Journal Article

The Cyprus Question before the European Court of Justice

Stefan Talmon

in European Journal of International Law

Published on behalf of The EJIL

Volume 12, issue 4, pages 727-750
Published in print September 2001 | ISSN: 0938-5428
Published online September 2001 | e-ISSN: 1464-3596 | DOI:
The Cyprus Question before the European Court of Justice

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Cyprus, linked with the EU by an association agreement, has been de facto divided since 1974. In 1983, the northern part declared independence as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), a state recognized only by Turkey. The English courts, faced with the questions of whether certificates required under EC law for the importation of goods originating in Cyprus under the association agreement could be issued by the TRNC authorities and, if not, whether these certificates could be issued in Turkey by Turkish officials instead, referred these questions to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling. The ECJ ruled that EU members must not accept certificates issued by those authorities because cooperation required under the certificate system was excluded with the TRNC as it was not recognized either by the EU or its members. However, indirect imports from Cyprus via third non‐member states were permissible under certain conditions, leaving open, however, the question of whether these conditions could be satisfied in Turkey, a question (still) to be decided by the English courts. By banning the direct importation of Turkish Cypriot products or taxing them out of the European market on the basis of the non‐recognition of the TRNC, the ECJ misjudged the scope and consequences of the principle of non‐recognition in international law and, in fact, applied economic sanctions, a measure that should be reserved for the political bodies responsible for the conduct of the Community's foreign relations.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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