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The Czech Republic took over on January 1st, for the first time since it joined the EU in 2004, the European Union six-month rotating presidency from France.

In an interview with CNA, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Cyprus Jan Bondy has stressed that Turkey has to fulfill all its obligations in the framework of its negotiations with the European Union. Brussels, he said, would like to see Ankara be supportive of the process for a Cyprus settlement.

The Ambassador advocated a united Cyprus, he backed the ongoing dialogue between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities and pointed out the importance of confidence building measures. Education, he remarked, is a good starting point to find a common language between island’s two communities.

The Czech presidency is planning to open two new chapters in Turkey’s accession negotiations, taxation and social policy and employment, he added.

On the priorities set out by the Czech Presidency, Bondy referred to a competitive Europe, tackling energy and climate change and an open and secure Europe.

With regard to the Cyprus problem, Bondy noted that “we are very supportive” of the process of direct negotiations to solve the issue. “We are not the moderator. That is the UN and not the EU, and we are hoping that in the next period there will be some more decisions to find a fair solution,” he noted.

Within Europe, the Czech Presidency will launch the Eastern Partnership project, strengthening cooperation with the countries of the Eastern Dimension of the European Neighborhood Policy, as well as with the countries of the South Caucasus and the Caspian Region, he added.

Noting that the Czech Republic is the second of the new members, which joined the Union in 2004, after Slovenia, which takes over the presidency, Bondy said that “we are looking forward to it and confirm that we are an important part of Europe.”

Asked about the enlargement process, Bondy said that Croatia should proceed to be a member of the EU at the end of 2009 and so discussions with the country continue.

Bondy noted that the Czech Presidency will also focus on a European prospect for the countries of the Western Balkans, including possible steps towards granting candidate status to some of these countries.

The Czech Ambassador invited everybody from Cyprus to attend the cultural and other events that the Czech embassy will organize in Cyprus during the Czech Presidency and noted that “we are ready to support the coming EU presidency of Cyprus and to share our experience with the Republic of Cyprus.”

Financial Mirror, January 02, 2009|||Czech Republic takes over EU presidency
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