London, April 28, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Thanasis Gavos
Turkey is still obliged to let Cypriot ships enter its ports as part of the country’s EU accession process, regardless of the deal with the EU to restrict migration flows into Europe, the UK Minister for Europe David Lidington has stated in a letter to Sir Roger Gale, head of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus.
Mr Lidington notes that the EU member states agreed unanimously with Turkey on a plan to end irregular migration. “As part of its EU accession process,” adds the Minister, “Turkey remains obligated under the Ankara Protocol to open its ports to Cypriot vessels – something it has yet to do.”
The letter reiterates that the UK government continues to urge Turkey to meet all its responsibilities for accession including on the issue of the Ankara Protocol, and that it “will continue to do so.”
Mr Lidington notes: “Ultimately, the best way to resolve the issue of the Ankara Protocol is to secure a reunited Cyprus through a just and lasting settlement.”
He repeats that the UK continues to support the UN-led process, and the efforts of the two communities, towards that end. “As the Foreign Secretary said during his visit to Cyprus in November 2015, the UK will continue to do whatever we can to help,” adds David Lidington.
He also states that British ministers and officials raise Cyprus with their Turkish counterparts, as the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary did in recent meetings with their respective counterparts.
Lidington’s letter was a response to a previous communication by Sir Roger Gale, who had highlighted concerns raised by former President of the Cyprus Union of Ship-owners George Mouskas about restrictions on the use of Turkish ports by Republic of Cyprus-flagged ships and other ships associated with the Republic of Cyprus.
The Minister for Europe says in his letter that he was aware of the concerns of Mouskas as well as those raised by Doros Partasides, a well-known photographer in the UK Cypriot community, who had written to Prime Minister Cameron in January.