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AHEPA hails EU decision on Cyprus
2002-12-18 09:48:39

by Apostolis Zoupaniotis -- New York, Dec 18 (CNA)- American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) has applauded EU's ''historic decision'' to invite the Republic of Cyprus to join the EU without preconditions.

AHEPA's Supreme President James Dimitriou, said in a written statement ''we are hopeful that EU membership will serve as a catalyst in reaching this objective.''|

"I applaud the European Union's historic decision to invite the Republic of Cyprus as one of ten new members into its fold without preconditions. The Republic of Cyprus, its elected representatives and its people are to be praised for rising from the depths of a devastating invasion 28 years ago and subsequent illegal occupation to arrive at the brink of membership,'' Dimitriou said.

"In addition,'' he added, ''the Greek government is to be commended for its support of Cyprus throughout this entire process.''

Dimitriou said it was unfortunate ''that a solution to end the division of Cyprus was not reached due to the unwillingness of the Turkish Cypriot 'administration' to work toward this goal.''

''However, we are hopeful that EU membership will serve as a catalyst in reaching this objective. We realize that this is not the overall sentiment of the Turkish Cypriot community,'' he added.

Dimitriou said that ''statements from Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, expressing their ongoing commitment to see a reunified Cyprus enter the European Union so that all Cypriots, Greek and Turkish alike, will benefit from EU membership are strongly welcomed and admirable."

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

The UN has called on the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides to negotiate a UN proposal for a comprehensive settlement and reach an agreement by the end of February. Cyprus is set to sign the EU Treaty of Accession in mid April.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.

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

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