Dáil Éireann - Volume 584 - 27 April, 2004
Adjournment Debate. - EU Enlargement.
Mr. S. Power Mr. S. Power
Mr. S. Power: On Saturday next, 1 May, ten new countries will become full members of the European Union. It is a day that promises to be a wonderful occasion. Unfortunately the wishes of almost 450 million people will not be granted as only nine and a half countries will be joining. Some 313,704 people, or 75% of the voters in the southern part of Cyprus, balloted last weekend to exclude northern Cyprus from becoming a full member of the European Union. The United Nations Secretary General and his team have worked tirelessly over a long period of time in search of a solution to the Cyprus problem. Their efforts produced the Annan plan, which the Greek and Turkish Cypriots voted on last Saturday.
The plan presented a wonderful opportunity to unite the island and allow both communities entry to the European Union. I have had the pleasure on a number of occasions of visiting northern Cyprus. While it was obvious to me that their public relations was not as it should be, there is no need for any spin on last weekend’s result. Greek Cypriots have deprived Turkish Cypriots of becoming members of the European Union. As a rule, countries seeking membership and who hold a referendum, give their people the opportunity to express their view. They are asked a simple question: “Would you like to become a member of the European Union or would you prefer not to?” Last weekend’s referenda were so different. This time Greek Cypriots were asked to vote and regardless of the outcome they were guaranteed membership of the European Union. Not alone were they deciding on their own future, but also that of Turkish Cypriots. While Turkish Cypriots voted in large numbers to accept the Annan plan and become members of the European Union, Greek Cypriots voted three to one to keep them out. This was a despicable result and goes totally against the spirit of the European Union.
 At yesterday’s meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, disapproval of the Greek Cypriot action was clearly expressed. An agreement was made to provide aid to northern Cyprus, despite the fact that the Annan plan to reunite the island had failed. Reports from yesterday’s meeting would indicate that €259 million of European moneys will be made available immediately. While this is welcome and gives some indication of the frustration many EU member states feel about last weekend’s poll, it is simply not enough and much more needs to be done.
While it was reassuring to hear Commissioner Patten speak about the introduction of measures to prevent the economic isolation of the Turkish community, urgent action is now required. Last Saturday’s result means that next weekend the European Union will admit as a new member a party which has voted against unification of the island. At the same time we will be leaving the Turkish Cypriots out in the cold, despite their vote and efforts to find a solution to the island’s problem.
The embargo and restrictions which have prevented normal economic activity must be lifted. Turkish Cypriots expressed their view last weekend. They have clearly demonstrated a desire to participate as full members of the European family. As a result of the selfishness of more than 300,000 people, that wish has been prevented from becoming reality. We cannot continue to punish the people of northern Cyprus. The international community must respond now. The airports and ports must be opened up. We must allow the residents of northern Cyprus to export their produce to the rest of Europe. They must be allowed to import goods, as happens in all other democratic countries. Northern Cyprus has been forced to survive in an economic straitjacket. Those restrictions must now be removed. Turkish Cypriots must be given the same opportunities afforded their neighbours. All they now seek from the European Union is justice. I hope we will not be found wanting in that regard.
While I want to welcome the new members into the European family on 1 May, I hope last weekend’s result and the tragedy it brought about may be rectified at the earliest opportunity.
Mr. Callely Mr. Callely
Mr. Callely: I am taking this Adjournment debate on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Cowen, who is abroad on EU Presidency business.
I am grateful to Deputy Seán Power for raising the important issue of the outcome of the referenda in Cyprus. As the House will be aware, the people of Cyprus voted in separate simultaneous referenda on 24 April on the settlement plan which was presented to the parties following negotiations, by the Secretary  General of the United Nations. In the event, 75.8% of the electorate in the Greek Cypriot community voted against the plan, while 65% of Turkish Cypriots voted in favour.
The referenda were the culmination of a long and detailed negotiating process led by the United Nations. I would like to express the deep appreciation of the Government for the patient and determined efforts of Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and his team in the search for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. The EU supported the Secretary General fully and the Irish Presidency remained in touch with him throughout the difficult negotiations in recent months. The Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs also maintained contact with the parties and with the Governments of Greece and Turkey, which each made a positive contribution to the process. In the end, however, the decision on the settlement properly rested with the people of Cyprus exercising their democratic rights.
Deputies will be aware that the clear preference of the European Union was for the accession to the EU of a united Cyprus. By agreement with the parties, and with the endorsement of the UN Security Council, this outcome could only be achieved through the approval of the settlement plan by both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. The Government regrets that in line with the outcome of the referenda, the accession of a united Cyprus will not now be possible on 1 May.
Cyprus will join the EU with the nine other new member states, but the application of the acquis communautaire will be suspended for the northern part of the island. This was the decision taken by the Copenhagen European Council in December 2002 in the event that a comprehensive settlement could not be reached by the date of formal accession.
I would like to assure the House that the European Union remains determined to ensure that the people of Cyprus will achieve their shared destiny as citizens of a united Cyprus in the European Union. We sincerely hope this day will not be long delayed.
The Turkish Cypriot community has expressed its clear desire for a future within the EU. There is a strong view across Europe that it should not now suffer as a result of the absence of the settlement it supported. The General Affairs and External Relations Council, which met in Luxembourg yesterday under the chairmanship of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Cowen, expressed the determination of the EU to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging its economic development. We look forward to receiving comprehensive proposals from the Commission  which focus on the economic integration of the island and on improving contact between the two communities and with the EU. The Council also decided yesterday that the €259 million which had been set aside for the northern part of Cyprus in the event of a settlement should now be used for this purpose.
There is a strong sympathy in this House and throughout the country for the people of Cyprus, of both communities. Ireland is proud to have played its part, in the interests of both communities, in the UN force in Cyprus, which was established in 1964 and is one of the longest running UN peacekeeping operations. Without drawing parallels between different political situations, we understand the challenge of working to overcome a history of bitter intercommunal division. We also understand the benefits and the potential for positive change offered by EU membership.
The Government fully respects the outcome of the referenda last weekend. We regret that the celebrations in Ireland this weekend to mark the historic enlargement of the European Union will not also involve the celebration of a united Cyprus in the Union. However, it should be clear, not least from the conclusions agreed by Ministers in Luxembourg yesterday, that the European Union is strongly committed to providing assurance to the Turkish Cypriot community that its future will be in a united Cyprus within the European Union.
Dáil Éireann 584 Adjournment Debate. EU Enlargement.