EU commissioner: No EU enlargement possible without Cyprus

Published October 22nd, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

There can be no enlargement of the European Union, which does not include Cyprus, EU enlargement commissioner Guenter Verheugen argued in a German newspaper interview published Sunday, October 21. 

 

Verheugen told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that EU enlargement was not conceivable without the inclusion of Cyprus as a member, "above all because of the situation in the Greek parliament". "There will either be an enlargement with Cyprus, or there will no rapid enlargement at all," he said. 

 

He said he had not given up hope of EU membership in the foreseeable future for Cyprus, despite its present division into Greek and Turkish parts. "EU membership by a united Cyprus promises big advantages both for Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots," Verheugen said. 

 

The commissioner, a German former Social Democrat politician, said all one could do at present was to make every effort to persuade Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot community to resume talks on UN proposals for a solution. 

 

Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has rejected a resumption of talks. "The window of opportunity is still open. But it has already started to close," Verheugen warned. 

 

Verheugen said EU membership negotiations with Cyprus — meaning only the Greek-Cypriot part of the island — were "progressing well without anyone thinking of hindering them." "We are highly likely to be able to conclude them in the second half of 2002. That will be the moment of truth," he was quoted as saying.  

 

The European Union will not put forward a league table of candidate countries seeking to join at its next summit in December, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said on Saturday. His statement came after Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said on Friday that EU leaders may announce "best-placed" candidate nations to join the regional grouping at the summit. 

 

Belgium holds the rotating EU presidency and so is extremely influential in deciding the mechanics of EU policy. "It is not a question of drawing up a list with a league table and saying 'this is the first group,' it is not that at all," said Michel. 

 

He added that the idea of the December summit was to examine the state of play of preparations of each candidate country through reports due to be published by the European Commission in November. 

 

Candidate countries would then "know where they are up to," and "could be motivated to push on," said Michel. "Without establishing a formal list, it is evident that each country will see what needs to be done to reach objectives and see what sort of timescale it can expect before joining," he said. 

 

The EU's candidate countries are: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Malta. In June the 15-nation bloc said it hoped negotiations for the first countries due to join in the next enlargement would be completed before the end of 2002. ― (AFP, Berlin) 

 

© Agence France Presse 2001 

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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