Road to EU ‘will not be smooth’

By Andrew Adamides

ITALY’S ambassador to Cyprus yesterday warned that the island could face problems further down the road in its European Union accession course.

Speaking after meeting President Glafcos Clerides, Francesco Bascone warned that although Italy was not planning to raise any obstacles in Cyprus’ path, that did not mean the island’s political situation would not cause problems.

It was, he said, “a general hope of Italy and the other members that progress is made on the Cyprus issue before we arrive at the final phase.”

Otherwise, Bascone added, there would be “a difficult problem which we cannot ignore”. But he said that Cyprus was “aware of this”.

Commenting on reservations expressed by France about Cyprus joining the EU, and earlier reports of reservations on Italy’s behalf, the ambassador said he was “not sure there was any problem with Italy”. and that he only saw press reports that Italy was linked with France.

On Thursday, France withdrew its proposal to solidly connect the island’s EU accession with a Cyprus solution after an initiative by Germany and a discussion of the issue by the 15 permanent representatives of the EU council.

Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday that the government was satisfied with the decision taken at the EU-Cyprus Intergovernmental Conference, and that the start of its second meeting, at negotiators level, “virtually signalled the start of the EU-Cyprus accession talks”.

On his part, speaking after meeting Clerides to discuss the start of substantive talks, Greek ambassador Kyriakos Rodosakis said Cyprus could “now start its negotiations for EU accession unimpeded”.

Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, Cyprus’ Chief Negotiator, former president George Vassiliou, said that substantial accession talks have now begun. He also called on member states to help in any way they can to ensure progress on the Cyprus problem.