EU upbeat on Cyprus settlement

One day before a key meeting in Paris between United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, a top European Union official said yesterday that a solution to the Cyprus problem should be possible before December. EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen did not expand on the basis of his optimism that the 28-year-old problem can be settled before the December 12-13 EU summit in Copenhagen, which is expected to approve the island’s accession to the 15-member bloc. Speaking after a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel, he reiterated that, while a settlement before the summit is desirable, it is not a prerequisite for Cyprus’s accession. On Wednesday, Verheugen assured George Vassiliou, Cyprus’s top negotiator with the EU, that a report on the republic’s progress to be published by the European Commission on October 16 will be «most favorable.» Turkey’s EU prospects, however, are much murkier.