Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 100-113)



  Q100 Andrew Mackinlay: No, but if you were to say they should have a say in the settlement, which has of course been advanced because apparently they voted overwhelmingly, then if there is a settlement they immediately become members of the European Union.

  Mr Sanberk: Definitely, this is the reason why the solution of the Cyprus problem is so urgent, because the more we delay this solution, the more we will face the problems that you rightly put forward.

  Q101 Andrew Mackinlay: The failure to reach agreement—and I do not want to go into the rights and wrongs of this—is lack of trust.

  Mr Sanberk: Yes.

  Q102 Andrew Mackinlay: How do we know that the people who have long lived in Cyprus, the Turkish people, actually overwhelmingly endorse the Annan Plan? We do not know that, do we?

  Mr Sanberk: I think the best arguments are the facts, and when we look at the percentages we see this situation.

  Q103 Andrew Mackinlay: The other area I want to go to—and I do not know if you have got a way forward on this—is the idea of opening up the ports and airports of northern Cyprus. I assume that you would want to encourage that and welcome it, but is there not really a practical element to that? How are you going to persuade the Government of Cyprus to agree to that?

  Mr Sanberk: You mean the opening of the airspace?

  Q104 Andrew Mackinlay: Yes, direct flights and then also there is the question of the sea ports, there is an issue of sovereignty there, is there not?

  Mr Sanberk: Yes.

  Q105 Andrew Mackinlay: It seems to me that rightly or wrongly—and I think Lord Hannay endorsed my view—that in law, certainly in European law, the Cypriot Government and probably others, the Greek Government, would have a right of veto on what we understand is the British foreign policy of trying to open up trade access and pretend, in a way, that there is not division.

  Mr Sanberk: Yes. In my opinion it is enlightened self-interest for the Greek Cypriots to create an atmosphere, an environment, of rapprochement instead of hostility. I do not see why our Greek Cypriot friends still insist in keeping the Turkish Cypriots under siege and isolation; direct trade recognised for the North and direct transport will reduce the tension on the island and will encourage the Turkish Cypriots to feel themselves more in confidence, they will look forward to the future and the rapprochement will take place. But if we continue in the policy of besieging, blockading, isolation, I think the partition is going to be solidified and the status quo is going to be solidified.

  Andrew Mackinlay: Thank you very much.

  Q106 Chairman: Thank you. Mr Sanberk, one of the more positive elements which has come out of the discussions this afternoon has been the urge to have more contact between the peoples of the North and South.

  Mr Sanberk: Yes.

  Q107 Chairman: Mr Mackinlay spoke of the question of trust a little earlier. I know for example of the Friends of Cyprus who, both within London in the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot community and also across the divide on the island, seek to bring people together; do you know of any other initiatives which are relevant in this context?

  Mr Sanberk: I do not know, but I believe that there is a lot of desire and enthusiasm at the level of many Turkish Cypriots to be more in contact and share thoughts with their Greek Cypriot co-islanders. I hope it can be reciprocated and, again, I am also for these contacts, both in London and on the island and elsewhere. I think Britain can play a role in this particular initiative.

  Q108 Chairman: In part because of the two communities here in London?

  Mr Sanberk: Yes, in London, and this could be very positive. Again it is my view—it may be shared or not by many people in Turkey, in North Cyprus and elsewhere—that it is a very positive contact for Britain.

  Q109 Chairman: When you were here as Ambassador were you aware of any initiatives?

  Mr Sanberk: I must say that when I organised seminars, for instance, in my residence I always invited our Greek Cypriot friends. Some of them attended—a few of them attended as a matter of fact—and my house was always open, but my Greek opposite number did not have in those years the same policy. I am sure today we have a different atmosphere and we should put into the service of the reconciliation this approach of, let us say, magnanimity and also generosity and good will.

  Q110 Chairman: You mentioned the role of the Greek Government, and one positive change since the time you were Ambassador has been this warming of relations with Greece, first under Mr Papandreou and Mr Simitis and now under Mr Karamanlis and Mr Erdogan.

  Mr Sanberk: Yes.

  Q111 Chairman: Can you comment on that, what role do you see the Greek Government, for example, playing in the problem of Cyprus?

  Mr Sanberk: I think an enormous role, and let me also salute all the people of vision from both sides, both from Athens and Ankara, to foster this friendship. Again, here, Mr Ioannis Papandreou has played a crucial role with others, and of course Mr Simitis, and now I see Mr Erdogan and Mr Karamanlis, they are on good terms and counterparts, and many people of vision support this reconciliation. I am sure this will be an asset for the European Union as well because a common Turkish-Greek vision in the Eastern Mediterranean will create a synergy, not only in the region but also within the European Union, and to contribute to the success off the enlargement and also the opinion of the European Union.

  Q112 Chairman: Have you seen any positive effects in respect of Cyprus of them working together?

  Mr Sanberk: I think so, yes.

  Q113 Chairman: Which?

  Mr Sanberk: I think both the Turkish Government and the Greek Government, in Ankara and Athens, were in agreement in supporting the Annan Plan—to my knowledge. I may be wrong, but at least it was important.

  Chairman: Unless colleagues have any further questions, can I thank you most warmly. I know you have come especially from Istanbul to renew our contact, we are delighted you are here and thank you very much indeed for your contribution. There will now be a short private meeting of the Committee.

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