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Cyprus ready for EU membership beginning of 2004, Commission says
2002-10-09 07:22:30

By Nicos Bellos -- Brussels, Oct 9 (CNA) -- The European Union Commission recommends in its report ''Towards the enlarged Union) to conclude the accession negotiations with Cyprus and nine other applicant countries by the end of the year with the aim to sign the Accession Treaty in the spring of 2003.

The report, to be released today, hopes to see a reunited Cyprus join the EU and appeals particularly to Turkey to support fully the effort to find a comprehensive settlement his year.

It notes that if there is no solution, the EU December summit will decide on Cyprus' accession on the basis of previous Union decisions in Helsinki, which says that a political settlement would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition. The decision also says that all relevant factors will be taken into consideration, when the time comes for the EU to take its decision on Cyprus.

The Commission recommends that EU support for Turkey's pre-accession preparations be enhanced and notes that Turkey does not fully meet the political criteria to begin accession negotiations.

''Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia fulfill the political criteria and will have fulfilled the economic and acquis criteria within the framework foreseen for accession by the European Council,'' the report says.

These countries, it adds, will be ready for membership from the beginning of 2004.

''The Commission recommends to conclude the accession negotiations with these countries by the end of this year with the aim to sign the Accession Treaty in spring 2003,'' it says.

On the Cyprus question, the Commission hopes to ''see a reunited Cyprus acceding to the EU on the basis of a comprehensive settlement, as the best outcome for all concerned.''

''As indicated in the conclusions of the Seville European Council, the EU is ready to accommodate the terms of a political settlement in the accession arrangements in line with the principles on which the EU is founded,'' it says.

Furthermore, the report notes ''the Commission welcomes that substantial UN involvement will continue and urges all parties concerned and in particular Turkey to lend full support to efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement this year.''

It says that Cyprus' terms of accession ''can be adapted to reflect the comprehensive settlement as well as the implications for the application of the acquis throughout the island,'' it adds.

The Commission has proposed that considerable resources should be made available to ''enable the northern part of the island to catch up and to back up a settlement.''

These resources, it notes, should remain available in all circumstances.

''In the absence of a settlement, the decisions to be taken in December by the Copenhagen European Council will be based on the principles set out by the Helsinki European Council in 1999,'' the Commission says in the conclusions and recommendations in the report ''Towards the enlarged Union''.

The report points out that acceding countries need to implement the acquis by the date of accession, except in cases where transitional arrangements have been agreed.

The Commission believes that a specific safeguard clause needs to be introduced in the Accession Treaty to allow the Commission for a limited period of time to take appropriate measures in the internal market field and in the area of freedom, security and justice.

On Turkey's accession course, the Commission report says that constitutional reforms and legislative packages in the country have made ''considerable progress towards the Copenhagen political criteria.''

''Nonetheless considerable further efforts are needed,'' it says, pointing out that ''Turkey does not fully meet the political criteria.''

The Commission report notes that the reforms in Turkey contain a number of significant limitations, many of the reforms require the adoption of regulations or other administrative measures and that a number of important issues such as the fight against torture and ill treatment and questions concerning civilian control of the military have yet to be adequately addressed.

''Against this background and in view of the next stage of its candidature, the Commission recommends that the EU should enhance its support for Turkey's pre-accession preparations and should provide significant additional resources for this purpose,'' the report says.

The Commission will propose a revised Accession Partnership and intensify the process of legislative scrutiny.

It recommends renewed efforts to extend the Customs Union and improve its functioning with a view to deepening EC-Turkey trade relations and increasing investment flows.

''Turkey is encouraged to pursue its reform process and thus to carry forward its candidature for EU membership,'' the report concludes.

Ankara had hoped to secure a date for the start of accession negotiations and has been working in earnest towards this goal.|

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