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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 24 August the presidency issued a statement on behalf of the European Union expressing concern at the overturning of convictions by the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court in Jakarta.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 24 April Turkish Cypriots expressed their clear desire for a future within the European Union. On 26 April the EU recognised that desire and agreed to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. This in itself was a significant development. The United Nations Secretary General gave further impetus to that goal in his report on his mission of good offices on 28 May.
The European Commission has produced two draft regulations: to enable preferential direct trade between northern Cyprus and the EU, and to put in place a system to disburse 259 million euros of structural funds as agreed at the 26 April General Affairs and External Relations Council. Both regulations are still under discussion between EU member states. Agreement on both regulations is necessary to fulfil the political decision of 26 April to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots.
Since 1 May, Turkish Cypriots with Republic of Cyprus travel documents have had the same rights and entitlement to enjoy the benefits of EU membership as any other EU citizen. The Government are working to ensure that this entitlement can be enjoyed to the fullest extent possible.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government have publicly committed themselves to move their embassy from Almaty to Astana. As a first step, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office opened an embassy liaison office in February 2004. A team from the UK plans to visit Kazakhstan before the end of this year to identify suitable premises for opening an Embassy in Astana. Our existing embassy in Almatywhere we plan to retain a consulateis co-located with the French and German Embassies. Should suitable opportunities arise in Astana, we will look to co-locate with EU partners again.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We have made known our views on the illegality of the route of the barrier and have made clear to the Israeli Government that they must re-route the barrier away from occupied land. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary most recently raised the issue with Israeli Vice Prime Minister Olmert on 8 September.
We have worked with EU partners to ensure a consistent common position on the barrier. The EU voted in favour of United Nations General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 on 20 July. This called on the Israeli Government to comply with their legal obligations relating to the route of the barrier, and on the Palestinian Authority and Israeli Government to immediately implement their obligations under the Quartet's roadmap.
We shall continue to work with EU partners and other members of the Quartet to underline the importance of the issue of the barrier. The Quartet has also expressed its concern about the actual and proposed route of the barrier.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty "every citizen holding a nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship." (TEC Article 17.1). Because it is a consequence of their UK citizenship individual UK citizens cannot separately renounce EU citizenship. They can however choose not to exercise the rights that EU citizenship brings, such as the rights to travel visa-free, study, work, and retire throughout the EU; to live in any EU country, and take out a mortgage, open a bank account, claim free or reduced cost emergency medical care or vote in local and European Parliament elections there; and, in a third country where there is no British Embassy, to get consular help or protection from any EU member state embassy.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We announced on 22 July our intention to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. The protocol will be laid before Parliament in October. Subject to parliamentary scrutiny being passed, we hope to deposit our instrument of accession with the Secretary General of the United Nations on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2004.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Following UK acceptance of the Optional Protocol for the Limitation of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, applications to the committee will be monitored on a case by case basis.
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