The EU Council presidency is a fundamental feature of our Union and must be fully respected by all, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said on Monday, referring to Turkey.
In statements he made after a meeting he had with President Demetris Christofias in Nicosia, Van Rompuy said that during the meeting he was briefed of recent developments in the UN-led talks.
“The EU continues to attach utmost importance to the continuation of the negotiations and calls on both sides to make every effort to pave the way for a comprehensive settlement”, he said, adding that the “status quo is in no one’s interest”.
Although, Van Rompuy said, “this is a Cypriot led process, the EU stands ready to provide the necessary support”. The ultimate goal, he added is a united Cyprus in the EU.
Van Rompuy added that during the meeting with President Christofias “with regard to Turkey, I recalled the strong support which the European Council already provided in December 2011 to the upcoming Cypriot presidency”.
The presidency, he stressed, “is a fundamental feature of our Union, based on the EU Treaty, and must be fully respected by all”.
On his part, President Christofias said that “I reaffirmed our full readiness to continue the dialogue for a solution even during the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU”.
He assured Van Rompuy of “our unshakable will not to allow the Cyprus Presidency to be affected by the problems that occupying Turkey is creating”.
Cyprus, he said, “shall preside over an entirely European Presidency of the Council and any problems that Turkey might create shall be problems managed in a collective, European way. Last December’s Conclusions of the European Council are clear enough on this issue”.
The two men also spoke of the need for growth in Europe, with Van Rompuy expressing the view that “it is obvious that opposing deficit reduction and growth is a false debate”. They are, he said, “two sides of the same coin”.
Referring to the plans the EU has made to boost growth, he spoke of three pillars, which will be based on the Europe 2020 strategy.
The first has to do with mobilising EU policies to fully support growth. As an example of that, he gave the need for rapid progress on important legislative proposals such as the Single Market Act or the Energy Efficiency Directive.
The second pillar, Van Rompuy said, has to do with stepping up “our efforts to finance the economy through investments and better access of SMEs to credit, to complement reforms”. In this context, the European Investment Bank has been invited to consider an increase of capital by June to be used by supporting projects across the EU, he added.
The third pillar, he noted, is to strengthen job creation.
“We need reforms and measures to support the labour demand and job-creation”, he said.
Van Rompuy further expressed the view that the European Council to take place at the end of June which will focus for the first time at summit level on the Multiannual Financial Framework will “set the stage for the high- level negotiations which will continue during the Cyprus EU presidency”.
“Our goal is to conclude them by the end of this year to equip the EU with a growth and job-enhancing tool, which will support – both directly and indirectly – thousands of investments in different areas”.
On his part, President Christofias expressed the point of view that “austerity-only policies, evidently lead our economies to deeper recession”, adding that “we can and we must give back hope again to the European citizens”.
Firstly, he noted, “we must give prospects and hope to our young people, to the future of our Europe”.
At the same time, he expressed the hope that “we shall all seize the opportunity ahead of us in the upcoming semester and agree to adopt a development budget of the Union for the next programming period of 2014-2020”.
President Christofias further said that “I believe that if we faithfully follow the Community method, Europe will once again be able to tackle methodically and effectively the crisis and come out stronger from this grave period”.
President Christofias also spoke of the difficulties the Cypriot economy faces as a result of the crisis of Greece and the exposure of Cypriot banks to Greek bonds.
“Our efforts focus on avoiding entry into the European Stability Mechanism”, he said, adding that “however, I would like to thank the President sincerely for his assurances regarding Brussels’ readiness to help if need be”.
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