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Opening of Substantive Accession Negotiations Between the European Union and the Republic of Cyprus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: JONATHAN CLARKE
November 10, 1998 No. 48/98 (202) 785-8430

OPENING OF SUBSTANTIVE ACCESSION NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS

On November 10, 1998 the Republic of Cyprus opened substantive accession negotiations with the European Union. This event marks a new and decisive stage in Cyprus' relationship with the EU and the accession process. In the words of the President of the EU Council of Ministers, Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel, "it represents a historical moment when the accession train is picking up speed." The stage is now set for detailed negotiations leading to accession. The American Hellenic Institute sends its congratulations to the Republic of Cyprus on this auspicious occasion. We are confident that these negotiations will proceed smoothly.

Cyprus's relationship with the EU has developed over many years and has been marked by consistent qualitative and quantitative growth. Cyprus' first association with the EU began in 1972 when it entered into an Association Agreement with the then European Economic Community. In 1987 Cyprus signed a Customs Union protocol. It applied for full membership in 1990. In 1993 the European Commission issued an avis (opinion) that Cyprus meets the criteria for EU membership, thereafter endorsed by the member states. Successive European Union Summits have built on this opinion, including the December 1997 Luxembourg Summit that set the date for the opening of accession negotiations with five former Eastern European countries and Cyprus. Formal negotiations opened on March 31, 1998.

On November 10, 1998 British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook stated, "we have just completed the accession conference with the Republic of Cyprus and I am very pleased with the progress that is being made. We do not believe that accession of Cyprus should be made conditional on a solution to the division of the island."

AHI strongly believes that current round of EU enlargement, including Cyprus' accession, is in the best interests of the United States. Accession is expected to act as a catalyst for regional political and economic advance. This will help facilitate a settlement of the Cyprus problem which would allow for the significant benefits of accession to be enjoyed by all the people of Cyprus. It is in this spirit that President Clerides invited the Turkish Cypriots to nominate representatives to the negotiating team, saying: "The road toward accession offers us new possibilities and avenues for cooperation between the two communities of Cyprus. It is our earnest desire that our Turkish Cypriot compatriots share the task of preparing Cyprus for EU membership."

AHI General Counsel Eugene T Rossides stated: "The opening of substantive accession negotiations marks an important new stage in Cyprus' long relationship with the EU. EU accession for Cyprus is strongly in the U.S. national interest and we call upon the U.S. to give wholehearted and unconditional support to these negotiations."