Sunday, November 04, 2012

Ros in the Lords: Oral Question - Cyprus

Here's another of Ros's interventions that I hadn't covered, from 15 June 2011...

Since being elevated to the Lords, Meral Ece has been persistent in pursuing the Government's strategy with regard to Cyprus, and it's a subject that Ros has taken up too. So, when Meral raised the question of progress towards a political solution, Ros wanted to suggest a way forward...

Baroness Scott of Needham Market (Liberal Democrat)

My Lords, does the Minister agree that the biggest practical problem facing Cypriots wanting to reunify is the difference in GDP between the two halves of the island, and that the best way of improving things on the Turkish Cypriot side would be for the European Union to implement the direct trade regulation? Can the noble Lord assure us that the Government will really push for this particular measure, which is practical and offers part of a solution?

Lord Howell of Guildford (Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Conservative)

I have two points in answer to my noble friend. First, the EU is putting a considerable volume of funds into northern Cyprus, precisely with the thought that when the happier days come, the disparity in incomes will be somewhat overcome. I have a figure here of €259 million, I think, for the current year, a very considerable sum indeed. That may be over two years, actually. So on that side things are being done. As to the problem of trade between Turkey and the rest of the EU and the bar on the use of Turkish ports by EU or Greek Cypriot shipping in response to the fact that the EU appears to have pursued a policy of isolation of northern Cyprus, that is a very difficult issue. There is a stalemate at the moment, with each side waiting for the other to move. However, I agree with my noble friend that if we can get movement on that front on both sides, trade and prosperity will open up and the problems of northern Cyprus will be further alleviated.

Not a great answer from Lord Howell, although in fairness to him, he does understand his brief. And given that much of what has come to pass can be placed at the door of the European Union, he is limited in terms of what can be done...

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