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Northern Cyprus

Volume 518: debated on Tuesday 9 November 2010

4. What recent discussions he has had with the Government of Turkey on the deployment of Turkish troops in Northern Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. (22528)

British Ministers raise the Cyprus settlement process with our Turkish counterparts at every opportunity. I last did so with both Turkey’s Foreign Minister and Minister for Europe on 23 October. The presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus is one of the issues that will need to be resolved as part of a comprehensive settlement.

I inform the House that I have registered an interest, as I attended the Morphou rally just a month ago. In addition to the religious and cultural destruction suffered by orthodox churches in the northern part of Cyprus, is the Minister aware of the desecration of graves in towns such as Morphou by the siting of army bases and the parking of fire tenders on Cypriot graveyards? What pressure can he bring to bear on the Turkish Government to stop such actions and return those sacred sites to their former use?

It is important that the Turkish Government lend their full weight to the negotiating process that is under way between the two Cypriot communities under the auspices of the United Nations special envoy, and the issues to which my hon. Friend has referred need to be considered as part of those discussions.

I hear what the Minister has said about the representations made to Turkey, but has he made any representations to either of the two community leaders, the President of Cyprus and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community? What extra efforts are the British Government going to make, knowing that the UN has invited both leaders to go to New York? What extra efforts will be made to ensure that we have a proper, comprehensive peace settlement?

At both ministerial and official level, we are urging the leaders of the Greek Cypriot community, President Christofias, and of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mr Eroglu, to demonstrate leadership, flexibility and a willingness to compromise in the interests of everybody living on the island of Cyprus. We welcome the decision by both leaders to attend the meeting with Ban Ki-moon on 18 November. We remain in very close contact not just with the Governments of Cyprus and of Turkey, but with Mr Downer, the UN special envoy, and we will lend whatever support we are able to in the hope of bringing the negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Will the Minister for Europe make it absolutely clear that the British Government’s position is to continue to seek a united, peaceful Cyprus for both communities, and that as one of the three guarantor powers we, with Turkey and Greece, will lead that effort at the United Nations and in this country, and reject the idea that there might be an acceptable settlement that divides the island between the two communities?

Our treaty obligations, as the hon. Gentleman implies, require us to prohibit any action which might lead to the partition of Cyprus or its union with another country. We remain committed to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation where there is political equality and respect for the human and cultural rights of all.