The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce, The international Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus and the Cyprus Federation of America organized on Monday the 16th of December, a lecture on the topic of “Cyprus After Copenhagen”. The main speakers at this event were the Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN, Ambassador Sotos Zackheos and the Head of Press and Public Affairs of the European Commission Delegation to the United Nations, Mr. George Cunningham.
Ambassador Zackheos spoke of the historic importance of the decision taken by the EU at the European Council Summit in Copenhagen last week, to accept ten new member states, including Cyprus. The European Council, he added, called on both sides to continue negotiations with the objective of concluding a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem by the 28th of February 2003. The Permanent Representative stressed that Cyprus is well prepared to join the EU as a full member and will add its voice to the European peoples’ demands for social cohesion, respect of the rule of law, democracy, and the prevalence of multilateralism in international relations.
The Ambassador of Cyprus also noted the disappointment felt by the Cyprus government and the Turkish-Cypriot community due to the intransigence and lack of political will of the Turkish-Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, that continue to obstruct a solution to the Cyprus issue. Mr. Zackheos added that the Cyprus Government will always keep the door to negotiations open and will continue striving for a solution that will enhance and safeguard conditions of peaceful co-operation of the two communities in a reunified island.
Following that, Mr. Cunningham congratulated Cyprus on its accession to the EU and then expressed the hope that the EU Enlargement will strengthen democracy, peace, prosperity and justice throughout a reunited Europe. He added that the EU will open accession negotiations with Turkey, if it is decided by 2004, that Turkey fulfils the Copenhagen political criteria and he encouraged her to continue her efforts. Mr. Cunningham then reiterated the European Council’s support for the UN Secretary-General’s efforts for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. He noted that at Copenhagen, the EU confirmed its strong preference for accession of a united Cyprus to the EU and welcomed the commitment of both sides to continue to negotiate to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem by the 28 February 2003 on the basis of Mr. Annan’s proposals. He further added that the application of the acquis to the northern part of the island is suspended until the EU decides otherwise.
Mr. Cunningham also extended a welcoming hand to the Turkish Cypriot community, stressing that after a resolution of the Cyprus problem, over a quarter of a billion euro will be offered in aid to them.
Also speaking at the event were the President of the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Andreas Comodromos, the President of the Cyprus Federation for America, Mr. Savvas Tsivicos and the former Ambassador of Cyprus to Brussels, Mr. Nicos Agathocleous.
The event was attended by Consul Generals of the new member states of the EU, representatives of diplomatic missions, representatives of the Greek-American community and members of the press.