31 January, 2004
BRUSSELS 31/01/2004 (ANA/ V.Demiris /CNA)
European Commission President Romano Prodi has said there is a small but good window of opportunity to solve the Cyprus problem by 1 May 2004, noting the Commission's readiness to offer towards this direction.
Asked after his meeting with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, on Friday in Brussels, whether the issue of the Cyprus EU Commissioner was discussed Prodi said: ''we discussed it in a frank and friendly way and in very few days we shall take a common decision''.
In his statements President Papadopoulos agreed there is a window of opportunity noting that the Greek Cypriot side will make the best of it because enough time has been wasted.
Answering to another question President Papadopoulos stressed that ''our firm decision is to see a reunified Cyprus in the EU by 1 May and despite of what many people think there are serious practical problems to arise if we don't reach a conclusion for a reunified Cyprus by 1 May''. ''Let's say the problems may become more difficult in the future but if by 1 May we don't achieve the desired result we are not going to abandon the efforts, on the contrary, I would say we will redouble our effort and consistently ask for further negotiations so as to solve the Cyprus problem and our country to be reunified once again'', the president said.
Prodi said that he had a friendly meeting with the Cyprus president ''on the outstanding problem that we have on the table''.
''As you know Cyprus will become member of the Union may 2004 and it is also clear that there is an outstanding problem that we want to tackle, the settlement of the Cyprus situation'', Prodi said. He added that he told Papadopoulos ''the time is short'' but he is convinced there is a good window of opportunity now, noting that he discussed the issue two days ago during his meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Noting the Commission is clearly ''backing the UN plan'' Prodi also underlined that to have a speedy solution there are many technical and financial difficulties, adding the ''Commission's engagement to help in order to solve these problems''.
''Let's say we are ready to give all our technical assistance that is needed'', said the Commission's president, noting also the ''engagement to call for a donors' conference if necessary and if agreed''.
He further clarified ''the Commission is not a mediator, we do not play this role but we are here to help the UN and both sides in order to have an agreement and in order to implement the acquis communautaire''. ''This is our position and I repeat that there is a window of opportunity, a small window, because 1st of May is three months ahead and the process is not a short process but we can do it'', Prodi concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency