Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Written evidence submitted by the All-Party Group for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

  Notes on the visit of All Party Parliamentary "Friends of Northern Cyprus" Group to Turkish Northern Cyprus from the 12 November to 19 November 2004.

  The six Delegates, led by Baroness Knight, had an extremely friendly and instructive week; hospitality was generous and greatly appreciated. The facts and discussions led to an awareness that the Northern Cypriots are being increasingly disillusioned after the great expectations provided by the Annan Plan which have not materialised; their isolation has, in fact, increased. There are increased problems with visas for entry to the south and with work permits. The Greek Cypriots are using their new position as members of the European Union (EU) to make life even more difficult for the TRNC. For instance, a group of teachers arrived in England with full arrangements for teaching posts, but were required to return as they had not obtained the EU visas newly required.

  On the other hand there is a lifting of the ban for UK residents in TRNC to enter the UK Sovereign Base in Northern Cyprus in contrast to the problems imposed on travellers and others wanting to work in the UK.

  The situation in Northern Cyprus has resulted in disillusionment which appeared to the Delegates to be producing a drift away in the support for the Prime Minister (Mr Talat), who had urged them to say "yes" to the Referendum.

  During their visit the six delegates were able to see divergent areas of Northern Cyprus including Famagusta, with neighbouring Varosha, the University of the Eastern Mediterranean, followed by a drive along the Karpaz area (Pan Handle) to the furthest eastern tip of the island. To the west, a journey to the crumbling villages in the declining citrus growing area of Guzelyurt revealed the Turkish dam providing irrigation is being starved of water by the Greeks on the other side of the border.

  The Delegates met H.E. the President of TRNC, had meetings with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Minister of Finance and Tourism, the British High Commissioner, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, members of the Chamber of Industry and several Members of Parliament. The parties for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Independence of TRNC (15 November) provided opportunities for discussion with many influential Turkish Cypriots.

  In the commercial and industrial spheres problems have increased. Business men need to purchase visas for themselves and their families to stay in the UK whereas the Greek Cypriots are allowed free entry. For example, a fixed year visa for a family of four costs £360—a high price in TRNC economic terms.

  At the same time the British Consulate in Cyprus needs to be congratulated for successfully collaborating with the organisation which can invest EU funds into Northern Cyprus without using (as in the past) the Greek Cypriot Office. The EU has established an office in Salonika for this funding. Unfortunately the Delegates heard the disquiet of the Minister of Finance and Tourism as he had been told that a feasibility study for the needs of TRNC had been commissioned by the EU's office without any reference to the Government of Northern Cyprus.

  It was clear to the Delegates that the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is being increased at the discussions in Brussels, due to a delay of several months to date (November 2004) in providing a work permit for the new nominee from TRNC. This nominee's placement is welcomed and crucial, especially as it appears to be a positive "break through" for the Northern Cypriots.

  Whilst the EU is anxious to improve relations between the North and South by increasing trade between both sectors, the Chamber of Commerce gave several examples of serious non-co-operation, for example:

  1.  Produce or manufactured goods from the North weighing more than 2 tons are refused entry to the South. A further vehicle is required making costs prohibitive.

  2.  Turkish workers in the South are paid less than Greeks doing the same jobs.

  3.  Greek Cypriots are restricted by border guards from bringing back purchases from the North, even additional petrol in the family car.

  4.  Failure to agree on direct flights into TRNC is having a negative impact on the political view of Turkish Cypriots disappointed by the failure of the Annan plan, and a serious impact on tourism and on commerce,

  5.  Exports of citrus fruits from TRNC are still banned by Greek Cypriots.

  6.  Turkish Delight can only be sold in Southern Cyprus if it is re-named "Cyprus Delight"!

  The Delegates warmly welcome the news that representatives from the USA have recently visited Ercan Airport to establish its viability to commence flights directly from USA.

  The University of the Eastern Mediterranean is having difficulty in collaborating with overseas universities and is aware that Greek influence is being used to undermine their progress.

  On the other hand, the Rector was glad to tell us some exchange of academic teaching was taking place with the University of Southern Cyprus. Professors on both sides were pleased to co-operate, with some minor restrictions in travel for the Northern Cypriots who were required to go though Nicosia. The overall picture at the University was hopeful; the academic staff and young people want to collaborate. Embargoes on travel and communication should clearly be lifted in the interests of academic freedom, an essential in a free world.

  In conclusion: The Delegates were aware of the seeping away of support for Prime Minister Talat, due to severe disappointment at the collapse of the Annan Plan. A new game-plan is required to safeguard the rights of the Turkish Cypriots. A persistent progress through the EU channels and using the Parliamentary system in the UK should be used to enable public recognition of these anomalies to be part of the process of rectifying the situation.


The Baroness Knight

Lord Kilelooney

Lord Rogan

Lord Magmnnis

Mr Ben Chapman

The Lady Butterworth

20 November 2004

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