Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Famagusta

Delivered in Plenary - 16th November 2006

Mr President

Since the Turkish invasion of 1974, Cyprus has remained tragically divided and the city of Famagusta has been occupied by the Turkish armed forces.

We are now beginning to see a promising deal emerging under the Finnish Presidency of the EU, under which the Turkish-occupied north of the island can be reopened to direct trade through the port of Famagusta, under strict EU monitoring. This would be in exchange for the return by Turkey of the fenced-off area of Varosha to its original Greek Cypriot residents, under UN control. Fortunately, the original Greek Cypriot inhabitants can return with minimal disruption, as no one needs to be relocated because the depopulated Varosha area was sealed off in 1974 and is under the direct control of the Turkish military.

Reference to the resettlement of Varosha was included in the 1979 Kyprianou-Denktas high-level agreement. It was agreed all that time ago that this would be implemented without awaiting the outcome of the discussion on other aspects of the Cyprus problem, or be used as a bargaining chip in dealing with other Cypriot issues.

Certainly its return cannot be linked to the issue of Turkey implementing its firm commitment as an EU candidate state to open its ports to all Cypriot vessels, as agreed by Turkey under the Ankara Protocol on enlargement of the customs union, which must be extended to all EU Member States. These include the Republic of Cyprus, which Turkey ludicrously refuses to recognise legally, even though Cyprus is a full EU Member State.

The Green Line also needs to be carefully monitored if direct trade from the north is resumed, with regard to potential increases in illegal immigration and people-trafficking, particularly of women from Eastern Europe. Furthermore, the so-called Republic of Northern Cyprus cannot be allowed to carry on as a sanctuary to escaped criminals, including notable UK fugitives from justice such as Mr Asil Nadir