Cyprus

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th March 1992.

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Photo of Mr Jimmy Dunnachie Mr Jimmy Dunnachie , Glasgow Pollok 12:00 am, 4th March 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he intends to have discussions about the Cyprus problem with his European Community colleagues.

Photo of Mr Tristan Garel-Jones Mr Tristan Garel-Jones , Watford

No. The EC has made clear its continuing full support for the United Nations Secretary-General's mission of good offices, which offers the best hope of progress towards a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the intercommunal dispute. We shall continue to give full and active support to the United Nations.

Photo of Mr Jimmy Dunnachie Mr Jimmy Dunnachie , Glasgow Pollok

I thank the Minister for his reply. Is it not time that the Government stood up and were counted by telling the Turkish Government to remove their troops from occupied Cyprus and saying that if they do not do so the British Government will veto any attempt by Turkey to join the EC?

Photo of Mr Tristan Garel-Jones Mr Tristan Garel-Jones , Watford

I share, and I believe that the whole House shares, the hon. Gentleman's frustration at the tragic situation in Cyprus. But I am sure that, as a reasonable man, he will agree on reflection that the wisest course of action for the Government is to continue to support the secretary-general's efforts. That is what we shall do. Of course, we shall also continue to encourage the other guarantor powers,—Greece and Turkey—to play an equally constructive role. I am sure that that is the way forward.

Photo of Dr Ian Twinn Dr Ian Twinn , Edmonton

I thank my right hon. Friend for his clear statement of the Government's policy on Cyprus. Does he agree that Cyprus's application to join the EC provides a positive opportunity for other EC states, including Britain, to take a positive attitude to finding a solution to Cyprus? I hope that our Government will encourage other EC states within the United Nations fully to back up the United Nations and put pressure on Turkey to find an early solution.

Photo of Mr Tristan Garel-Jones Mr Tristan Garel-Jones , Watford

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Dr. Twinn) and, indeed, to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) and all Members of Parliament for their continued interest in the matter. The EC application was referred on 30 September 1990 to the Commission for an opinion, in accordance with the treaty. When that opinion emerges, we shall, of course, examine it with our partners. But we remain keen, as many partners do, to strengthen relations between the Community and Cyprus.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Surely the Minister ought to be a great deal more forthright and clear on the subject than that. Will the United Kingdom advocate the early admission of Cyprus to the European Community? Will he say that the United Kingdom will not agree to Turkish membership of the EC so long as any Turkish troops are present in Cyprus against the wishes of the present sovereign Government of Cyprus? Does he agree that Turkey should not be admitted to the European Community until its human rights record is rectified? Will he give active support to a federal solution for Cyprus which does justice to both communities within the integrity of the sovereignty of the republic of Cyprus?

Photo of Mr Tristan Garel-Jones Mr Tristan Garel-Jones , Watford

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) has been rushing up and down the country making what I take it he regards as encouraging noises to Cypriots, Kashmiris and others. British Cypriots are well able to judge what weight to place on his remarks. The policy of Her Majesty's Government, which is to support the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations is the wisest policy for both the British Government and other Governments in the Community. No amount of faffing around by the right hon. Gentleman will convince either our allies or Cypriots.

Photo of Mr Richard Alexander Mr Richard Alexander , Newark

The presence of Turkish troops is clearly a hazard which makes life difficult in seeking a compromise agreement. Is it not clear that the northern Cypriots are afraid that if the troops go they will simply be overrun? Is there not a case for the EC to reassure both sides that they can live in peace if the troops go? I underline that the presence of the troops is causing the problem at present.

Photo of Mr Tristan Garel-Jones Mr Tristan Garel-Jones , Watford

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that a significant reduction in Turkish troops in northern Cyprus would improve the climate for a negotiated settlement. However, we also have to recognise that the Turks are unlikely to agree to that in advance of a settlement. My hon. Friend and the House will be aware that our contribution and support for the secretary-general is not merely a matter of words. We make a substantial troop contribution to the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus, UNFICYP, which we think is a tangible measure of the efforts that we are giving to peace there.