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Media Watch 2004

01 May 2004
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Stefanos Evripidou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 1 May 2004.
Welcome to Europe
"President Tassos Papadopoulos: “Our great joy for our accession to the European Union is overshadowed by our grief because we could not celebrate this moment together with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots and our great disappointment for the absence of a solution to our national problem.”"

CYPRUS today joins a European Union of 25 member states, effectively stretching its borders to the Atlantic Ocean in the West and Russia in the East. May 1 marks the bloc’s largest enlargement ever, absorbing 75 million new EU citizens: Cyprus and Malta in the Mediterranean and the eight former Communist states of Central Europe and the Baltic region.

A total of 455 million people now make up the world’s largest single market, representing a quarter of world trade and more than half of the world’s external and development assistance.

The EU is obviously not just an economic playground. Formed in the 1950s to end centuries of division on the continent, the Union has consistently expanded its borders and competences to achieve the final goal of political, judicial and economic harmony. The EU is not just about creating economic interdependence between states of a former feuding continent; it’s about sharing values and a common vision of the future, within and outside the Union.

Irish Prime Minister and European Council President, Bertie Ahern, recently said of EU expansion: “Enlargement is about opening minds as well as borders”.

Commission President Romano Prodi said: “Europeans are celebrating (today) the fact that they are no longer kept apart by artificial ideological barriers”.

Today’s accession of 10 new countries with four more waiting in line (Bulgaria, Rumania, Croatia and Turkey), marks the result of a long thought out vision to reconcile warring nations and create a new collaborative climate in the aftermath of the Cold War.
But the world geopolitical scene is constantly changing. From today, 25 European countries are bound to share similar visions in an environment which respects and promotes diversity. From today, all eyes are on Europe to see how it will emerge from this gargantuan leap into the unknown.

Head of the EU Representation in Cyprus, Adriaan van der Meer described the enlargement process as the best ever prepared enlargement and unprecedented in the history of the Union.

Since Cyprus’ application to join the bloc in 1990, a lot of work has gone into securing its accession in 2004 with the other nine countries. Astute diplomatic manoeuvring between Greece and Cyprus and the EU paved the way for a divided island to enter.

Since 1998, hard work from public officials and political figures led to the negotiation and adoption of 90,000 pages of EU laws and regulations. Cyprus is now ready to participate in the Union of shared values and principles. The government and the people now have rights and obligations guaranteed and policed by the European Commission.
This is a historic day and an exciting new step for Cyprus, signifying major changes in its internal and external procedures.

However, celebrations are overshadowed by the fact that Cyprus becomes the EU’s first divided country after the failure of last Saturday’s referendum to reunite the island under the Annan plan; a problem not just for the two communities or the region, but the whole Union of 25.

In the words of President Tassos Papadopoulos: “Our great joy for our accession to the European Union is overshadowed by our grief because we could not celebrate this moment together with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots and our great disappointment for the absence of a solution to our national problem.”"