EU enlargement with Cyprus or ‘not at all’

BERLIN (AFP) – 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 yesterday. 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 all of 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. The window of opportunity is still open. But it has already started to close, Verheugen warned. Verheugen said EU membership negotiations with Cyprus 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 US State Department’s special coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, is to visit Ankara today for talks before moving on to Athens and Nicosia.]

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