EU leaders agree on ten candidate countries
Brussels, Oct 25 (CNA) - European Union leaders meeting in Brussels tonight
endorsed the recommendations of the Commission that Cyprus and nine
other countries become members of the EU in 2004.
According to the final conclusions of the Brussels European Council, the 15 leaders agreed that all ten countries fulfill the political criteria for accession and will be able to fulfill the economic criteria and assume the obligations of membership from the beginning of 2004.
The Union confirmed its determination to conclude accession negotiations with these countries - namely Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia - at the European Council in Copenhagen on 12-13 December and sign the Accession Treaty in Athens in April 2003.
In a reference to the Cyprus problem, the 15 European leaders ''reiterate their preference for a reunited Cyprus to join the EU on the basis of a comprehensive settlement and urge the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to seize the opportunity and reach an agreement before the end of accession negotiations this year.''
The Union will continue to fully support the substantial efforts of the Secretary General of the United Nations for reaching a settlement, consistent with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the conclusions say.
''The EU will accommodate the terms of such a comprehensive settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principles on which the EU is founded'', they continue.
''In the absence of a settlement, the decisions to be taken in December by the Copenhagen European Council will be based on the conclusions set out by the Helsinki European Council in 1999,'' under which a settlement is not a precondition for the accession of Cyprus but ''all relevant factors'' will be taken into account.|