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UN proposal ''balanced'', says EU Commissioner
2002-11-12 09:20:01

by Nicos Bellos Brussels, Nov 12 (CNA) -- European Union Commissioner responsible for enlargement Gunter Verheugen described today as ''balanced'' UN proposals for agreement on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

In an initial response to the UN ideas, Verheugen also said the proposals will enable Cyprus to function as a member state of the European Union and acknowledged that some provisions in the UN proposals are not fully compatible with acquis communautaire.

Speaking at the European Policy Centre here, he said the UN proposal is balanced and offers guarantees that none of the two communities will dominate the other.

He said the Commission will take a firm stance on the proposal once the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides decide whether they accept the UN document as a basis for negotiation.

Verheugen said the Commission is willing to look into possible derogations from the acquis communautaire.|

He said the time the proposal was put forward is no coincidence and urged the two sides to reach agreement before the December EU summit, a clear preference as far as the EU is concerned.

However, he recalled that irrespective of developments the decision for Cyprus' accession will be taken in Copenhagen on the basis of the Helsinki EU conclusions that a political settlement would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition for it.

On Monday, the UN delivered a 137-page long document to the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides and asked them to come back to them in seven days and say if they consider it a basis for negotiation.

In his speech, Verheugen referred to Turkey's European aspirations and said the EU must not decide to give Ankara a date for the start of accession negotiations until it considers that Turkey has fulfilled the political criteria for membership.

He stressed that Turkey is a candidate country like all other applicants and cannot be treated differently.

He said no other candidate country has asked and received a date for the start of membership talks before it was established that they meet the Copenhagen criteria respecting democratic principles.

The Commissioner said it was wrong for Ankara to insist on getting a date for the start of accession negotiations and expressed hope that the new Turkish government will accelerate the pace of reforms.

Verheugen will meet the winner of Turkey's parliamentary elections Tayyip Erdogan.

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