CYPRUS UPDATE-October 11,2002
European Commission Report
Recommends Cyprus For European Union Membership
For the people of the Republic of Cyprus, the European Commission?s official recommendation that Cyprus be admitted as a member of EU culminates a quest for a better future that began in March 1998 when Cyprus first entered into negotiations for accession. Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides stated ?I welcome this very important decision as a historic development which concerns all the lawful citizens of our island, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.? He noted the report was ?a significant stage and a historic step in the direction of accession to the EU,? but added ?this decision is not the ultimate goal.?
The Report?s recommendation to conclude negotiation with Cyprus and nine other candidate countries by the end of this year, with the aim to sign the Accession Treaty in spring 2003, was delivered by President Romano Prodi before the European Parliament in Brussels on October 9, 2002 . The Report states:
?Bearing in mind the progress achieved since the 1998 Regular Report, the level of alignment that Cyprus has achieved at this point in time, and its track record in implementing the commitments it has made in the negotiations, the Commission considers that Cyprus will be able to assume the obligations of membership in accordance with the envisaged timeframe.?
Among the many accomplishments of Cyprus, the Report states:
? ?Cyprus continues to fulfil the Copenhagen political criteria?
? ?Cyprus continues to respect human rights and freedoms?
? ?Cyprus is a functioning market economy?able to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union.?
? ?Over the past year, Cyprus has further advanced with legislative alignment and has improved its position in relation to administrative capacity, in particular in the fields of social insurance, veterinary and phytosanitary inspections, pharmaceutical services, combating money laundering, ship inspection, inland revenue, planning, environmental services, consumer and health protections and customs.?
Official Response to a ?Historic? Decision
In remarks made on the occasion of formally receiving a copy of the Report from the head of the European Commission?s Delegation to Cyprus, President Glafcos Clerides stressed that this important step in the complicated accession process is the ?first vindication of the correct strategy we have followed so far with regard to the Cyprus question and the huge efforts made by everybody to prepare Cyprus successfully to join the big European family.?
In his written statement issued after the European Commission Report was released, Foreign Affairs Minister Ioannis Kasoulides expressed ?full satisfaction with the positive decision,? noting the Report?s affirmative recommendation on Cyprus was ?necessary to pave the way for the big political struggle until Copenhagen, a struggle that I believe will be won.''
Chief Negotiator for the accession of Cyprus to the EU George Vassiliou said this was ''a truly historic day for Cyprus'' but cautioned ''until the last moment we must consider that we do not have the luxury to rest''.
Adriaan van der Meer, the head of the European Commission?s Delegation in Nicosia, stated that the Report?s recommendations to admit Cyprus next year ?will officially seal the fact that Cyprus has always belonged to Europe, politically, geographically and culturally.?
President of the European Commission Endorses Reunification
In his formal presentation in Brussels, President Romano Prodi addressed the issue of efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem, stating ?let us hope for real progress towards reunification of the island, even though the conclusions of the Helsinki European Council do not make it a precondition for entry.?
?We call upon everyone to rally to the process now under way under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General so that we can get a solution before the year?s end,? President Prodi said.
Mr. Prodi?s words echo the conclusions found in the Report itself, which states:
?All parties concerned should now make a concerted effort to achieve such a settlement before the completion of the accession negotiations. Taking into account the statements of the UN Security Council, the Commission urges Turkey, in particular, to lend full support to efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement this year.?
At the Cyprus embassy in Washington, D.C., Ambassador Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis said in a wire service interview, "certainly, Turkey knows that having a settlement in Cyprus would facilitate its own accession process toward the European Union."
Chief Negotiator Mr. George Vassiliou remains pragmatic about coming to terms with Turkey over reunification, stating ?I think the European Union will be the catalyst for a settlement. Two factors have changed. First, Turkey is motivated for the first time to find a solution for Cyprus because it wants to join. Second, the mood among people in the north is different, and you cannot underestimate the importance of popular pressure."
Once a UN-guided reunification of Cyprus is accomplished, the European Union has stated it will offer 278 million Euros in grants during the first three years of Cyprus? EU membership to help those in the Turkish Cypriot community ? who have endured life under military occupation by Turkey since 1974 ? to reach the standard of living enjoyed throughout the rest of Cyprus.
The Road Ahead
EU leaders will next meet in Brussels on October 24-25 to discuss Enlargement issues. President Clerides and the leaders of the nine other candidate countries will attend a meeting in Copenhagen on October 28 to be briefed on the conclusions of the European Council, setting the stage for a December 12-13 summit in Copenhagen at which formal invitations are expected to be extended. The stated aim of the European Commission is to sign the Accession Treaty in ceremonies planned for March 2003, with formal accession expected in January 2004, following the ratification of the treaty by current EU members.
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For a copy of the European Commission?s Report go to http://www.cyprusembassy.net or
For more information contact the Press Office,
Embassy of Cyprus at (202) 232-8993