Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade
Business of Joint Committee
Apologies have been received from the Chairman of the joint committee, Deputy Pat Breen, and also from Deputy Seán Crowe. The draft minutes of the meeting of 26 February have been circulated. Are the minutes agreed? Agreed. Arising from the minutes, I wish to point out that a meeting of the joint committee with the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland has been arranged for tomorrow at 3.30 p.m. I would ask that everybody attend if possible. A meeting of the joint committee with the Russian ambassador to Ireland has been arranged for next Wednesday, 12 March 2014, at 2.30 p.m. Again, it is important that everybody try to attend. Obviously, this is an important subject. Following the recommencement of negotiations on the future of Cyprus, the Turkish ambassador to Ireland will come before the committee on 26 March next. All three meetings are very important. I ask people to make a special effort to be in attendance. The secretariat has been informed that the Tánaiste, who has had a particularly busy schedule in the past couple of days, is running a bit late. He is at a meeting at present. As soon as that is over, he will be on his way. I propose to go into private session now to deal with those issues that are normally dealt with in private session.
My understanding was that we wanted to talk to the Cypriots about the Cypriot agreement. We have an ambassador from the Greek section of Cyprus. We are bringing in the main Turkish ambassador, rather than a representative of the Turkish part of Cyprus.
Turkey is deemed to have had an influence on negotiations on the Cyprus issue for the past number of years. As discussions on that subject are recommencing at present, we intend to bring in all the participating parties. Obviously, they will not all come in at the same time.
I appreciate that, but it seems strange to me. I would like to know the arrangements with the Cypriot ambassador to Ireland. When the question of who should come first was raised, people said they did not really mind. The question of where the Cypriot ambassador to Ireland fits into our plans seems to be fairly imprecise. Quite frankly, I would have thought it better for the Cypriot ambassador to Ireland, as the ambassador of a European state, to be the first person to come in and outline the Cypriot position. That is neither here nor there. The Turkish ambassador to Ireland will not be speaking on behalf of a member of the European Union.
I would like to make a related point. I am sure both Turkey and Cyprus will be able to represent their own points of view very well. I am just wondering whether it will be possible to get an objective briefing from our own Department before we meet either ambassador.
The preference is that a short summary should be issued to members before the meeting to provide an update on the situation, the progress to date, the participating parties and the extent to which they have participated or failed to participate in the past.
That can and should be done. We should also take account of Deputy Byrne's suggestion that the Cypriot ambassador to Ireland should be invited in at an earlier stage. That is a matter for the Department and the committee secretariat to work out. Perhaps the clerk can let the members know to what extent that suggestion can be accommodated, if it is advisable to do so. Is that agreed? Agreed.