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EU position on Cyprus is clear and unambiguous, says Irish ambassador
2002-10-08 07:40:23

By Maria Myles-- Nicosia, Oct 8 (CNA) -- The position of the European Union on Cyprus' accession, if there is no political settlement by December, is "clear and unambiguous", the Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland in Nicosia John Swift has said, adding that the EU is determined that no third party should have a veto on the application of the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

EU position on Cyprus is clear and unambiguous, says Irish ambassador By Maria Myles Nicosia, Oct 8 (CNA) -- The position of the European Union on Cyprus' accession, if there is no political settlement by December, is "clear and unambiguous", the Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland in Nicosia John Swift has said, adding that the EU is determined that no third party should have a veto on the application of the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

In an interview with CNA, after a year as resident Ambassador and in view of developments in the accession process and the referendum in Ireland on the Treaty of Nice, the Ambassador also said a political settlement is not only possible but highly desirable in the best interests of the island's two communities.

Swift, whose country is currently a member of the Security Council, said Dublin strongly favours the continuation of the peace talks after December, if no settlement is reached by that time. He believes, however, that because the benefits of an agreement are so obvious, it is still possible to clinch one, even if time is very short.

On Turkey's European aspirations, he said the Copenhagen summit has to give some indication to Ankara of how and when its accession negotiations would proceed, which will be conditional on signals from Turkey that it meets the Copenhagen criteria and that its economic indicators are improving.|

"The EU position is clear and unambiguous, we think that the application in the name of the whole island should be accepted," Swift told CNA, reiterating that a political settlement "is not a precondition for Cyprus to accede", according to the EU Helsinki decision.

He said the relevant factors that will be taken into consideration at the time of accession, if there is no solution, as far as he is concerned, mean "the state reached at that stage in the negotiations and the history of those negotiations."

Cyprus, he said, "either the whole island or the territory controlled by the government, will be accepted by the EU in the next few months."

Asked if it is realistic to expect an agreement by December on the four core issues (governance, security, territory and property), the Ambassador acknowledged that there is "no sign of an obvious breakthrough" and identified the question of sovereignty and the question of whether the Republic of Cyprus should continue to exist or not as the two "major areas of disagreement."

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Dentkash, engaged in direct talks with President Glafcos Clerides, insists on the creation of two separate sovereign states which would come to some kind of arrangement with a central authority in charge of certain aspects of governance.

President Clerides is working for the creation of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, as prescribed by UN resolutions, and favours the transformation but not the abolition of the Republic.

"It is clear that agreement on the four core issues could be reached relatively easily if there was agreement on these two fundamental points," Swift said, explaining that everything on the details of the core issues is contingent on some agreement on the above mentioned two questions.

On that, he said, it is very difficult to see very much ground for optimism.

However, he pointed out that the history of the peace process in his own country has shown that talking can continue for a long time and pessimism may sink in and yet suddenly there is a breakthrough.

"Because the benefits of an agreement are so obvious to Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, it is still possible to reach agreement, even if time is very short," he said.

Asked if Cypriots can learn anything from the peace process in Ireland, he said the people of Ireland have learned that it is very important not to give up hope and not to look at the agreement as the end itself.

Invited to comment on Turkey's threats against Cyprus if it joins the EU without a settlement, he said if Ankara wants to draw closer to Europe "it has to meet a number of political criteria as well as economic criteria."

"It is difficult to see Ankara on the one hand drawing closer to Europe and on the other indication that on a particular issue which is close to the heart of Europe (Cyprus) that it is preparing to indicate something close to a complete rupture," he pointed out.

As for the Turkish demand to have a date fixed for the start of the accession negotiations with the EU, the Irish diplomat said the Copenhagen summit will very likely indicate to Ankara how and when these negotiations could begin but any such indication would be conditional on meeting the Copenhagen criteria and the economic criteria.

"There has to be some positive signals from Turkey itself," he added.

On the Irish referendum for ratification of the Treaty of Nice, the Ambassador preferred to express an opinion once it is over, noting that there is an intense campaign to get a "yes" vote.

On other matters of mutual interest between Cyprus and Ireland, Swift said bilateral ties are growing stronger month by month, on the political, economic, tourism and commercial level.

He said some 50,000 Irish tourists visited Cyprus last year, direct flights to Dublin have been introduced, traditional Irish food and drink is promoted to the local market.

The Ambassador said he would like to see more Cypriots visiting his own country and being educated there too, something that may come about after Cyprus joins the EU.

Expressing genuine pleasure in being the first resident ambassador here, he said he was somewhat surprised by the warmth and interest in Ireland he found among the Cypriots, a warmth which makes his job a lot easier and gives him great pleasure, as he said.

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