Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-110"

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". Mr President, I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate on Cyprus on behalf of the Council. Three days ago, on 1 May, a new chapter was written in the history of Europe. It is no exaggeration to say that the accession of ten Member States marks a truly historic moment. In effect, it brings an end to the tragic post-war divisions in Europe. It does not, however, bring a complete end to divisions within our continent. The statements and actions by the Council since the referenda clearly confirm that the European Union remains strongly committed to providing tangible assurance to the Turkish Cypriot community that its future will be in a united Cyprus within the European Union. On a personal note, I shall unfortunately have to leave before this debate ends. This is likely to be the last occasion on which I address this Parliament. I want to thank very sincerely all the Members of this Parliament for the extraordinary courtesy and for the forbearance they have shown me during many debates in this Chamber. I have seldom enjoyed an experience more than I have enjoyed addressing this Parliament. I am not sure whether that enjoyment was reciprocated, but nonetheless, from my point of view my duties here were very pleasant and they were made all the more pleasant by the fact that I was able to make new friends and renew old acquaintances. In recent days this Parliament has come in for some of the most uncalled for and scurrilous criticism, criticism which it does not deserve. This Parliament serves the people of Europe well. It is a model of parliamentary performance. It gets through its work in an efficient and effective way. Undoubtedly it is not entirely made up of saints, but then very few human institutions are absolutely perfect. However, insofar as a parliamentary assembly is concerned, this comes as close to perfection as any assembly that I have ever addressed. It has been my pleasure to work with the Members of this Parliament. I wish those who are going into retirement all the very best for their retirement. I hope that they enjoy the years ahead of them. For those who are going into the election campaigns, I wish them well too, for safe campaigning and a very happy result. The Republic of Cyprus has taken its place as a full Member State of the European Union. It is no secret that the clear preference of the European Union was for the accession of a united Cyprus on 1 May. We greatly regret that following the outcome of the referenda in Cyprus on 24 April, it was not possible to achieve this objective. I would like today to echo the strong words from the meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Luxembourg on 26 April. The Council indicated its determination to ensure that the people of Cyprus will soon achieve their shared destiny as citizens of a united Cyprus in the European Union. We accept, however, that the people of Cyprus have made a democratic choice. On 24 April, the people of both parts of Cyprus voted in separate referenda on the settlement plan presented by the United Nations Secretary-General. The referenda were the culmination of a long and detailed negotiating process led by the United Nations. It is important today, therefore, that I again emphasise in the European Parliament the deep gratitude that the European Union has for the determined and sustained efforts in the search for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem by Secretary-General Annan, by his Special Adviser, Mr Alvaro de Soto, and by their colleagues. They worked closely, and tirelessly, with the parties for a long period. We also recognise the very positive contributions made by the governments of Greece and Turkey. All in this House know and have reflected on the results of the referenda and there is little point in going further into the analysis at this point. The Turkish Cypriot community has now expressed its clear desire for a future within the European Union. The Council is determined to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and to facilitate the reunification of the island by encouraging economic development. Last week, the Council took an important step with the adoption on 29 April of the regulation on a regime under Article 2 of Protocol 10 of the Act of Accession. The regulation was necessary for a smooth accession process. It provided the terms under which the relevant provisions of European Union law are applied to the line between the northern part of Cyprus, in which the application of the is suspended, and the areas in which the government of Cyprus is in control. The terms of the regulation will facilitate trade and other links across the line while ensuring that the appropriate standards of protection are maintained. I believe that the agreement reached on this regulation reflects clearly the desire of the Council to send a signal of encouragement to the members of the Turkish Cypriot community that its future lies within a united Cyprus and within the European Union. The next step will be the presentation by the Commission of the comprehensive proposal requested by the General Affairs and External Relations Council. That will have a particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island and on improving contact between the two communities within the European Union. The Council has recommended that the EUR 259 million that had been earmarked for the northern part of Cyprus in the event of a settlement should now be used for this purpose. I welcome the intention of the Commission to bring forward its comprehensive proposals within the coming weeks. There is a strong sympathy and a sense of respect in this Parliament for the people of Cyprus, of both communities, as they seek to overcome the legacy of a divided history. I have said here on more than one occasion that coming as I do from a divided island we understand very fully how difficult it is to heal the rifts. I regret that the accession celebrations in Ireland on 1 May could not have included a celebration of a united Cyprus in the European Union, in fact I do so on a particularly personal note, because the celebrations for Cyprus were held in my own home town and it would have been marvellous if we could have welcomed all of the people of Cyprus there on that occasion. However, those who did come were very welcome."@en1

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