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Sweden backs Cyprus' EU membership
2002-10-20 08:51:39

Nicosia, Oct 17 (CNA) -- Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh has said her government insists on the European Union decision that a political settlement in Cyprus would facilitate the country's accession but it is not a precondition for it.

Lindh also said that Turkey cannot begin membership talks with the EU until it meets fully the Copenhagen criteria.

The minister outlined these positions in reply to questions by ministry officers following the publication by the European Commission of a progress report on Cyprus' accession course last week.

Asked what would happen to Cyprus' application for accession if there is no political solution, she said that the UN is conducting peace talks between the two parties (Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities).

''Sweden supports the UN efforts and our objective is to see a reunited Cyprus becoming an EU member. Nonetheless we insist on the EU decision taken in 1999 in Helsinki that the solution of the Cyprus question is not a precondition for accession,'' she said in her reply.|

Asked about Turkey's accession course, she said that membership talks will begin when Ankara responds fully to the Copenhagen political criteria.

Turkey, she added, continues to have in place many restrictions on democratic values and respect of human rights and expressed the hope that all necessary reforms in legislation and in practice will be implemented as soon as possible.

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