Thursday, 6 October 2005
The United Nations has the lead role in the search for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. The EU enlargement process provided the impetus for recent efforts to find a settlement, which were made by the UN Secretary General in the first half of 2004, during Ireland's EU Presidency. At that time, Ireland maintained close contact with the relevant various parties to encourage their commitment to the negotiating process and the achievement of an agreed outcome.
The accession to the EU of a united Cyprus was not possible on 1 May 2004, as a consequence of the results of the referendums in Cyprus on 24 April 2004. The Republic of Cyprus has been a member state of the EU since 1 May 2004. The application of EU's laws and regulations to the northern part of the island has been suspended in the absence of a comprehensive settlement.
In May 2004, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, submitted a comprehensive report to the UN Security Council on his mission of good offices. He noted that the unsuccessful outcome of the referendum represented another missed opportunity to resolve the Cyprus problem. He concluded that there was no apparent basis for resuming the good offices effort while the stalemate continued.
The process has remained under consideration in the Security Council. Following discussions with the Secretary General in May of thisyear, the President of Cyprus, Mr. TassosPapadopoulos, sent an envoy to New York for preliminary and informal talks with senior officials in the UN secretariat. As a result of the discussions, the Secretary General asked the under-secretary general for political affairs, Mr. Kieran Prendergast, to travel to Cyprus, Athens and Ankara to listen to the views of all parties on the future of the mission of good offices on Cyprus. Mr. Prendergast reported to the Security Council in June that despite certain positive elements, the substantive gap between the stated positions of the parties appeared to be too wide. The Secretary General and the UN officials continue to monitor the situation closely. The Government has strongly supported the UN Secretary General, Mr. Annan, in his mission of good offices.
I would like to discuss the EU enlargement process. As part of its preparations for the opening of accession negotiations and in accordance with the conclusions of the European Council meeting of December 2004, Turkey signed the Ankara agreement protocol on 29 July last to take account of the accession of the new member states, including the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey also issued a declaration stating that its signature, ratification and implementation of the protocol did not amount to the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus referred to in the protocol. In response, the EU agreed and issued a counter-declaration on 21 September last recalling the status of the Republic of Cyprus as a member state of the EU. The counter-declaration also noted that the recognition of all member states is a necessary part of the accession process. It underlined the importance the EU attaches to the normalisation of relations between Turkey and all member states as soon as possible.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House.
In the context of the counter-declaration, the EU member states agreed on the importance of supporting the efforts of the UN Secretary General. They agreed that a just and lasting settlement would contribute to peace, stability and harmonious relations in the region. The EU remains ready to accommodate a settlement of the Cyprus problem based on the Secretary General's proposals and in line with the principles on which the Union is founded. The objective we all share is an agreed comprehensive settlement that will allow the people of Cyprus to live together as citizens of a united Cyprus in the European Union.
Does the Minister agree that the accession talks involving Turkey are based on sand if agreement is not reached on the recognition of Cyprus? Was pressure brought to bear by Austria to link the opening of accession talks with Turkey with the opening of accession talks with Croatia? Was the UN war crimes prosecutor, Ms Del Ponte, asked for evidence of Croatia's level of co-operation with the war crimes tribunal? Did she give any evidence to support her assertion that Croatia is now complying with the tribunal?
A task force, involving representatives of a number of EU member states, met Ms Del Ponte before the start of the discussions on Croatia's accession to the EU. The EU Foreign Ministers made their decision on the basis of a report that was issued to the General Affairs and External Relations Council by Ms Del Ponte.
To be fair, the issue of Croatia's accession was not linked at any stage with the issue of Turkey's accession. They were dealt with as two separate issues during the discussions. Ireland's position on the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, which was maintained throughout the EU discussions, is absolutely clear. We do not feel that the opening of negotiations on EU membership with Turkey should be conditional on that country's recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. However, we continue to acknowledge the need to move towards the normalisation of relations between Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus as the accession talks develop.
We anticipate that the accession talks will continue for a considerable length of time. The conclusions which were adopted indicate that Turkish accession cannot be countenanced until the acceptance of the next phase of financial perspectives, which will kick into place in 2014. It is recognised and understood that Turkey cannot accede to the EU until it recognises fully all states, including the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey's accession to the EU presupposes, in effect, Turkey's recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.