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Cyprus

Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 13 February 1980

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4.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is planning any discussions with the Governments of Greece, Turkey and Cyprus in relation to the division of Cyprus; and if he will make a statement.

The Government maintain close and regular contact over the Cyprus problem with the Governments and parties concerned, and hope to see the intercommunal talks resumed as soon as possible.

As there is already a degree of co-operation between the two communities on such things as the maintenance of electricity and water supplies, will my right hon. Friend press on the United Nations that in order to extend this co-operation, such things as Nicosia airport and other parts of the island could be put under temporary international con- trol to give the two communities further opportunities to work together?

I am well aware that my hon. Friend has recently been to Cyprus and therefore is speaking with considerable experience of the problem. I shall draw what he has said to the attention of those concerned.

If the Lord Privy Seal is so concerned about foreign troops in Afghanistan why does he not take a stronger line about the Turkish troops in Cyprus? They have been there for some years now. Does he not think that if the Government are to be consistent and are not to be accused of employing double sandards, Britain should take a much stronger line on this issue than it has done so far?

We are most anxious to secure a solution to the Cyprus problem. Turkish troops entered Cyprus while the hon. Gentleman's Government were in power. I fail to see the relationship between the presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Does the Lord Privy Seal agree that the fact that Turkey is seeking to enter the European Economic Community presents this country with an opportunity to exert a constructive influence upon Turkey? Can he also say whether there is anything further to report on those British citizens who lost property during the Turkish invasion?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, linkage of the kind suggested is not always the best way of tackling these problems. He also knows that this Government, and the previous Government, tried to exert influence to achieve a settlement of the communal problem. I have some news of those British subjects mentioned in the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question. The Turkish-Cypriots have now approved 140 exgratia awards to British subjects as recommended by their claims commission and payment of these awards has begun.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that, as one of the former guarantor Powers, we have some residual responsibility for the affairs of Cyprus? Can he give some assurance that in any discussions that take place we shall give due regard to the rights of the Turkish minority that were so seriously violated during the period from 1963 until the Turkish invasion?

I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall give due regard to the rights both of the Turkish minority and the Greek majority. The one objective of ourselves and Dr. Waldheim of the United Nations is to secure a settlement congenial to both parties.

If that is the case will the Lord Privy Seal consider having a word with Dr. Waldheim pointing out to him that because the situation is so delicate it would be very helpful if the United Nations appointed someone in Cyprus with experience of the area and its politics?

I do not entirely agree with the hon. Lady's inference that the United Nations' representatives have been inexperienced and have not been helpful. They have been extremely helpful and we shall continue to support them.