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Verheugen Feels 'Cheated' by Greek Cypriot Government

April 21, 2004

Three days before the referendums on the reunification of Cyprus, enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen criticized Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, who has called on his people to reject the plan.

Günter Verheugen, the EU's enlargment commissioner, used clear words to describe his feelings about the Greek Cypriots' behavior. "I personally feel that I have been cheated by the government of the Republic of Cyprus," he told MEPs in Strasbourg. Verheugen said that the decision in 1999 not to make a solution to the Cyprus conflict a prerequisite for Cypriot accession to the EU, was "on the understanding that the government of Cyprus would do everything in its power to resolve the problem." Whilst the Greek Cypriot part will join the EU whatever the result, the Turkish Cypriot part will remain out in the cold if one of the sides rejects the plan. "Tassos Papadopoulos surprised everybody by pursuing a rejection of the UN plan," Verheugen said. The Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides will go to the polls this Saturday to vote on whether to accept the UN blueprint for the island's reunification before it joins the EU on May 1. Verheugen made a last appeal to the Cypriots to accept the plan as polls suggest that while a 'yes' is expected in the Turkish Cypriot part, the Greek Cypriots are expected to reject the plan by a large margin. "Never before have we been as close to a solution as now," he said. "We are just inches away from our objective. But I have to say I have little hope left for our being able to push forward those remaining few inches." (EUobserver.com)