EU Foreign Ministers agree with Commission recommendation
By Nicos Bellos --
Brussels, Oct 22 -- Foreign Ministers of the 15 EU members states decided
today in Luxembourg to abide by the recommendation of the European
Commission for the accession of 10 candidate states at the beginning of
2004. The countries are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.
Today's agreement will be officially announced during the EU Summit to be held here October 24-25, where EU leaders will try to overcome the remaining obstacles concerning the financial issues regarding enlargement. As regards Cyprus the 15 fully adopted the recommendation of the Commission, according to which Cyprus fulfills that economic and political criteria. The decisions to be taken in Brussels will also recall the EU 1999 Helsinki Conclusions which said that if no settlement is reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the EU's decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition. They also said that in the absence of a settlement, the EU will take its decision bearing in mind all relevant factors. Speaking at today's meeting, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said that a settlement of the Cyprus problem is preferable before Cyprus' accession to the EU and noted that the UN has been actively engaged in the past two years in efforts for a Cyprus settlement, without any result so far. We support the UN Secretary General's efforts for a solution that will abide by the decisions and resolutions of the Security Council, he added, recalling the EU position that the solution must allow Cyprus to speak with one voice in the EU. Papandreou also noted that so far there are no indications that an EU member state intends to link Cyprus' accession with the settlement of the Cyprus problem, but noted that no one could rule out this possibility for the future. He also assured that Greek diplomacy is ready to face all possibilities. Papandreou also said that if the Cyprus problem is not solved by the EU Copenhagen Summit, in December, then the Cyprus talks will continue, Cyprus will join the EU but the acquis communautaire will not be implemented to the Turkish occupied northern third of the island.| Cyprus divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974 opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998.