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Clerides: no unacceptable concessions for Cyprus' EU accession
2002-11-01 09:29:37

Nicosia, Nov 1 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides has pledged not to proceed with unacceptable concessions on the Cyprus problem to secure the island's accession to the European Union.

Noting the Greek Cypriot side attaches the same significance to finding the right solution to the Cyprus issue, he said that with unity on the home front, "we will successfully handle the difficult time we are going through".

In a speech on Thursday night during a gathering to honour former Mayor of the Turkish-occupied town of Famagusta, Andreas Pougiouros, President Clerides referred to the coming months when "Cyprus will face Turkey in the most important diplomatic battle of the last 28 years".

"It is a battle which will determine the island's future. Our aim in the next crucial months is to achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem which will be to the benefit of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and Cyprus to join the European Union", he said.

Noting that Cyprus "is already at EU's threshold", Clerides stressed "that we will not go ahead with unacceptable concessions to secure our accession (to the EU)". He explained "we attach great significance to finding the right solution to our national problem, a solution which will comply with international law, UN resolutions, human rights international conventions, the acquis communautaire and the relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights".|

However, he said "with the greatest unity on the home front and continuing the proper strategy which we are following, I am optimistic that we will handle with success the difficult time which is ahead and secure the future of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in a united, prosperous Cyprus, member of the great European family".

Praising the former mayor of Famagusta, Clerides thanked him for his overall contribution to Famagusta and Cyprus at large.

Pougiouros served a total of 36 years as mayor of Famagusta, the first time in 1953. He was Cyprus' ambassador to the UN in Geneva and Ambassador at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. He also served at various posts, as President of the Ports Authority and President of the Land Development Organisation and was re-elected mayor of the occupied town of Famagusta in 1991.

The gathering was organised by the Famagusta Municipality and was held at the Famagusta Gate Cultural Centre in Nicosia.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory. Famagusta, a thriving holiday resort before 1974, was the home of some 60,000 people.

Cyprus is expected to finalise accession negotiations, according to the European Commission, by the end of the year. Efforts are underway to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem before the European Council of Copenhagen in December. However, the Helsinki European Council has stated that finding a solution is not a precondition for accession to the EU.

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