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Cyprus

Volume 894: debated on Wednesday 25 June 1975

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2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further progress has been made towards a political settlement based on the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus and towards the further aims outlined in Command Paper No. 6066, paragraphs 10 and 11; and if he will make a statement.

Her Majesty's Government continue to support the inter-communal talks under the good offices of the United Nations Secretary General, a third round of which is due to take place in Vienna on 24th July. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State told the House on 10th June, the Commonwealth Committee has not yet met, but is expected to do so in July.

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the continuing presence of about 38,000 Turkish troops and the creation of a permanent Turkish State in Cyprus is in direct defiance of the United Nations' decision? Does he further agree that there is now a need for additional initiatives outside the third round of the opening talks in Vienna? Is it not the responsibility of our own Government, as a guarantor nation, now to seek further sanctions, and does my right hon. Friend not agree that when a nation is in defiance of a United Nations' decision, the only sanction available to the world is the imposition of an arms embargo or an economic embargo upon that nation until it conforms to the decision? Will the Foreign Secretary therefore now consider the whole business of imposing an arms embargo or an economic embargo upon Turkey until that nation conforms to the United Nations' decision?

There is no doubt that the terms of the United Nations' resolution have not been carried out. That has been consistently stated. Her Majesty's Government's position on the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus is quite clear. We do not recognise it, nor has it claimed recognition as an independent State.

As to how we enforce compliance with the United Nations' resolution, that is a matter of opinion. My hon. Friend seems to think that an arms embargo and a trade embargo would do that. I have no evidence at all that either measure would be successful, except to increase the stubbornness of the Turks.

Will the Foreign Secretary say what he has been able to do to protect Briish residents in Cyprus and their property there? Will he say, further, what he has been able to do about the property there of those normally resident not in Cyprus but in the United Kingdom?

There is a later Question about that matter. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will ask his supplementary question then.

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now make a statement on the compensation of British citizens for loss of or damage to their property in Cyprus.

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Turkish Government about damage to the property of British subjects in Cyprus, and with what effect.

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) on 11 th June and my hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger) on 18th June.

I am now able to inform the House that as the result of the ministerial talks held in Ankara and Brussels last month, further contacts took place earlier this month in London between British and Turkish officials on the claims of British subjects and the counter-claims of the Turkish-Cypriots. There have also been recent discussions in Nicosia between the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot community and the British High Commissioner on the subject of claims. Her Majesty's Government will continue to do all they possibly can to ensure that the interests of British citizens are satisfactorily resolved.

I welcome that answer. As the Turkish Foreign Minister told the Minister of State as long ago as 22nd May that his consideration of this question would be tempered by what he described as a sense of justice, may I ask whether the Minister of State accepts that there will be some disappointment at the fact that there have not yet been practical proposals for the recompense of British citizens? Will the right hon. Gentleman remind the Turkish Foreign Minister that if he is inspired by a sense of justice, justice delayed is justice denied?

I have a good deal of sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says. However, I must tell the hon. Gentleman that when I met the Turkish Foreign Minister in Ankara some weeks ago, there was a first genuine sign of hope that the problems of the British citizens concerned would be resolved. I was impressed by the determination and sincerity with which the Turkish Foreign Minister promised to make some progress in this matter. We can only hope that the progress which I am sure will come about, will come about speedily, because that is an absolute necessity.

Will the right hon. Gentleman remind the Turkish Government that Turkey has many friends in this country but that their friendship is under certain strains due to the delay in settling the legitimate claims of elderly British people in Cyprus—a delay which has now continued for far too long?

I made exactly that point to the Turkish Foreign Minister five weeks ago. I told him not only that Parliamentary pressure was growing irresistible but that it was pressure with which I wholly sympathised. I think that he understood that point very well.

The right hon. Gentleman is impressed by the attitude of the Turkish Foreign Minister, but has any practical progress been made in these talks? Has there been any discussion of practical proposals for compensation?

There has been some practical progress, although certainly not as much as one would wish. However, the fact that early this week and late last week there was discussion as a result of Turkish emissaries being sent to London is in itself a sign of progress. I cannot pretend that there are figures or numbers that I can yet offer to the House as a Turkish offer, but the conversations have begun, and that is progress.

May I, too, ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept my congratulations on the progress achieved and on the terms of his answer to my previous question, to which he referred? May I now ask him whether, in principle, the Turkish Government accept liability, subject to the proof of damage and matters of quantum in each case?

No, Sir, not entirely. The Turkish Government, as represented by its Foreign Secretary when I met him five weeks ago, acknowledged the statement as I described it. The Turkish Foreign Secretary said that he understood that there were problems involved not simply in allocating blame but also in deciding which authority was the legal authority on which responsibility had to lie. But the fact that the Turkish Government sent a representative to Britain is an indication that they want to play a practical part in meeting the needs. When I saw the Turkish Foreign Minister he said that in terms of money he knew that they could not be met by the Government of Cyprus but would have to be provided by another source. I assumed that to mean—and I hope it to mean—the Government of Turkey.