Cyprus

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:26 pm on 14th June 1995.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Hartley Booth Mr Hartley Booth , Finchley 12:26 pm, 14th June 1995

My hon. Friend has used the word "war", albeit civil war. In war, certain human rights conventions such as the Geneva convention apply, and we all subscribe to them. No such convention in the free world permits anyone to keep the husband of the lady I have described separated from her and in prison. I accept my hon. Friend's point, but I think that the House should accept my reply. The example that I have given focused my mind on the continuing crisis in Cyprus.

I was able to meet President Clerides during my time in Cyprus. I was fortunate in being briefed by the Foreign Office high commissioner before I had the meeting. Critical to me, and to the debate, is Britain's attitude towards the candidacy of Cyprus for entry into the European Union. Cyprus has the 26th largest economy in the world. With only 700,000 people, that is a remarkable performance. It is likely when it enters the EU, as I hope it will, to vote with us. It has a common history with ourselves.

I am glad that we are now saying that Cyprus, as a nation, must come into the EU. I am glad also that the Foreign Office has said that it is in favour of talks beginning next year, six months after the intergovernmental conference. I support the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South that the talks could begin sooner.

The key point is whether Turkey, or effectively the north of Cyprus, has any form of veto on the talks that are to take place. I was clearly briefed by the Foreign Office's representative in Nicosia. It would seem to be our position that, although it would be logical for the north and the south of Cyprus to come together before talks begin, the talks are scheduled to start before there is such an agreement. I was told that there is no veto in the hands of the north. Members have talked about the necessity to allow Mr. Denktash, in the north, to arrive at a solution with the south. He has had years to do that. Time after time, he has had the opportunity to reach an agreement.

The reality is that Mr. Denktash is a puppet of Ankara. It must be accepted that, with the placement of 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus, that area is no more than a vassal state of Ankara. We represent so many people who have come from Cyprus and we want to ensure that both Turkish and Greek Cypriots are given a good deal. We must accept, however, that there is an occupying army in the north of the island. First, we must put pressure on Ankara and not only on Mr. Denktash, the leader of a vassal state.

We have inherited democracy from Greece and Greek Cypriots. Those of them who talk about democracy have an accord with those of us who hold democracy dear. We in this place know the heritage of the past with Cyprus. We want to see Cyprus in Europe. Indeed, we want to see it in the EU. We owe it to Cyprus to support freedom on that island and to support its free entry into Europe.