HL Deb 27 March 2002 vol 633 cc54-5WA
Lord Kilclooney

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How long the United Kingdom had responsibility for search and rescue services within the Nicosia Flight Information Region; whether responsibility was confirmed in the 1960 Cyprus Treaties; when it was decided to transfer this responsibility to the Greek Cypriot Government; what has been the reaction of the Turkish Cypriot administration; and whether this decision will facilitate the present talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders. [HL3230]

Lord Bach

The United Kingdom has provided search and rescue services in the Nicosia FIR since 1960. Our only treaty obligation in this regard is set out in Annex B, Part V, Section 9 of the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, which says thatIn so far as the services established for their own use make this possible, the United Kingdom authorities shall make available search and rescue facilities for all civil aircraft within the flight information region administered from Nicosia.

In recent years the Republic of Cyprus has established its own Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC) at Larnaca and introduced capable search and rescue helicopters. They are now much less reliant on UK assistance and we understand that within the last year thay have notified relevant aviation and maritime organisations that RCC Larnaca is the lead search and rescue centre for the Nicosia FIR. The UK continues to meet its treaty commitment by making available the Wessex helicopters of 84 Squadron RAF and the RCC Episkopi to assist as required in search and rescue operations in the Nicosia FIR.

SAR is a humanitarian matter. As such it should have no read-across to the ongoing settlement negotiations.