November 24, 2017

Official talks between President Clerides and the President of the European Commission, Mr. Romano Prodi

The President of the Republic,  Mr. Glafcos Clerides, and the President of the European Commission, Mr. Romano Prodi, today held official talks at the Presidential Palace.

Following official talks President Clerides made a statement to the press: “I welcome the President of the European Commission, Mr. Romano Prodi, who is in Cyprus in this first visit to our country by a President of the European Commission, a landmark visit, full of encouraging messages for our country.

With President Prodi we have discussed issues such as the enlargement of the European Union, the future of Europe, the current international situation following the terrorist attacks of September 11, and of course we examined the course of our accession negotiations as well as Cyprus’s contribution to an enlarged Europe.

I was also given the opportunity to brief Mr. Prodi on the latest developments concerning the Cyprus problem.

I feel particularly pleased following President Prodi’s statements that the Commission proceeds towards the conclusion of the accession negotiations with the candidate countries by the end of 2002 and that the Helsinki decision on Cyprus will be upheld”.

In his statement Mr. Prodi said: “This is for me really an honour to be the first President of the Commission to visit this beautiful island and what we have seen at the end this morning concludes the expected impression that Cyprus is well advanced in the preparation for membership.  We are convinced and after this meeting here that Cyprus will be among the first new member group.  Of course we feel that in this international climate the enlargement of the EU is even more important.  It will extend the zone of security, stability, peace and justice in Europe.

With President Clerides and the members of the Government we had a very productive exchange of views both on the enlargement and on the possibility of a political settlement.

We have regretted that the Turkish Cypriots position is no participation in the UN process and we have been very disappointed that the Turkish Cypriots refused to return to the talks.  We consider that the process of Cyprus’ accession to the EU and the search for a political settlement are mutually re-impulsive.  We think that a settlement would of course facilitate accession but we equally think that this is not a precondition.  Accession will benefit all Cypriots in both political and economic terms and we think that there is now a window of opportunity until the end of the negotiations, probably in the next half of next year for a settlement.  And this of course will allow for the provision of such an agreement to be included in the arrangements for accession.  We trust that a political breakthrough can be achieved and we support the efforts of the UN and all the parties concerned for a settlement.  Commissioner Verheugen has been very-very active in this direction and we shall go on in our efforts.

At the end of the day, however, it will be for the Cyprus people to find the agreement. At the end of this visit I want to congratulate the Cyprus Government, Parliament, Administration and all other people involved with on the excellent progress achieved towards accession.  For Cyprus a number of political – technical difficult issues remain such as taxation, competition, justice, home affairs, but these will be tackled in the next months and this morning (the meeting) is an example of active cooperation to solve these problems, to tackle them”.

Mr. Prodi also replied to the following questions:

QuestionIs the Commission ready to take any initiative for the resumption of the dialogue for the Cyprus problem?

Answer:  We are ready to do anything that would be useful to that.  We are confident of the UN role in this and we are at the service of the dialogue but of course we don’t want to impose anything.  We are confident that this must be solved by the current instruments.

Question:  How is the EU practically prepared to accept a divided island?

Answer:  I already said that we do prefer a united island but I told you that this is not a precondition.  I couldn’t be more clear than that.  Sorry but this is so.

Question:  Are there any specific preparations?

Answer:  Do you want me to give a lecture?  We simply hope that there will be a solution in the next months.

Question:  Yesterday you said that the acquis  would never be an obstacle to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.  Does this mean that the solution could deviate from the acquis?

Answer:  No. No. Please let us not misunderstand this.  We want an agreement here and we don’t want to interfere with that.  Of course we can’t make any exception neither with Cyprus or with any other country, to human rights, rule of law, acquis communautaire.  That’s the general rules, you know.  There cannot be any exemption  from these general rules.  But it is clear that we don’t want, and this is the central  democracy of Europe you know of subsidiary, we don’t want to impose anything that you can solve and you must solve, your communality agreement, how you solve your problem.