Republic of Cyprus

Turkish Measures Against Cyprus' Shipping


TURKISH ILLEGAL RESTRICTIVE MEASURES AGAINST CYPRUS AND EUROPEAN UNION SHIPPING



I. Background information

The Turkish restrictive measures were originally introduced in April 1987 and concerned exclusively the prohibition of Cyprus flagged vessels to call at Turkish ports. In May 1997 Turkey issued new instructions to its ports and harbours to clarify uncertainties arising from the imposition of the restrictions, thus extending them against vessels under a foreign flag (of any nationality) sailing to Turkish ports directly from any Cypriot port under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus (Limassol, Larnaca), or against vessels of any nationality related to the Republic of Cyprus in terms of ownership or ship management. The immediate effect of the May 1997 instructions was to restrict the use of Cypriot ports for transshipment operations of shipping lines in the Mediterranean.

The Republic of Cyprus fully complies with its international and Community obligations vis-à-vis Turkish flagged vessels, as these vessels can freely call at any port under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.


II. The EU dimension of the Turkish Embargo on Cyprus shipping

Since Cyprus’ accession to the EU, the issue has gained a new dimension, as the Turkish measures also affect the interests of the enlarged Union. The measures imposed by a country which is linked to the EU by an Association Agreement and a Customs Union and which seeks membership to the EU, seriously hinder private and public interests of the European Union, notably those of the EU ship owners and ship managers.

The legal acts governing the EC-Turkey Association and Customs Union (1963 Ankara Agreement, its 1970 Additional Protocol and Decision No 1/95 of the EC-Turkey Association Council implementing the final phase of the Customs Union) contain substantial provisions which impose on Turkey the legal obligation to lift its embargo against Cyprus shipping.

Furthermore, the Turkish restrictions violate all commercial principles in shipping which are laid down in Council Regulation EEC No. 4055/86 (Freedom to provide services), such as the freedom of navigation, freedom of transit, freedom of access to ports and harbours, as well as equality of treatment. The whole issue relates also to EEC- Council Regulation (EEC) No. 4058/86 of 22 December 1986 concerning coordinated action to safeguard free access to cargoes in ocean trades.

Clear references to Turkey’s legal obligation to lift its embargo against Cyprus and Community shipping are included in the:

a) Declaration by the European Community and its Member States adopted on 21 September 2005 , following the declaration made by Turkey upon signature, on 29 July 2005, of the Ankara Agreement Protocol;

b) Negotiating Framework for Turkey adopted by the EU on 3 October 2005.

c) The General Affairs and External Relations Council’s (GAERC) Conclusions of December 11, 2006 (endorsed in the 14-15 December 2006 Conclusions of the European Council). The Council agreed that the Member States within the Intergovernmental Conference will not decide on opening chapters covering policy areas relevant to Turkey’s restrictions as regards the Republic of Cyprus until the Commission verifies that Turkey has fulfilled its commitments related to the Additional Protocol. It also stated that it “recalls the declaration of the European Community and its Member States of 21 September 2005 and notes that Turkey has not fulfilled its obligation of full non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement”.

In parallel, the Council agreed that the Member States within the Intergovernmental Conference will not decide on provisionally closing any chapter until the Commission verifies the Turkey has fulfilled its commitments related to the Additional Protocol.

Since Cyprus’ accession to the EU, a number of incidents of application of Turkish restrictive measures against Cyprus shipping have been reported to the Authorities of the Republic of Cyprus. All of the incidents involve EU actors and most of them have strong Community interests (i.e. EU beneficial owners, ship-managers and charterers of the affected vessels).

These incidents have been extensively reported to the EU institutions by the Republic of Cyprus and the whole issue of Turkey’s restrictions to Cyprus and consequently to EU shipping appears every year in the European Commission’s Report on Turkey’s Progress towards accession.

The 2013 Progress Report on Turkey, presented by the European Commission, states that As long as restrictions remain in place on vessels and aircraft registered in Cyprus or whose last port of call was in Cyprus, Turkey will not be in a position to fully implement the Acquis relating to this chapter (Chapter 14 on Transport Policy).

ΙΙΙ. Conclusion

With the Turkish embargo still in force, a shipowner/ shipmanager may at any time find his interests seriously prejudiced in case there is any connection with Cyprus. Clearly, such provisions constitute an obstacle to the trade between EU ports and Turkey, affecting the owner, the charterer and all the parties involved in the carriage of goods by sea and all operations incidental to the proper operation of the ship.


The Turkish embargo distorts the application of the principle of fair and free competition in shipping trade with the EU, adversely affects the merchant fleets of EU Member States, and causes substantial increases in transportation costs. The Turkish measures restrict or threaten to restrict free access of EU shipping companies or ships to cargoes in ocean trades. Furthermore, the Turkish embargo undermines the economic development and cooperation of the region, within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.


The full implementation of EU – Turkey Customs Union Agreement and its extension to the Republic of Cyprus will lead to the lifting of the Turkish restrictive measures against Cyprus and Community shipping with very positive economic effects for the Cyprus, Community and regional shipping (e.g. further development of the Cyprus Ship Register and ship management sector; increase of the Cyprus port traffic; starting of sea cruises from Cyprus to Turkey; development of Short Sea Shipping in the region, etc.) .



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