Cablegate: Trucking Into the Eu...Via Cyprus?

Published: Mon 17 May 2004 04:18 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) Summary: Hundreds of Turkish truckers were stopped
for days at several EU border crossings on May 1 when
European customs officials insisted that they present
insurance cards valid in Cyprus. Although the crisis was
resolved by issuing replacement insurance cards, Turkish
truckers and border officials were piqued that the
requirement was instituted without notification, particularly
given the unlikelihood of any Turkish truck actually ever
driving to Cyprus. End Summary.
2. (U) Turkish truckers were stopped on May 1 at the
Ipsala/Kipi border crossing by Greek customs officials
demanding "green cards" (proof of third party insurance)
showing Cyprus as one of the 43 Green Card
System-participating countries. (Note: Prior to May 1,
green cards purchased in Turkey showed the Cyprus box on the
card marked out with two "X"'s. End note.) Huseyin Turan
Yanik, the regional representative for a Turkish transport
association (Uluslararisi Nakliyeciler Dernegi - UND), told
poloff May 7 that this problem was solved relatively quickly.
Some truckers were able to purchase new single-entry green
cards at the border for 100 to 300 Euros, while others got
them through agents in Istanbul. Turkish truckers who were
stopped in other European countries -- including Hungary,
Slovakia and Croatia -- were also able to arrange for new
green cards on-site at similar expense. Yanik, who
personally fielded many of the calls from panicked truckers,
estimates that between 400 and 1000 trucks were affected at
the Ipsala border crossing alone. Although the backlog had
largely cleared by May 4, the full costs associated with
these delays - which the UND fears may include penalties for
late deliveries and/or contract cancellations - will not be
known until all the trucks return from their destinations in
3. (SBU) Nevzat Er, Chief Customs Inspector General for
Kapikule and Ipsala told Poloff on May 7 that it was unclear
whether or not EU countries were coordinating on this new
requirement. He claimed that Brussels had not sent out any
new directive about this, and said his Greek counterparts got
their orders by telephone from Athens. Yanik and Er both
questioned the logic of the new requirement since the chance
of a Turkish truck transiting Cyprus is quite low, but Yanik
was mostly pragmatic. The majority of his members didn't
care whether or not Cyprus was "X-ed out" or not, he said;
"they just want to do their job." Despite his
business-oriented attitude, it was clear that many at the
border suspected Greece was behind the new green card
requirement, and that politics was getting in the way of
commerce. Yanik expects that a similar situation could
develop with other customs documents, such as ATR
certificates, in the future.
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