ATCA's Direct Trade letter to EC President

European Commission President
Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso

Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200
B-1049
Brussels
Belgium

Your Excellency,

DIRECT TRADE REGULATION WITH THE TURKISH REPUBLIC OF NORTHERN CYPRUS

We are writing to you in support of the European Parliament’s current proposal to allow European Union (EU) member States the opportunity to trade directly with the Turkish Cypriot people in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). This will go a very long way to alleviate the hardship and inequalities endured by the Turkish Cypriot people and will undoubtedly help find a comprehensive and long-lasting solution.

We advocate and promote a mutually acceptable solution to the current Cyprus settlement talks. However, we do not agree with the negative stance adopted by the Greek Cypriot foreign minister, Mr. Marcos Kyprianou, whilst touring EU officials in Brussels recently. This attitude and strategy is damaging and unhelpful to all counterparts in the long run – this does not comply with the positive efforts of Turkey and the TRNC.

It has now largely been conceived and accepted that the EU made a mistake after the failure of the United Nations (UN) sponsored “Annan Plan” of April 2004. The EU rewarded the Greek Cypriots with full EU member status in return for their rejection of the UN Plan. The ironic tragedy was that the Turkish Cypriots, who overwhelmingly accepted the UN Annan Plan, were further punished with the continuation of the unjust economic, political, cultural, sporting and other isolations. To date, this has actually had a negative impact on the current negotiations process and has unfortunately lost the EU the credibility and trust it once held by the Turkish Cypriot people. However, the EU now has the ideal opportunity to correct that unfortunate lapse of judgement and honour its promises and commitment to the Turkish Cypriot people – unconditionally. ATCA is confident that the commencement of Direct Trade with the TRNC will further motivate the two Cypriot leaders in their future settlement talks. The opening of the checkpoints in 2003 by the Turkish Cypriots substantially improved relations between the two communities and has been a noticeable confidence building factor. The removal of the isolations on the Turkish Cypriot people through the proposed Direct Trade Regulation in the fields of sport, art, culture, music and communication, as well as trade, will no doubt achieve substantially more. Though not directly linked to the Direct Trade Regulation, it will also be a major positive step in terms of continuing Turkey’s EU accession negotiations and the opening of her ports to the Greek Cypriots, provided that all restrictions on Turkish Cypriot ports AND airports are lifted. We believe that this is an achievable goal and an important opportunity that the EU cannot ignore.

We welcome the recent decision by the ECHR in recognising of the Immovable Property Commission in the TRNC as a means of resolving property disputes. Similarly, if the EU implements the Direct Trade Regulation, this will ease the financial burden on the Turkish Cypriot people and improve the chances of sustainable success in any future settlement of the Cyprus problem. The EU has a duty and responsibility to be fair and transparent. The Greek Cypriots must also apply the same maxims and cannot assume they are the only legitimate people on the island. The Turkish Cypriots have equal political and sovereign status on the island of Cyprus. It is now time for the EU and the UN to recognise those rights on the same basis. The Direct Trade Regulation will go a long way to restoring a generation of inequality & discrimination and allow the Turkish Cypriot side to negotiate without a huge disadvantage.

We welcome the proposal and look forward to a positive outcome.

Yours sincerely

Mr. Cetin Ramadan
ATCA-UK

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