"Mr. President,

Distinguished colleagues.

At our December meeting, I have had the opportunity of setting out our views on two subjects which while they are not relevant to the completion of the Customs Union have been persistently brought up at every phase of our relations.

I am therefore compelled to come back to them at this stage. On Cyprus, Turkey shares the legal, political and moral arguments put forward by the Turkish Cypriot side on the unilateral application of the Greek Cypriot administration to the EU.

This application contradicts the element of mutual consent which is essential in a federal set-up such as the one contemplated for Cyprus.

The Greek Cypriot application and its processing by the EU run counter to the UN opinion which provided for the discussion of the EU membership of Cyprus in the intercommunal talks. The "avis" of the Commission on the Greek Cypriot application is based on a general concept of a "unitary state" which is incompatible with the objective of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal solution.

I must also emphasize that the unilateral application by South Cyprus for membership in the EU and its admission before or after a settlement in Cyprus, contravene the Zurich and London agreements of 1959 and the 1960 Treaties on Cyprus.

They contain provisions precluding membership of Cyprus in international political and economic unions to which Turkey and Greece do not both belong. Moreover, the 1960 Treaties contain specific provisions which do not allow Cyprus to participate, in whole or in part, in any political or economic union with any state whatsoever.

They also place a special responsibility on Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, as guarantor powers, to prevent such an eventuality.

Turkey for her part is determined to see to it that her rights and obligations emanating from the 1960 Treaties are kept intact. Turkey will continue to be politically and legally opposed to the membership of Cyprus, in whole or in part, before her own accession to the EU as a full member like the other guarantor powers.

Turkey disagrees with the decision taken by the Council on the membership negotiations of Cyprus. The Council's decision on the membership of Cyprus is an unfortunate step which could lead to the permanent division of the island.

The opening of accession negotiations before a negotiated settlement is reached, will lead to the conduct of the talks exclusively with the Greek Cypriot side. In such an undesirable eventuality.

Turkey will be left with no option but to take steps towards achieving a similar integration with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

The present composition of the EU prevents it from playing a role in efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement in Cyprus. Turkey supports the good-offices mission of the UN Secretary General for a negotiated settlement.

Accordingly, she has always encouraged the Turkish Cypriot side to move forward towards a mutually acceptable solution. We continue to support the implementation of the UN-sponsored package of confidence building measures.

However, Turkey's support to the negotiating process, henceforth, will to a large extent depend on the willingness of the Greek Cypriot side for a solution and on the degree of support which Greece will display."