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EU: Commission Spokesman Slams Press Reports

Brussels, 11 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - The chief spokesman of the European Union's Executive Commission, Klaus van der Pas, today refused to confirm reports about which countries the Commission has decided to recommend as the first group of candidate countries to start negotiations for EU membership.

Van der Pas denounced press reports that members of the Commission were opposed to adding Slovenia and Estonia to Cyprus and the widely anticipated trio of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. He said reports that Commission President Jacques Santer had argued against Slovenia and Estonia were, in van der Pas' phrase, "total rubbish."

It was widely reported yesterday that the Commission had agreed, in principle, to recommend EU membership negotiations with Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus. There were also reports that some of the body's 20 commissioners had initially opposed Slovenia and Estonia.

Van der Pas said the Commission will complete its work Tuesday, and release its recommendations Wednesday.