Issues involving UK citizens in North Cyprus still need to be resolved before Britain leaves the EU in March.
British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie said:
“We know that Brexit is an issue which is of concern and I have met representatives of the British community, the British Residents Society and the Royal British Legion Kyrenia Branch. They have shared some of their concerns and we are trying to understand what the potential implications will be for Britons in the North in terms of coming to or through the South. Concerns are focused on whether they will be able to cross the Green Line as they do at present. What will happen when they come and go through Larnaca or Paphos airport?
“At the moment, it is not completely clear what the situation will be because, as you know, there are not straightforward legal or political issues where you just go and find a rule book that says ‘this is how it works’. What we need to do is to get the basic Brexit deal nailed down, then we will be able to engage with the authorities in the South on some of these issues”, he added.
Mr Lillie said movement of people across the border was covered by the Green Line Regulation and added: “It’s a lot more flexible for EU nationals. So the problem is what happens when British citizens aren’t EU nationals. Will they be able to cross as freely as they can now? To some extent, there are different ways of interpreting the regulation. When we leave the EU under a deal we have, we will still be following most EU rules [up to 2020]. We have the implementation period to resolve these issues.”
Asked to respond to claims that he had forgotten UK nationals living in the north, Mr Lillie said:
“I have not forgotten them. Not too long ago, I met with representatives of the BRS and RBL Kyrenia Branch. My team meet them regularly, which will continue. Information will continue to be provided via our digital channels and by talking to the media. It is a reality, however, that there are about six times as many Britons in the South as there are in the North. They are living in the EU and they are the ones who will feel the most immediate and clearest impact of Brexit”.
He added: “The whole of Cyprus is in the EU, but the EU acquis is suspended in the North. So EU regulations don’t apply in the North. Therefore, Britons living in the North of Cyprus are not living in the EU. The citizens’ rights part of the withdrawal agreement applies to Britons living in the EU. But it doesn’t apply to Britons living outside the EU.”