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Cyprus joins European Union
2002-12-13 17:57:08

Copenhagen, Dec 14 (CNA) -- The east Mediterranean island of Cyprus has been extended an invitation to join the European Union, 12 years after submitting its application for membership of the European Communities.

The historic moment for Cyprus comes after a dramatic two-day attempt by the UN to clinch a deal to include a united Cyprus in the EU ranks failed because of the Turkish intransigent stance.

European Union leaders said today in the conclusions of the Copenhagen European Council that as accession negotiations have been completed with Cyprus, Cyprus will be admitted as a new EU member state.

However, the Council confirmed its strong preference for accession to the European Union by a united Cyprus and welcomed the commitment of the two sides on the island to continue to negotiate to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem by 28 February 2003 on the basis of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposals.

It said in the absence of a settlement, the application of the acquis to the northern part of the island should be suspended, until the Council decides otherwise on the basis of a proposal by the Commission.

The European Council said "?as the accession negotiations have been completed with Cyprus, Cyprus will be admitted as a new Member State to the European Union".

"Nevertheless", it noted, "the European Council confirms its strong preference for accession to the European Union by a united Cyprus".

"In this context, it welcomes the commitment of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots to continue to negotiate with the objective of concluding a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem by 28 February 2003 on the basis of the UNSG's proposals", the conclusions said.

"The European Council believes that there is a unique opportunity to reach a settlement in the coming weeks and urges the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to seize this opportunity", the conclusions remarked.

"The Union recalls its willingness to accommodate the terms of a settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principle on which the EU is founded", they added.

''In case of a settlement", the conclusions noted, "the Council, acting by unanimity on the basis of proposals by the Commission, shall decide upon adaptations of the terms concerning the accessions of Cyprus to the EU with regard to the Turkish Cypriot community".

Furthermore, "the European Council has decided that, in the absence of a settlement, the application of the acquis to the northern part of the island shall be suspended, until the Council decides unanimously otherwise, on the basis of a proposal by the Commission".

"Meanhwile the Council invites the Commission, in consultation with the Government of Cyprus to consider ways of promoting economic development of the northern part of Cyprus and bringing it closer to the Union", the European Council concluded.

In addition, a "declaration of the Council meeting in Copenhagen on 12 December 2002" said "the fact that, as things stand at present, Cyprus and Malta will not take part in EU military operations conducted using NATO assets once they have become members of the EU will not, within the limits of the EU Security Regulations, affect the right of their representatives to participate and vote in EU institutions and bodies, including COPS, with regard to decisions which do not concern the implementation of such operations".

Regarding enlargement, the conclusions said "today marks an unprecedented and historic milestone in completing this process with the conclusion of accession negotiations with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia", adding that "the Union now looks forward to welcoming these States as members from May 1, 2004".

They said "this achievement testifies to the common determination of the peoples of Europe to come together in a Union that has become the driving force for peace, democracy, stability and prosperity on our continent", adding that "as fully fledged members of a Union based on solidarity, these States will play a full role in shaping the further development of the European project".

"By successfully concluding the accession negotiations the Union has honoured its commitment that the ten acceding States will be able to participate in the 2004 European Parliament elections as members" and the "Accession Treaty will stipulate that Commissioners from the new member States will join the current commission as from the day of accession on 1 May 2004".|

CNA/EC/GP/2002
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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