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Cyprus

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the potential effect of allowing direct trade between the EU and northern Cyprus on the reunification of the island; and if she will make a statement; (96908)

(2) what assessment she has made of the financial effect of direct trade with the EU from northern Cyprus on the northern Cyprus economy; and if she will make a statement.

We believe all obstacles to trade in the region should be removed. The history of the EU demonstrates the power of trade to promote economic prosperity and political reconciliation. The preliminary findings of the World Bank report on the economy in northern Cyprus, are that the external constraints on access to EU markets for the Turkish Cypriot community are one of the two biggest constraints to economic development in northern Cyprus. I would endorse the conclusion that the long-term welfare of all Cypriots is in jeopardy if steps are not taken to ensure the convergence of living standards on the island. That is why we remain committed to supporting the Turkish Cypriots and the EU Commission in economic and regulatory reform, and to supporting the EU Presidency in its efforts to find a way for the Turkish Cypriots to trade directly with the EU.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the extent of trade across the Green Line in Cyprus compliant with the Green Line Regulation; and if she will make a statement; (96909)

(2) what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of cross-Green Line banking in Cyprus.

We have made no independent assessment of the extent of trade under the Green Line Regulation. The EU Commission recently reported that, while a range of goods are traded, the overall volume remains small, totalling approximately €2 million per year, and obstacles remain to its further development. No assessment has been made of banking services across the Green Line and this issue does not feature in the Commission’s report. (A copy of the recent annual report on the implementation of the Green Line Regulation has been placed in the Library of the House).

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response she has made to the findings of the recent World Bank Report on the economy of northern Cyprus; and if she will make a statement. (96910)

The World Bank report is one of the first objective surveys of the Turkish Cypriot economy. The report usefully identifies its serious structural problems, together with the restrictive effect of the continuing economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and its continuing economic dependence on Turkey. It illustrates the importance of our continuing to support measures designed to promote the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community and the economic reintegration of the island in fulfilment of the commitment of EU Foreign Ministers to lift their isolation, particularly through EU financial assistance and further regional trade liberalisation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate she has made of the numbers of (a) Turkish Cypriots and (b) Turks from Turkey resident in occupied north Cyprus; and if she will make a statement. (96911)

The UK has made no formal, independent assessment of the numbers of Turkish Cypriots and Turks from Turkey resident in north Cyprus. The Cyprus Government have published their own estimates. The Turkish Cypriots will next month publish their assessment of the numbers on the basis of the census conducted on 30 April.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the respect by the Turkish authorities of the human rights of Greek Cypriot residents of enclaves in Karpas; and if she will make a statement; (96912)

(2) what representations she has made to Turkey on the human rights of the Greek Cypriots resident in an enclave in Karpas; and if she will make a statement.

The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus has primary responsibility for monitoring the human rights situation of Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas. The UK closely follows and supports their assessments on this matter. The UK also plays an active role in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in its responsibility for monitoring Turkey's compliance with its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, including with regard to the Greek Cypriots in the Karpas.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate she has made of how many Greek Cypriots were residents of enclaves in Karpas in (a) 1976 and (b) 2006; and if she will make a statement. (96913)

The UN closely monitors the situation of Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas. The latest UN population figures, dating from May 2006, indicate that 385 Greek Cypriots are currently living in the Karpas. We have made no assessment of how many Greek Cypriot residents there were in 1976, but the population has fallen dramatically from an estimated 20,000 in 1974.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to what extent the EU Erasmus scheme will be available to students (a) in the Republic of Cyprus and (b) in northern Cyprus; and if she will make a statement. (96914)

The EU Erasmus scheme is currently not available to students studying at institutions in northern Cyprus. We are aware of plans to fund a programme of EU scholarships for Turkish Cypriot students using the Financial Aid Regulation. We support this scheme, and similar initiatives, as an important means of lifting the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community through promoting academic contacts throughout Europe.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what estimate she has made of how many UK flagged vessels were prevented from calling at Turkish ports because they (a) had previously called at a Cyprus port, (b) were managed by a Cyprus-based company, (c) were insured through a Cyprus company and (d) carried a cargo of Cyprus origin in the last 12 months; and if she will make a statement; (96917)

(2) whether the Turkish embargo of Republic of Cyprus applies to ships and aircraft (a) insured by Cyprus registered companies, (b) insured by Cyprus based companies, (c) which are not Cyprus flagged but have called at Cyprus ports, (d) are managed by non-Cyprus companies based in Cyprus, (e) chartered by Cyprus companies and (f) chartered by non-Cyprus registered companies based in Cyprus;

(3) what assessment she has made of the effect on the cost of shipping in the EU of the Turkish embargo of Republic of Cyprus ships and aircraft; and if she will make a statement;

(4) what assessment she has made of the impact of the Turkish embargo of the Republic of Cyprus on the (a) cost and (b) availability of shipping of oil from the oil pipeline terminal on the Turkish Mediterranean coast; and if she will make a statement.

We do not hold detailed information on the scope of the Turkish restrictions and their application to Republic of Cyprus vessels and we are not aware of any UK flag vessels being prevented from calling at Turkish ports under any of the circumstances cited. We have not made an assessment of the impact of these restrictions on the cost of shipping in the EU or the cost and availability to the EU of the shipping of oil from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. For a statement, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 30 October 2006 (UIN 96907).

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the continuing costs of (a) de-mining and (b) missing persons initiatives in Cyprus; what plans she has to increase the UK's contribution to these initiatives; and if she will make a statement; (96918)

(2) what support the Government are giving to (a) de-mining and (b) missing persons initiatives in Cyprus; and if she will make a statement.

Funding for these initiatives is the subject of continuing discussion between the UN and EU. These organisations would no doubt be prepared to share details of the costs with my hon. Friend. The UK supported the provision of EU resources to the UN for de-mining, and—through our contribution to the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus—have given broad support to the de-mining effort and the Committee on Missing Persons. We have encouraged the latter to widen its range of donor countries, and while strongly supporting the Committee’s work, we currently have no plans to make a third financial contribution to the organisation's work since our commitment of £45,000 earlier this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her assessment is of the impact of the Bologna principle on (a) accreditation and (b) recognition of university degrees from institutions in northern Cyprus; and if she will make a statement. (96960)

The Government are committed to the Bologna process as a means to improve systems of accreditation and the recognition of university degrees across Europe, through the implementation of the Bologna principles by individual signatory states. We are in contact with the Turkish Cypriots regarding their concerns about the continuing recognition of qualifications from universities in northern Cyprus.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations to the Turkish authorities and north Cyprus pressing for permission for Greek Cypriots to visit Agios Mamas Church in Morphou without having to pay a fee; and if she will make a statement. (96977)

Our high commission in Nicosia is in regular contact with the Bishop of Morphou and representatives of the Greek Cypriot community from Morphou on a range of issues.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to Turkey concerning the opening of the Ledra Street checkpoint in Nicosia; and if she will make a statement. (96978)

The 10 million or more reported crossings since the green line opened in 2003 have facilitated an increase in social, economic and political contact between the two communities in promotion of the reunification of the island. We welcomed the decision in autumn 2005 to open another crossing point at Ledra Street, and were disappointed when difficulties subsequently arose. We have made no representations to any of the parties since that time, but encourage the parties to make progress in the near future. In this context, we welcome the recent meeting between the mayors of north and south Nicosia where the issue of Ledra Street checkpoint was discussed, and the UN’s ongoing work in this area.