HL Deb 02 February 2005 vol 669 cc42-3WA
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why, after rejecting the Annan plan, Greek Southern Cyprus was admitted as a constituent member of the European Union; and what benefits now enjoyed by Greek Southern Cyprus are still withheld from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, particularly in relation to trade, travel and education. [HL898]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

The European Council decided at Helsinki in 1999 that a Cyprus settlement was not a precondition for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union (EU). On this basis, Cyprus signed the Treaty of Accession to the EU on 16 April 2003.

The Republic of Cyprus, including the northern part of the island, is an EU member state, but the acquis remains suspended in the north. Therefore in practice, Turkish Cypriots living north of the green line are unable to enjoy most of the benefits of EU membership.

With regard to travel, under UK Immigration Rules, Turkish Cypriots travelling on passports issued by the Republic of Cyprus have the same right of freedom and freedom to work in the UK as any other EU national. However, as the UK does not recognise the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", those travelling on documents issued by the authorities in the north are subject to immigration control. In the field of education, only Turkish Cypriots with Republic of Cyprus passports are eligible for EU fees at UK universities.

The Government are committed to ending the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. Although Turkish Cypriots are currently unable to trade directly with the EU, a Commission proposal to that end is under discussion, as is a proposal to disburse 259 million euros of aid in the north. We fully support both proposals. The Green Line Regulation (GLR), agreed in August 2004, allows for limited trade across the green line. We support the Commission's proposals to amend the GLR to increase intra-island trade.