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Verheugen sends message to Nicosia
2002-10-26 21:26:14

By Themis Themistocleous -- Brussels, Oct 25 (CNA) - European Commissioner on Enlargement Gunter Verheugen, through statements to CNA at the end of the Brussels European Council, sent a clear message to Nicosia by pointing out that the way in which the parties will react to a Cyprus settlement plan, expected to be submitted by the UN Secretary General, will constitute a ''very significant factor'', a phrase which refers directly to the ''line'' of decisions of the Helsinki summit on Cyprus' accession to the EU.

In his statements to CNA, Verheugen expressed his strong conviction that there is still a window of opportunity for a Cyprus settlement despite the short time left until December.

''Many people in Cyprus know it was always my opinion that if a solution would come, it would come very very late. I do not exclude the possibility that the Secretary General of the United Nations will present a proposal after the Turkish elections and then of course pressure on both sides will be very very high to react, and to react in a positive way'', Verheugen said.

Asked by CNA if the proposal will take the form of ''take it or leave it'' and therefore be taken as a threat for repercussions if it is not accepted, Verheugen replied that he would ''not describe it this way''.

''First of all, it is a decision of the United Nations and I have only said that I do not exclude that the United Nations will put something on the table after the Turkish elections but before the summit of Copenhagen. Then of course it is a very important factor, how the involved parties would react'', he stressed.

He too confirmed, like EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana yesterday, the existence of a UN plan for a Cyprus settlement.

Asked if he was aware of it, Verheugen replied, ''Of course I know it''.

The German Commissioner said he did not know when the Secretary General would present the plan. ''That is a decision of the Secretary General of the United Nations. He will certainly consult the Security Council and he will certainly wait until he knows the results of the Turkish elections because he needs to know who his partner is'', Verheugen explained.

Asked how he sees the cancellation of the military exercises in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, Verheugen described it as ''a very positive development, a strong confidence building measure''.

Concluding, Verheugen said Cyprus was not discussed during the Brussels summit, other than it was included in the group of ten countries that will accede to the EU in 2004. He said in jest it was ''good news for Cyprus'' that the issue was not raised at the summit.|

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