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2002-11-22 16:11:13

From the Congressional Record
November 20, 2002
Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, the Senate has recently passed by unanimous consent a resolution, S. Con. Res. 122, that I, along with Senators BIDEN and SARBANES introduced expressing support for Cyprus' membership in the European Union, EU. This is a timely and significant statement of support for the Senate to make on the cusp of Cyprus' membership and I would like to thank Senators BIDEN and SARBANES for their efforts toward achieving the passage of S. Con. Res. 122.

Just this past month, Cyprus moved yet another step closer to its goal of EU membership. At the end of October, the 15 European nations met in Brussels and endorsed the recommendations of the European Commission that Cyprus and nine other countries become EU members in 2004. It was agreed that Cyprus had fulfilled the political criteria for accession and will be able to meet the economic criteria and assume the obligations of membership. It is expected that an official invitation for membership will be expanded this December, with accession in 2004.

The EU countries did reaffirm the call for continuing efforts by President Clerides and Turkish-Cypriots to work toward a solution to the Cyprus problem by the end of the year. However, as was stated at the Helsinki Summit in 1999, such a solution is not a precondition for Cyprus' membership.

After 27 years Cyprus remains a divided nation. However, as an EU member, the entire island of Cyprus will see economic benefits. All Cypriots will have access to new markets, a freer exchange of goods and services, balanced and sustainable development as well as the free movement of persons, goods and services, and capital.

But EU membership is not only about economic prosperity it is also about human rights. The EU guarantees citizens of its members human, legal and civil rights as well as the means and legal recourse necessary to secure the full application of these fundamental individual rights.

Moreover, Cyprus EU membership will be, and has been, a catalyst for the solution to the Cyprus problem as the mere prospect of membership has already yielded progress. That Cypriot President Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Denktash have been meeting since January in direct talks to seek a resolution of the division of Cyprus is seen as evidence of the positive leverage exacted by expected EU accession.

As a result of these continuous meetings, other international efforts have occurred such as the recent submission by the U.N. Secretary General of a comprehensive proposal for the solution of the Cyprus problem. If it were not for Turkey's desire to also be an EU member knowing that other EU members could block this goal it is questionable whether these talks would even be taking place. That, along with improved economic prosperity and guaranteed human rights, is why it was vital that the Senate go on record as supporting Cyprus' EU membership.

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