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Clerides receives hero's welcome on return from EU Council
2002-12-14 17:43:29

Larnaca, Dec 14 (CNA) Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides received a hero's welcome here Saturday night on his return from Copenhagen where he secured on Friday the island's accession to the European Union during the European Council there.

Expressing sadness because a solution to the Cyprus problem was not achieved and thus a united Cyprus did not enter the EU, he said the confidence which the EU membership provides will enable the government take bold steps in the next weeks which will help towards a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Clerides also promised the government will not overlook that Turkish Cypriot who are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus are entitled to enjoy the rights and advantages, which the acquis communautaire offers.

Accompanied by his entourage, the President's plane touched down late this afternoon as light rain fell in the coastal town of Larnaca.

All members of the Council of Ministers, deputies, prominent businesspeople, dignitaries and journalists packed the VIP lounge and applauded the President as he entered the room.

Speaking to the press, Clerides said, "yesterday's day was historic, both for the European Union and for Cyprus".

He explained that for the EU, despite the difficulties, intricacies, and the conflicting interests, its historic enlargement was attained with the inclusion of ten states to the already 15 member states. "For the EU, a new dynamic is being created which leads to the further strengthening of the cohesive bonds between the peoples and its member states", he said.

For Cyprus, Clerides added, "after many years of efforts, a vision has come alive, the vision of Cyprus' entry to the EU, where within its ranks it will be an equal member with the other member states".
"Our joy over this historic development would have been complete if a solution to the Cyprus problem was achieved. I am deeply saddened because an overall settlement to the Cyprus problem was not secured. Despite our efforts in the last years, despite the flexibility which we have repeatedly showed, despite our willingness to compromise to find a solution to our problem, this aim could not be achieved", he added.

"I express the hope that the Turkish Cypriot community and its leadership will realise the great advantages and prospects which derive from accession, and show the necessary flexibility in the immediate future to achieve the aim of solving the Cyprus problem", Clerides said.

He remarked that Cyprus' accession to the EU provides "an additional foundation of confidence to take bold steps in the next weeks, which will create a better climate and in turn will help towards a solution to the Cyprus problem".

"?Now comes the time for unity and contemplation and to strive for a better Cyprus, home for all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians, Latin", the President said, and repeated the "political commitment to achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem the soonest".

President Clerides also promised the Cyprus government will "not overlook our Turkish Cypriot compatriots who are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus", noting that those who are entitled to, "will enjoy the rights and advantages which the acquis communautaire offers to the states and its people".

Clerides reminded that "Cyprus has demonstrated that it is ready to undertake its responsibilities and obligations, responsibilities that derive from its membership to the EU" and is ready to "contribute with all its strength, to the implementation of the aims of the EU and to further promote the European unification".|

The President of the Republic thanked the Prime Minister of Greece and his government, the Foreign Minister of Greece, "for their great help in our course to join the EU. They were really close associates and with dexterity and perseverance promoted Cyprus' accession to the EU", he added.

The President did not accept questions from the press, saying he will give a press conference in the coming days and answer to all kinds of questions.

Clerides was accompanied in Copenhagen by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Attorney-General Alecos Markides, Cyprus' Chief Negotiator with the EU, George Vassiliou, six of the eight political parties represented in the House and National Council, Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou.

The European Council in Copenhagen decided Friday Cyprus, along with nine other candidate countries, to be invited to join the EU in May 2003.

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.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.

CNA/AZ/EC/MK/2002
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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