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Media Watch 2003

04 June 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Stefanos Evripidou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 4 June 2003.
12m euros in EU aid for the north

THE EUROPEAN Commission proposed a package of measures yesterday to promote economic development and European integration in the northern part of Cyprus.

The offer consists of financial aid worth 12 million euros and the easing of trade restrictions between the occupied north and the rest of the European Union.

Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday that the measures would be implemented in accordance with special arrangements with the government of Cyprus. Regarding the ambiguity of the Commission’s report on ports of exit, Chrysostomides insisted that it goes without saying that Turkish Cypriot products would only be exported through the legal ports of the Republic.

The EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Gunter Verheugen, commented on the Commission’s decision, saying: “There is a window of opportunity for a united Cyprus joining the EU by May 1, 2004.”

He highlighted the Commission’s readiness to assist in further efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem on the basis of the UN plan, which remains on the table.

“Meanwhile ... we should do all we can to help the people of the northern part of Cyprus,” he added.

The Commission said the package of measures provides “a strong political signal of support to the Turkish Cypriot community”. The package is designed to assist the north until Cyprus becomes a full member state of the EU in May 2004, after which alterations and extensions will have to be adopted. In the event of a settlement, the EU pledges a further 206 million euros to support the northern part of the island between 2004 and 2006.

The package separates aid into two areas: nine million euros for economic development, implemented through the United Nations Development Programme, and three million euros aimed at bringing Turkish Cypriots closer to the EU.

The first part is divided into: six million euros on improvements in Nicosia, Famagusta and Kyrenia, focusing on wastewater, drinking water, sewage or rehabilitation issues and preservation of their historical heritage; two million euros in support for small and medium-sized enterprises through grant schemes and technical assistance already built on in previous bi-communal projects; and one million euros on feasibility studies to prepare the north for economic integration after a solution.

On European integration, the EU is giving 1.5 million euros to Civil Society (non-governmental organisations), half a million to trade unions by building on existing bi-communal projects, and one million euros to provide a number of seminars on the acquis communautaire, meetings with EU officials and visits to the institutions.

Concerning trade promotion pending EU accession and a Cyprus solution, the Commission proposes that the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce be given the authority to issue movement certificates for Turkish Cypriot goods. However, this is given on condition that the exporter agrees to submit any supporting evidence which may be required and accepts any inspection of the goods carried out “in the presence of the appropriate authorities”.Regarding agricultural products, additional certificates are required to be issued by the “appropriate authorities”.

In order to comply with EU directives on the origin of agricultural products and the absence of harmful organisms at the place of production, the Commission allocates responsibility to the EC-Cyprus Association Council which will adopt a decision on official definitions and methods of administrative co-operation.

Verheugen’s spokesman Jean-Christoph Filori told the Cyprus Mail that the issue of designated points of exit for Turkish Cypriot products was not considered to be a topic which needed addressing by the Commission. However, in earlier statements, Filori told reporters that it is obvious the products will be exported via ports which are under the control of the Cyprus Republic."