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Vassiliou announces official closing of acquis chapters
2002-12-05 12:37:13

Nicosia, Dec 5 (CNA) - Cyprus' Chief Negotiator with the EU George Vassiliou officially announced here today the closing of the 31 chapters of harmonisation with the acquis communautaire, stressing that ''next Thursday Cyprus will be one of the ten countries that will accede to the EU, irrespective of the progress we will achieve or not achieve in the Cyprus problem.''

Speaking during a press conference, Vassiliou expressed the belief that the bridging of the gap between the standards of living of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and the financial development in Cyprus after the settlement of the Cyprus problem will surprise everyone.|

He also said that when Cyprus accedes to the EU, the government ''will begin to receive 80 million euros and will be able to use it however it sees fit''.

''When we will have a solution, millions of dollars will come to Cyprus to tackle the problem of financial underdevelopment in the occupied areas,'' he added.

Answering a question on the event of Cyprus' accession without a solution to the Cyprus problem, Vassiliou said that ''the Republic of Cyprus, as has been formed by the Zurich-London agreements, is joining, but the acquis communautaire will be implemented only in the areas under government control.''

Invited to say whether he has received assurances by EU officials that Cyprus' accession will be clear without any ''asterisks'', Vassiliou said that it is crystal clear that the world knows there has never before been such an intensive effort to solve the Cyprus problem.

''The reason is simple, because it is only this time that they feel that Turkey is obliged to give and take and that is exactly why they are seizing this special opportunity to secure actions on behalf of Turkey that will lead to the settlement of the Cyprus problem,'' he added.

He also stressed that the solution is not a prerequisite for accession and if no progress is achieved by next Thursday it does not mean that Cyprus will not be among the ten countries to be invited to accede.''

Answering another question, Vassiliou said that ''all these years the Greek Cypriot side has proved its desire and readiness for a solution.''

''I don't have any doubt that on Thursday they will invite us with no asterisks or anything else, but if the Copenhagen decision will accommodate a reference on a Cyprus settlement or if there will be any engagements by the Turkish side this is something that I do not know and I cannot predict'', he added

Invited to say what makes him so optimistic, Vassiliou said that he is optimistic first of all due to the 1999 Helsinki summit conclusions and the fact that ''in Brussels we have heard no one telling us that for Cyprus to join the EU we have to solve the Cyprus problem.''

Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

CNA/AAG/MK/RG/2002
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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