Former Communist Nations Enter Talks on Joining European Union

Associated Press

The European Union started the arduous task of cementing East and West on Monday, opening membership talks with its former Communist enemies and promising a new era of prosperity and brotherhood.

Foreign ministers from Central and Eastern Europe came here to start five to 10 years of negotiations for membership in what has been a West European economic club.

“It is thanks to the desire for freedom of the people of East and Central Europe that we meet around this table,” German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said.


British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, called the talks a milestone in healing the wounds of World War II.

“By enlarging the European Union, we are finally overcoming the cruel and unnatural division of our continent,” he said.

Ten former Soviet Bloc nations and Cyprus participated in Monday’s opening talks.