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Turkey: Foreign Relations

Volume 468: debated on Thursday 29 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the strategic partnership with Turkey on UK relations with (a) Greece and (b) Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. (162758)

The Republic of Cyprus and Greece have raised concerns and sought clarification about the strategic partnership document. We have reassured them that the UK remains fully committed to the reunification of the island and fully supportive of the 8 July 2006 process.

In my statement published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website on 31 October at

http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029391629&a=KArticle&aid=1193598399882

I emphasised in the strongest terms that there is no change to our policy on the non-recognition of the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and that the UK's priority is progress towards reunification, as envisaged by the 8 July Agreement. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, following his meeting with Foreign Minister Bakoyannis on 6 November, reiterated this position.

The concerns expressed by the Republic of Cyprus and Greece show that, while we share the same strategic objective of reunifying Cyprus, there are honestly held differences of opinion on how to achieve this. We continue to discuss all such differences of opinion.

Both the Republic of Cyprus and Greece share the UK's desire of Turkish accession to the EU. Greece and the UK continue to support the 8 July process towards achieving a unified Cyprus. The UK shares many vital interests with both countries, and its bilateral relations with both countries are, as ever, very important.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what basis negotiations with Turkey were conducted on the Strategic Partnership Agreement in relation to those parts of the agreement that relate to undertakings on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot community in Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. (162759)

The UK/Turkey Strategic Partnership (formerly UK/ Turkey Action Plan) is a formalised dialogue which has existed between the UK and Turkey since 2004. It draws together into one high-level bilateral document the breadth of co-operation across the two Governments on a wide range of issues including climate change, trade, security, EU membership and counter-terrorism. It includes a section reiterating long-standing commitments to bring the Turkish Cypriot community closer to Europe.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance (a) has been given and (b) is planned to be given to Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus authorities and universities in relation to their engagement with the Bologna process as referred to in the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Turkey; and if he will make a statement. (162769)

Officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are in contact with Turkish Cypriot academics on how to raise Turkish Cypriot educational standards. These contacts have sought to promote an exchange of ideas between educational establishments on practical issues. The aim is to ensure that Turkish Cypriot universities are able to maintain standards comparable with those of the institutions that are members of the Bologna process.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultation was undertaken with leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community over the text of the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Turkey, in so far as it refers to Turkish Cypriots; and if he will make a statement. (162770)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him today (UIN 162759).

Leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community were not consulted over the bilateral UK/Turkey Agreement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he plans to take to uphold the right to representation of Turkish Cypriots in the European Parliament as referred to in the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Turkey; and if he will make a statement. (162771)

Turkish Cypriots are European citizens. Our preferred means to enfranchise them would be a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem that enables them to elect representatives to the European Parliament in the normal way. We are making every possible effort to secure that outcome. In the absence of a settlement, we welcome interest shown by Turkish Cypriots in the European Parliament and by European parliamentarians in the Turkish Cypriot community—not least as oversight and encouragement of disbursement under the Aid Regulation by the Commission. It is for the Parliament to decide precisely what mechanisms to employ. But we will urge the Council to support any such initiatives, as complementing its own efforts to bring Turkish Cypriots closer to Europe, underlining what the two communities have in common, and to help reunify the island.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to promote direct (a) commercial, (b) economic, (c) political and (d) cultural contacts between the UK, EU and Turkish Cypriots, in accordance with the Strategic Partnership with Turkey; and if he will make a statement. (162773)

The Government fully support the EU’s desire to end Turkish Cypriot isolation and facilitate the reunification of Cyprus. We believe that lifting the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, and bringing them closer to the EU, will help to build economic and cultural links between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and will make a future settlement less costly to accommodate. Long-standing UK policy is to put market forces at the service of a settlement and promote people-to-people contacts at all times.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reference there is in the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Turkey to (a) building on Greek-Cypriot-owned land in Northern Cyprus, (b) migration from Turkey to Northern Cyprus, (c) the Turkish military presence in Cyprus, (d) implementation of the EU customs union agreement in Cyprus, (e) the UN process on Cyprus with particular reference to the 2006 Gambari agreement; and if he will make a statement. (162812)

The Strategic Partnership reflects the breadth of co-operation between the UK and Turkish Governments. The agreement is not, however, designed to be an exhaustive reflection of our policy on Cyprus. The document emphasises our primary goal of a comprehensive and enduring Cyprus settlement, which would address many of the issues referred to. Our policy is to continue to support the 8 July Process, which I reiterated in my 31 October statement published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at

http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029391629&a=KArticle&aid=1193598399882.

The Government’s position remains that Turkey must implement all its obligations to the EU, including those in relation to Cyprus, such as normalisation of relations and the implementation of the Ankara Agreement Protocol.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultations were held with Greece as a guarantor power, prior to the signing of the strategic partnership with Turkey on 23 October 2007, in relation to the provisions relating to Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots; and if he will make a statement. (162819)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him today (UIN 162759).

No consultations were held with Greece prior to the signing of the Strategic Partnership with Turkey.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from (a) Greece and (b) the Republic of Cyprus over the Strategic Partnership Agreement of 23 October; and if he will make a statement. (162820)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he made to Turkey over the military occupation of northern Cyprus when negotiating the Strategic Partnership Agreement of 23 October; and if he will make a statement. (162821)

The UK/Turkey Strategic Partnership Agreement focuses on the long-term strategic objectives between Turkey and the UK. Regarding the presence of Turkish troops in northern Cyprus, UK Ministers have called for a goodwill gesture from Turkey in the form of a troop reduction, in order to build trust on the island.

The question of how to provide security for both communities is a central issue that will need to be addressed in the course of negotiations to achieve a comprehensive settlement. This underlines the importance of the rapid implementation of the 8 July process, to prepare the ground for fully fledged settlement negotiations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what treaty obligations govern negotiations and other discussions concerning Cyprus between the guarantor powers, with particular reference to bilateral negotiations between two guarantor powers without the participation of the third; and if he will make a statement. (162822)

Article IV of the Treaty of Guarantee provides that Greece, Turkey and the UK will consult together in the event of a breach of the treaty.

The UK/Turkey Strategic Partnership is intended to promote reunification of the island, which is the long-standing obligation of all three guarantor powers. The UK/Turkey Agreement does not change in any way our long-term policy on the Cyprus settlement question, which is unconditional support for the implementation of the UN’s 8 July 2006 agreement. Therefore it was not necessary to consult with all guarantor powers concerning Cyprus.