Reply to my letter, from the British Governments Representative.

3 July 1996

Dear Mr Argyrou,

Thank you for your letter to the Foreign Secretary about Cyprus. I am replying as Desk Officer responsible for our relations with Cyprus.

You ask whether Britons are allowed to trade freely with northern Cyprus. As you are aware, Britain does not recognise the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" and was instrumental in securing UN Security Council Resolution 541 which considered its purported declaration of independence to be legally invalid. Nevertheless we recognise the interests and aspirations of the Turkish Cypriot community. We therefore continue to trade with them. Continued trade with members of the Turkish Cypriot community does not constitute recognition of the self-declared state of the "TRNC".

You mention the ECJ decision of July 1994. This was a legal judgement on the validity of documents issued by the authorities of the unrecognised "TRNC" and mainly affected preferential access to the EU by Turkish Cypriot exports. It was in no sense a decision for an embargo, and it is important that we should not be seen as placing obstacles in the path of legitimate trade between the UK and northern Cyprus.

On the question of sanctions, the UN Secretary General is seeking a lasting settlement in Cyprus, such a settlement, involving the agreement and reconciliation of the two communities, is unlikely to result from the kind of economic sanctions that you mention. As regards arms sales we have a publicly stated policy not to sell weapons to the armed forces of either community in Cyprus.

You also ask about Travel to Cyprus. We place no restrictions on travel to northern Cyprus. But due to our non-recognition of the "TRNC" there are no direct flights between the UK and northern Cyprus. Once in the Republic, the authorities at check points near Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia may permit visitors to travel to the north. At present permits may be issued without delay at the check point. A visitor planning to stay longer than a day trip must also seek permission from the Divisional Police Headquarters in Strovolos.

Finally you ask about the British position on Greek Cypriot refugees. We sympathise with members of both Cypriot communities who have lost their homes and members of their families over the last thirty years. We believe that the only realistic way to put an end to these problems is through a settlement of the intercommunal dispute, reached by direct negotiations between the two sides. The question of property rights and compensation is fundamental to the UN-led negotiations and would be a key element to any negotiated settlement. The UN "set of Ideas" for a settlement put forward by the Secretary-General in 1992 proposes that displaced persons should be able to opt either for compensation or return to their property once a settlement is reached.

Yours Sincerely,

Bridget Brind

Bridget Brind

Southern European Department

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

London SW1A 2AH

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