the economic development and handling various problems.

Asked if he believes the island's political problem will be raised before the Copenhagen European Council, Vassiliou cautioned reporters that there is a gradual process. "What is important" at this moment is the report and opinion of the European Commission. Although EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Gunter Verheugen, has assured that everything will go well "this will have to be witnessed in person. Next Wednesday will be the first historic date", Vassiliou said, referring to the mini European Council in Brussels next week.

Invited to comment on a report by Euronews which talked about Cyprus not being included in the next EU enlargement, Vassiliou said, "I would like to categorically state there is no such issue".

He said when he gave Euronews the interview no such issue was raised.

On his part, Maurer said accession negotiations have "nearly finished", adding we "are already now preparing for the future because negotiations is one thing but to become a good member state and that the people benefit fully from all the advantages of being a member of the EU, a lot of preparation has to be done".

He said the people "should become aware what are the benefits, how they can get them and there is a huge amount in the administration to prepare for that, structural funds".

Maurer reminded that he comes from a new member state, Austria, which needed two years to get accustomed to all the procedures and to understand all the advantages of EU membership.

"We will monitor quite closely what the Cypriots are doing", he said, and "report to the member states so that everything is in place, so that by the date of accession, like in the negotiations where you were the first pupil of the class, in the future you will become one of the best member states we ever had", he concluded.

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