NEWS

EU pushes for reunification

EU Commissioner Guenter Verheugen yesterday urged Cypriots to vote «yes» in next Saturday’s referendum so that «a reunited island would join the European Union on May 1, which has always been our strong preference.» The commissioner, who is in charge of enlargement, was speaking at a conference in Brussels where he expressed confidence the international community would pledge the 2 billion euros the EU says Cyprus needs for its reunification. The United States said it would provide $400 million. «The absence of a solution would damage everyone: It would not only destroy the hope of many Cypriots, the status quo would deepen the island’s division and the dividing line would become de facto an external EU border,» Verheugen said. «The question in the next days will not be ‘This solution or another solution,’ but it will be ‘This solution or no solution at all for a very long time.’» Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said if Greek Cypriots rejected the UN plan, Ankara would seek international recognition for the Turkish Cypriots.