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Cyprus And Malta To Join EU - But No Deal For Turkey

by Lorys Charalambous,, Nicosia

16 December 2002

The EU formally issued invitations to Malta and Cyprus to join the Union on Friday, along with eight Eastern European ex-Soviet states, and the process is now subject only to referendums in the applicant countries. Accession treaties will be signed in 2003 in readiness for actual membership as from 1st May 2004, and those in turn will need to be ratified by the existing 15 member states.

The technicalities didn't prevent the applicant countries from treating last Friday as the day on which they joined the Union, to all intents and purposes, and celebrating accordingly, although in the case of Cyprus the failure of the Greek and Turkish factions to sign up to the UN's peace plan will lead to endless machinations and manoeuverings between now and May, 2004.

Cypriot government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou put the best face he could on it, describing the Copenhagen summit as a victory for all of Cyprus. He said that that although a Cyprus agreement was not signed at the summit, it was still a victory that would benefit not only Greek Cypriots but also Turkish Cypriots.

“Our goal was to get all of Cyprus into the EU and we have managed that,” Papapetrou said. The formal situation is in fact that the EU has invited the whole of Cyprus to join, although the accession of the Turkish part will be deferred if no solution is reached by February 28th, 2003.

In Ankara, some press reports of Friday's Copenhagen debacle, which saw Turkey's application to join the EU shuffled off until 2004, said that the inexperienced new Turkish government had failed to get its act together in time to over-rule Turkish Cypriot Rauf Denktash, who effectively neutered the Greek/Turkish negotiators in Denmark through public statements made from his hospital in Ankara.

A western official in Ankara told the FT: "You can forget any politeness about Denktash: either he is overriden by the new government in Ankara or there will be no settlement."

In Cyprus, thousands of mostly young Turkish Cypriots took to the streets on Friday afternoon calling on Denktash to resign for “thwarting them from entry to the EU,” Papapetrou said, adding that Denktash had “denied his people from becoming citizens of the EU”.

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