His Excellency Mr. Andreas MAVROYIANNIS
Ambassador of Cyprus to France
The position of Cyprus in the EU Enlargement Negotiations
Paris, 12 October 2001
Lecture in the Cicero Foundation Great Debate seminar: 'Enlargement
of the EU: Preparing for the Accession of the First Wave'
It is a great honour and a privilege for me to have been invited to be here
with you today and I would like to thank the Director of the Cicero Foundation
Mr. Van Herpen for his kind invitation. In the time that has been allocated
to me I will try to present to you a number of arguments in order to lay the
ground for an informed debate on Cyprus accession process within the context
of the forthcoming enlargement, answer any questions you might have and of course,
listen to your comments and your suggestions.
The reopening of the enlargement process demonstrates undoubtedly the determination
to translate into reality the noble vision of an inclusive, integrated Europe,
without the divisions, which have plagued our old continent for so long. We
should be, nonetheless, fully aware that this fifth enlargement represents a
great challenge for the "15" and for Europe as a whole. This is so since, this
time enlargement does not relate, as the previous ones to a small group of countries,
but to 12 candidate countries currently carrying out accession negotiations
while the door is also open for a thirteenth candidate, namely Turkey. These
countries are of a heterogeneous composition and have important disparities
and differences in terms of economic development, infrastructure, institutions
and administration. At the same time we have to bear in mind that this enlargement
is largely recognised as the enlargement of the "left aside". It will be the
corrective move towards those who, against their own will, followed a separate
course of history. In this sense the cause of Cyprus is the same as that of
central and eastern European Countries. Furthermore, enlargement will increase
security and stability throughout Europe as well as prosperity not only by boosting
the economies of the candidates but also by increasing the economic opportunities
and the capabilities of the Union itself.
Cyprus is a small country with a long history and civilisation and as the Commission
Opinion on our application for membership put it " the deep lying bonds which,
for two thousand years, have located the island at the very fount of European
Culture and civilisation confer on Cyprus, beyond all doubt, its European identity
and character and confirm its vocation to belong to the Community".
But on the other hand, Cyprus has limited resources and is stifled in the middle
of powers and antagonisms that go beyond it and lives in a context where it
can barely and with titanic efforts make its voice heard. In addition, our recent
history has been encumbered with the impossible burden of being submitted to
foreign aggression and continuing occupation of part of our territory with the
cataclysmic consequences that such a situation entails.
Under these circumstances nothing has ever been easy for Cyprus and the Cypriots,
whether this concerns the fundamentals of our mere survival in our area or the
achievement of reasonable prospects for the future of our people, irrespective
of their ethnic origin.
You can, therefore, appreciate the importance and significance for us of the
prospect of our accession to the European Union. Of course, we have no illusions,
we know that we are a peripheral state in the context of European Union affairs
and, despite our sound economic and political situation, we are also aware of
our size and of our political problem which constitutes our weak point. The
course towards accession poses one of the greatest challenges faced by my country
since the establishment of the independent Cypriot state. Our accession strategy
is, thus, permeated and determined by the peculiarity of our case. We have adopted
a most vigorous approach and all we are asking is to be treated in fairness.
One reservation put forward in certain circles is that the accession of Cyprus,
without a prior solution of its problem, would amount to the "importation" of
yet one more difficult problem within the Union. I believe that such a position
is unfounded, given that the Cyprus problem is already a European problem that
affects directly important interests of the Union irrespective of whether Cyprus
is an EU member or not. Two member states Greece and the UK and one major partner,
Turkey have important vested interest. On the other hand, in its inception,
the European Union was a response to problems and a way of overcoming the divisions
of the past and bringing the people of Europe closer together.
Hence, my first point is that instead of eluding the problem and the difficulty,
Europe should rather face it and tackle it. More than anybody else, it has both
the reasons and the power to do it. The creation of the EU has been a unique
experiment in history. A continent striven for centuries by rivalries, conflicts
and wars, has through the free will of its peoples achieved stability, peace
and prosperity by integrating and working within the framework of supranational
institutions. The accession of Cyprus to the European Union will definitely
unveil the absurdity of the present dividing line and the pressures upon the
divide will grow so strong, that the line would not survive full membership.
My second point is that Cyprus's accession to the Union will positively contribute
towards the achievement of the objectives of the Union. Our accession will contribute
to the balanced enlargement of the European Union since Cyprus along with Malta
represents its Mediterranean dimension. It will also contribute to the Union's
integration process, promoting with the other member states issues, like the
Common Foreign and Security Policy, the European Security and Defence Policy
and Home and Justice Affairs.
The Government of Cyprus has set a direct and constructive contribution to
European and Mediterranean Affairs, as one of the major targets of its foreign
policy. As a prospective member of the European Union, we have the potential
to become an economic, political and cultural gate between the European Union
and the area of the Middle East. This is why we attribute paramount importance
to the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and we are actively engaged in it and
try to do our utmost for its success.
My third point is that accession is the natural course for Cyprus underpinned
by its historic, cultural, social, economic and political orientation and the
natural outcome of a longstanding relationship. Cyprus has institutionalised
links with the European Union since the early seventies. These relations, both
political and economic, have become inextricably and irreversibly close. We
have signed an Association Agreement with the Community as early as 1972. Since
then we participated in an evolving course of relations with the EU, the landmarks
of which are the signing of a Customs Union protocol in 1987, our application
for accession to the Union in July 1990, and the opening of our accession negotiations
on 31 March 1998.
My fourth point is that Cyprus is ready to face successfully the challenge
of accession. Our confidence emanates from the fact that during the eleven years
which have elapsed since the submission of Cyprus's application for accession
in 1990, our priority has been to prepare our economy, legal system, institutions
and policies to successfully meet the obligations of membership.
Harmonisation is progressing well. The whole acquis will have been transposed
into law by the end of 2002 and implementation of all laws and regulations passed
thus far, is proceeding smoothly. The objective of the Government has always
been to adopt and apply the acquis with the least derogations and transitional
periods and in the shortest possible periods of time.
We have so far completed successfully the negotiations on 23 out of the 29
chapters of the acquis communautaire and we hope that during the Belgian Presidency
we will be able to close the chapters of Justice and Home Affairs and of Taxation.
Thus only four chapters will be left for negotiation: Competition, Regional
Policy, Budget and Agriculture.
More specifically and as far as Taxation is concerned, Cyprus has undertaken
to fully revise the existing system of taxation of companies as far as it is
incompatible with community legislation. The system to be introduced provides
that all companies will be taxed in an identical manner, whether they are Cypriot
companies or companies with international activities. Still, the aim is that
this single rate will be defined with a view to permitting the sector to remain
dynamic and competitive within the new antagonistic environment. Value added
tax as well as various excise taxes are in the process of being increased and
will reach the minimum prescribed level by the EU, well on time.
The Justice and Home Affairs Chapter involves intense work on our behalf since
we are very well aware of the responsibilities that come along with the fact
that upon accession we will be a European Union external border. The harmonisation
as well as the implementation of legislation in the fields of asylum, frontier
control and the grant of visas proceed satisfactorily, while we would welcome
a heightened degree of cooperation with member states on this extremely sensitive
and serious issue.
Assuming therefore that the Union presents its positions on Agriculture, Regional
Policy and Budget on time and in accordance with the road map, we hope to complete
our negotiations by the middle of next year, because none of these chapters
are expected to present any major difficulty for Cyprus.
Trade relations between Cyprus and the Union have been expanding year after
year fairly steadily. The E.U. remains our main trading partner. In fact, during
the year 2000, imports from the European Union represented 51% of Cyprus' total
imports, while exports from Cyprus to the Union represented 57% of its domestic
According to the latest data, the rate of economic growth reached the level
of 5% in real terms in 2000 following an also satisfactory growth of the order
of 4,5% in 1999. At the same time, the conditions of macroeconomic stability
have improved markedly in most areas: notably those concerning fiscal accounts
and the current account of the balance of payments, mainly a result of policy
initiatives. The public debt of Cyprus has during the last two years increased,
slightly exceeding the relevant Maastricht criterion of 60% of GNP. Yet, for
the year 2001, the trend has been a decreasing one back to below the ceiling.
The Fiscal Deficit was in 2000 at the level of 2.7%. The per capita income
in 2000 was officially at EUR. 14200. The only exception to this improvement
relates to a temporary increase, up to 4,1 %, in the rate of inflation in the
year 2000, an increase we have managed to reverse during the current year. It
has been contained to 1,75% in the first quarter of 2001 and we hope that it
will not exceed 2% for the year 2001. Cyprus' GDP per head in PPS in 2000 was
at 18500, higher than that of some EU member states, while the average of EU
member states was 22500 and of the 13 candidate countries was 7900. Unemployment
remains low with 3,4% in the year 2000.
This healthy state of the Cypriot economy allows compliance, without any insurmountable
difficulty, with the Maastricht convergence criteria and fulfilment of the requirements
of stability and growth thus rendering participation to the Economic and Monetary
Union feasible immediately after accession.
However, if our vision, our wish and our ambition is to successfully conclude
the accession process and become a full member of the European Union, our commitment
and deep concern, always remains to heal our open wound, put an end to the division
of our country, solve the Cyprus problem.
And here I come to my fifth point that the Government of Cyprus considers Cyprus's
irreversible accession course and accession itself as being objectively at the
service of the solution of the Cyprus problem because it could act as a catalyst
for the solution of the problem.
Hence, turning now to the second aspect of our accession strategy, I would
say that it includes those arrangements which would allow, on the one hand,
the full operation of the catalyst role of the accession process for the solution
of the Cyprus problem and, on the other, the unhindered integration and participation
of Cyprus in the Union independently, and possibly in anticipation, of the final
settlement of the Cyprus problem.
The prospect of membership of the Union constitutes a unique opportunity for
Cyprus, for a better future, for solving the problem, for increased security
and prosperity and for all Cypriots to benefit from membership. We believe that
all the conditions for a constructive solution are on the table. UN Resolutions
provide for a federation, bi-communal and bi-zonal with two equal constitutive
parts, each benefiting of a large degree of autonomy. Our Turkish Cypriot community
will also find that the European unification process has proved to offer unlimited
prospects for prospering and for having its specific identity secured and promoted.
We believe that the Turkish Cypriot community at the end of the day suffers
as much as the Greek Cypriot community from the present situation. More and
more Turkish Cypriots wake up to the reality that, they too, have their individual
and collective aspirations and expectations from life thwarted by the imperatives
of Turkey's geo-strategic interests. We have now reached a point where the Turkish
Cypriots have become a minority in the space where they live and they desperately
warn that Turkey's policy is eradicating them.
The President of Cyprus Mr. Clerides, has, extended an invitation, welcomed
by all as courageous, genuine and generous, to the Turkish Cypriot community
to nominate their representatives to join as full members of our negotiating
team. We regret that the Turkish Cypriot leadership rejected this offer. But
the invitation is still open. There are many indications that already the silent
majority of Turkish Cypriots realise the enormous prospects opening up. Recent
opinion polls confirm that the overwhelming majority of the people in the occupied
part of Cyprus are, positively disposed to the idea of accession.
We hope that Turkey will at the end realise the absurdities and dead-end of
the policies it has pursued until now, and will try to involve in a dialogue
in an effort to solve problems as provided by international legal principles,
instead of refusing to discuss and trying to hold Cyprus hostage to its obsolete,
anachronistic and conflictual policies
The prevailing spirit in our region is one of uniting forces, discarding old
geopolitical views that maintain segregations. And yet Turkey insists on holding
views of security and national interest towards Greece and Cyprus that cannot
stand the test of rationality.
The European Union, have made clear their view that Turkey may have a European
future and a vocation to become a member of the EU, but there are political
and economic problems which must be solved beforehand. Cyprus couldn't agree
more. We appreciate the political, military and economic importance and significance
of Turkey for Europe, for the US, for NATO etc, and the considerations behind
the policy of embrace. We have no reason in principle to be against Turkey coming
closer to Europe. Objectively speaking, Cyprus, maybe more than anybody else
has interest in having its powerful neighbour behaving in accordance with European
values and standards.
This is why we were particularly happy with the conclusions of the Helsinki
European Council, which officially freed Cyprus accession from the vicious circle
surrounding the Cyprus issue due to the Turkish intransigence; as you all recall
at the Helsinki Summit unanimously the 15 member states have agreed that the
solution of the Cyprus problem is not a precondition for accession.
"The European Council underlines that a political settlement will facilitate
the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. 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 if all relevant factors."
The Helsinki Conclusions made it clear that on the one hand, our application
will be judged on its own merits and that no third country will have a veto
over its progress, nor will Cyprus be penalised in order to satisfy the interests
of third countries and on the other hand that we should spare no effort to achieve
the reunification of the island. However, it is not enough for the Greek Cypriots
to want and work for a solution. The co-operation of Mr Denktash and Ankara
is indispensable and, unfortunately, for the time being is not forthcoming although
the Helsinki conclusions, in essence, constituted a balanced deal, as it opened
the way to Turkey for eventual accession. With this deal Ankara committed itself
to meet the Copenhagen political and economic criteria and undertook certain
obligations in relation to the Cyprus problem, the Aegean and human rights.
Some quarters both within the European Union and in other candidate countries
voice from time to time concerns about the eventuality that the political problem
of Cyprus, could delay or block enlargement. Some people are worried that if
one or more member states refuse to ratify the accession treaty for Cyprus,
in fear of Turkish reactions, there will be a major crisis and the whole enlargement
process will be endangered.
Personally though I cannot exclude such a scenario I do not consider it as
very likely. I believe that despite difficulties, things will at the end evolve
smoothly. It seems now widely accepted that if Turkish intransigence persists,
there is no better option other than that of Cyprus joining anyway and before
a solution of the Cyprus problem is achieved.
I think, however, that it is appropriate to make a few remarks on this question,
which is in the minds of many Europeans.
Let me state first that we do not feel like competitors with the other candidate
countries. We firmly believe that each candidacy has to be judged on its own
merits, in accordance with the criteria set out by the Union. We would be most
happy if negotiations for all candidates proceeded smoothly and we all become
partners and make our contribution to the United Europe of this new millennium.
But as a matter of fact, and this is my sixth point, the question one should
consider about the political problems of Cyprus is for how long is Europe going
to allow these problems, the solution of which is, to a large extent, not in
the hands of the Government of Cyprus, to prevent the accession of a country
that otherwise fulfils the criteria of membership, for how long is Cyprus going
to be penalised, because it is a victim of foreign occupation.
Our plea is for everybody to measure the stakes involved and to reflect about
the existing, morally, ethically and politically acceptable, options. One should
not turn a blind eye to the predicament of the Government and the people of
Cyprus struggling for their survival. Expression of concern, efforts and pressure
should be exerted in the right direction. Bearing in mind that the responsibility
for the non-solution of the Cyprus problem lies entirely with Turkey, Cyprus,
a small island state, and for inherent reasons quite vulnerable, should not
be asked to pay the price of Turkey being important, by tolerating the continued
occupation of our land, or by complicating our accession course in order to
While Turkey seems to bid time for consolidating the status quo and permanently
dividing the island, we believe on our part that time is running out and a solution
is urgently needed. New generations in both communities grow up without common
experiences, the alteration of the demographic structure worsens day after day
and soon we are not going to have representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Community
to talk to.
Accession to the EU is of course not a substitute for the solution As long,
however, as the Turkish intransigence and their insistence on the creation through
confederation of two independent states continue, there can be no reunification.
We do not give up and do not despair however. Though at this moment the omens
are not very promising, we hope that shortly it will be possible to have a new
round of talks under the auspices of United Nations. Last month the Secretary
General of United Nations had issued his invitations for the resumption of the
talks. President Clerides immediately accepted it but, unfortunately, Mr Denktash
and Turkey have rejected it. We will not take no for an answer, however. We
will continue our efforts hoping that the talks will resume and we will go there
with all the goodwill in the world and be ready to reach an agreement within
the frame of the UN and EU resolutions. We sincerely hope that Mr Denktash will
cooperate and we will do everything possible to encourage any such move. It
is our strong desire to succeed in the talks and see a reunified Cyprus join
But while Turkey's current policy continues, there can be no solution and under
these circumstances we do not expect any of the fifteen member countries to
feel that the right course of action could be to veto Cyprus' accession.
There still remains a major question to answer: what will happen after accession
As long as there is no solution, Cyprus as a whole will belong to the Union
represented by its Government and institutions, all Cypriots in possession of
official documents of the Republic of Cyprus will become European citizens,
but the acquis will apply where it is possible to be applied. What is meant
by that is that parts of it having a territorial element would not apply in
the occupied part of Cyprus. This is what is already happening with the Customs
Union. It entails working out modalities and practical arrangements that will
allow the system to work until a solution makes possible its extension throughout
the entire island. This could be not hundred percent satisfactory, but there
is nothing dramatic nothing that cannot be accommodated and nothing unprecedented
about it. It is a pragmatic option that will allow us to live and constructively
The real issue is, in fact, the pressures and threats by Turkey. Though we
can but take them seriously we firmly believe that they should not deter neither
Cyprus nor the European Union and make us deviate from what has been agreed
in Helsinki. Any other behaviour would be less satisfactory.
On the political front there are in fact two opinions: The one to which some
people refer is that accession will lead to a permanent partition of the island
and a practical annexation of the occupied area by Turkey. We, in Cyprus we
cannot see how the situation after accession can be worse from the one that
The second opinion is that the accession will act as catalyst for a solution
shortly afterwards. After Cyprus joins, the benefits and the pressures of Cyprus'
being part of the Union will greatly play into the hands of those in favour
of a solution. There will be a tremendous pressure on the part of the Turkish
Cypriots to join desirous to take advantage of the economic and other benefits
of the federation within the Union. In Turkey, also, there will be a growing
number of people who will see no rationale in continuing to maintain at a high
economic and political cost an untenable situation.
Therefore our expectations are that after accession, Turkey will abandon the
illusion of a confederation and accept the UN position of a federation, which,
it should be stressed, had initially been a Turkish demand that the Greek Cypriot
side accepted. In the last two years, we have seen a deliberate effort on the
part of Greece to promote good neighbourly relations with Turkey and Greece
supports and favours Turkey's move towards Europe. All in all, Turkey's desire
to improve relations with the Union, the pressure of the Turkish Cypriots and
its own population, Greece's continuous friendly foreign policy and the significant
economic benefits that will be waiting around the corner, will contribute towards
a change of Turkish policy towards Cyprus.
European Union enlargement towards Cyprus therefore will have very positive
implications on the island and should sooner or later lead to its reunification
for the benefit of all Cypriots and the region.
Cyprus, which historically and culturally has always been a part of Europe,
looks forward to full integration and participation in the great European family
in the near future, is eager to play an active and constructive role in the
European integration process and aspires to contribute positively to the discussion
and reflection that currently takes place. Its historical experiences and geographic
position constitute a good vantage?point for viewing the issues as a concerned
and directly involved participant. Its ambition is not just to achieve and to
maintain the required economic indicators to qualify both for membership of
the Union and of the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union but also to
have a healthy and thriving economy and sound conditions that will allow it
to make its own contribution to the fulfilment of the objectives of the Union.