Tuesday, 11 March 1997
Dáil Éireann Debate
40. Mr. R. Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the outcome of the Ministerial meetings of the structured dialogue with Cyprus on 21 February 1997; and the progress, if any, being made to resolve the situation in Cyprus. [6594/97]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): The 18th meeting of the EU-Cyprus Association Council was held in the margins of the General Affairs Council of 21 February 1997. The Council dealt with issues of economic co-operation relating to Cyprus's application for accession to the European Union. The Association Council is held at regular intervals and forms part of the ongoing co-operation framework between the European Union and Cyprus.
It is customary on the occasion of such an Association Council for a structural political dialogue to take place on issues of common interest between the EU and Cyprus. However, this did not prove possible on this occasion, as agreement was not reached by all EU member states on the political statement to be delivered within the framework of the structured dialogue on one of the agenda items, the political situation in Cyprus.
The European Union believes that the prospect of accession by Cyprus to the Union provides both the opportunity and incentive for both communities on the island to enter into serious political negotiations and to achieve serious progress towards a comprehensive political settlement during 1997. The objective, shared by all partners in the European Union, is to see an early resumption of direct talks between the leadership of both communities on the island, with the aim of reaching an overall political settlement of the Cyprus question.
Ireland, and its partners in the European Union, together with the Commission, are making considerable efforts to convince both communities, and in particular the Turkish-Cypriot community that they have everything to gain and nothing to lose through the accession of a unified Cyprus to the European Union. To this end, Commissioner Van den Broek, accompanied by Presidency officials, including the Special Representative of the Presidency-in-Office, Ambassador Heaslip, visited Cyprus earlier this month to hold talks with political leaders from both communities on the island.
In addition to the efforts of the European Union, various interested parties have also taken initiatives to promote progress towards a settlement.  These initiatives are intended to be complementary to, and supportive of, the efforts of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Professor Han Sung Joo, in acknowledgment of the leading role to be played by the United Nations in the process of achieving an overall solution. It is further recognised that any eventual solution should fall within the parameters of existing UN resolutions and decisions on the Cyprus question.
Whilst these efforts will continue and intensify in the months ahead, it must be recognised that they can only succeed if the leadership of both communities, who have a primary responsibility for securing a solution, make serious efforts to move at an early date to direct negotiations leading to a final and comprehensive settlement to this longstanding problem.
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