A Historical Overview
Indicative of the age-old bonds between Cyprus and Europe is the reference contained in the 1993 Opinion of the European Commission on the application of Cyprus for membership to the EU, which notes that "...Cyprus' geographical position, the deep-lying bonds which, for two thousand years, have located the island at the very fount of European culture and civilization, the intensity of the European influence apparent in the values shared by the people of Cyprus and in the conduct of the cultural, political, economic and social life of its citizens, the wealth of its contacts of every kind with the Community, all these confer on Cyprus, beyond all doubt, its European identity and character and confirm its vocation to belong to the Community".
The Government of the Republic of Cyprus concluded an Association Agreement with the EEC on 19 December 1972, which entered into force on 1 June 1973. The full implementation of this two-stage Agreement was to lead to a Customs Union within a period of 10 years. The purpose of the Agreement, which contained arrangements on trade, financial and technical cooperation that were to be applied for the benefit of the entire population of the island, was to consolidate and expand trade and the economic relations between Cyprus and the European Community.
The main provisions of the first stage of the Agreement consisted of the phased reduction of tariffs on industrial goods and agricultural products. This phase was due to expire in June 1977 but was extended until the end of 1987 when an Additional Protocol was signed for the implementation of the second stage.
This Protocol, which was to pave the way towards the progressive realization of the goal of a Customs Union, came into force on 1 January 1988 and, as a first stage, provided for the reduction by Cyprus of customs duties and quantitative restrictions on industrial products (except for petroleum products and 15 categories of sensitive products) and on 43 agricultural products covered by the Agreement, the adoption by Cyprus of the Union's Common Customs Tariff and the harmonization of accompanying policies on competition, State aid and the approximation of laws.
The second stage of the Protocol provided for the elimination of all remaining restrictions to trade for products included in the Customs Union, the free and unrestricted movement of industrial and agricultural products and the adoption of the accompanying policies required for completion of the customs union. However, in view of the commencement of accession negotiations in March 1998, it was considered unnecessary to start additional negotiations for the implementation of this second phase.
Application for membership – Pre-accession Strategy
On 3 July 1990 the Republic of Cyprus submitted an application for membership to the then EEC. After an extensive examination of the application, the European Commission issued its Opinion (Avis) on Cyprus' application on 30 June 1993, which recognized the island's European identity and character, as well as its vocation to belong to the EEC. The Commission's Opinion also confirmed that Cyprus satisfies the criteria for membership and is suitable to become a member of the EEC.
The European Council fully endorsed this Opinion on 4 October 1993, stating, inter alia, that "The Council supported the Commission's approach which was to propose, without awaiting a peaceful, balanced and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem, to use all the instruments offered by the Association Agreement to help, in close cooperation with the Cypriot Government, with the economic, social and political transition of Cyprus towards integration into the European Union."
The substantive discussions that the Commission initiated with Cyprus thereafter, within the framework of the Opinion, began in 1993 and were completed in 1995. For this purpose, the Cyprus Government set up 23 working groups, each of them responsible for familiarizing itself with a different chapter of the acquis communautaire with which Cyprus needs to harmonize its legislation and adapt it with that of the European Union.
On 25 June 1994 in Corfu, the European Council noted that the next phase of enlargement of the Union would involve Cyprus and Malta. In Essen, the European Council reaffirmed on 10 December 1994 that the next phase of enlargement of the Union would involve Cyprus and Malta.
On 6 March 1995, the EU General Affairs Council reaffirmed the suitability of Cyprus for accession to the Union and stipulated that accession negotiations with Cyprus would start six months after the conclusion of the Inter-Governmental Conference of 1996 taking into consideration its results.
Accordingly, a Pre-accession Strategy was formulated to prepare Cyprus for its accession to the EU, which included the establishment of a structured dialogue between the two sides. This dialogue, which also included a political dialogue on all levels, was particularly useful in helping Cyprus to harmonize its legislation, policies and practices with the European acquis and prepare itself for a smooth transition for membership. Cyprus was also able to participate fully in certain Community Programmes, including Leonardo da Vinci, Socrates and Youth For Europe.
The decision of 6 March 1995 added a new momentum to the relations of Cyprus and the EU and brought the prospect of accession closer to realization, while at the same time, the EU itself was preparing itself for its next enlargement.
Examining the possible effects of the further enlargement of the EU, the Commission issued its "Agenda 2000" on 15 July 1997. A document that, apart from containing proposals on the future development of the policies of the Union, also included specific references relating to the situation in Cyprus. The Commission reaffirmed its 1993 Opinion, adding that "...the timetable agreed for accession negotiations to start with Cyprus means that they could start before a political settlement is reached...if progress towards a settlement is not made before the negotiations are due to begin, they should be opened with the Government of the Republic of Cyprus as the only authority recognized by international law".
At the Luxembourg European Council 12-13 December 1997, it was decided to initiate a new enlargement process with the ten applicant countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Cyprus, which included an enhanced Pre-accession Strategy and special pre-accession aid for the applicants. Moreover, it was decided to begin accession negotiations with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia, which were launched on 31 March 1998.
The Council also decided to set up a European Conference that would bring together the fifteen member-states of the Union and "the European states aspiring to accede to it and sharing its values and internal and external objectives".
On 12 March 1998, the President of the Republic of Cyprus presented an invitation to the Turkish Cypriots to appoint representatives as full members of the negotiating team for the accession of Cyprus to the EU. The Turkish Cypriot leadership rejected this invitation, which was fully endorsed and welcomed by all the EU member-states.
At the Helsinki European Council 10-11 December 1999, it was explicitly underlined "...that a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the EU. If no settlement has been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the Council's decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition. In this the Council will take account of all relevant factors". The Helsinki conclusions, therefore, made it very clear that the non-solution of the Cyprus problem could not hinder the island's efforts to join the EU.
In Nice, 7-9 December 2000, the European Council welcomed and expressed its strong support to the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General to achieve an overall settlement of the Cyprus problem, which would be consistent with the UN Security Council Resolutions, thus positively concluding the process initiated in December 1999. Finally, it appealed to all the parties concerned to contribute to the efforts made to this effect.
In Göteborg, 15-16 June 2001, the desired time frame for the first accessions was clearly set out by the European Council, in order to enable the EU to define the progress made in the negotiations and to mark out the finishing line for those applicants, including Cyprus, that were adequately prepared. The European Council in Goteborg, reaffirmed that the enlargement is irreversible, that the "road map" is the framework for the successful completion of the accession negotiations and that the main aim is the participation of candidate countries, as full members, in the European Parliament elections in 2004.
At the European Council in Laeken, 14-15 December 2001, the EU emphasized that it is determined to bring the accession negotiations with the candidate countries to a successful conclusion by the end of 2002, so that those countries can take part in the European Parliamentary elections in 2004 as members. It was also stressed that the candidate countries will continue to be assessed on their own merits, in accordance with the principle of differentiation. The European Council agreed with the report of the Commission, which considered that, if the present rate of progress of the negotiations and reforms in the candidate States is maintained, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic and Slovenia could be ready for accession within this timetable.
The Seville European Council 21-22 June 2002 reaffirmed the determination of the European Union to conclude accession negotiations with Cyprus, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia by the end of 2002, if these countries are ready and reiterated that the objective remains that these countries should participate in the elections for the European Parliament in 2004 as full members.
Enlargement was an important part of the Brussels European Council that was held 24-25 October 2002 under the Danish Presidency. In the Presidency Conclusions, the Union endorses the findings and recommendations of the Commission that Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia fulfil the political criteria and will be able to fulfil the economic criteria and to assume the obligations of membership from the beginning of 2004. The Union also confirmed its determination to conclude accession negotiations with these countries at the European Council in Copenhagen on 12-13 December and sign the Accession Treaty in Athens in April 2003.
The long and arduous process of the accession negotiations was completed at the Copenhagen European Council in December 2002, where the historic decision was taken to admit Cyprus and the other nine candidate countries as full members of the Union, as of May 2004. In fact, Cyprus was the first country to successfully conclude its accession negotiations within the agreed timeframe.
In its landmark decision the Copenhagen European Council pointed out that: "The European Council in Copenhagen in 1993 launched an ambitious process to overcome the legacy of conflict and division in Europe. Today marks an unprecedented and historic milestone in completing this process with the conclusion of accession negotiations with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. The Union now looks forward to welcoming these States as members from 1 May 2004. This achievement testifies to the common determination of the peoples of Europe to come together in a Union that has become the driving force for peace, democracy, stability and prosperity on our continent. As fully fledged members of a Union based on solidarity, these States will play a full role in shaping the further development of the European project".
The European Council also stressed: "Monitoring up to accession of the commitments undertaken will give further guidance to the acceding states in their efforts to assume responsibilities of membership and will give the necessary assurance to current Member States. The Commission will make the necessary proposals on the basis of the monitoring reports. Safeguard clauses provide for measures to deal with unforeseen developments that may arise during the first three years after accession. The European Council welcomes furthermore the commitment to continue the surveillance of progress with regard to economic, budgetary and structural policies in the candidate States within the existing economic policy coordination processes".
At Copenhagen it was emphasized that: "By successfully concluding the accession negotiations the Union has honoured its commitment that the ten acceding States will be able to participate in the 2004 European Parliament elections as members. The Accession Treaty will stipulate that Commissioners from the new Member States will join the current Commission as from the day of accession on 1 May 2004. After the nomination of a new President of the Commission by the European Council, the newly elected European Parliament would approve a new Commission that should take office on 1 November 2004. On the same date, the provisions contained in the Nice Treaty concerning the Commission and voting in the Council will enter into force. The necessary consultations with the European Parliament on these matters will be concluded by the end of January 2003. The above arrangements will guarantee the full participation of the new Member States in the institutional framework of the Union".
Moreover: "The current enlargement provides the basis for a Union with strong prospects for sustainable growth and an important role to play in consolidating stability, peace and democracy in Europe and beyond. In accordance with their national ratification procedures, the current and the acceding States are invited to ratify the Treaty in due time for it to enter into force on 1 May 2004".
On 16 April 2003 the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, signed the Treaty of Accession of Cyprus to the European Union. The signing of this historic Treaty, which took place during a special ceremony in Athens, represents one more important step towards European unification and a landmark event in the modern history of Cyprus.
Cyprus, along with the other nine acceding countries - Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia - will become a full EU Member State on 1 May 2004. Until then Cyprus will participate as an active observer in the work and the institutions of the European Union. In a statement issued by President Papadopoulos on the signing of the Treaty of Accession, the President noted: "The signing of the Accession Treaty constitutes a great and historic moment which seals indelibly Cyprus' future course. It constitutes at the same time the crowning achievement of a titanic effort by the Cyprus society and it is the landmark of its acceptance by a family to which it belongs geographically, historically, culturally, economically and politically.
This historic achievement acquires even greater significance if seen in the light of the special conditions of Cyprus, the tragedy of the invasion and the continued Turkish occupation of part of our country and its grave consequences.
Cyprus not only withstood the cataclysmic consequences of occupation, but today, despite the tremendous difficulties and obstacles posed in her way, has managed, through hard work, perseverance and patience, to attain the target of accession and now aspires to create the conditions that will overturn the facts of occupation and act as a catalyst for the achievement of a peaceful, lasting, viable, functional and just solution of the Cyprus problem for the benefit of all Cypriots and of peace, security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.
For the achievement of this historic result, the help and support of the Greek Government, the political leadership and the Greek people was of decisive importance. Cyprus owes a debt of gratitude to all the other member-states of the European Union, the Commission and the European Parliament.
From now on Cyprus has the possibility to offer to all its citizens, including the Turkish Cypriots, not only conditions of peace, greater security and respect of the rights of all, but also its vision, aspirations and immense prospects which the accession to the European Union opens up.
Cyprus' accession negotiations were carried out in a positive and constructive environment. Cyprus has been, at all times, ahead of all candidate countries, with the best performance and has repeatedly received praise and congratulations from European Union officials for the exemplary way in which she conducted the negotiations.
All these years, the harmonization work has proceeded at a quite satisfactory tempo and the Cypriot society made all the necessary sacrifices so as to be ready for its integration into the European family. The state machinery, in close and harmonious cooperation with the House of Representatives and organized social groups, enlisted itself in the service of completing this ambitious task."
Accession Negotiations and Harmonzation Process
In March 1998, the former President of the Republic, Mr. George Vassiliou, was appointed Chief Negotiator for the Negotiations for the Accession of Cyprus to the EU and Coordinator of the Harmonization process. The first stage of the accession negotiations, which was initiated with Cyprus on 3 April 1998, involved the analytical examination of the Acquis Communautaire, a process known as the Acquis screening. This process was designed to determine the areas where the necessary changes in Cypriot law need to take place in order to harmonize it with EU legislation. The acquis screening phase of the negotiations was concluded in 2000, covering the new acquis up to 1 January 2000.
Since then, the screening process took place in the framework of the accession negotiations. Since the opening of the accession negotiations, substantial discussions on the individual chapters of the acquis started on 10 November 1998.
During the whole period of the accession negotiations, the Cyprus Government attached the utmost priority to their timely completion and was fully aware that the accession process involved not only the harmonization with the aquis but also the strengthening of its administrative capacity, that will enable it to implement and monitor the enforcement of the harmonized legislation. In this respect, it is continuously taking all the necessary steps for creating and strengthening these institutions and mechanisms.
The 31 Chapters successfully negotiated within the framework of the accession negotiations were: Free movement of goods, Free movement of capital, Freedom to provide services, Free movement of persons, Company law, Fisheries, Economic and Monetary Union, Statistics, Social policy and employment, Industrial policy, Small/medium sized undertakings, Science/research, Education and training, Telecommunications and information technologies, Culture and audiovisual policy, Consumers and health protection, Customs Union, External Relations, Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Financial control, Energy, Transport policy, Environment, Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), Regional Policy, Taxation, Institutions, Competition Policy, Agriculture, Financial/budgetary provisions and Others.
In November 1998, the Commission issued its first Regular Report on Cyprus' Progress Towards Accession, which concluded with a positive assessment of Cyprus' capacity and efforts to adopt the Acquis. This assessment was reiterated in the second Regular Report of November 1999.
In November 2000 the Commission issued its third Regular Report on Cyprus' Progress Towards Accession. The report explicitly stated that Cyprus was one of only two candidate countries that fully satisfied all the Copenhagen political and economic criteria and that it had made substantial progress in the harmonization of many Acquis areas. In fact, at the 15 May 2001 Cyprus-EU Association Council, EU Foreign Ministers congratulated Cyprus on its high level of harmonization with the Acquis Communautaire.
The Regular Report issued by the Commission on 13 November 2001 on Cyprus' Progress Towards Accession, noted the important progress that had been achieved in the direction of Cyprus' full harmonization with the acquis, as well as of its strong commitment to successfully complete the negotiations as soon as possible. The Report pointed out that Cyprus continued to fulfil the Copenhagen political criteria. It stressed that Cyprus had achieved substantial progress in different areas of the acquis and had continued on a steady pace of further legislative alignment, as well as with the setting up and upgrading of the necessary administrative institutions, noting that substantial progress had also been made in implementing the priorities set out in the Accession Partnership and the National Programme for the Adoption of the acquis.
The 2002 Regular Report on Cyprus' Progress Towards Accession noted that Cyprus (and Malta) were the only two candidate countries that fulfilled both the political and the economic Copenhagen criteria and reiterated the conclusions of the 2001 Report, adding that Cyprus had achieved robust economic growth during the year under review. In its Report, the Commission found that Cyprus had achieved a good degree of alignment with the acquis in most areas and was advanced towards reaching adequate administrative capacity to implement the acquis in a considerable number of fields. It also noted that Cyprus was, generally, meeting the commitments it had made in the accession negotiations and concluded: "Bearing in mind the progress achieved since the 1998 Regular Report, the level of alignment that Cyprus has achieved at this point in time and its track record in implementing the commitments it has made in the negotiations, the Commission considers that Cyprus will be able to assume the obligations of membership in accordance with the envisaged timeframe."
Since 1977, Cyprus and the European Economic Comunity have signed four protocols on financial and technical co-operation providing for a financial aid of a total amount of 210 million ECU: This aid includes loans, grants, special loans and contributions to risk capital formation.
The total amount of the first two Financial Protocols (30 and 40 million ECU respectively) was used to finance infrastructure development projects in Cyprus such as the Sewerage Project of Nicosia (Stage II), the Water Development and Supply Project of Vassilikos-Pentaskinos, the Dhekelia Power Project, the Southern Conveyor Project (Phase I), and the Nicosia Master Plan - civil works and construction the in Ledras/Onasagorou Streets in Nicosia and Kyrenia Avenue (in the occupied part of Nicosia).
Part of the resources of the above Financial Protocols was used in projects of a bicommunal nature, which benefited also the Turkish Cypriot community.
The third Financial Protocol of a total amount of 62 million ECU, which was signed in 1989, was used for the financing of projects in the productive sectors in order to facilitate their adjustment to the new competitive conditions arising from the Cyprus-EC Protocol for Customs Union.
Fourth Financial Protocol
The Fourth Financial Protocol between the European Community and the Republic of Cyprus was signed in 1995 and initially covered the period until the end of 1998. It provided for financial aid of a total amount of 74 million ECU, in the form of loans (50 million ECU), grants (22 million ECU), and risk capital (2 million ECU). The aim of this protocol is to provide funding for projects which promote the economic and social development of Cyprus, as well as projects which facilitate the transition of the Cypriot economy, with a view to the accession of the country to the European Union.
On March 10, 1999 an Additional Protocol was signed for the extension of the Fourth Financial Protocol until December 31, 1999. The extension aimed at providing the opportunity for the disbursement of the entire grant component of the Fourth Financial Protocol, to be disbursed for harmonization purposes, technical assistance, and towards supporting efforts to promote a general settlement of the Cyprus Problem.
The projects approved for funding under the provisions of the Fourth Financial Protocol which are characterized as "bicommunal" are:
• Development of civil society
• Translation of parts of the acquis communautaire into the Turkish language
Financial Regulation 555/2000
In March 2000 the Council of Ministers approved the "Regulation for the Implementation of the Pre-accession Strategy of Cyprus and Malta" (2000-2004). Regulation 555/2000 provided for the allocation of 57m EURO to Cyprus, aimed at facilitating the implementation of the country's Pre-accession Strategy.
The projects funded from the resources of the Financial Regulation must fall under the provisions of Cyprus' Accession Partnership and the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis. A special provision is also included in the Regulation for the funding of "bicommunal" projects facilitating the development of closer relations between the Greek-Cypriots and the Turkish-Cypriots. The allocations of the funds of the Financial Regulation are shown in the table below.
Bicommunal projects approved for the years 2000 and 2001 included the Revitalization of the Old Town of Nicosia on both sides of the cease fire line, the enhancement of links between the Trade Unions in Cyprus, and a communication strategy aimed at educating the public on EU issues.
The Government of the Republic of Cyprus promotes and encourages bi-communal projects that aim at the development of co-operation among the Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots and facilitate their coexistence under one state, in accordance with the United Nations Resolutions on Cyprus.
The European Union and the Cyprus Question
From 1974 until 1990
The European Union and, prior to it the European Community, has displayed considerable sensitivity and interest with respect to the Cyprus problem.
The fact that Cyprus is associated with the Union through an Association Agreement, since 1972, the location of Cyprus, the stability of which is of great significance to the EU both politically and economically and the fact that the parties involved in the Cyprus problem, namely Greece, the United Kingdom and Turkey have distinctive ties with the European Union, have all played a defining role in determining this special interest and concern of the Union.
The European Political Cooperation (what afterwards evolved into the Common Foreign and Security Policy) focused its attention on Cyprus in 1974.
Following the coup d'etat against the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, a statement was issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the nine members of the EEC, on 16th July 1974. The Nine Governments expressed their concern over the events and reaffirmed "their attachment to the independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus and their opposition to all intervention and interference, which challenges these". (Source: Reuter).
In the wake of the Turkish military invasion of Cyprus on July 20, 1974 the nine Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EEC, issued another statement on 22 July 1994. In their statement, the nine, on the basis of Security Council Resolution 353, urged all parties to effectively apply the cease-fire, to cooperate fully with the United Nations Peace Keeping forces in the exercise of their mission and to work for the restoration of the constitutional order in Cyprus. They also expressed their support to the British initiative to organize consultations in Geneva with all involved.
The situation in Cyprus was also discussed at a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Nine in Paris on September 16, 1974. Seriously concerned about the situation of refugees who were fleeing the territory of Cyprus occupied by the Turkish army, the Ministers decided to grant immediate financial and food aid. They, at the same time, reaffirmed their attachment to the independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus.
The European Community and its member states considering that the appropriate framework for the solution of the Cyprus problem is the United Nations Organisation, strongly supported the activities of the Secretary General of the Organization within the mission of his Good Offices entrusted to him by the Security Council aiming at reaching a just and viable solution to the problem, on the basis of the Resolutions of the United Nations. They refrained from taking initiatives of their own and saw their role as one of support to the efforts of the United Nations.
The accession of Greece to the European Community in 1981 led to a more active community policy towards the Cyprus problem with the aim of intensifying the efforts for reaching a negotiated solution within the framework of the United Nations.
The creation of a new fait accompli in Cyprus, through the illegal declaration of the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" in 1983 and the subsequent recognition of the illegal entity by Turkey led to a vigorous response by the European Community, and to an increased effort on behalf of the Ten with the aim of contributing more actively to the United Nations efforts for a solution.
On November 16, 1983 the ten member states of the European Community issued a common statement strongly rejecting the declaration purporting to establish a "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", in disregard of the resolutions of the United Nations. The Ten reiterated, "their unconditional support for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of the Republic of Cyprus" and stated, "they continue to regard the government of President Kyprianou as the sole legitimate government of the Republic of Cyprus". They furthermore called upon "all interested parties not to recognize this act, which creates a very serious situation in the area". When Turkey recognized the illegal entity it had set up in the part of Cyprus under its occupation, the Ten, in a new statement on 27 March 1984 called upon "the Turkish Government to withdraw this recognition", and pledged "their support for the Secretary-General of the United Nations in the pursuit of his mission of Good Offices in accordance with Security Council Resolution 541". This position of non-recognition of the illegal entity was reiterated by the Court of Justice of the European Communities in its Judgement of July 1994 (case 342/92).
The Ministers, meeting within the framework of the European Political Cooperation (EPC) closely followed developments in Cyprus and the efforts of the UN Secretary General to promote a solution, actively encouraging these. The statements of the Ten at the United Nations General Assembly bear evidence of this interest for the promotion of a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, which Community Member States underline "will safeguard the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Cyprus in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations" (Address by Roland Dumas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic and Chairman of the EEC Council of Ministers to the 44th Session of the UN General Assembly, 26 September 1989).
Likewise, when in June 1985 the regime in the occupied part of Cyprus proceeded with organizing so-called "presidential elections", the Ten issued a statement (10 June 1985) reiterating, "they do not recognize the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" and therefore would not recognize any so-called "constitutional" development in Northern Cyprus".
The EPC discussed extensively developments in Cyprus regarding the talks held under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General, and the proposals he submitted, in the mid 80's while the Cyprus problem was discussed repeatedly at European Council meetings.
The European Council, at its meeting held in Dublin on 25 – 26 June 1990, following the discussion of the Cyprus problem adopted the following declaration:
1. The European Council discussed the Cyprus question in the light of the impasse in the intercommunal dialogue.
2. The European Council deeply concerned at the situation, fully reaffirms its previous declarations and its support for the unity, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions. Reiterating that the Cyprus problem affects E.C. - Turkey relations, and bearing in mind the importance of those relations, it stresses the need for the prompt elimination of the obstacles that are preventing the pursuit of effective intercommunal talks aimed at finding a just and viable solution to the question of Cyprus on the basis of the mission of Good Offices of the Secretary General, as it was recently reaffirmed by resolution 649/90 of the Security Council".
The Dublin declaration introduced a new element compared to the previous E.C. Council declarations, namely that the Cyprus problem affects the relations of the Community with Turkey.
The European Council and the European Political Cooperation were not the only instances where the Community took an active interest on the Cyprus problem. The European Parliament with the sensitivity it has demonstrated in all cases concerning human rights, democratic principles, the rule of law and its attachment to European values, has throughout this period focused its interest on Cyprus.
Questions of human rights and the humanitarian issues of the Turkish invasion and occupation of part of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus figure prominently in the concerns of the Parliament, not only in the Resolutions it has adopted, but also in questions of its Members to the Commission and the Council.
Thus, the problems of refugees, the missing persons, the destruction and plundering of the cultural heritage of Cyprus, the enclaved and the need for the restoration of the human rights of all Cypriots have become permanent features of the Parliament's Resolutions on Cyprus. The Resolution, adopted by the Parliament in March 1988 is a clear example of the concerns of the European Parliament and its altitude on the Cyprus problem.
Under the heading "On the re-establishment of a state of law in Cyprus" it notes that "the unlawful occupation of part of the territory of a country associated with the Community by the military forces of another associate partner presents a major stumbling block to the normalization of relations with the latter, viz Turkey" (§2), whereas in §3 it" Asks the Foreign Ministers meeting in political cooperation to consider the ways and means whereby a state of law might be re-established in Cyprus, and to devote particular attention to the possibility of a resumption of negotiations between the communities under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General, with the aim of conferring on the Republic of Cyprus the status of a federation, the constituent parts of which would be in proportion to the composition of the population which would guarantee the rights of the two communities, free the island from the presence of all foreign troops, guarantee freedom of movement, freedom of establishment and the property rights of members of both communities, ensure the security of both the Greek and Turkish communities, and to keep the European Parliament informed on a regular basis;" headings III and IV are devoted to the problem of the missing people and on the problem of the destruction of cultural heritage.
The overall position of the European Parliament, as expressed in its numerous resolutions on Cyprus, is that the problem of Cyprus is clearly a European problem, involving basic values and principles that lie at the foundation of the European Union. In this respect, it is essential for the Parliament that a solution of the problem should be based on these principle and values.
From July 1990 to date
As a consequence of the application by the Republic of Cyprus for membership to the European Community on 3 July 1990, the interest of the Community regarding the Cyprus problem was substantially increased.
The European Commission in its 1993 Opinion, dealt extensively with the Cyprus problem in view of the application and eventual membership and concluded that "The Commission is convinced that the result of Cyprus accession to the Community would be increased security and prosperity and that it would help bring the two communities on the island closer together" (§46). It also noted that "The United Nations Secretary-General is aware that he can count on the Community's support in his continued endeavours to produce a political settlement on the Cyprus question" (§ 49) and it concluded: "Lastly, the Commission must envisage the possibility of the failure of the intercommunal talks to produce a political settlement of the Cyprus question in the foreseeable future, in spite of the endeavours of the United Nations Secretary-General. Should this eventuality arise, the Commission feels that the situation should be reassessed in view of the positions adopted by each party in the talks and that the question of Cyprus' accession to the Community should be reconsidered in January 1995" (§ 51).
The General Affairs Council, held in Luxembourg on 4 October 1993, supported the Commissions approach and on 7 February 1994 Commission official Mr. Serge Abou was appointed as EU observer to the intercommunal talks, which began on the same day under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General for the discussion of Confidence Building Measures.
The EU observer followed the talks, which were once more led to a failure by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Rauf Denktas. The Secretary General, reporting to the Security Council on the talks stated "The Security Council finds itself faced with an already familiar scenario: the absence of agreement due essentially to a lack of political will on the Turkish Cypriot side". (Report of the UN Secretary General to the Security Council of 30 March 1994). The European Council, held in Corfu in June the same year, also discussed the Cyprus problem and decided that the next enlargement will involve Cyprus and Malta, a decision reaffirmed by the European Council in Essen.
Despite the strong reactions by Turkey the European Union refuses any right of veto to Turkey as to Cyprus' membership to the European Union. Making the solution of the Cyprus problem a precondition for the accession of Cyprus to the Union would amount to granting such a right to Turkey. UN-led efforts for a solution, demonstrate that the lack of political will of the Turkish side for a solution has been the main obstacle for progress. Making the solution of the Cyprus problem a precondition for Cyprus' accession, given the opposition of Turkey to such an accession, would further entrench it in its negative attitude, and further hamper efforts for a solution.
The General Affairs Council, meeting in Brussels on 6 March 1995 reconsidered Cyprus' application for membership, and after examining the report from the EU observer for Cyprus decided that accession negotiations would start on the basis of Commission proposals six months after the Conclusion of the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference. The Council also expressed its regret on the lack of progress in the intercommunal talks and reiterated its position that the accession of Cyprus should bring increased security and prosperity to both communities on the island, and in particular to the Turkish Cypriot Community. Subsequent European Councils reaffirmed this position.
The prospect of accession negotiations led to a significant intensification of the interest and involvement of the Union in the United Nations Secretary General's efforts to bring about a political settlement. A number of presidencies decided to appoint special representatives to follow the talks and intervene with the parties involved in order to facilitate the search for a solution. Individual EU member states also proceeded to similar arrangements while there is growing concert between the Union, the United Nations Secretary-General and other international actors.
In its historic Report, "Agenda 2000: The Challenge of Enlargement" containing its Final recommendations on accession negotiations the European Commission dealt also with Cyprus and the Cyprus problem (July 15, 1997). The Report notes, inter alia:
Prospects for a Political Settlement
The 1993 Opinion noted the continuing division of Cyprus. Efforts since then, chiefly under UN auspices, to work towards a political settlement, in accordance with various UN proposals, have not achieved much progress. The UN conducted intensive contacts with the leaders of the two communities during the first half of 1997, which have now led to face-to-face talks between them under UN auspices. There is a chance to make progress before the Presidential elections due in Cyprus in February 1998.
The shape of a settlement establishing a bicommunal and bizonal federation is well established and supported by the Union. A number of options for constitutional and territorial arrangements to implement it have been explored, and the beginnings of a possible consensus have sometimes been discernible. But there has not hitherto been sufficient incentive for the two communities to reach agreement.
The Union is determined to play a positive role in bringing about a just and lasting settlement in accordance with the relevant United Nations Resolutions. The status quo, which is at odds with international law, threatens the stability of the island and the region and has implications for the security of Europe as a whole. The Union cannot, and does not wish to, interfere in the institutional arrangements to be agreed between the parties. But it is available to advise on the comparability of such arrangements with the acquis of the Union. The prospect of accession, whose political and economic advantages are now becoming clear to Turkish Cypriots as well as to Greek Cypriots can in itself provide such an incentive".
The opening of accession negotiations in March 1998, further increased the involvement of the Union in the efforts for the solution of the Cyprus problem. The Unions position is that though it is preferable for a reunited Cyprus to accede to the Union, the solution of the Cyprus problem does not constitute a precondition for accession. The Helsinki European Council clearly expressed this position in its conclusions in December 1999. The Union thus expressed on all occasions its support to the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General for promoting such a solution through intercommunal talks. It has also, on several occasions, expressed its position on the content of the solution, which, it underlined, should be in accordance with the relevant United Nations Resolutions.
Furthermore it is a constant position of the Union shared by the Government that the accession of Cyprus to the EU will be of great benefit to the Turkish Cypriots in all respects, and that the Turkish Cypriots must realise these benefits. The President of the Republic of Cyprus has furthermore invited the Turkish Cypriots to appoint representatives in the team negotiating the accession of Cyprus to the Union. The invitation, which was extended on 12 March 1998, and was welcomed by the EU, was rejected by the Turkish Cypriot leadership.
Thus, the European Union was active in promoting and supporting the G8 initiative, endorsed by Security Council Resolution 1250, which led to the resumption of intercommunal talks in 1999. The failure of these talks, due to the withdrawal of the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, resulted in an enhanced activity on behalf of the Union, for the resumption of a meaningful negotiation.
The visits to Cyprus of the President of the European Parliament Mrs Nicole Fontaine and of the President of the European Commission Mr. Romano Prodi, in October-November 2001, reflected this increased activity, and contributed to the change of attitude of the Turkish side and the resumption of the talks for a solution to the Cyprus problem in January 2002.
The President of the European Commission, accompanied by the Commissioner responsible for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen, in a speech before a special plenary session of the House of Representatives on 25 October 2001, reiterated inter alia that although the European Union would be delighted if the efforts of the United Nations to find a solution to the Cyprus problem were to bear fruit before enlargement, this is not a precondition for Cyprus' accession.
President Prodi underlined also that EU membership would bring benefits to all Cypriots and will, in particular, enable those in the northern part of the island to catch up rapidly in terms of economic performance and standards of living.
The same unequivocal message, concerning Cyprus' accession, was given in even stronger terms by the President of the European Parliament Mrs Nicole Fontaine during her official visit to Cyprus on 22 – 23 November 2001.
Since the Dublin Council in June 1990 the Community has expressly linked the relations of Turkey and the Cyprus problem. The candidature of Turkey for accession to the Union has provided the Union with new means for exercising its influence on Turkey with respect to the Cyprus problem. Thus, the Cyprus problem figures prominently in the stipulating principles of the Accession Partnership between the Union and Turkey and "the European Union encourages Turkey, together with all parties, to continue to support the UN Secretary General's efforts to bring the process, aiming at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, to a successful conclusion".
A significant development occurred at the Helsinki European Council in December 1999, when it was explicitly underlined "...that a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the EU. If no settlement has been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the Council's decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition. In this the Council will take account of all relevant factors". The Helsinki conclusions, therefore, made it very clear that the non-solution of the Cyprus problem could not hinder the island's efforts to join the EU.
Referring specifically to Cyprus, the Laeken European Council 14-15 December 2001 "welcomes the recent meetings between the leaders of the Greek and Turkish communities and would encourage them to continue their discussions with a view to an overall solution under the auspices of the United Nations consistent with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council".
The Seville European Council 21-22 June 2002 also reaffirmed that the Helsinki conclusions are the basis of the European Union's position regarding Cyprus and noted that the EU's preference was for the accession of a reunited island. The Seville European Council called upon the leaders of the two communities on the island "to intensify and expedite their talks in order to seize this unique window of opportunity for a comprehensive settlement, consistent with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, hopefully before conclusion of the negotiations".
The Union expressed its full support for the efforts of the UN Secretary General to reach a settlement consistent with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and noted that "in the absence of a settlement the decisions to be taken in December by the Copenhagen European Council will be based on the conclusions set out by the Helsinki European Council in 1999".
Reaffirming its decisions taken at Copenhagen 12-13 December 2002 regarding Cyprus' accession to the EU, the Brussels European Council 20-21 March 2003 also touched upon the developments in Cyprus and expressed regret that the efforts of the UN Secretary General to find a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem have not produced any results. In its conclusions, the Council expressed strong support for the continuation of the Secretary General's Good Offices mission and of negotiations on the basis of his proposals and urged all parties concerned, and in particular the Turkish Cypriot leadership, to reconsider its position and continue the efforts towards a just, viable and functional settlement.
At the Copenhagen European Council 2002 the Leaders of the 15 EU Member States discussed the situation in Cyprus and decided that: "...in accordance with the above §3, as the accession negotiations have been completed with Cyprus, Cyprus will be admitted as a new Member State to the European Union. Nevertheless the European Council confirms its strong preference for accession to the European Union by a united Cyprus. In this context it welcomes the commitment of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots to continue to negotiate with the objective of concluding a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem by 28 February 2003 on the basis of the UN Secretary General's proposals. The European Council believes that those proposals offer a unique opportunity to reach a settlement in the coming weeks and urges the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to seize this opportunity."
The Copenhagen European Council emphasized that: "The Union recalls its willingness to accommodate the terms of a settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principles on which the EU is founded. In case of a settlement, the Council, acting by unanimity on the basis of proposals by the Commission, shall decide upon adaptations of the terms concerning the accession of Cyprus to the EU with regard to the Turkish Cypriot community."
The Leaders of the fifteen EU Member States decided that: "...in the absence of a settlement, the application of the acquis to the northern part of the island shall be suspended, until the Council decides unanimously otherwise, on the basis of a proposal by the Commission. Meanwhile, the Council invites the Commission, in consultation with the government of Cyprus, to consider ways of promoting economic development of the northern part of Cyprus and bringing it closer to the Union."
All institutional organs of the Union (European Council, Council of Ministers, European Commission, European Parliament) focused their attention on the Cyprus problem with the aim of promoting a just and viable solution within the frame of the UN on the basis of the relevant United Nations Resolutions. Prominent among these was the European Parliament, endowed with the legitimacy conferred to it through the direct election of its Members by the citizens of the Member States. Following Cyprus' application for Membership, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament appointed a rapporteur, the Dutch Liberal MEP W. Berthtens, who was later to be succeeded by Mr. Jacques Poos, former Foreign Minister of Luxembourg and now Member of the European Parliament for Luxembourg and member of the Socialist Group of the Parliament.
In a series of reports on Cyprus' application for membership, and the Resolutions adopted by the Parliament on the basis of these Reports, the Parliament also dealt extensively with the Cyprus problem, defining its position as to the current developments in respect to the talks, but also on the substance of the issues involved: the need for respect of international law, implementation of United Nations Resolutions, respect for human rights of all Cypriots, implementation by Turkey of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, and on other humanitarian issues, in particular the problem of the missing persons.
On 16 April 2003 the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, and the Foreign Minister, Mr Georgios Iacovou, signed the Treaty of Accession of Cyprus to the European Union in Athens.
The Protocol on Cyprus, attached to the Treaty of Accession, provides for "the suspension of the application of the acquis in those areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control". It adds that in the event of a settlement of the Cyprus problem, "the Council, acting unanimously on the basis of a proposal from the Commission, shall decide on the adaptations to the terms concerning the accession of Cyprus to the European Union with regard to the Turkish Cypriot community".
The Protocol reaffirms the contracting parties' "commitment to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, consistent with relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and their strong support for the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General to that end." It further notes that "the EU is ready to accommodate the terms of a settlement in line with the principles on which the EU is founded", and expresses the EU's desire that Cyprus' accession to the Union "shall benefit all Cypriot citizens and promote civil peace and reconciliation."
It is also mentioned that nothing in the Protocol shall preclude economic measures for the areas not controlled by the Cyprus Government, and that such measures shall not affect the application of the acquis communautaire under the conditions set out in the Accession Treaty in any other part of the Republic of Cyprus.
In his speech on the signing of the Treaty of Accession, President Papadopoulos stated:
“The signing of the Accession Treaty constitutes a great and historic moment which seals indelibly Cyprus’ future course. It constitutes at the same time the crowning achievement of a titanic effort by the Cypriot society and it is the landmark of its acceptance by a family to which it belongs geographically, historically, culturally, economically and politically.
This historic achievement acquires even greater significance if seen in the light of the special conditions of Cyprus, the tragedy of the invasion and the continued Turkish occupation of part of our country and its grave consequences.
Cyprus not only withstood the cataclysmic consequences of occupation, but despite the tremendous difficulties and obstacles posed in her way, has managed today through hard work, perseverance and patience to attain the target of accession and now aspires to create the conditions that will overturn the facts of occupation and act as a catalyst for the achievement of a peaceful, lasting, viable, functional and just solution of the Cyprus problem for the benefit of all Cypriots and of peace, security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.
For the achievement of this historic result, the help and support of the Greek Government, the political leadership and the Greek people was of decisive importance. Cyprus owes a debt of gratitude to all the other member states of the European Union, the Commission and the European Parliament.
From now on Cyprus has the possibility to offer to all its citizens, including the Turkish Cypriots, not only conditions of peace, greater security and respect of the rights of all, but also its vision, aspirations and immense prospects which our accession to the European Union opens up.
Cyprus’ accession negotiations were carried out in a positive and constructive environment. Cyprus has been, at all times, ahead of all candidate countries, having the best performance and has repeatedly received praise and congratulations from European Union officials for the exemplary way in which she conducted the negotiations.
All these years, the harmonization has proceeded at a quite satisfactory tempo and the Cypriot society made all the necessary sacrifices to be ready for its integration into the European family. The state machinery, in close and harmonious cooperation with the House of Representatives and organized social groups, enlisted itself in the service of completing this ambitious task".
Cyprus ratified the Accession Treaty on July 14, 2003 and participated in the work and the institutions of the European Union as an active observer until its full accession. On May 1, 2004, Cyprus became a full EU Member State, along with the other nine acceding countries – The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. (Click here for the full text of the Athens Declaration).Following the country’s accession to the EU, the government of the Republic of Cyprus undertook the obligation to join the Economic and Monetary Union and to adopt the euro as soon as the necessary requirements were fulfilled.
From January 1st, 2008 Cyprus joined the euro zone and adopted the euro as its national currency.
As of July 1st, 2012 Cyprus took over the helm of the presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months, for the first time after its accession, an important milestone for the Republic of Cyprus.
For more information about the Cypriot Presidency of the Council of the European Union, we invite you to visit the official website of the Cypriot Presidency: http://www.cy2012eu.gov.cy
REPRESENTATION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION IN CYPRUS
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT OFFICE IN CYPRUS