Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, October 1st, 2002
Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs
at the Tenth meeting of the Inter-Governmental Conference for the Accession of Cyprus to the European Union at Ministerial Level
1st October 2002
I would like to thank you for your warm welcome to this 10th Ministerial meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference for the Accession of Cyprus to the European Union. I would also like to express my country?s appreciation to the Danish Presidency for its tireless effort to bring to a successful conclusion the accession process. ?From Copenhagen to Copenhagen? is the scenario coming true.
We have entered the final and most crucial phase of the accession negotiations; a part of a process that you have rightly described as a historic one. Enlargement is indeed a historic opportunity both for the European Union and its member states as well as for the candidate countries. It will heal past divisions and re-unite our continent. It will allow Europe to assume a leading role in the international political and economic scene and make its voice clearly heard.
The importance attached by Cyprus to the timely completion of the accession negotiations is reflected in the serious and continuous work being carried out by its government, parliament and civil society. We are more determined than ever to be ready for the Copenhagen rendez-vous next December.
Cyprus has an additional reason to be ready in time and be part of the European family. We hope that our accession to the Union would have a catalytic effect on the settlement of the Cyprus problem. The accession process does represent the best ever window of opportunity for the solution of the problem.
The UN Secretary-General met President Clerides and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, early last month in Paris, in a serious attempt to revive the talks that started last January. Another meeting, under his aegis, is to be held in a couple of days in New York.
Yet again I have to report to you that a breakthrough has not come about. I will refrain from giving you my version as to why this is so. It suffices to quote the Security Council?s reaction up to last July: ?the Turkish side has been less constructive in its approach so far??. The same picture still prevails.
President Clerides has been participating in these talks in a constructive and positive manner, which has been greatly appreciated by the international community. I would like to assure you that he will continue to show the same determination and farsightedness in the coming days and for as long as it takes until a settlement is reached.
We would like to hope that the efforts for the settlement of the Cyprus problem will intensify after the Turkish elections of 3rd November.
Our preference and first choice remain the goal of reunited federal Cyprus, member of the European Union with all the safeguards of a modern, democratic and effective state, able to speak with one voice within the Union and effectively implement the acquis in the whole of its territory.
Cyprus has indeed made very considerable progress not only in the accession negotiations, where only two chapters remain to be finalized, but also more generally in its effort to comply with all the requirements in order to be an effective member of the European Union. Since the beginning of the accession process we have enacted several hundreds of pieces of legislation, having for that achieved an excellent cooperation between the Executive and Legislature, who have worked even during the traditional summer recess in order to keep up the pace of the legislation enacted. As a result, by the end of this year we will have essentially completed the harmonization process pursuant to our respective commitments vis a vis the Union.
All this legislation corresponds to extensive and often radical reform. As a matter of commitment, but also in view of our desire to achieve substantial success of these reforms, we are continuously strengthening our administration and enhancing its capacity for effective implementation of the new harmonized legislation and at the same time promoting public awareness to the beneficial aspects of these reforms.
In view of the above, we are looking forward to the publication of the Regular Report on the 9th of October, confident that it will reflect the process we have made.
Coming now to the Chapters on today?s agenda, we fully agree that the two remaining chapters are extremely important. Agriculture in particular is one of the largest and most demanding ones. We are all fully aware of how important it is to meet the expectations and requirements of the farming population, irrespective of the size of agriculture in each country. We are therefore very pleased to be able today to provisionally close the veterinary and phytosanitary legislation part of that Chapter. Furthermore, we would like to inform you that we have had a number of bilateral meetings and supplied the Commission with all the detailed information requested, which enabled us to agree on most of the outstanding issues concerning agricultural products. We are therefore confident that as soon as the new Common Position on Agricultural is prepared we will be able to quickly proceed with the agreement on all outstanding non-financial issues. On the question of direct payments however, we would like to point out that we would have expected a different treatment for Cyprus. In the pre-accession period Cypriot agriculture was considered to be sufficiently developed so as not to justify inclusion in the SAPHARD program. Applying the same logic, one would have expected that the specific situation of Cyprus would have been taken into account and, thus, Cyprus would have been treated in the same way as the present member states with regard to direct payments.
In the Chapter of Environment, Cyprus welcomes the EU?s acceptance of its position on the Large Combustion Plants Directives. Cyprus is very much aware of the importance to protect the environment. Therefore, it goes without saying that Cyprus will honor its commitment that the special provisions agreed by the EU will only apply until the first of the following conditions materializes:
? There is an upgrade or significant change to the power stations currently in operation
? Natural gas becomes available on the island
? Cyprus becomes an exporter of electricity
? The currently operating boilers are closed
During the period of application of the special provisions, Cyprus will be reporting annually to the Commission on the situation relating to sulphur dioxide emissions. More importantly, I would like to reiterate before this Conference that all new units to be commissioned in the future at the Vasilikos Power Plant will be fully complying with the relevant Community Directives.
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I would like to express our satisfaction and appreciation for today?s meeting that brought us another step forward towards the successful conclusion of the accession process.