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Cox: now we must push for the best solution
2002-12-09 04:56:34

Nicosia, Dec 8 (CNA) -- The President of the European Parliament Pat Cox said here today that a Cyprus settlement is ''potentially obtainable'' and at present everybody stands to gain from ''the very best solution.''

He said the next few days will require the courage to take risks for a comprehensive settlement and he promised EU assistance in every practical way possible to ensure ''a successful and smooth transition'' for a united Cyprus to join the Union.

Cox cautioned against letting slip an opportunity that presents itself to the parties to reach a settlement, in circumstances which ''have no precedent''.

On Turkey-EU relations, he said the Copenhagen summit next week will give ''measured and visible progress'' in the Union's engagement with Ankara.|

Asked if Cyprus will get an unconditional green light for EU accession at next week's summit in Copenhagen, Cox said the optimum condition is for a settled Cyprus to be able to sign the accession Treaty.

''This is potentially obtainable,'' he said, pointing out however that ''to choose the optimum is not to make the best the enemy of the good.''

''Right now we must push for the very best solution for the whole island and between the island and its neighbours and between its neighbours and the EU, we all stand to gain if we push for the optimum,'' he said.

He reiterated his message to all concerned that the EU is confronted with a set of possibilities and opportunities to do with Cyprus and EU-Turkey relations, which taken together are circumstances which have no precedent.

''If we can intelligently use these, I believe we have a possibility to bring a new dynamic to the politics of this island and to Turkey-EU relations. The conjunction of these special circumstances does not easily repeat itself,'' he said.

Cox said in his own country, Ireland, had to wait for a generation when people let opportunities slip by.

''Do not let wait anymore, please let us seize this moment, that is my message,'' he said.

Asked if his message was understood by his interlocutors, he said that the next few days "require the courage to take some risks for a comprehensives settlement", adding that political leadership is needed at these decisive times.

Replying to questions on Turkey's ties with the EU, the President of the European Parliament said ''the timetable for Turkey will have to be decided at the EU summit'' next week in Copenhagen.

Cox was commenting on a statement by the current president of the European Council, the Danish premier, that Turkey shall not get a date for the start of accession negotiations at the Copenhagen summit.

''My understanding is that there will be measured and visible progress in the EU's engagement with Turkey, this is a process and a process is something certainly that has calendar but it is something more than calendar,'' he said, noting that he could not tell which precise option will be adopted by the 15 in Copenhagen with regard to Turkey.

He said the Danish presidency will attempt to find whatever consensus and wisdom there is to be shared by the 15 and added ''I do not believe it is the intention of the Danish president to seek to block any step forward that might commend itself to the 15.''

Asked about his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, he said he emphasized ''at considerable length and with considerable conviction that this is indeed a very critical moment and I encouraged him to understand the nature of this moment and act upon it.''

Questioned on what would happen to European Court of Human Rights decisions or cases pending, he said negotiating a settlement concerns the parties and the UN but noted that the EU will assist the UN process in every practical way possible to ensure ''a successful and smooth transition'' for a settled Cyprus to enter the Union.

''Any questions that representatives here wish to bring forward to the Parliament can present themselves on the floor after an accession treaty is signed,'' he said.

He said there are arrangements to invite six observers from Cyprus to attend European Parliament proceedings after an accession treaty is signed.

He explained that in the event of a settlement, four observers will be Greek Cypriots and two Turkish Cypriots.

Cox had separate meetings today with UN Secretary General's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, US State Department special coordinator Thomas Weston, Denktash and others.

Tomorrow morning he will be received by President Glacos Clerides. He leaves Monday afternoon.

CNA MM/2002

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