The Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins, MEP for the North West, paid a visit to Cyprus last month in his capacity as Vice-President of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Cyprus's Accession to the European Union.

During many meetings and official engagements, Sir Robert had detailed discussions with President Clerides, Foreign Minister Kasoulides, the Mayor of the world's last divided city, Nicosia, and various other Ministers and Members of the Legislature. He visited both Limassol and Nicosia and spent some time at the dividing line between the Republic of Cyprus and the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The "Green Line" separates the North of the island from the South and passes through the centre of Nicosia.

"The Republic of Cyprus is clearly ready to join the European Union" commented the North West MEP "and it is my hope that it does so by its target date of 2004. However, it is also my fervent wish that it will be a united island that does so, including the area invaded - and still held - by the Turkish Forces in 1974. Turkey has also applied to join the EU" he continued "and she must be made to understand that a resolution of the Cyprus problem is key to Turkey's accession. The Republic of Cyprus will join, with or without the North" concluded Sir Robert "but it would be better for all the inhabitants of the island if it was a united Cyprus that became the 16th Member of the European Union."

Click here to see photos of the visit to Cyprus
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