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President: EU decision on Cyprus not the end of the road
2002-10-10 15:10:53

Nicosia, Oct 10 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides said today that the European Commission recommendation to conclude accession negotiations with Cyprus by the end of the year is not the end of the road.

Welcoming this decision, he said it is an important stop and an historic step towards EU membership and pledged to intensify efforts to achieve accession to the Union.

He extended warm thanks to all foreign governments who have so far assisted the Republic's effort and said Cyprus owed deep gratitude to Greece for its invaluable support in this endeavour.

The head of the European Commission delegation in Cyprus Adriaan van der Meer, who handed the progress report to the President at a special ceremony today, said ''we are now at the very crucial state with respect to the accession preparations of Cyprus'' and noted that the countdown to accession has begun.''|

He also said it is now up to the member states to follow the Commission's recommendations and expressed the conviction that Cyprus will make all the remaining necessary preparations for accession.|

Expressing full satisfaction with the Commission's decision, the President said ''this decision is not the final end. It is nonetheless a significant stop and an historic step in the direction of accession to the EU.''

The decision, the President stressed, is ''a first vindication of the correct strategy we have followed so far with regard to the Cyprus question and the huge efforts by everybody to prepare Cyprus successfully to join the big European family.''

He said Cyprus will move towards the December EU summit with renewed vigour and increased effort to achieve this ultimate goal.

''I welcome this very important decision as an historic development which concerns all the legal citizens of our island, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,'' he said.

Handing over the report to the President, Van der Meer said the Commission has recognized the work done and is confident that Cyprus can join the Union in 2004 as a fully fledged member.

''It is up to the member states to follow our recommendations and to say, in tennis terms, the game is not yet game, set and match but the countdown, the final stages have been launched,'' he said.

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