NEWS

EP speaker fully backs Cyprus bid

NICOSIA (AP) – Visiting European Parliament President Nicole Fontaine yesterday backed Cyprus’s bid to join the European Union, saying the bloc could not expand without the island joining its ranks. I cannot envisage that the European Parliament would give its consent for accession of certain countries without including Cyprus, Fontaine said in Nicosia at the beginning of her two-day visit. Fontaine, who met with Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, said Cyprus would become an EU member by 2004, despite Turkish efforts to block it from doing so. Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has implied that a divided Cyprus joining the EU could spark a Greek-Turkish war. The European body hopes that Cyprus’s accession would serve as a catalyst for a political settlement. We want this solution and we will help Cyprus with all our might but we made it very clear that in no event can a solution serve as a condition for accession, Fontaine said. She said she was disappointed at the lack of progress since the island was divided in 1974, adding that Ankara was not serving its own interests by blocking moves for a political settlement. The plane-spotters were arrested on Air Force Day, when military airports are open to the public. They were later charged with monitoring air force pilots’ radio conversations, as well as jotting down aircraft serial numbers and flight schedules.