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Volume 892: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the present situation in Cyprus and the security of the sovereign base areas.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on recent negotiations over the future of Cyprus.

The first round of the resumed talks between the communities in Vienna was held in a constructive atmosphere, and made some progress. I am urging both Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash to participate fully in the second round, which starts on 5th June. There have been no significant security problems affecting our bases recently.

I am sure that the whole House will hope that these talks will go well. Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that there is some danger of Her Majesty's Government becoming too closely identified with the interests of Archbishop Makarios? Is it not fair to suggest that his support in Greek Cyprus is now coming overwhelmingly from Akel, the Communist Party, and from no other particular quarter? Now that we—at least, in my opinion—are so unwise as to be withdrawing, is there not a real danger that the Archbishop may decide to invite the Russians in, with incalculable consequences in NATO?

On the first part of that question, we recognise the Government of Cyprus. The President of the Government of Cyprus is Archbishop Makarios, and therefore we continue to recognise him as the President of Cyprus. It would not be proper to depart from that position. As regards the policy of the Government of Cyprus, I have no indication of any intention to invite the Soviet Union into the Greek-occupied part or the Turkish-occupied part.

Has my right hon. Friend seen the reply to a Written Question yesterday by his right hon. Friend the Minister of State, saying that it was not the policy of the British Government to support the United States Congressional embargo on arms supplies to Turkey? That being so, does he not recognise that the impression created by that answer is that Britain does not now support the policy of the withdrawal of troops from Cyprus and also is not against the partitioning of the island, which the Turkish Government have made a precondition of any continuing talks?

I hope that my hon. Friend will not give any countenance to the deductions which he draws from a refusal by the British Government to follow the actions of the United States Congress. It would be extremely mischievous if he gave any countenance to any such thing. We have made it clear that what we expect, in accordance with the United Nations decision, is respect for the sovereignty and integrity of Cyprus and the withdrawal of those troops which are there in defiance of that resolution. That has been our position, and I know of no reason at all to suggest anything to the contrary.

As a guarantor of the treaty establishing a free and independent Cyprus, what action are the Government taking to persuade our NATO ally, Turkey, specifically to do something conciliatory with its force in this matter?

We are engaged in intensive diplomatic activity and in encouraging the talks to which I have referred between Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash. We believe that in a difficult situation this is the most helpful way forward. We shall pursue that end.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals he has in mind, in consultation with the Turkish Government, to ensure that British residents in Cyprus have unrestricted freedom of movement throughout the island; what arrangements he has now made to ensure that British residents' property is fully protected not only as to their personal effects but as to their rights of land tenure; and if he will make a statement.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the latest situation in Cyprus, so far as British interests are concerned.

I regret to say that the position of British residents in the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus is not satisfactory. Despite frequent representations both to the local authorities in Cyprus and to the Turkish Government, satisfaction has not been received for damage or loss of the homes and possessions of British residents.

Arrangements to ensure protection of land tenure are the responsibility of the local authorities, with whom the high commission is co-operating over registration of title. I have asked my right hon. Friend the Minister of State to inform the Turkish Government of my dissatisfaction over these matters during his visit to Ankara, where he arrives today, and to discuss remedies with them.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that fairly detailed answer, which he will be the first to recognise is very unsatisfactory. Does he agree that an embargo on the supply of arms to the Turks is probably the only weapon we have as a bargaining factor in securing the fair compensation and freedom of movement of British residents? Will he consider sending out, with the acceptance of the Turkish Government, a delegation from this House to Cyprus to observe the situation and perhaps to make recommendations which may help to secure a solution?

I hope that cutting off the supply of arms is not our only weapon. If so, it will not be very effective. It has not been effective in the case of the US Congress and, frankly, the amount of arms that we supply to the Turks is so infinitesimal that it will make very little difference. What is in prospect is the obtaining of some substantial orders for delivery, which would take some time and would create considerable employment here. I think that the Government would have to consider that question very seriously, in view of employment prospects. On the second part of the question, it has been said before that I would welcome a delegation going from this House, but, alas, I have no funds to send one. If someone could provide some funds, I would welcome an all-party delegation to look at conditions in the island. That would do a lot of good.

Is it not a paramount British interest to repair as soon as possible the damage to the strength of NATO in the Mediterranean—damage which has been caused by this situation and was referred to in answer to an earlier Question? Although we all welcome the talks which are going on at various levels between Greece and Turkey, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that at the NATO summit at the end of this month the Government will be ready to take fresh initiatives to cover many of the areas of concern which have come up in questions today?

I hone that, in addition to Mr. Karamanlis and Mr. Demirel, the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey will also be present at the NATO summit. It is my hope that we shall have bilateral discussions on these matters—or trilateral or even quadrilateral discussions. I am not sure that full discussion in the full council would be helpful, but certainly private conversations will go on.

I appreciate my right hon. Friend's difficulties, but I cannot help wondering whether he has given full consideration to the views of the trade union movement and the Labour movement in considering whether jobs are more important than the immorality of supplying arms to Turkey so that Turkey can invade, bomb and loot a Commonwealth country. Will he consider whether he is representing the views of the trade union and Labour movements in this connection?

I always like to think so, but I am at the moment representing the views of Her Majesty's Government. As for the supply of arms, if there were any prospect of Turkey's repeating the invasion that she undertook a year ago, clearly we should need to consider the situation afresh, but my hon. Friend should not get this out of proportion. I believe that details of arms supplies are regarded as confidential, and Ministers do not give details of them, but the amount of arms which are going is insignificant. That is why I say that it would not be a particular weapon to cut it off. I trust that, within the period in which there may be considerable supply of armaments, this problem will at least have been settled between Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash.

The right hon. Gentleman thinks that it would be a good idea if a delegation from this House went to Cyprus, but he has no money. Will he not consult the Chancellor of the Exchequer? This is one increase in public expenditure that we should not oppose.

I am sure that that is true of every item of public expenditure, but I think that it is for the House itself, if it wishes to take this matter up, to do so.