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Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1982

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress there has been in the intercommunal talks in Cyprus since his reply to the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) on 3 March, Official Report, c. 182.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what further discussions in the intercommunal talks on the future of Cyprus have taken place since his reply to the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) on 3 March, Official Report, c. 182.

There have been regular meetings throughout March. Some progress has reportedly been made towards an agreed statement making use of the evaluation tabled by the United Nations Secretary General in November. I understand that, at a meeting on 17 March, the Secretary General's representative opened a new phase in the discussion, to deal with freedom of settlement, movement and property.

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that international opinion generally agrees that intercommunal talks have reached a dead-end? Is he also aware that when President Kyprianou visits Rome next week for discussions with the Secretary General of the United Nations it will be put to the latter that the opinion of Cypriots is that they can make no further progress. Under these circumstances, and knowing that the Turkish Government have no intention, even after eight years' occupancy, of withdrawing their troops from Cyprus, has not the time come for the British Government to intervene if any progress is to be made?

It may be the hon. Gentleman's view that the talks have come to an end, but it is not the view of those taking part in the talks. In particular, a new phase of discussion has been opened by Mr. Gobbi. I do not know what President Kyprianou will tell the Secretary General of the United Nations next month when they meet. However, the talks are continuing. It is our view that they form the best basis for progress, and we wish to do everything that we can to support them.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the patience of the Greek Cypriot people is fast running out in their attempts to reach a possible honourable settlement? In view of the Minister's reply to my hon. Friend does he not think that the British Government should be putting pressure on the Turkish Administration to remove some of the many thousands of troops that they have on Cyprus? When will the right hon. Gentleman, or his right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, visit Cyprus so that he can see at first hand the tragedy on the island?

With regard to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, Mr. Rolandis will be coming to see me in about four weeks' time. That will be a useful start, and I hope to go to Cyprus shortly afterwards. With regard to the Greek Cypriots' patience running out, I should draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that they are still engaged in talks with Mr. Gobbi.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the intercommunal talks have now been going on for 15 years and that the results have been wholly ineffectual? How long are we and the people of Cyprus expected to continue with this form of negotiation? It has been fruitless up till now, which should surely lead us to the belief that a new initiative is required.

It has been made clear to us that a new initiative from us would not be welcome. My hon. Friend speaks of the talks having gone on for a long time. They have, but the evaluation tabled by the United Nations is only four months old.

Will my right hon. Friend recognise how welcome his statement about his proposed visit to Cyprus will be to many people on both sides of the House? When he is in Cyprus, will he take the opportunity to listen to both sides of the community, as he will find that what links them is much greater than what separates them? Will he continue to bear in mind the fact that despite the apparent relative non-success of the United Nations negotiations Britain still retains a responsibility as a co-guarantor and should take a major role in settling once and for all the affairs of this island?

We shall not forget our role as co-guarantor, but we believe that it is our duty to make our best efforts to further the efforts of the United Nations. Both President Kyprianou and Mr. Denktash are meeting the Secretary General next month, and I hope that this will prove that this is the way forward.