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Cyprus

Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 19 February 1975

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1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has been able to make of the position of British citizens resident in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, following the visit to Cyprus of Mr. Peter Scott.

They have suffered hardship and are now experiencing some inconveniences. Some foods are scarce in Kyrenia but British residents can shop in Nicosia. Except in the Varosha district of Famagusta, the Turkish Cypriot authorities are encouraging British residents to return to their homes—which is the best way of looking after their property.

Will the Minister of State accept the political realities of the situation, as must the many British residents in the Turkish sector, especially in the taking out of identity cards, registration cards, and so on? In those circumstances, will he reconsider the view which he expressed in his letter of 16th January 1974 and open an office of the British High Commission in the Turkish sector to deal with these and other matters? Finally, will he take this opportunity of urging the British residents to make themselves known to the British High Commission so that their whereabouts can readily be ascertained in the event of further difficulties?

We have done our best to establish close relations with the British residents who live in the northern area of Cyprus. The realities of the situation are not simply political. I cannot think of—nor can anyone suggest to me—any positive advantages in establishing such an office. Although there would appear to be an advantage in that course, on examination no advantage has been found.

Will the Minister say a little more about the way in which the High Commission makes contact with the Turkish military authorities, since several hon. Members are still receiving reports of looting, irregular requisitioning, and so on? What are the means of communication?

There are a variety of means of communication. The High Commission is in touch with the de facto authorities. We have made constant representations to the Turkish Government in Ankara and to the Turkish Ambassador in London. On Friday I gave an assurance to the House that further representations were being made on that day.

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a further statement on the latest developments in Cyprus.

The House will be aware that a meeting of the Security Council to discuss Cyprus is likely to take place. It may begin later today. Her Majesty's Government hope that the meeting will help stabilise the situation and enable the intercommunal talks to resume.

In view of the damage being done to NATO, the many interests involved, and the anxieties among the Cypriot community in London, is not it time the right hon. Gentleman treated this crisis as his highest priority and pulled out every stop of British diplomacy in the search for a constitutional settlement? How else does the right hon. Gentleman consider that Her Majesty's Government should interpret their rôle as a guarantor Power?

This is a very serious matter, in which we are involved in constant discussions with the principal parties concerned. I shall be happy to receive any specific suggestions from the hon. Gentleman or anyone else as to what should be done further.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we have now reached the stage where the whole future of the United Nations is in balance, especially as a member nation—Turkey—has totally ignored Resolution 3212, which presumably is the basis of this afternoon's discussion in the Security Council? Does not the question now arise whether Britain should consider the possibility of the expulsion of Turkey from the United Nations, failing her acceptance of complete adherence to that United Nations Resolution? If not, it is obvious that sanctions will have to be applied if the United Nations is to be taken seriously in the future.

I do not believe that the future of the United Nations is in balance on this issue. It has suffered many shocks in its lifetime, and it will probably sustain others. As my hon. Friend says, it is true that the resolutions to which he referred have not been carried out, and I am certain that Mr. Clerides will refer to that if he addresses the Security Council later today. I do not believe that the expulsion of any member of the United Nations is likely to bring about a better result, either to this situation or to others.

Is not the lesson to be learned that whereas in the past we had obligations and great powers, in the future we should be much more careful in throwing about guarantees and offering to be a guarantor State, unless we are certain that we shall be able and willing to implement the guarantees?

It is not for me to attack, in the language which he chooses to employ, guarantees entered into by the hon. Member's own Government. But there is no doubt that we should relate our influence to our power to carry out our obligations. I do not accept the view that we have not carried out our obligations under the Treaty of Guarantee. It would be unfair to suggest that. The obligation upon us is to consult with respect to representations or measures necessary to ensure observance of the provisions. We have done our best in this matter. We might be said to have gone the second mile towards it. But if others will not join us, it is impossible to get agreement. This is an issue which concerns us every day, and we are trying to take action to help the situation.

Bearing in mind that it would be unfair to condemn the Republic of Turkey for responding to what was, after all, a coup by the Greek colonels supported by Fascist elements in Cyprus, if my right hon. Friend is looking for positive steps that the British Government could take, will he consider making representations to the United States Government in respect of aid to Turkey? Will he also accept the offer which I understand has been made to reopen the port of Famagusta for trade, to reopen Nicosia airport under the ægis of the United Nations, and accept the Turkish offer to take another 8,000 Greek Cypriot refugees back into the northern enclave of Cyprus?

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for those suggestions. Alas, none of them is new. All these proposals have been canvassed before. That does not depreciate their validity, and I should be happy to see them accepted. But no one yet has shown me the way to get people to accept these recommendations.