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EU: Official Hopes All 10 Candidates Join Union By 2005

Prague, 22 June 2000 (RFE/RL) - The European commissioner for enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, said on a visit to Prague today that a maximum of 10 candidate countries may join the EU by 2005 when his term as commissioner comes to an end. He notes Romania and Bulgaria are not among the 10 as they themselves have set later dates for entry. Verheugen made the remarks in response to a remark by Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman that his "dream" is that the Czech Republic will enter the EU by 2003.

Verheugen says the accession negotiations with Prague are gathering momentum and moving into a political phase in which the parties will define how the Czech Republic will become an EU member.

Earlier today, First Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Telicka said the post-communist era vision 10 years ago of a reunified Europe has been lost amid the technical details of negotiating chapters of the accession agreement.