Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, 29 December 2004

  Having had the opportunity to follow the oral evidence proceedings of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the framework of the inquiry on Cyprus, we were struck by the fact that certain Turkish allegations were brought to the forefront in respect to the two draft regulations proposed by the EU Commission, concerning financial aid" to the Turkish Cypriots and the so called "direct trade" regulation. Knowing of your keen interest in Cyprus I am sure that you would be interested to have the full and accurate facts of the matter put at your disposal, I have, therefore, taken the liberty of addressing my present letter to you in order to provide you with the relevant information.

  As I am sure you know the two draft regulations were put forward by the Commission following the conclusions of the General Affairs Council of 26 April 2004.

  The relevant passage of these conclusions stated "that the Council is determined to put an end to the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community. The Council invites the Commission to bring forward comprehensive proposals to this end, with particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island and on improving contacts between the two communities and with the EU. The Council recommended that the

259 million already earmarked for the northern part of Cyprus in the event of a settlement now be used for this purpose".

  In carefully analysing these conclusions one cannot but conclude that the overriding "mandate" given is to provide such proposals which would facilitate the reunification or Cyprus, the economic integration of the island and improve contacts between the two communities and with the EU.

  Nowhere, and in no way, do the Conclusions even hint at proposals that would go in the opposite direction, namely, strengthening the existing division, promoting separate economic development and independent relations with the EU, and most importantly, the cessation of the already evolving inter-communal economic and other activities.

  With regard to the draft regulation on "financial aid", I consider it extremely significant to remind that it was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, HE Mr George Iacovou, who before anybody else, formally proposed that the

259 million, earmarked for the Turkish Cypriots in the event of a settlement, be immediately made available to them even though a solution had not been achieved.

  Furthermore, the Republic of Cyprus eager to facilitate the successful conclusion of this effort contributed with certain proposals, at the drafting stage, that would have served the declared objectives of the effort, in a manner that would have been legally correct, thus, making its implementation unassailable before any court of law. Attempts to amend the text proposed by the Commission by certain players, in a manner disregarding the legitimate concerns of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, unavoidably led to a lengthy discussion of the draft regulation, whose text was finalised and eventually agreed upon only by mid November 2004.

  Taking into account the clear mandate of 28 April 2004, one would have expected that every effort would have been made for its speedy implementation, as in tact my Government proposed. Unfortunately, however, certain third countries, including the United Kingdom, have refused to cooperate in a constructive manner, in reaching an agreement on the text of this draft regulation holding it, in a manner of speech, "hostage" to agreement being achieved on the so called draft regulation on "direct trade". This conditionality in fact is what held up the implementation of the draft regulation on "financial support" and not any prevarication on the part of the Republic of Cyprus.

  The draft regulation has been agreed upon and we see no substantive reason for any further delay in its implementation. In fact, bearing in mind the innuendos left hanging in respect to possible responsibilities of my Government, one really wonders as to the reasons behind the blocking tactics we have observed.

  Having set the record straight in respect to the "financial aid" regulation, which anybody directly involved with the subject cannot but be aware of, it really is amazing to hear testimonies alleging to so called prevaricating tactics on behalf of the Government of Cyprus.

  Turning to the second draft regulation, the so called "direct trade" regulation, we are once again faced with a situation whereby the Commission has not confined itself to its mandate. It disregards the fact that the entire territory of the Republic of Cyprus acceded to the Union and, chooses to sideline Protocol 10, arbitrarily deciding to adopt Art. 133 of the EC Treaty as the "legal basis" for the draft regulation, which effectively provides for trade with a third country. This approach is legally wrong and politically questionable.

  It should be noted, in this regard, that upon a request by a number of Member States the Legal Service of the Council of the European Union gave a written opinion on the matter with which it unambiguously vindicates the positions of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. In fact, the opinion states that accepting the Commission's premise in respect to Art. 133 would amount to a "misuse of power and would render the adoption of the act illegal (Art.230)". A copy of the said legal opinion is attached herewith.

  That the Commission did not have such a mandate can be ascertained by simply reading the previously quoted General Affairs conclusions of 26 April 2004. While the Council asked the Commission for proposals that would give "particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island and on improving contacts between the two communities . . ." the Commission's proposals go exactly in the opposite direction promoting separateness and non-cooperation.

  What is even more extraordinary is that, while the above effort for "direct trade" has been promoted, a regulation (Reg. 866/2004) known as the "green line regulation" is already in place for trade both within the island and with EU Member States. This regulation has not been given the chance to prove its worth, in view of the efforts to promote the draft regulation for the so called "direct trade", thus, in a way undermining the purposes for which the whole effort was undertaken by creating counter-incentives for the Turkish Cypriots in cooperating for the effective implementation of the "green line" regulation.

  Illustrative of the lack of spirit of cooperation for the implementation of the "green line" regulation was a message sent to the Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and Industry by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, in response to the former's efforts for joint ventures between textile manufacturers, from both communities, stating that: "the textile manufacturers association in the north do not seem to be interested in meeting their counterparts". Copy is attached herewith[2]

  Moreover, the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Talat persisted in pointing out the need for coupling the two proposed regulations. Exemplary of the fact was the letter sent by Mr Talat to the 24 Heads of State on 1 June, clearly stating that the Turkish Cypriots "In fact do not believe in intra-island trade . . .".

  The draft regulation on "direct trade" amounts in effect to use of the declared closed ports and airports in the occupied areas of Cyprus. As you very well know, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus is the sole sovereign Authority to determine which of its ports and airports are open and functioning, and to define the terms of operation for these ports and airports. Moreover, the Republic of Cyprus has every right to declare the ports and airports in the areas under Turkish occupation as closed, having especially in mind that the legitimate Authorities of the Republic are not in a position to control and impose the terms of operation on these ports and airports, as well as the relevant obligations emanating from international treaties, including air safety and the fight against terrorism.

  In concluding on this particular issue, let me stress, in the strongest possible terms, that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not oppose the facilitation of trade between our Turkish Cypriot compatriots and the rest of the EU. Such trade, however, must be based on legality and be pursued on the basis of the existing Reg. 866/2004, for whose unimpeded functioning, the Republic of Cyprus has made a number of practical proposals and has shown the utmost of flexibility. These proposals aim at simplifying VAT procedures, widening the range of goods, (including the main Turkish Cypriot export item of citrus fruit), allowed to cross the line, duty and tax free, and increasing the number of crossing points. Furthermore, and as a practical expression of the Government's willingness to facilitate the Turkish Cypriot traders, an additional proposal has been made in respect to the port of Famagusta, and a special hub in Larnaca port for the exclusive use of Turkish Cypriots.

  Regrettably, there was no positive reaction regarding the Governments proposal to grant authorisation for the re-opening of Famagusta port for trade purposes, with primarily a Turkish Cypriot workforce under the aegis of the European Commission and the co-management by Turkish and Greek Cypriots, following the return of the fenced area of Varosha to the control of the Government Had this proposal materialised, the port would be open to economic operators from both communities under equal terms and would be operating for trade purposes under the European Commission's supervision, with the participation of Turkish and Greek Cypriots alike, and pursuant to an EU regulation.

  Having said all of the above, I think it must be evident that, had in fact the goal been to facilitate Turkish Cypriot trade, then this could be sorted out quite quickly, in a manner that would be both legal and would also serve the purposes for which the Council mandated the Commission to make proposals.

  On its part the Government of the Republic of Cyprus stands ready to make its own contribution and show all possible flexibility in cooperating with its partners to achieve the goals stated. What remains to be seen is whether other, third parties involved, including the UK, will act in a similar manner and in line with what the Court of Justice said concerning the fact that the duty to cooperate in good faith governs relations between Member States and the institutions; an obligation that "imposes on Member States and the Community institutions mutual duties to cooperate in good faith".

  I would be grateful if the present letter is circulated to all the Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United Kingdom Parliament.

HE Petros Eftychiou

High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus

29 December 2004

2   Not printed. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2005
Prepared 22 February 2005