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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot Press and Other Media, 01-02-05
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>
TURKISH CYPRIOT PRESS AND OTHER MEDIANo. 24/01 -- 3-4-5.2.01
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Verheugen: Turkey may become EU member without solution to Cyprus issueAccording to Turkish Daily News (3.2.01), Gunther Verheugen, EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement, said Turkey may became an EU member without having to a come up with a solution to the Cyprus dispute.
Speaking at Manset - a TV program on CNN Turk prepared by Mehmet Ali Birand - Verheugen evaluated Turkey -EU relations and said that the Cyprus issue was not exactly a precondition for Turkey/s EU membership.
Asked if there was a negative atmosphere surrounding Turkey/s EU membership, Verheugen responded that Turkey has the same statute as the other twelve candidate countries which have started membership negotiations with the European Union.
``I think the problem stemmed from the fact that Turkey did not start membership negotiations with the EU as well as the other candidates. The statute was given to Turkey in Helsinki and reaffirmed at the Nice Summit. So there is no change in Turkey/s statute. I wrote a letter to the other EU Commission members and asked them to take Turkey into consideration as a candidate country'', Verheugen said.
Drawing attention to the fact that the speed of the accession process will depend on Turkey itself, Verheugen noted that Turkey had not lagged behind in the membership process so far.
``There is no delay in Turkey/s membership process. We will make our decision within a few weeks and then Turkey will submit its national program.
. But I have to remind you that Turkey should take serious steps in fulfilling necessary reforms. To write something on paper is nothing. We want Turkey to take the action it writes on the paper. Of course fulfilment of these responsibilities can take a long time. I am repeating again that to start the membership process totally depends on Turkey. Turkey may face some difficulties during that time - which every country may face - but this is not an issue for us. We take our notes and we wait. Whenever Turkey overcomes its difficulties, that will be the appropriate time for us. Turkey may become an EU member without having to come up with a solution to the Cyprus dispute'' he said.
Verheugen also said Greece had played a very positive role in Turkey/s relations with the EU since the Helsinki Summit.
Asked if the Armenian genocide issue would create any problems between the EU and Turkey, Verheugen replied that the issue should be left to historians, but called on Turkey to behave rationally when showing reactions to the policies of EU countries.
Verheugen also pointed out that it is very difficult to defend Turkey in Europe since there is intense criticism of the violation of human rights in Turkey. He concluded that the EU is not a Christian club, and said different cultures will add richness to the EU.
From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/