Iceland's EU membership application imminent, says Carl Bildt

Published: 22 July 2009 y., Wednesday

Islandijos vėliava
Iceland should table its EU membership application this week, very probably on Thursday, Sweden's Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt told Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs Tuesday. MEPs questioned Mr Bildt on the political crisis in Honduras, the situation in Iran, visa exemptions for the Balkan countries and the Cyprus question.

“Iceland's membership application would be treated like any other, even though its transposition of the acquis communautaire is very advanced”, said Mr Bildt, presenting the Swedish Presidency's foreign affairs and security priorities to the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Iceland's accession would “bring the EU into direct contact with the environmentally important arctic region, with its new shipping routes”, he added.
Political crisis in Honduras
“Our policy is to support the mediation begun by President Arias. We are not setting out to break off relations with this country, but if it proves necessary, then we shall do so” Mr Bildt replied to a question from Ignacio Salafranca (EPP, ES), about the effects of the current crisis on plans to sign a free trade agreement with central American countries.
The European Commission announced on Monday that the EU is suspending budget aid to Honduras.
Replying to Austrian Green Ulrike Lunacek, who urged that the EU should not be represented at the investiture of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, scheduled to take place between 2 and 6 August, Mr Bildt acknowledged his difficulty in replying to this question, but added that he himself “did not feel far from the position expressed by the member”.
Nor did Mr Bild wish to state a position on the request to hold a referendum on the legitimacy of the new government proposed by reformist former President Mohammad Khātamī. 
Western Balkans
The European Commission's recent decision to exclude Bosnia-Herzegovina from a plan to waive visa requirements with effect from 1 January 2010 was criticized by many MEPs, including Hannes Swoboda (S&D, AT and Jelko Kacin (ALDE, SL).
“Bosnian citizens are the victims of the political incapability of their leaders, who have not taken the necessary decisions, notably on biometric passports. This is not a new problem”, Mr Bildt replied to MEPs.
Citizens of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro and Serbia will be able to travel freely in the Schengen area from 1 January 2010.
Cypriot question
“The EU cannot really play a role in the current negotiations”, said Mr Bildt, stressing that this was a matter for the two Cypriot leaders, Mehmet Ali Talat and Demetris Christofias. The minister nonetheless observed that the EU must satisfy itself that the Ankara Protocol, which requires Turkey to open its ports and airports to all EU members including Cyprus, is being implemented.

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