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EU Welcomes Direct Talks, But Says it is Too Early to be Euphoric
2001-12-05 17:02:52

Nicosia, Dec 5 (CNA) -- The EU welcomes and encourages yesterday's decision by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to proceed with direct talks on the Cyprus question starting mid-January, Deputy Foreign Minister of Belgium Annemie Neyts said here today but added that this development does not necessarily guarantee success.

"It is much too young still to be euphoric, we can only say that the meeting is a courageous step for both gentlemen and the decision to proceed is a very brave decision but that does not guarantee success", Neyts told the press after a meeting here with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.|

Invited to say whether the EU will consider postponing Cyprus' accession to the EU if the talks go well, the Belgian official said the EU sticks by the Helsinki conclusions and the conclusions of the latest report by the Commission on the stage of the negotiations.

"The Commission has indicated that if things continue to proceed as they do by the end of next year, ten countries including Cyprus will be in the position to conclude the negotiations and start negotiations on the accession treaty", Neyts explained.

Asked whether, after this development, the EU will upgrade Turkey's EU candidacy, she said several developments are encouraging and that might lead to a more positive approach towards Turkey's candidacy.

During their meeting, Kasoulides and Neyts had the opportunity to discuss Cyprus' progress in its accession course, as well as the stage of preparation for the declaration on the future of Europe and the role that Cyprus will be called upon to play in this preparation.

Neyts is currently visiting candidate countries to brief them on behalf of the EU presidency on enlargement issues, as well as the debate on the future of Europe.


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