3 July 1996
Dear Mr Argyrou,
Thank you for your letter to the Foreign Secretary about Cyprus.
I am replying as Desk Officer responsible for our relations with
You ask whether Britons are allowed to trade freely with northern
Cyprus. As you are aware, Britain does not recognise the so-called
"Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" and was instrumental
in securing UN Security Council Resolution 541
which considered its purported declaration of independence to
be legally invalid. Nevertheless we recognise the interests and
aspirations of the Turkish Cypriot community. We therefore continue
to trade with them. Continued trade with members of the Turkish
Cypriot community does not constitute recognition of the self-declared
state of the "TRNC".
You mention the ECJ decision of July 1994. This was a legal
judgement on the validity of documents issued by the authorities
of the unrecognised "TRNC" and mainly affected preferential
access to the EU by Turkish Cypriot exports. It was in no sense
a decision for an embargo, and it is important that we should
not be seen as placing obstacles in the path of legitimate trade
between the UK and northern Cyprus.
On the question of sanctions, the UN Secretary General is
seeking a lasting settlement in Cyprus, such a settlement, involving
the agreement and reconciliation of the two communities, is unlikely
to result from the kind of economic sanctions that you mention.
As regards arms sales we have a publicly stated policy not to
sell weapons to the armed forces of either community in Cyprus.
You also ask about Travel to Cyprus. We place no restrictions
on travel to northern Cyprus. But due to our non-recognition of
the "TRNC" there are no direct flights between the UK
and northern Cyprus. Once in the Republic, the authorities at
check points near Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia may permit visitors
to travel to the north. At present permits may be issued without
delay at the check point. A visitor planning to stay longer than
a day trip must also seek permission from the Divisional Police
Headquarters in Strovolos.
Finally you ask about the British position on Greek Cypriot
refugees. We sympathise with members of both Cypriot communities
who have lost their homes and members of their families over the
last thirty years. We believe that the only realistic way to put
an end to these problems is through a settlement of the intercommunal
dispute, reached by direct negotiations between the two sides.
The question of property rights and compensation is fundamental
to the UN-led negotiations and would be a key element to any negotiated
settlement. The UN "set of Ideas"
for a settlement put forward by the Secretary-General in 1992
proposes that displaced persons should be able to opt either for
compensation or return to their property once a settlement is
Southern European Department
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
London SW1A 2AH
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