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European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy
Press conference – First official visit to Cyprus
Official visit to Cyprus
Nicosia, 14 October 2010
This is my first visit to Cyprus as a member of the European Commission. I have had a very warm welcome and I have gained important insight into many aspects of the Cyprus issue.
The settlement process under UN auspices provides the best chance in years to solve this long-running conflict, no solution is not an option and status quo has gone on too long.
I met today both leaders, Mr Demetris Christofias and Mr Dervis Eroglu. I share their desire to find a solution to the Cyprus problem in the shortest time possible and I encourage them to act in the spirit of compromise to find common ground on the property issue. Reaching a comprehensive settlement will have an immense value to all of us who want to overcome this 40-year-old conflict on European soil.
The settlement process has the full political support of the European Commission. We are providing technical advice on EU-related matters to the UN and the leaders and will help implementing a settlement once it is reached.
I met Mr Alexander Downer, the Special advisor to the UN Secretary General on Cyprus. We agreed that it is possible to reach a settlement of the Cyprus issue provided there is enough political will and determination on both sides.
I was particularly encouraged by the opening of the Limnitis crossing point today. I am happy that European funds could contribute to bring people of the both communities closer. It is an encouraging example underlining that where there is a will there is a way.
The European Commission remains fully committed to assist confidence building measures financially.
Implementation of the € 259 million aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community is going ahead. It includes support to many bi-communal initiatives and confidence building measures. (€ 25 additional million are in the draft budget 2011). Extra funds have been earmarked to continue the European Union's support to the Committee on Missing Persons and projects in the field of cultural heritage.
The message I want to leave with you, today, is that the European Commission is a close friend and ally of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots and looks forward to work with all of you in the future years to come, as a united, peaceful and prosperous member state of the European Union.