She noted that the European Commission (EC) confirmed in an 2018 statement that there are no commercial sanctions against TRNC ports, adding that the Greek Cypriot Administration imposing monetary fines or arrest measures on ships and captains calling at TRNC ports was in violation of international law. “The European Commission has openly stated that there are no commercial embargo decisions regarding TRNC ports”, Elmacıoğlu said.
Stating that the illegal embargo imposed on TRNC by Greek Cyprus and the ongoing diplomatic pressure on the north of the island is usually grounded on a 1983 United Nations Security Council resolution which calls on states “not to recognize any Cypriot State other than the Republic of Cyprus.” Elmacıoğlu said that while this resolution could be seen as a call for diplomatic sanctions, turning into a commercial embargo had no legal basis.
‘TRNC is not on list of nations subject to EU sanctions”
Elmacıoğlu said “In many Security Country resolutions regarding sanctions, legal findings are included in addition to concrete findings. For example in resolutions regarding Yugoslavia, instances of ethnic cleansing, genocide, atrocities or in resolutions about sanctions on Afghanistan, human rights violations on the basis of discrmination against woman have been cited. However, the UN resolution calling on states “not to recognize the TRNC” offers no such citations, and the TRNC is not included in a list of embargoed countries”
She further added: “In spite of the promises made by the international community following the 2004 referendum [where Greek Cypriots rejected a UN plan to reunite the divided island] and in spite of the fact that there are no sanctions decisions, the TRNC is being treated as if there are sanctions in place and its economy is being seriously affected by this situation. A perception that a direct commercial embargo should be imposed on TRNC through the Greek Cypriot Administraiton’s continuous actions to prevent Turkish Cypriot shipping activity and to isolate the Turkish Cypriot community and the Security Council’s 1983 resolution.”
‘Greek Cypriot sanctions decision unlawful’
Saying that a recent decision by the Council of Ministers of the Greek Cypriot Administration which declared TRNC’s Famagusta, Kyrenia and Karavostasi ports to be “closed and prohibited ports” is unlawful. “The Greek Cypriot Administration has created the appearance that this decision is part of international law, claiming that this is also a decision by the UN and the EU, and it has communicated this to all States and flag registries of ships calling at TRNC ports, to class institutions, to insurance and audit companies, which all play a huge role in the sector. The decision of the Council of Ministers of the Greek Cypriot Administration in 1974 is a ‘domestic law’ practice, and it is essential that national legislation does not contradict International Law, and that it adheres to international legal texts and to European Union legislation”
Captains face threats of fines, imprisonment
Elmacıoğlu noted that, as a result of its political lobbying activities, claims of the Greek Cypriot Administration that commerce with TRNC should be prevented have found their way into circulars issued by several UN and EU member states.
Elmacioglu said,”It is said in this circular that if ships call at TRNC ports, they will have acted ‘in vİolation of international law and might face punishments; that ships flying the TRNC flag can not be served; that captains of ships calling at TRNC ports might face fines detention if they sail to Greek Cypriot ports for having traveled from a restricted port.”
EC: TRNC not on sanctions list
Saying that they have taken up the issue of circulars with the European Commission in October 2018, Elmacığolu said that in its official response dated 11 December 2018, the EC clearly stated that the decision of the Council of Ministers of the Greek Cypriot Administration is a domestic law and that the EC doesn’t classify TRNC ports as restricted or banned ports. Correspondence with various EU Member States have produced similar responses. As a result of these initiatives taken, it has been stated clearly by the EC that there are no commercial sanctions in place against the TRNC.”