President Glafcos Clerides has welcomed the European Commission reaffirmation that accession talks with Cyprus will start next year, and dismissed Turkish threats it will annex the occupied part of the island if the Republic joins the European Union (EU).
Describing Cyprus’ EU accession process as “a catalyst towards a solution to the Cyprus problem”, President Clerides said it would be preferable if a solution was reached before accession, stressing, however, this should not be a precondition.
Asked to comment on Turkey’s threats to annex the occupied part of the island, if Cyprus joins the EU, President Clerides said the government has taken all necessary measures in the diplomatic field.
In Brussels, EU Commissioner, Mr. Hans Van Den Broek, has pointed out that the Commission cannot hold Cyprus hostage due to lack of cooperation by the Turkish side for a settlement of the protracted Cyprus problem.
Replying to a reporter’s question soon after presenting the “Agenda 2000” before the European Parliament Wednesday, Mr. Van Den Broek reiterated that the EU decision to open accession negotiations with Cyprus was not new, but was taken in March 1995.
He underlined that the EU has often expressed its interest in a solution to the Cyprus question and is cooperating with the UN in this direction.
The report, dubbed “Agenda 2000”, notes that membership negotiations will begin with Cyprus, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia.
In his reference to Cyprus, the EU Commissioner said it recalls “that the Commission delivered a favorable opinion in 1993 on Cyprus’ application for membership and has reaffirmed on several occasions that accession negotiations should start six months after the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference.”
“The division of the island, of course, raises problems in the context of enlargement but we hope that the prospect of accession will provide a catalyst to bring about a just and lasting settlement,” he added.
The Dutch Commissioner expressed hope that with the UN-led direct negotiations held in Troutbeck, New York, last week, between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, “a process leading to a settlement will begin.”
He added that “a settlement of the Cyprus problem will permit a faster conclusion to accession negotiations and these negotiations will be facilitated if sufficient progress is made towards a settlement to permit representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community to be involved in the accession process…”
Mr. Van Den Broek also pointed out that there are “encouraging signs” for better relations between Greece and Turkey and “we are looking to Turkey to contribute actively to a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus”.