Cyprus: Britain should work on Luxembourg proposal on regulations
By Nicos Bellos
Brussels, Nov 21 (CNA) – The British Presidency of the EU, after a brief discussion during the EU Foreign Ministers’ lunch, referred the two EU regulations for financial assistance to Turkish Cypriots and direct trade to a working group of the Council and then the Committee of the Permanent Representatives.
The discussion was called for last week by Sweden and was accepted by the British presidency. In her intervention, the Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Ferivalds said time was running out and there would be danger the EU funding to Turkish Cypriots to be lost.
Ferivalds asked the presidency what it intends to do towards this goal. She was also backed by Germany.
Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou told the meeting that the Cypriot government had always worked with the European Commission and the proof for this was the Green Line regulation which although was lacking, was accepted.
He also said that with the Commission’s cooperation, the regulation was improved and became more functional.
Regarding the financial protocol, Iacovou congratulated the Dutch Presidency which worked very hard for a mutually acceptable document.
However, on the direct trade regulation, he said, there were serious problems of legal nature and referred to the opinion of the Legal Service of the Council of Ministers.
In December 2004, he said, the priority for many countries was the start of accession negotiations with Turkey. The Cypriot FM referred to the Luxembourg Presidency which it congratulated for the way it worked. However, he said it was a pity that Britain prevented an agreement on the two regulations’ simultaneous approval, based on a plan which was submitted. The plan included the Cypriot proposal for Famagusta.
The Cyprus Government proposal provided for the return of the enclosed city of Varosha (Famagusta) to its lawful owners, this being followed by the Government’s authorization for the re-opening of the Famagusta Port.
“We want the money to be given, (to the Turkish Cypriots), we have our own plans to help”, he said, adding that “Turkish Cypriots have greatly benefited from the government’s attitude towards them”.
He said that the issue is whether the British Presidency can work based on the Luxembourg presidency’s proposal.
The Cypriot Minister said that there is also the possibility of withdrawing the regulation for direct trade and if this happens, then the financial regulation should be immediately adopted.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, ending the discussion, said he had no alternative but to refer the regulations to bureaucrats to examine the situation.
He also avoided clarifying whether the issue will be raised again during the General Affairs Council meeting of 12 December which will be the last COREPER meeting under the British Presidency.