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Van der Meer says February 28 second window of opportunity
2002-12-16 23:43:41

Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) - The Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Cyprus, Adriaan van der Meer, said today there is a second opportunity for a solution to the Cyprus problem by February 28.

Speaking to CNA after he informed the leadership of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEVE) on the Copenhagen European Council decision on Cyprus, van der Meer also stressed the importance of a reunited island entering the European Union.|

The Commission diplomat said he ''congratulated the Chamber for all the work they have done in the previous years to support the European course of Cyprus'' and the vision they had on the future of the island.

He expressed the view that ''they will be among the first to see the importance of EU membership for Cyprus''.

Noting he was ''very happy for what has happened in Copenhagen'', van der Meer said ''on the other hand, we all realise that another important issue still needs to be resolved'', that of the Cyprus problem.

Van der Meer said he was ''heartened'' by the statement made by President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides that he is willing to start negotiations on the UN plan the soonest possible.

He remarked that during the meeting with KEVE he ''stressed the importance of a reunited island'' entering the EU. ''This is a second window of opportunity, the 28th of February'', he added.

Van der Meer further expressed ''solidarity with the Turkish Cypriots on the island'', adding that he did not know what the package of measures the government intends to announce to support the Turkish Cypriots would contain.

Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides urged the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Turkish Cypriot chamber ''to decide how best a liberalised situation of exchanging goods and services could take place''.

Kasoulides made the statement after he informed KEVE on the latest developments regarding the island's accession to the EU and the Cyprus problem.

KEVE chairman Vassilis Rologis told CNA that he was anticipating the views of the Turkish Cypriot chamber on the package of measures that are to be announced by the Cyprus government for the Turkish Cypriot community. He also said there is a continued dialogue with the Turkish Cypriot chamber.

The European Council on Friday 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.

Annan put forward a revised peace plan last month aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement to the protracted Cyprus problem.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.


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