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Cyprus solution must be in line with EU principles, says Prodi
2002-11-27 16:05:05

Nicosia, Nov 27 (CNA) - European Commission President Romano Prodi has said a Cyprus solution should be in line with European Union fundamental principles and acknowledged that derogations could be accepted as part of a comprehensive settlement.

Replying to questions during an on-line chat, he expressed hope that the Cyprus question will be settled this year.|

On Turkey's accession prospects, Prodi said it has every chance of meeting the Copenhagen criteria, noting that EU member states will decide on the message they want to send to Turkey at their December summit.

Asked by CNA if the signing of an agreement on Cyprus prior to the December summit is pivotal for the EU, he replied ''it is our hope that the Cyprus problem will be resolved this year.''

Invited to say if the EU is prepared to accommodate derogations from the acquis communautaire as these appear in a UN proposal on a comprehensive settlement, Prodi said ''the EU is ready to accommodate a Cyprus settlement in line with our fundamental principles.''

''Certain derogations could be imagined in the framework of a global solution,'' he added.

Asked to comment on the situation of human rights in Turkey in relation to its bid to join the Union, he said ''Turkey is addressing its human rights problems and there are clear signs of improvement, Turkey certainly plays a key role in the Eastern Mediterranean.''

Replying to another question on Turkey's accession course, he said ''it is up to member states to decide on the message on Turkey''.

Asked why Turkey has not been given a date for the start of accession negotiations, he recalled that in the Commission progress report on Turkey it was made clear that Turkey does not yet fully meet the conditions but is moving in the right direction.

''Turkey has every chance to meet the Copenhagen criteria, it is making good progress, Turkey's prospects for accession depend on its meeting the criteria for membership, it is making progress, we urge Turkey to make every effort,'' he added.

Invited to say if he agreed with the view that Turkey, being a Moslem country, cannot join the EU, he explained that ''Europe has never been and will never be a clerical society.''

''We do not need to have Turkey in to demonstrate it, nor should religion be a reason to block the entry of Turkey,'' he said.

Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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