Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Former Cypriot President Vassiliou Addresses European Institute

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Former Cypriot President Vassiliou Addresses European Institute

Article excerpt

FORMER CYPRIOT PRESIDENT VASSILIOU ADDRESSES EUROPEAN INSTITUTE

The Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and New York's World Trade Center played havoc on international as well as domestic affairs. Dr. George Vassiliou, former president of Cyprus and currently his country's chief negotiator for accession to the European Union, had just begun a four-day visit to Washington, timed to coincide with a scheduled resumption of U.N.-sponsored negotiations on Cyprus Sept. 12, when the attacks disrupted all plans. A breakfast briefing hosted by The European Institute at Washington, DC's Jefferson Hotel was initially postponed, but ultimately held on Sept. 13.

European Institute president Jacqueline Grapin welcomed the subdued gathering, offering condolences to Americans and everyone affected by the attacks. Taking the podium, Dr. Vassiliou echoed Grapin, and described the attacks as being "not simply against America, but against our entire civilization." He expressed the hope that, in responding to the threat, solidarity between the EU and NATO would mark "the beginning of a new spirit that will prevail in the world in order to ensure that the objectives of the terrorists will not succeed."

Turning to the topic of EU accession, the former Cypriot president said negotiations were going well, with 23 of 29 charters agreed upon and the remaining expected to be completed by next summer. Then, he said, the ratification process would begin.

The big question, Vassiliou noted, is whether a divided Cyprus would be permitted to join the EU. While a solution is desired by all, he stated, it is not a precondition for EU membership. Turkey's cooperation, he said, which is necessary to resolve the dispute, has not been forthcoming. Nor should northern Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash "think he is going to get separate negotiations," Vassiliou commented. …

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