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Cyprus To Veto Turkey's Admission To Paris MOU

by Lorys Charalambous, for, Cyprus

03 May 2007

Cyprus Shipping Department senior surveyor Captain Andreas Constantinou told a conference in Greece last week that Cyprus will veto Turkey's application to join the Paris Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control at its meeting this month.

Decisions to admit a new country to the MOU must be unanimous among the participants in the MoU. “It makes no sense for Cyprus to consider giving its consent for the accession of another country… while that country unilaterally prohibits Cypriot ships from calling at its ports,” he said.

For some years, Turkey has been refusing to admit Cyprus-flagged ships and planes, despite having signed a customs union protocol with the EU, of which Cyprus is of course a member. Turkey links the issue to the question of direct trade for the northern part of the divided island.

Shipping newspaper Lloyds List says that Turkey is criticised for the high rate of detentions of ships that call at its ports: "Long-delayed figures for 2005 show that Turkey detained one out of every three ships it inspected during the period, a far higher incidence than any other member country.” EU ships are detained disproportionately frequently, says the paper.

Captain Constantinou alleges that Turkey is attempting to pressure EU countries into reducing the rate of detention of Turkish ships in European ports.

Cyprus itself was admitted to the Paris MOU as a permanent member only in April, 2006, when the Executive Committee decided last week to admit Cyprus to its White List, recognizing the significant improvement Cyprus had achieved concerning security standards of the Cyprus Registry and the drastic reduction of detentions of Cyprus ships.

The Paris MOU, which originated in 1982, consists of 22 participating maritime Administrations and covers the waters of the European coastal States and the North Atlantic basin from North America to Europe. It aims at eliminating the operation of sub-standard ships through a harmonized system of port State control.

Annually over 18,000 inspections take place on board foreign ships in the Paris MOU ports, ensuring that these ships meet international safety, security and environmental standards, and that crew members have adequate living and working conditions.

The MOU, as it is known, compiles three lists, White, Black and Grey. Over the last few years Cyprus has moved rapidly up through the ranks of the Grey List. The 31 White List members, who include the UK, Sweden, the US and Germany, record the lowest rates of detention of inspected ships, and incur fewer inspections in MOU ports.

Port State control is carried out by properly qualified Port State Control Officers (PSCO’s), acting under the responsibility of the maritime authority. The Port State Control Committee is the executive body of the Paris MOU. A Port State control visit on board will normally start with verification of certificates and documents. Documentation of crew members has to comply with international and flag State standards. When serious deficiencies are found, a ship is detained. The captain is instructed to rectify the deficiencies before departure.

Turkey itself belongs to the equivalent Black Sea Port State Control Committee, the governing body of the Memorandum of
Understanding on Port State control in the Black Sea region (Black Sea MOU), whose other members include Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey, and Ukraine.

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