Europe "Has Not Missed Appointment," Says L'Osservatore Romano

10 More Nations to Join EU in 2004; Talks with Turkey Are on Hold

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2002 ( The European Union’s acceptance of 10 new countries in 2004 means the continent «has not missed the appointment with history,» says the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper.

Under the front-page headline «New Europe Is Born,» today’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano commented on the results of the Copenhagen summit that approved the EU expansion on May 1, 2004.

The headline paraphrased the words of the president of the Council of the European Union, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who concluded the summit Friday.

The European Union, which will embrace 25 countries, was enlarged toward Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. The new members are Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary.

On the eve of the meeting, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) published a document entitled «Hope, Trust and Solidarity,» in which they see the enlargement of the Union as the realization «of a hope particularly cherished by the Church,» namely, «reconciliation between the East and West of the continent.»

The accession countries, including Poland which consented to the agreement at the last minute, accepted the offer of subsidies to finance the enlargement finalized by the 15 EU member countries. That subsidy amounts to about 40.8 billion euro ($41.6 billion) for the period 2004-2006; that is 430 million euro more than offered at the start.

Regarding the question of Turkey’s accession, the summit encouraged the predominantly Muslim country to continue with its reforms, L’Osservatore Romano reported.

«If in December 2004, the European Council considers that Turkey has complied with the established ‘criteria,’ the EU will begin negotiations with Ankara in a short time,» the newspaper said.

The Copenhagen summit failed to reach an agreement on the reunification of Cyprus. Sovereignty of the island is divided between Greek and Turkish Cypriot governments.

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