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Britain supports approval of EU regulations for Turkish Cypriots
2005-03-23 11:49:46

London, Mar 23 (CNA) -- British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane has said the passing of the EU direct trade regulation together with the EU financial aid regulation for Turkish Cypriots would constitute an investment in the future of the whole island and not just the occupied areas.

In a reply to a letter by British MP Rudi Vis, enclosing a letter from the Cypriot High Commission in London Petros Eftyhiou, concerning the two regulations, MacShane said ''we too wish to see the Aid regulation passed as soon as possible,'' noting however that ''our view is that in order to make an effective contribution to the economic integration of the island and to bringing the Turkish Cypriots closer to the EU - as agreed by EU Foreign Ministers last April - more than just the Aid regulation is required. This is why the Commission drafted two complementary regulations.''

The British Minister noted that ''we understand the concerns of the High Commission (of Cyprus) on this issue and we have discussed these draft regulations many times with the Government of Cyprus at senior official level. I have also personally discussed this issue with the Republic of Cyprus political leadership.''

He said ''as a number of observers have noted, on (of several) reasons why Greek Cypriots voted against the Annan plan was through fear of economic consequences of reunification.''

''If Turkish Cypriots were allowed to narrow the prosperity gap with the south of the island, any future settlement would be more likely to be approved by the people of Cyprus since it would be easier and less costly to consolidate. We believe that an aid allocation alone, as a limited one-off payment, would have a welcome but insufficient effect. Recent economic studies have shown that progress towards convergence of the economies on the island, which the draft Direct Trade regulation would assist, could help the island's economy as a whole,'' MacShane noted.

He said the relaxation of restrictions on the movement of persons across the Green Line has benefited both communities economically, for example, in the thousands of Turkish Cypriots who now work in the south every day.

''We are glad to hear that there is provisional agreement to open two new crossing points on the Green Line, which should encourage further contact between the communities. We agree that the Greek Line regulation, especially in its amended version, is a positive step,'' he said.

He added that ''however, it is clear that this regulation alone will not go far enough to make a significant difference to the lives of Turkish Cypriots.''

MacShane said that according to figures from the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, sales of Turkish Cypriot goods in the south only totaled 75,334.75 pounds in January 2005.

''We therefore still believe that there is a need to reach agreement on the Direct Trade regulation,'' he added.

MacShane expressed hope that the EU can find a way to honour its commitments that is acceptable to all member states.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

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