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President decorates Vassiliou for EU accession work
2002-10-25 13:07:14

Nicosia, Oct 25 (CNA) - The head of the Negotiating Team for the Accession of Cyprus to the European Union, George Vassiliou, was presented here today with the Great Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Cyprus for his laborious and multidimensional work in bringing the island closer to accession to the European Union.

Receiving the decoration, Vassiliou assured that he would continue offering his services ''so that Cyprus can become a member of the big European family, in which Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live in peace and look to the future with optimism''.|

In his address, President Clerides said that on March 1998, the Council of Ministers appointed Vassiliou Head of the Negotiating Team and assigned to him the task of conducting the accession negotiations, the process of harmonisation with the acquis communautaire and its effective application.

Noting that his task was ''difficult, laborious and multidimensional'', the President said Vassiliou ''with his skills and prestige in Cyprus and abroad justified all our expectations''.

Vassiliou effectively worked in Brussels and other policy and decision making centres, President Clerides said, adding that in Cyprus he coordinated successfully all the competent governmental services and established a constructive cooperation between the government and the House of Representatives so that Cyprus could conclude the enormous legislative work.

Furthermore, Vassiliou contributed to informing organised groups and citizens on the negotiating process and its results but also on the responsibilities and obligations deriving from the harmonisation with the acquis.

The President further praised the contribution of the Attorney General of the Republic, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Planning Bureau, all the civil servants of the Ministries and other governmental services, and the House of Representatives in accomplishing such voluminous legislative work.

''The appropriate strategy we have followed and continue to follow on the Cyprus problem and the successful handling of the accession negotiations, lead Cyprus towards the great European family'', he said, adding that ''our accession to the European Union will be our biggest achievement since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus''.

The recent Progress Report of the European Committee by which Cyprus is included among those countries joining the European Union in 2004, is a historical landmark for our accession process, he added.

The President stressed that ''despite the great importance we attribute to the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, we equally attribute great importance to finding a just solution to our national problem''.

''This is the reason why we are not willing to make any unacceptable concessions in order to achieve accession'', he noted.

In his reply, Vassiliou said the realisation of the vision for accession to the EU ''will signal the start of a new era for Cyprus and its people, an era of development and prosperity''.

''It is such a great privilege and satisfaction to be able to contribute to the implementation of this great vision'', he added.

Vassiliou said he is optimistic in view of the Copenhagen European Council in December, because ''we have honoured our obligations before our future partners and we rely on the correct policy of the Helsinki conclusions in the right handling of the Cyprus problem, and the infinite support of Greece''.

''There is no doubt'', he added, ''that everyone will continue working to implement this historic goal''.

Vassiliou assured the President that he would continue offering his services ''so that Cyprus can become a member of the big European family, in which Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live in peace and look to the future with optimism''.

Concluding, he said the honour bestowed on him does not only reflect his own contribution but also the work of all those who contributed in completing the difficult task of harmonisation with the acquis.

The ceremony was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, ministers, political party leaders and government officials, who congratulated Vassiliou for the decoration, noting it is a recognition of his efforts for Cyprus' accession to the EU.

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