Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
WEDNESDAY 7 MARCH 2001
VAZ, MP AND
Sir John Stanley
80. Minister, can you confirm that it remains
the policy of the British Government that Cyprus can have accession
into the EU as a fully-fledged EU Member State, notwithstanding
the fact that at the point she comes into the EU she may be still,
in political terms, a divided country?
(Mr Vaz) Yes.
Sir John Stanley: Thank you.
Mr Mackinlay: Following that up, how would it
work, because there is no precedent for that? If you look at Germany,
first of all, it was not the European Union, and my recollection
is that anybody who would get to the Federal Republic of Germany,
ipso facto, was in then the European Community. But, in
this case, if the Cyprus Republic, and their constitution claims
their territory to be the whole of the island of Cyprus, what
is our relationship to people who are in the North, who wish to
enter the European Union, to come and work, free mobility of labour,
will they be citizens of the European Union and deemed to be citizens
of the Republic of Cyprus? Because it seems to me that, what would
be the logistics for sort of saying, "No, you cannot"?
I do not know if I am explaining myself badly, but it is the case
of the Cyprus Government, the applicants, that their country is
the whole of the island, we admit perhaps the de facto
South, but, nevertheless, there might be somebody sitting in the
North who says, "Well, actually, I am very pro European Union"?
81. Minister, how do you identify such people?
(Mr Vaz) These are obviously problems. I am going
to ask Mr Featherstone to deal with the point on citizenship and
freedom of movement. But, before I do so, Sir John has stated,
quite clearly, and correctly, what the Government's policy is.
We want to see a united island joining the European Union, but
it is not a precondition, and, therefore, if it remains divided
at that point, it will still be admitted; and that, of course,
will create a number of issues that need to be resolved. Mr Featherstone,
I wonder whether you can assist Mr Mackinlay.
Sir John Stanley
82. You may just want to check, by a slip of
the tongue, you did say you wanted a united island to join the
(Mr Vaz) I can assure you it was an `s', not an `r'.
(Mr Featherstone) I think Mr Mackinlay's questions
are difficult to answer with any certainty, because, collectively,
within the EU, we have not discussed these hypothetical situations.
It is because of the very valid questions that have been asked,
that is one reason spurring us on to try to make sure that the
talks are successful, but, as the Minister has made clear, the
Helsinki conclusions have clarified that those settlement talks
reaching a satisfactory conclusion are not a precondition. How
that works out in the very specific areas you have raised is something
which has not yet been discussed in the EU.
Chairman: Before I go on to Sir David and another
matter, I think, Dr Godman, you wanted to talk on this theme?
83. Just very briefly, Minister. The question
of German concern, some of the free movements of labour, that
is causing great concern in Parliament, is it not? I seem to recall,
a few years ago, that the German gastarbeiter was placed
in an inferior position to other citizens of the European Union,
in that he, or she, was denied this freedom of movement amongst
countries. I can see something similar in relation to the accession
(Mr Vaz) This is a very important issue, and, of course,
has been raised, as Dr Godman has said, by the Germans. A paper
has been issued by the Commission this afternoon, and, indeed,
I think all I have seen is, Dr Godman, literally seen, the heading
`Executive Summary'; but what I will do is make that available
to the Committee, so that you can read it at your leisure. Our
position is that we understand what Germany is saying, that we
are actually not sure that the argument for a transition period
on this issue has been demonstrated. We will look at what has
been put forward, we will study what Germany has done, obviously,
we will study the paper that the Commission published literally
as I was on my way from the Foreign Office. We believe in one
concept, Dr Godman, and that is a concept of first-class citizens,
only one class of citizens in Europe.
84. But we accepted the second-class citizenship
of the German gastarbeiter and the French immigrant worker?
(Mr Vaz) You raise that point, but what we want to
85. I know, in a technical sense, they are not
citizens of those countries?
(Mr Vaz) Yes. What we want to deal with is this view
that somehow, Mr Chairman, if these applicant countries, or, I
should say, when these applicant countries, join the European
Union, there will be mass flows of people in, into the United
Kingdom or into Germany. I do not believe that this will happen.
This is exactly what they said about Spain and Portugal, they
said, "Once you let Spain and Portugal in, there'll be masses
of Spanish and Portuguese people all over Britain and France,
etc." It did not happen, because, basically, people prefer
to stay in their own homes.
86. In any case, you will let us have sight
of that paper?
(Mr Vaz) Indeed.
Chairman: Back to Cyprus.
87. I want to ask you two things about Cyprus.
One is that I believe I am right in saying that the Cyprus constitution
says that Cyprus cannot join an international organisation unless
both Greece and Turkey belong to it, and that was an objection
that Turkey was raising for quite a long time; are they still
raising that objection, and do we think it is a valid objection?
(Mr Vaz) I am sorry, I do not know about the constitution.
88. Do you know, Mr Featherstone?
(Mr Featherstone) There are certainly concerns which
Turkey raises about those issues, but the Helsinki conclusions
made clear what the EU's position is on these issues.
89. So it is the view of the British Government
that that clause in the Cyprus constitution is not a bar to membership
of the European Union; is that correct?
(Mr Vaz) We cannot tell you.
90. Would you like to write to us?
(Mr Vaz) We will write to you.
91. Could you; thank you. The second thing I
wanted to ask was, I understand the view, because I have talked
to them about it, of the Cyprus Government, the Greek part of
the Cyprus Government, because, obviously, they want to join the
EU and they say, and maybe they are right, that this might help
to resolve the internal difficulties in Cyprus. But if Cyprus
were to join with the present status quo, we would then
actually have a part of European Union territory which had an
army in occupation of part of it, and the army of a non-EU state,
I hesitate to say a foreign army, but Turkey is not a member of
the EU, so we would have the armed forces of a non-European Union
state occupying part of the European Union. Does that not present
really quite serious problems for the European Union, and actually
do we feel that Cyprus can join in these circumstances, or is
it part of the sort of sub-agenda to try to make sure that that
issue is resolved before Cyprus actually joins? I see just enormous
instability, and I cannot see the issue being resolved in the
(Mr Vaz) Sir John is nodding his head, and I have
to agree with his nod, though I am not sure whether he is agreeing
with you or me. This is an issue, frankly, it is of secondary
importance to the one overriding concern, and that is that we
want to see Cyprus join as quickly as possible. We know that this
is different from the other applicants, and we know it has a lot
of difficulties attached to it; but, as I said when I went through
the summary of what the countries have achieved, Cyprus has done
better than any other country, of the 12 applicants, with the
exception of Estonia, despite all the difficulties that it has
got, and I think that that is something that we should be pleased
with and try to support.
92. I wholly understand that, but, of course,
it is very, very much in the interests of the Greek part of Cyprus
to meet those conditions, so that they can join, because they
feel it will help to force the situation over Northern Cyprus.
Now maybe that is correct, but what I am saying is, does the British
Government, are you sanguine, or relaxed, about Cyprus joining
the European Union in its present state, with the Turkish army
occupying Northern Cyprus?
(Mr Vaz) The British Government is never relaxed,
it is always, actively, trying to seek solutions. This is not
a perfect situation, which is why, in answer to Sir John, I was
very clear what our preference would be; our preference would
be a united i s l a n dif I can spell it out so there is
no misunderstanding of what I am sayingshould join, and
that is what we would like to see happen; but it is not a precondition.
If we reach the position where we are given that
93. (- Inaudible -) we would consent
to the accession of Cyprus, in the present state of things?
(Mr Vaz) Yes.
Sir David Madel
94. Minister, can I ask you about the future
of Kaliningrad if the surrounding countries join the European
Union, and whether there have been talks between our Government
and the Russian Federation as to how things might develop?
(Mr Vaz) Mr Featherstone is going to take the Kaliningrad
(Mr Featherstone) Kaliningrad will become a Russian
exclave in the EU, once Poland and Lithuania join the EU, and
under the Swedish Presidency the Commission have tabled a recent
communication on Kaliningrad, which we think, helpfully, set out
some of the particular challenges which will face that exclave
once Poland and Lithuania have joined. So far, we understand that
the Russians have given a rather cautious welcome, but that is
because they are still considering their formal response; and
once their position is clear, the EU and the Russians will no
doubt take forward discussions of this within the partnership
and co-operation agreement.
95. Do you think the Russians are conscious
of the environmental damage there is in there and the organised
crime; in other words, are they fully conscious of things that
are manifestly very wrong in Kaliningrad?
(Mr Vaz) When we have had discussions with the Russians,
and, as you know, President Putin is due to come to the Stockholm
European Council in a fortnight's time, and I am quite certain
these issues will be raised with him, there is an acknowledgement
that this whole issue causes concern amongst EU members; so they
are conscious of that, yes.
96. And you do not think they are in a suspicious
mood; do they think we are trying to help, which we are?
(Mr Vaz) I think they do, yes, I think they do understand
that this is a difficult issue, but I think they do understand
that we are trying to put forward constructive proposals. Certainly,
in the discussions that I have had with my opposite number, that
is what we hope to achieve.
97. Do we have any evidence they are putting
more defences into Kaliningrad?
(Mr Vaz) I have no fresh information to give you on
98. Slovakia. To my dismay and the hurt of Slovakia,
the United Kingdom put visas on Slovakia, or reintroduced visas,
two or three years ago. Now, putting that behind us, it seems
to me, either they have remedied what we perceived to be lack
of controls, haemorrhaging, and so on, and illegal immigration,
either that has been maintained and controlled, and, I think,
particularly thinking of the Roma population, or something like
that, I do not know what the justification of the Home Office
was, putting on visas, it is for them to justify it, but, it seems
to me, either that matter has been resolved, or that is a major
impediment to their failure to deal with this, in terms of coming
to the European Union. Basically, what I am saying is, did this
now not ought to be lifted, because clearly it is offensive to
them, and, presumably, the problem has been remedied, or should
be on its way to being remedied? Perhaps I explained myself badly.
(Mr Vaz) You do explain yourself very clearly, Mr
Mackinlay. This matter was not raised to any great extent when
I went to Slovakia. As Minister for Entry Clearance, obviously,
I am very concerned to make sure that we have a visa regime that
is fair but also firm. There was a problem, there remains an issue
that needs to be looked at, that is why there is a visa control.
Our entry clearance officers and managers look very carefully
at all applications that are being made; we are not planning to
Obviously, when they come in, it will not apply; but, at the moment,
this is the right approach to deal with the problems that have
99. Can I just pursue that issue, on the Slovakian
one. There was a serious issue of human rights, in relation to
the Roma population in Slovakia, and the apparent inability of
the Slovakian Government to stop them being harassed by other
Slovakian citizens. That clearly would not be acceptable, if they
are to become part of the European Union. Have you got any evidence
that that is being dealt with in Slovakia?
(Mr Vaz) I think the Slovakian Government is making
an effort, and, as we do with all our visa regimes, we are very
mindful to review them in a way that is acceptable to our immigration
policy but also acceptable to countries that are our friends.
And what we are doing, in respect of Bulgaria and Slovakia, in
the light of the decisions on the common visa list, is to look
at the situation; but, in respect of all the applicants, we have
always kept this under review, and we will look at this, as we
have promised to do in the past.
3 Note by witness: In response to Q998, the
Minister subsequently clarified that the government is planning
to review the situation in respect of Bulgaria and Slovakia n
the light of decisions on the common visa list. Back