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Media Watch 2003

06 June 2003
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Bouli Hadjioannou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 6 June 2003.
Government stands firm against use of Famagusta port


THE government is ready to facilitate Turkish-Cypriot exports to the EU, but rejects any notion of trade through the occupied port of Famagusta, as demanded by authorities in the north.

“We want to find ways to facilitate legal exports. But we are not discussing Famagusta,” official sources said yesterday.

Enlargement Commissioner Gunther Verheugen flies to Cyprus later this month to win support for an EU goodwill package for Turkish-Cypriots, providing for 12m euros in aid and proposals to promote trade.

Nicosia has welcomed the package, but says that the practical details need to be worked out and approved within the framework of the Cyprus-EU Association Council before it can be enforced.

Reaction from the Turkish-Cypriot side has been mixed, with the Denktash regime adopting a tough stance in the hope it will be given the green light to bypass the Cyprus government and export goods directly from illegally-occupied ports.

Understood

Proposals issued by the European Commission on Tuesday made no reference to ports, but sources said it had always been understood that only government-controlled sea and airports can be used.

The government was yesterday compelled to draw a line in the sand after EU Chief Negotiator Leopold Maurer spoke of “appropriate ports” and recalled an earlier idea that an international body could run Famagusta.

Calls from the Turkish-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce that the government agree to the opening up of Famagusta were quickly rejected .

“There is no chance that the Republic of Cyprus will allow the export of goods from illegal ports and airports of the Republic. This is a matter of sovereign rights,” said an adamant Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides.

The Spokesman also responded to Maurer’s revelations that the EU was proposing to send experts to Cyprus to help issue phytosanitary certificates – thus paving the way for the export of Turkish-Cypriot agricultural products to the EU under a “preferential” trade regime.

He said the EU did not have any sovereign rights to exercise any authority on the territory of the republic of Cyprus.

Certificates

“Therefore if arrangements are to be made for EU experts to be present in places where agricultural products are produced, this will only be done with the authorisation of the Republic of Cyprus,” Chrysostomides said.

The same would apply to the movement certificates (known as Eur 1) which will be issued by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, again with authorisation needed from the government, he added.

The EU’s proposal seeks a formula permitting Turkish-Cypriot exports while also satisfying EU regulations and a decision of the European Court of Justice rejecting documents from the breakaway north.

Under EU rules all products must be accompanied by a movement certificate verifying their country of origin. Agricultural products need an additional document certifying they do not pose a public health risk. Movement certificates are usually issued by a chambers of commerce. 

Phytosanitary certificates are issued by governments.

The Commission came up with the general framework on both these issues – leaving the details to be worked out on a practical level. Consultations on the package will resume next week, with informed sources saying they anticipate few serious problems. 

The aim is for agreement to be reached quickly, so that measures can be enforced as from September.

Sources said that the government’s decision authorising the Turkish-Cypriot Chamber to issue movement certificates would need to go through the Cyprus-EU Association Council. 

An EU proposal to send its own experts to inspect Turkish Cypriot agricultural products will also be the subject of consultations.

Official sources said the government has signalled it wants to retain the right to give the final endorsement for products it would legally be held accountable for. 

Quality

“The Cyprus republic is accountable to the European Union as regards the inspection and quality of goods that will be exported. We have a responsibility so we must be able to check,” an informed source said.

The measures will only apply until May 1, 2004, when Cyprus officially accedes to the EU. Any extension after that will require a new legal instrument."