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Volume 950: debated on Wednesday 24 May 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement setting out his views in regard to the latest Turkish proposals for a settlement of the Cyprus issue, now that the Secretary-General of the United Nations has made his views known.

The proposals, of which only a synopsis has been published, were presented to the United Nations Secretary-General, who has said that he will continue consultations about a resumption of the intercommunal negotiating process. As my right hon. Friend told the House on 26th April, he does not believe that as yet we are approaching an eventual Cyprus settlement. But we continue to urge the parties to come to the negotiating table.

Has not Mr. Ecevit said that there can be no progress until the Turkish Government have been assured about the supply of American military equipment and about the whole question of international credit being made available to Turkey? Neither side in the intercommunal talks is competent to discuss those matters with the Turkish Government. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is now time for an initiative to be taken for direct consultation about the way in which the Turkish Prime Minister can overcome the impasse and thereby start proceedings for a phased withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus and so bring an end to the process of annexation which is Turkish policy at present?

I assure my hon. Friend that we take every opportunity to put before the Turkish and Greek Cypriot Governments the need for a constructive approach to negotiations. This was last done when the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr. Ecevit, was in London on 15th May. As things stand, the matter is in the hands of the United Nations Secretary-General. The most constructive thing that we can do at this stage is not to complicate his task but to support him in every way possible.

Is the Minister aware that the Secretary-General of the United Nations has repeatedly emphasised that the United Nations force in Cyprus cannot be regarded as permanent and that there are increasing pressures from member countries to end the force, the sole purpose of which is to prolong negotiations and to avoid reaching a settlement?

During my recent visit to North America I had talks with both the United Nations Secretariat and Mr. Jamieson, in Canada, about the problems. It is right to recognise that the force cannot be regarded as permanent. It is important to recognise the cost to participating countries of sustaining it. But we should pay tribute to what it has achieved in keeping the peace in that troubled island. As far as we are concerned this is a means only of holding the situation. It cannot provide a solution. That can be found only by the people of Cyprus and their leaders.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Turkish proposals, as they have been published, by proposing a concession involving only 1 per cent. of Turkish territory, do not form a prima facie basis for successful negotiations? Will my hon. Friend confirm that it is not part of the British Government's policy to include the Eastern Sovereign Base in Cyprus as part of a settlement to increase that 1 per cent. to a greater proportion? Does he agree that we now need a wider international approach in order to solve this problem?

Candidly, I do not believe that the international community, acting on behalf of the people of Cyprus, can impose a solution. A lasting and viable solution can be found only with the commitment of all the people of Cyprus. It is therefore towards the objective of getting them to negotiate seriously together that we, with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, must direct our attention.