Cyprus cries foul as Turkey bars ro-ço By Nigel Lowry and Justin Stares ---------------------------------------------------
CYPRUS has complained to the European Union after a Cypriot flagged ro-ro container vessel was repeatedly refused permission this week to berth in the Turkish port of Mersin. After two days at anchorage two miles from the port, the 8,030 dwt Able F left Turkish waters on Wednesday evening unable to deliver its cargo. It was escorted by Turkish coastguard vessels as far as the Aegean. Yesterday the Interorient Navigation-managed feeder was returning to the Italian hub of Gioia Tauro. Cypriot government sources told Lloyd’s List that the vessel was carrying 16 containers for Turkish shippers, stuffed with EU and US source products. It is the seventh reported incident of a Cyprus-linked vessel being turned away by Turkey since Cyprus became a full EU member in May 2004. But it was the first since Turkey began its own accession negotiations last October, a fact that Cypriots are arguing will lend the event greater significance. The latest example of the Turkish ban on Cypriot maritinie interests could not have been timed worse — as the Able F was being refused entry into Mersin, EU officials met Turkish counterparts in Ankara to discuss the Muslim nation’s progress towards membership. “It’s an obligation for Turkey to allow Cypriot ships into Turkish ports under its free trade agreement with the EU and these obligations must be fulfilled,” said EU enlargement spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy yesterday. Although it is understood that several key Brussels departments have been briefed, a full report on the incident is being prepared in Nicosia. It is possible that Cyprus will ask for counter-measures to be applied to Turkey.