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Letter To President of the EU Commission

Jose Manuel Barroso
President of the EU Commission


31 August 2010


Dear Mr Barroso,

Re: Direct Trade Regulation for Turkish Cypriots

The “Association of Turkish Cypriots Abroad” (ATCA) is a civil global organisation which represents Turkish Cypriots and has membership in the UK, US, Australia and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). We aim to highlight the grave injustices being done against the Turkish Cypriots.  We are writing to raise our concern at the continuing non-implementation of the Direct Trade Regulation for the Turkish Cypriot people.

Like many other Turkish Cypriot civil groups, we also share and believe in EU norms and values. Hundreds of thousands of Turkish Cypriots actually live in the EU – particularly the United Kingdom.

We see it as a great injustice that despite the Turkish Cypriot acceptance of the Annan Plan in 2004 which was also unambiguously supported by the EU, the isolations on them are continuing. As people who believe in the EU, we have felt very much let down by broken promises and undertakings.

On the 24 April 2004, the then EU Enlargement Commissioner, Günter Verheugen, said that the isolations on the Turkish Cypriots would be ended. He not only said that Ercan Airport in the TRNC would be opened; he also played a chief role for the drawing up of the “Direct trade Regulation” and the “Green Line Regulation”. The latter was implemented, but the DTR was vetoed immediately after the Greek Cypriot accession to the EU.

On the 07 September 2004, Mr Verheugen said: “The Turkish Cypriots should not be pessimistic as regards the assistance to be given by the EU. All the EU countries and the EU institutions have made certain promises to the Turkish Cypriots that after the referendum they will not be punished, that they will receive economic assistance, and that the isolation will be removed.”

The ending of the isolation promises was also made by the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan following the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Annan Plan in the referendum. Mr Annan said that the Turkish Cypriots should not be penalised for the referendum result.

The then British Prime, Minister Tony Blair, also made similar remarks. EU figures promised the Turkish Cypriots that there was “a need for time” to get the isolations eased if not ended. Our youth at present cannot even participate in sports activities including having friendly football matches, because of the disgraceful and unjustified stance taken by the Greek Cypriot side.

North Cyprus is a country which the EU has not recognised, but, unfortunately and regrettably, the EU made the Greek Cypriot side a member of the bloc without a comprehensive political settlement. This has now resulted in no motivation being left to the Greek Cypriots to share the island of Cyprus on an equal footing with the Turkish Cypriots, whilst at the same time, they are vigorously lobbying and working to ensure that the Turkish Cypriots remain isolated from the rest of the world.

This situation is a disgrace and runs entirely contrary to international law and EU norms.

We would like to draw your attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Article 2:
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”.

When we take this in the context of ending the isolations on the Turkish Cypriot people, there is no reason not to allow the Turkish Cypriots the right to enjoy the same fundamental rights and freedoms as set out in EU laws. The “international status” of the TRNC is not, we believe, the issue when it comes to actually implementing the DTR. It is an issue of allowing Turkish Cypriots to enjoy, like many other citizens in the world, the right to travel and trade freely, and to take part in sports and cultural events.

On a last note, ATCA believes that the implementation of the Direct Trade Regulation will encourage the sides in Cyprus towards a solution. It will not only motivate a completely de-motivated Greek Cypriot side towards a comprehensive just and fair settlement; it will contribute to the development of North Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot people. Having an integrated and developed economy on both sides of the island is a real investment for making it easier to reach a solution.  One of the main reasons for the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Annan Plan was because of the need to “share the wealth of the Greek Cypriots with the poor Turkish Cypriot side”.

We do not accept that the Greek Cypriots should be knowingly allowed to use her EU Membership to blackmail Turkey into giving concessions in Cyprus, or unilaterally opening her ports to South Cyprus whilst the Turkish Cypriots remain isolated.  Statements are now being made that Turkey “must solve the Cyprus issue if there is to be progress in her EU Membership process”. However, there was a prevalent “Cyprus issue” when Greece and South Cyprus were made members of the EU? This is, we feel, an unjust approach to the matter. Any country which is to be made a member of the EU must solely satisfy the Copenhagen Criteras and the Maastricht Treaties.

We thank you for your consideration and plea for the EU Parliament and Commission to see reason as to what is really happening in Cyprus. If the DTR is not implemented as a result of successful one sided and biased Greek Cypriot lobbying, the injustices and breaches of human rights will continue. This is not compatible with the promises and undertakings of the EU towards the Turkish Cypriots, and certainly not compatible with EU and wider international law.

Yours faithfully

Kerem Hasan
ATCA TRNC Representative

 

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