Skip to main content

Turkish/Cypriot State

Volume 357: debated on Wednesday 26 February 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

10.15 p.m.

rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what action they propose to take, in the light of the recent unilateral declaration of a separate Turkish-Cypriot state, to fulfil their Treaty obligations to the Republic of Cyprus. The noble Lord said: My Lords, we have had the most interesting debate and I believe that it is appropriate that we should, even at this late hour, be debating the tragic case of Cyprus, because this case shows what could happen to hundreds of thousands of innocent people if the matters which we have been discussing in theory were ever to become fact in practice, if the gun were allowed to triumph over the law or if violence were allowed to become the means of achieving a political end in any country in which we lived.

My Lords, it would take a speech of many hours, and one which would be wholly wrong, to describe the historical background of the Cyprus dispute. I shall say merely a few words about what has happened on that unhappy island since 1960 when the Republic came into existence. It became the feeling among the Turkish inhabitants— who form some 18 per cent, of the population— that the settlement under which the island achieved independence was accepted only reluctantly by the Greek majority. It became the accepted belief among the Turkish community that large numbers of the Greek majority were planning to execute the original aim of their liberation movement against colonial rule by uniting the island with Greece. If one talks to Turks nowadays, one finds that they have a wealth of quotations which they will produce and which seem to them to indicate that there were Greeks on the island who were very carefully planning towards Enosis; that is, towards total divorce of that island from any part of Turkish life.

My Lords, it is true that in the 15-odd years during which Cyprus has been independent, the President of the island, Archbishop Makarios, has had one problem after the other in which he has been in extreme difficulty in trying to control certain wild men in Ms midst. To start with there was the leader of EOKA, General Grivas, then certain of his followers who were taking unilateral action against the Turks and who were planning a different solution from that agreed between the three guarantor powers— Britain, Turkey and Greece— in the Zurich agreement. There was a genuine fear in the minds of many Turks that a Cyprus would emerge from the conflict: in which they would have no place. Those fears were fostered by a number of incidents, particularly those of 1963-1964, during which many Turks were killed by extremists on the Greek side, and by a succession of incidents in which it is difficult to say in a few words which side was guilty. One has heard a mass of evidence on both sides, but one can simply conclude that there was communal strife and a large degree of violence which was only with great difficulty scotched by the introduction of United Nations Forces and by the uneasy peace which those Forces imposed on the island for a number of years. I wish, therefore, to preface my remarks by saying that I understand the feelings of the Turkish Cypriots and the grievances which they feel they have nursed for the last decade or so, and the feeling that they have been treated to some extent like second-class citizens. One could argue this for many hours, but this is the way many of them have felt and this is a small part of the background to the present tragedy and one that must be borne in mind.

I also understand why it was that the Turkish Government felt obliged to intervene in the middle of July 1974— as they were, I believe, entitled to do under the Treaty of Guarantee— in order to prevent the island being ill-treated by Nikos Sampson, the man of violence, the man who had usurped power in a coup encouraged by all sorts of forces, most of whom have, happily, since disappeared from positions of power. One can understand why, in the days which followed the first Turkish intervention, Turkey pressed for a change in the Constitution and for a different set-up, one within her Treaty obligations, which would give her fellow Turks security on the island of Cyprus and local autonomy.

But where my understanding of the Turkish position becomes a little strained is at the stage, in the middle of August 1974, when Turkey presented certain demands to Greece in the form of an ultimatum inviting Greece to agree to a cantonal multi-regional federation, a solution of the island which was perhaps debatable and could have been agreed had time been given for such a discussion; but it was of course quite separate from the 1960 Treaty which was signed by Turkey, Greece and Britain. These proposals for a multi-regional solution based on independently governed cantons were presented by Turkey and within a few hours another act of military intervention took place, as a result of which the Turkish Army gained occupation of nearly 40 per cent, of the island of Cyprus and the bulk of its natural resources. I find this difficult to understand, having understood the original grievances of Turkey, and this is an issue on which I hope Turkey may think again.

Why did that country, after terrible things had happened in Cyprus— after there had been killings, looting, rape and the most deplorable consequences as a result of the original coup, admittedly by Greek extremists but then, one must admit, to a greater extent by the intervention of the Turkish Army— then insist on staying in nearly half of the island of Cyprus and on negotiating for a settlement— a settlement which both sides wanted and which Britain and the whole world wanted because world peace is here threatened— and why did these negotiations have to take place, and why are they continuing under duress as a result of the continued presence on the island of tens of thousands of regular Turkish troops?

Would it not be better, and would it not be an act of generosity on the Turkish side, if a large part at least of these troops could be withdrawn; if military guarantees could be provided for the Turks of that island— for the minority— against their fears that they may be attacked by the majority; and if discussions could then take place without a pistol being pointed at the heads of the Greek-Cypriot negotiators?

The basic point that worries me about the continued attempts to solve that crisis is that no country, no negotiator, will reach a real agreement while he is under duress; while he feels he is being blackmailed into reaching a position. Even if an agreement is reached by the negotiators appointed at a specific time, there is a very real danger that the agreement may be renounced by the people once the threat is removed. I wish to say at once that I sympathise with the Minister's right honourable friend in his difficulties in this position. He has obligations under the Treaty which I refer to in my Question. I can understand that the Secretary of State does not relish a fate which has been assigned to him to some extent in this crisis— that of being kicked about like a football between the two sides, being blamed by one side for any movement which seems to it to be favourable to the other side. This is, I am sorry to say, the fate of this country in so many areas— in India, in Rhodesia, in the Middle East, as a result of our imperial past— and even in a certain part of the United Kingdom.

I wish to ask the Minister whether he can give me certain assurances and answer certain questions. I should like him to tell us about the efforts that the Government are making in the Security Council of the United Nations. I know that it is early for him to give any kind of answer, but can he please tell us something about the progress that these approaches are making? In particular can he give the House any indication that the Security Council will unanimously endorse the General Assembly's Resolution of last autumn, under which it was agreed by Greece and Turkey, and Britain — in fact, it was agreed unanimously — that all foreign forces should be withdrawn from Cyprus, and that all refugees should be allowed to return to their homes? Can the Minister give any news about what attitude the Security Council is taking to this, and can he say whether the Security Council will be urged to endorse, and to implement to the extent that it lies within the Security Council's power, by unanimous Resolution, the Resolution of last autumn?

I should like to ask the Minister whether he can give me a reply regarding two smaller matters. Can he undertake to consult with his right honourable friends in various other Departments connected with trade and ensure, first, that art objects, or archaeological objects, which may come on to the British market during the next few months, are offered for sale only if it can be shown that they are the absolute property of the person or organisation offering them for sale? The noble Lord will, I am sure, know what I am driving at. The military activities on the island have led to a disruption of normal property legal title and large numbers of valuable things have passed from one hand to the other totally illegally and there are reports that some of them may come on to the art market of London. I very much hope that the Government will see that people who are in improper possession of these objects will not be able to sell them in this country. The same applies to people who own the products of Cyprus — the vineyards and the citrus orchards. I would ask the noble Lord whether he feels that he can make it his business, through his own and other Departments, to see that any goods which come to this country— whether oranges, grapes or wine — are offered for sale only by the legitimate owner, and that no illegal grabbers of the products are allowed to market them in this country.

I would also invite the Minister to tell us quite firmly that he has not accepted the statement made a fortnight ago by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Rauf Denktash, that the northern part of Cyprus should become an independent State. His right honourable friend has already gone some way in this direction and has said categorically in another place that he opposes partition of the island. This is only proper, because this is his right honourable friend's obligation under the 1960 Treaty. I should like the Minister to go as far as he can in assuring the House that there will be no surreptitious partition of the island of Cyprus through a transitional stage of the division of the island into two federated regions. It would seem very possible that certain forces might try initially to divide the island into two federated regions and then use some pretext or excuse to make the island not a bi-regional federation but two separate States, or even two separate provinces of Greece and Turkey.

Were this to happen, my Lords, I believe it would be a very real tragedy, because we would then have a line drawn across the island of Cyprus that would be a continual flashpoint between the Greek and Turkish regular forces who would inevitably be drawn into the conflict and would never leave the island. You would have a system of double Enosis, which might seem an attractive and easy solution to start with, but one which could never last in the long term. One side would be drawing in its allies, perhaps from the United States; another side drawing in allies to balance, perhaps from the Soviet Union. One hears such talk already from the two sides on the island of Cyprus. There would be a very real possibility of the island becoming a second Berlin, with the Green Line becoming something akin to the Berlin Wall. It would seem a more possible solution that we should accept not one autonomous Turkish region, but one main Turkish region and a small number of other Turkish regions. The Turks of Cyprus would then have a. firm base in the main canton which they would govern on a local basis.

This might then give them the self-confidence and security which they need to take their full part in the life of an independent Republic of Cyprus. They would not then be confined on one side of a line unable to take their part in the economy of the island and looking for their succour and for their economic future across the water to the mainland of Turkey. This is very much a test case. The United Nations has been on that island for many years and has not been able to provide a solution. Within the next few months, we shall have to decide whether the main Turkish intervention of August 1974 succeeds in imposing a solution on the island or whether a solution will be agreed voluntarily by the two communities in consultation.

In the 1930s there were many similar solutions, I would suggest. Violence for a time, and in certain areas, seemed to pay. It seemed to provide an easy solution to countries which found they were able to grab territories and then present their adversaries with a fait accompli saying to them, "Take it or leave it!" In 1967, it seemed to many people who sympathised with the Israeli cause— and I wish to make no value judgment on that

issue— that Israel would gain and would move nearer to a solution by having occupied parts of the Arab world. "Recognise us and we will withdraw! Do not recognise us and we will remain on this territory!" This is an argument which seems, on the face of it, convincing; but one which I would suggest can easily fail in the new climate of 1975.

Nowadays populations do not always behave realistically, as they are urged to do by their leaders. Often, I would suggest, they prefer to suffer. Hundreds of thousands of people prefer to remain in tents, waiting in hunger and in deplorable conditions, against all reason, hoping that some turn of events will come and will give them what they believe to be justice. Such people are even driven, in certain circumstances, to acts of terrorism— and Heaven forbid that should happen in Cyprus or that that Island should become a mini-Palestine!

My Lords, in conclusion I should like to assure the noble Lord that I realise that he has a heavy responsibility and that I sympathise with him. He has obligations under a Treaty signed 14 or 15 years ago, and he has no power to fulfil the guarantee which was signed by the Government of that day to maintain the Republic under certain conditions. I would ask him whether he will consider what resources of moral authority, what influence we have with the United Nations and with our allies, particularly our American allies, and what small matters of power we ourselves have which can be brought to bear to bring about a solution which will be satisfactory to both communities on the Island of Cyprus and to Greece and to Turkey. I hope the Minister will be able to give us some idea of what plans he has.

10.39 p.m.

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Bethell for deciding to ask this Unstarred Question tonight. His deep concern, which I feel the whole House shares, for the tragedy that has befallen the people in Cyprus and the country itself has shown itself in the speech my noble friend has just made. It is not before time that this House is spending more than the fleeting moment that Question Time and Statements usually permit to examine the present direction that Government policy is taking in this matter. We on this side of the House, as my noble friend has made clear, recognise and sympathise with the very difficult position in which the Foreign Secretary finds himself when confronted by this country's rights and obligations under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee.

Over the last eight months we on this side of the House have tended to follow a bi-partisan approach to the general policy line being taken by the present Government. That does not mean to say that we do not have some very serious doubts about certain specific actions, or sometimes actions that have not been taken, by the Labour Administration in respect of the Cyprus crisis. Therefore, I trust that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, will take the comments and criticisms that I might make this evening in the constructive way in which they are meant.

While I believe that a more robust interpretation of this country's rights and obligations under the 1960 Treaty on the part of the Government during last July and August might possibly have averted the invasion of the Northern part of Cyprus by Turkish troops and their continuing occupation of some 40 per cent, of the Island, it is always easy to be wise after the event. But I believe that mistakes have been made and that it is essential that they should not be repeated in the future. I do not believe that it would be right or, for that matter, helpful for one to try to apportion blame between Greece and Turkey or between Greek and Turkish Cypriot, or to cast judgment on the arguments put forward by either side for the future constitutional structure of the country. This of course is provided that the political independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus is maintained. Whether the island should have a federal system based on autonomous administrative regions for each community, or a series of cantons dotted about Cyprus, must be decided by the Cypriots themselves. I believe it would be unwise for the international community to try to impose a settlement on Cyprus. If after reaching a firm basis for an agreement the Cypriots feel that they need international support and guarantees, then that is the time when the major Powers should come in.

Over the last eight months, in spite of the tremendous efforts that have been made by Kurt Waldheim to find a solution through his consultations with the various Governments concerned with the crisis, the United Nations has so far not proved to be the correct or effective instrument for providing the elusive answer to the problem. This, I believe, is mainly because it has not yet really been given the power to act by the member States. The United Nations forces in Cyprus were unable to contain the advance of Turkish troops after the breakdown of the second Geneva Conference. Resolution upon resolution has been passed unanimously both by the Security Council as well as by the General Assembly, but they have failed to be implemented. However, it is important to stress that the United Nations provide; an essential forum for discussion where all parties can speak, but it will not, and cannot, produce a solution against the wishes of the participants. It is to be regretted that the United Nations does not appear to be the effective organisation that it was when it set up the United Nations Forces in Cyprus some 15 years ago.

What is in some ways of far greater political importance to this country is the damage that the Cyprus crisis has done to the South-Eastern end of the NATO Alliance. This damage has of course been compounded by the growing anti-American and anti-British feeling in that area of the world. The situation has not been helped by the US Congress cutting off military aid to Turkey, which has now decided to review its defence policy and its military agreements with the United States on the basis that what is not essential for Turkey's own security will probably be phased out. So far, Greece has not taken such a drastic course of action, although that country has given notice that it intends to leave the military wing of NATO. I hope that when the noble Lord's light honourable friend comes to decide on whether to use aid or debt rescheduling as a political weapon he will bear this situation in mind, and that if the noble Lord's right honourable friend has not already considered it the noble Lord will bring it to his attention. While such action may salve one's own conscience, it does not necessarily produce the desired result.

When the noble Lord replies, I should be grateful if he could tell the House what action the Government have taken, in conjunction with our other NATO allies, to mend the breach in NATO's South-Eastern flank, and whether the recent visits to Washington and Moscow by his right honourable friends produced a greater consensus of ideas and opinions on the future course of action to be taken by the major World Powers. It should not be forgotten that apart from the Cyprus crisis there is also the current dispute between Greece and Turkey over the territorial rights of each State in the Aegean— to add confusion to an already confused area of the world.

It is essential that if this country is to take part in helping the Cypriots to find a solution to their problems, we should not only be, but be seen to be, neutral in our actions and not tend to favour one side against the other. Although I personally fully recognise the humanitarian considerations that persuaded the Government to permit 10,000 Turkish-Cypriot refugees to go to the Northern sector of Cyprus via Turkey, and while I also recognise the fact that we certainly could not keep them prisoner, the Government should have taken a much stronger line than was apparent in obtaining greater concessions from the Turkish Government. While one does not like to use human beings as pawns in the game of politics, the Government's action did not make the Turks any more accommodating in trying to find a solution.

I think that when he answers the Question, it would be very helpful if the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, could give to the House the Government's assessment of Turkey's real intentions in Cyprus. To expect that the Turkish Government or the Turkish-Cypriots would grant sizeable concessions to the Greek-Cypriot refugees denies the very fact that it is the aim of the Turkish-Cypriot community to set up a two-zone Federation. Thus, it would be inconsistent with that policy for large numbers of Greek Cypriot refugees to return to the Northern part of the island. Although certain concessions were offered by the Turkish Government, the results of Britain's action, as the noble Lord well knows, were dramatic and angry demonstrations of anti-British feeling on the part of the Greeks and the Greek-Cypriots. I hope the noble Lord will agree that any future action of such political sensitivity should be "sold" to the various parties who are affected before it is planned to implement it.

A great deal of concentrated effort and diplomacy must now be carried out if this country is to reclaim its position of neutrality, and to exercise the necessary equality of treatment between the disputing parties. With the collapse of the Clerides/Denktash talks, the situation is even more acute. Consequently, I should be very grateful to the noble Lord if he would tell the House the result of any talks between Sir Ivor Richard and the representatives of the Greek, Turkish and Cypriot Governments during the current United Nations debate, and whether there has been any progress towards a Turkish withdrawal from the Greek part of Famagusta and the opening of Nicosia airport.

There is a group of people on the Island for whom Britain has a very real responsibility; that is, those British subjects resident in Cyprus, many of whom have lost their possessions and have had their property damaged. In another place on 19th February the noble Lord's honourable friend stated that, except in the Varosha district of Famagusta, the Turkish-Cypriot authorities were encouraging British residents to return to their homes, which his honourable friend said was the best way of looking after their property. Is this encouragement limited to those British subjects already in the Turkish held area, or does it include those who fled to the South and the British refugees in the sovereign base areas?

The Government have said time and time again, both in this House and in another place, that they are making constant representations to the Turkish Government in Ankara and to the Turkish Ambassador in London on the question of compensation. I presume that a similar course of action is being taken with the Cypriot Government in respect of any claims against it. I do not believe that the onus for any action in claiming compensation should be placed on those individuals who have been affected. I believe that the onus is on the Government at least to make the initial effort. Since much of the damage was caused last summer during the invasion and the negotiations have been continuing for some time, could the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, tell the House whether the Governments concerned accept their responsibilities for paying compensation, and what conclusions have been reached in the negotiations?

Whatever reasons and arguments there may have been for becoming one of the three guarantor Powers in 1960, in future it is essential that if this country is again asked to take on a similar role, the Government should examine very carefully our ability to act and to exert international pressure, because I do not believe that it is in the interests of this country to accept international obligations unless we are willing to fulfil them and are capable of doing so.

10.52 p.m.

My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lord Cowley that we should be grateful to my noble friend Lord Bethell for initiating this debate today. I can only express regret that it should have started at this late hour because I do not think the number of speakers this evening will be representative of the true and strong feeling that Members of this House have regarding Cyprus and its problems. As a starting point to my remarks, I should like to refer to a recent interview given by Turkey's Foreign Minister, Mr. Melih Esenbel to Mr. Arnaud de Borchgrave of Newsweek. When the Minister was asked:

" Why take over 40 per cent. of the Island when Turkish-Cypriots make up only 18 per cent. of the population? "
he replied:
" Our military operation required this much for the security of their operation, but former Premier Bulent Ecevit has said several times that the line is negotiable. It is not there for good."
Be that as it may, how can the further remark of the Minister be justified? When he was asked how much land it was their intention to keep under Turkish-Cypriot control he replied:
" A fair figure for the future would be between 35 and 40 per cent."
There are two points I should like to make here: first, and I hope this sincerely, under no circumstances will Her Majesty's Government accept negotiation between the parties on this basis. Secondly, as a guarantor Power, that Her Majesty's Government, in Western Europe and in international fora, will exercise the maximum influence and pressure to destroy the propogation of the principle of thisfait accomplit, the partition of the island; that is, a Cyprus divided in two. It would appear to go absolutely against the spirit and the letter of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution of November last, unanimously voted on, as has been mentioned before. That vote included Turkey. The Resolution called for a strict respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. As this Resolution was ratified by the Security Council in December, can the Minister say what decision was reached by the Security Council during these last few days to implement this previous Resolution?

My Lords, as far as I can gather—and I hope I am wrong—the only idea that seems to have emerged from these recent discussions in the Security Council was that of possibly having renewed negotiations, but this time outside Cyprus, which seems a very good idea. Has the Minister any information regarding this matter? Has he any information regarding the attitude of Turkey and Greece? I understand this was a proposal of Dr. Kurt Waldheim, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

My Lords, switching from an international to a European forum—that is, the Commission of the European Communities:—it is very relevant to mention that when replying on behalf of the Commission during a discussion on the question of Cyprus before the European Parliament on 26th September last, Mr. Gunderlach said:
" We have an economic arrangement between the Community and Cyprus and therefore we as a Community have a responsibility".
He went on to say:
" Apart from economic considerations, the partition of that island is unacceptable for political reasons."
Can the Minister, therefore, say in what way the Community as a whole is honouring what in effect is a pledge? Apart from political reasons why partition is unacceptable, there are also economic reasons linked with physical and geographical reasons, which make it un-acceptable. As President Makarios recently said in an interview given to Mr. Salvo Mazzolini of the Italian Radio and T.V.,
"Cyprus is too small an island to be divided into two States."
Your Lordships should consider that it is no larger than the Dordogne Departement of France, which I know well, a Departement very popular at the moment with British tourists and seekers of small estates and farms. Consider too, my Lords, that in one area alone, the Northern area, lie what used to be 80 per cent. of the tourist potential and equipment of the Island; 60 per cent. of the industrial potential; 70 per cent. of the cultivated land of the island; 60 per cent. of the total irrigation water resources; 60 per cent. of the total mineral resources.

Let us not forget that the Greek-Cypriots—I know it is well known, but I should like to stress it again—represent 79 per cent. of the population. How can the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mr. Esenbel, justify his claim to 35 or 40 per cent. of the Island for Turkish-Cypriots when land registered in the name of the Turkish-Cypriots does not exceed 123 per cent. while land registered in the name of the Greek-Cypriots represents 59·6 per cent. of the total, with Government land and forest land amounting to 26·7 per cent.?

In spite of the regrettable fact, too, that since last summer the authorities in Ankara have not ceased to reinforce their position by the establishment of an autonomous administration, the setting up of a study group for restarting tourism, industry and the commercial exploitation of Greek-owned citrus produce—a point touched on by my noble friend Lord Bethell—and the installation of an airport, which is Tymbou airfield, looting, plundering and harassment is still taking place in the North. I would heartily echo the words of my noble friend Lord Cowley when stressing the difficult position in which British residents are finding themselves in the Northern part of the Island.

The fait accompli position has been even more reinforced by the setting up only two days ago of a Turkish-Cypriot Constituent Assembly consisting of Mr. Denktash's nominees and members elected by professional and trade union organisations. Who can say, too, whether Greece, now outside NATO, may not be tempted, or forced by Greek public opinion, to take stronger action to sustain her fellow-countrymen in Cyprus, invoking the same rights as Turkey did in July last year? Can the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Constantine Karamanlis, ignore for long or much longer the position of the Greek-Cypriot refugees, for, as stated in the KSunday Times on 16th February last:
"If the Northern frontier is finally sealed to the return of the 181,000 Greek-Cypriot refugees, it will bring a human tragedy of colossal proportions in a community where one out of three is homeless."
In view of the Treaty of Guarantee signed in Nicosia on 16th August 1960 (Cmd. 1253), and bearing in mind the support given by Turkey to the partition of the Island, plus the terms of Article II which says:
" Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom likewise undertake to prohibit, so far as concerns them, any activity aimed at promoting, directly or indirectly, either union of Cyprus with any other State or partition of the Island,"
there must now lie a heavy responsibility on Her Majesty's Government and on the Greek Government to bring Turkey to reason.

In conclusion, bearing in mind the French Foreign Minister's statement in Athens on Monday—and one can certainly agree with this—when he called for a negotiated solution, can the Minister say what international and West European support have Her Majesty's Government received with a view to carrying out the obligations imposed by the Republic of Cyprus Treaty?

11.6 p.m.

My Lords, I hesitate to intervene at this late hour, but there are one or two remarks I should like to make on this subject, if only because I am fond of both Greece and Turkey—I worked in the one, and holidayed in the other—and because the Island of Cyprus, by its very position, is of such enormous importance to this country and to the whole of NATO, as my noble friend Lord Cowley said, in the Eastern part of the NATO shield.

I do not intend to say anything about British claims—they obviously will have to be pressed—I suppose one has to say in the present circumstances, at the appropriate time. But there are one or two other things that I should like to say because we must keep the present position in proportion. This country was instru mental in getting the 1960 settlement. It was a co-guarantor with Greece and Turkey of that settlement. Hardly was the Constitution—which was assisted by the Swiss—brought into operation, than immediately Archbishop Makarios began to say that it was unworkable. He said that it was unworkable because of the intermingling of the two sections of the population, because of the difference of outlook between them, and because of the joint and several vetos that the President and the Vice-President had under the Constitution. At the back of his mind, possibly even in the forefront of his mind, has always been the oath he swore in 1950, on becoming Archbishop of Cyprus, to pursue the union of Cyprus with Greece.

My Lords, I do not quite understand how my noble friend knows what was at the back of the Archbishop's mind. Would he not agree that in recent statements Archbishop Makarios has stated categorically that he rejected the union of Cyprus with Greece?

My Lords, I also know that he has repeatedly over the years reasserted his objective of the union of Cyprus with Greece.

My Lords, as recently as 1973 at any rate and at earlier times. I say this only because there is this real problem that Archbishop Makarios claimed that the Constitution was not working. We, as guarantors, were unable to make it work, and it was as long ago as 1967 that the Turkish Cypriots set up their own constitutional arrangements. So there is nothing really new about the arrangements of the last two or three days that Mr. Denktash announced.

The point of all this is that the underlying problem is how are the Greeks and Turkish Cypriots going to live together in peace. If it is the case that the Constitution is unworkable (and it is still the only Constitution of the Island) then the two sides must get together and work out another arrangement. There is no alternative other than division of the Island if they cannot do so. This was said many years ago in another place by the late Mr. Walter Elliot. Given the breakdown of order that was precipitated by Nikos Sampson, it is difficult to say that the Turks were not entitled to guarantee the safety of their own kin. They are there. This is a fact.

The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, if I may say so, has handled this matter with the greatest delicacy, and I was very glad when he arranged for the Turkish refugees to be allowed to go out of what was virtually detention by this country, although I must say this country got scant thanks from any side. I would press him not to urge either side to make unilateral concessions to the other at this time. If concessions are to be made at all, they must be made on the basis of reciprocity. The alternative is to negotiate entirely on the status quo, always with the same object of reaching a lasting solution where the two sides can live together in amity and peace. This must be the objective. All I can say is that it is a hard task for Her Majesty's Government. So far they have handled it with sensitivity and, at the same time, with firmness. I wish them Godspeed in reaching agreement on this matter.

11.12 p.m.

(Lord Goronwy-Roberts)

My Lords, before I reply in detail to the various points raised by noble Lords in this valuable debate, for which we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, I should like to give a general restatement of the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards Cyprus. This will go some way towards answering some of the outstanding points which have been raised in the debate.

Throughout the Cyprus crisis, the policy of Her Majesty's Government has consistently been based upon active support for the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and of the General Assembly. We have always believed that the best chance of moving towards a settlement lies in the intercommunal talks between Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash. We still do. We have supported these talks throughout and we hope very much that, despite recent events, they will be resumed as soon as possible and pursued with a greater sense of urgency than in the past.

The reason I lay emphasis upon this point is that I believe a lasting settlement is unlikely (I would say impossible of achievement) unless the Cypriots themselves can agree first upon the nature of a constitutional settlement. There is no question of an imposed settlement from outside. The intercommunal talks have so far provided the people of Cyprus of both communities with an opportunity to do this, and for that reason we hope that they will be permitted to continue. With good will on both sides there is no reason why this should not be so. Her Majesty's Government have consistently made plain that we are ready to support any solution, be it bi-regional or multiregional, which is acceptable to both communities and which maintains the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Island of Cyprus. For our own part, we remain ready, should it be the common wish of all the parties to the dispute, to assist in wider negotiations to reach a settlement, or to help in any other forum.

My Lords, I should like now to turn briefly to some of the specific points raised during the debate by noble Lords and possibly to amplify some points that I have already made. The noble Earl, Lord Cowley, asked if I could give an assessment of the Turkish intentions in Cyprus as we see them. It is our understanding that the step announced by Mr. Denktash on 13th February proclaiming the so-called "Federated Turkish Slate in the Republic of Cyprus" was not a unilateral declaration of independence. Mr. Denktash made it clear to the Press after his declaration that he saw the future of the "Turkish State", as he called it, as lying within an independent federated Cyprus. He added that he was not seeking international recognition and, so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, they propose to continue to deal, for the time being at least, with Mr. Denktash as the Vice-President of Cyprus and the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot community.

My Lords, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus were of course almost bound to regard the proclamation of 13th February as provocative, and it is not surprising that the future of the intercommunal talks has been placed in jeopardy as a result. It is partly for this reason that we have stated publicly that we deplore Mr. Denktash's move. At the request of the Cypriot Government, the Security Council has been meeting since 20th February—and here I hope that I may meet the desire of more than one noble Lord that I should intimate, so far as I can, how things are moving in New York this week. It was at the request of the Cypriot Government that the Security Council began meeting and discussing these matters on 20th February. All I can say tonight is that these discussions are continuing and that we do not expect a conclusion much before the end of the week, or possibly not before the beginning of next week. Noble Lords will not expect me to reveal details of the confidential talks which are proceeding at the United Nations, but I can say that we have been active in seeking a resumption of the Clerides/Denktash talks through a Security Council Resolution which will promote that object and also stimulate United Nations efforts to renew the intercommunal talks and perhaps introducing a enlarged participation by the Secretary General. There are various suggestions which are being discussed at the moment in New York. Indeed, we should welcome the Secretary General's own direct personal involvement through a discharge of his good offices in finding a way for further meaningful negotiations.

My Lords, I reiterate that we continue to see the intercommunal talks as the best forum in which the Cypriots themselves can reach agreement on a Constitution for the future and on solutions for the problems facing them. The noble Earl, Lord Cowley, in a balanced speech, suggested that, with hindsight, we might all wish that certain things had been done differently. This is always the case. The noble Earl suggested that the Government's policy might have been conducted with more robustness. I wish that these kind of terms could be defined and perhaps translated into what is meant, by practical action.

The way we have seen it is this. Under the Treaty of Guarantee, the United Kingdom, together with Greece and Turkey, recognise the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus. In Article 4 we undertake to consult when that is in jeopardy. Her Majesty's Government have consistently felt that they can best help to bring about a settlement by exerting diplomatic rather than military pressure. It is immensely important to envisage what military action, physical action, in this Island would have meant and would now mean. One can be robust, even ingenious and perhaps effective, in diplomacy, where robustness in military action might create out of difficulty endless catastrophe. We have believed, and in this attitude we have been publicly supported by Archbishop Makarios, that the use of military force by Britain could do nothing but increase the suffering on the Island. We will therefore continue to exert all the diplomatic pressure at our disposal.

This meets the point made towards the end of his speech by the noble Lord, Lord Bethell. It also bears on the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Cowley, when he said that we should have regard to every means of influence that we can properly bring to bear on a situation like this, and we accept that. It will not be immediately easy to find a way which is not counterproductive. Great responsibility rests on Her Majesty's Government to consider every one of these means of influence and persuasion with a view to deciding how productive of a durable and just settlement any action they take will be. We will therefore continue to exert all the diplomatic and other pressure at our disposal in pursuance of a settlement and in the light of our Treaty obligations. We do not believe that economic sanctions or threats of that kind against the Government of Turkey would be appropriate or productive.

This brings me to the point that was made relating to our attitude towards imports from various parts of the Island. Where produce is imported with a request for Commonwealth preference, this is granted only if the produce is accompanied by the correct documentation. Her Majesty's Government do not accept documentation issued by the so-called "autonomous Turkish Cypriot Administration". It is not a simple matter, but this is the posture we take. We do not accept that documentation; we accept the documentation which has been usual in the past, but not that which bears this particular imprint because we recognise only one Government in Cyprus.

I move on to the allied point about objects of art—

My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that question, may I ask him to say whether I am right in thinking that the Constitution itself provided for a separate Greek Chamber of Commerce and a separate Turkish Chamber of Commerce on the Island; and do they not have the same facilities as the chambers of commerce have in this country for the certification of documents?

My Lords, before the noble Lord replies to that point, how can he say that there have been representations from the High Commissioner of Cyprus regarding the infringement of these regulations to which the Minister has referred, concerning the import of citrus fruit into this country?

My Lords, I could not, off-hand, give an indication as to whether there have been such representations, or of how often they have been made, but I will bear the matter in mind. I am addressing myself to the substantive point made by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. It may well be that there were distinctive communal chambers of commerce. I believe there were. I am not addressing myself to the rights of such bodies at all, even in this matter. I am addressing myself to the central point; namely, what do we recognise as a document? We do not accept documentation issued by the State which seems to have been proclaimed—whether federally or confederally. We do not accept that documentation. Other documentation, whether emanating from organisations such as the one mentioned by the noble Lord, or from co-operatives of individual agencies which have in the past been accepted, we do still accept. I am simply addressing myself to the specific question addressed to me by the initiator of the debate.

The related point about art and archaeological objects leads me to give this assurance that our Customs authorities are on the look-out for objects of this kind which may not have proof of legal ownership. Obviously, the only redress here for the proper owners is to take legal action. This may be the counsel of perfection while things are necessarily uncertain on the Island, but we try to identify stolen property at the point of entry to this country, and to decide at that point what is the most effective, and proper and just action to take.

May I, without delaying the House unduly at this hour, touch on one or two of the very important questions which, quite rightly, have been raised. The future of the relationship of these two important and famous countries—Greece and Turkey—to NATO, to the defence of the free world, of which they are both a part, is of great importance. I do not take a pessimistic view of the reactions —immediate, I think, and I hope very much temporary reactions—of these two countries to the NATO system, because of the immediate local differences that have arisen between the two of them in Cyprus, and indeed outside Cyprus. In fact, the Cyprus difficulty has been the subject of continuous and courteous discussion in NATO which I believe has played a useful part in the attempt to bring Greeks and Turks together. I very much hope that these discussions in NATO will continue. They are both still members of the Council, and that perhaps is the touchstone of whether, in a moment of national pride—a sentiment which we must all understand—they took action which seemed at the time like pulling out of NATO. I do not believe that that is the intention in either case, and I am prepared to venture a cautious prophesy that, as time goes on, my optimism in this may well be justified.

A related question was put to me about how far the Nine—the EEC, of which we are still members—has politically supported what has, after all, been a British initiative, immediately the events of August created the situation which we are dealing with. I am glad to say that we have received substantial support from the Nine in the political co-operation framework of the EEC. We have received, in fact, consistent support for our policy—the one I have re-stated tonight— towards Cyprus. The Presidency has on several occasions made approaches to both the Greek and Turkish Governments on behalf of the EEC to help to promote the kind of policy—indeed, the very policy—I have spelled out once more from this Box tonight.

On the question of other Greco-Turkish disputes, for instance over territorial limits, the Continental Shelf in the Aegean which the noble Earl raised, here again, with cautious optimism, I would say that it seems to me that this difficult problem has now entered a new and somewhat encouraging phase. The Greek Government have proposed that the issue should be submitted to the International Court at The Hague, and the Turkish Government have accepted this in principle. These steps by both sides are constructive. They are in line with the suggestion by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, that they should be reciprocal movements; that is, that they should not be unilateral decisions and actions but a movement together. Here is an example. They should reduce tension in the area and prepare the way for settling the issue in a peaceful manner. As I said previously from this Box, in settling this issue, which is, after all, a technical matter, in a peaceful manner, they may get into practice for settling perhaps more intractable political issues.

I was asked questions about the position of United Kingdom citizens resident in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. I have dealt with most of these questions at Question Time in your Lordships' House, so may I content myself tonight with saying that we know that British residents in Cyprus have suffered hardship, and some of them are still experiencing inconvenience, but I am glad to tell the House that their morale is high and none of them appears to be in any danger. The Turkish-Cypriot authorities, as we heard tonight, are encouraging British residents to return to their homes, apart from the Varosha district of Famagusta and other security areas. This applies to all residents in all parts of the Island. Of course, the best way that British residents can protect their property is by returning home.

As to claims for compensation, representations have recently been made by Her Majesty's Ambassador in Ankara on the question of compensation for United Kingdom nationals who have suffered personal injury, damage to property and loss of personal possessions in the disturbances and since then. No formal response has yet been forthcoming from the Turkish Government, but we are pursuing this matter vigorously and every effort will continue to be made to establish the claims of United Kingdom nationals and the responsibilities of the Turkish Government. These representations are in no way affected by Mr. Denktash's representation of 13 th February. A similar approach to the Government of Cyprus is under consideration for certain categories of loss and damage, and this, too, will be actively pursued. A special section has been formed at the High Commission to look after British property interests in the Island. No doubt on a suitable occasion I may give a few more details about that.

I press on very quickly, because I am conscious of having taken too long already, but noble Lords should not make such comprehensive speeches, especially at this hour of the night. The noble Lord, Lord Merrivale, asked about proposals from both sides. Are we aware of Greek and Turkish proposals aimed at solving this problem? This, again, links with Lord Drumalbyn's point about negotiation and reciprocity rather than unilateral movement by one side or another. We understand that both parties to the inter communal talks have now presented constitutional proposals on the future status of Cyprus. While the two sets of proposals are still a long way apart, Her Majesty's Government believe that both sets of proposals contain positive elements on which a lasting settlement can be built, given a constructive desire on the part of both communities to pursue such a settlement. I have looked at them very carefully myself, for the first time, in preparation for this debate and I believe, although there are great differences of emphasis between the two sets of proposals, that there is a good deal of common ground on which these two communities under their respective leaders can usefully and effectively begin to discuss a common system for their common homeland.

It is not easy to see the way ahead. I do not believe, as one or two noble Lords have suggested they believe, that the intercommunal talks have collapsed. I believe they will be resumed and will inch ahead successfully. It is true that there are deep divisions between the two sides, divisions springing from fear and mistrust, of remembrances of slights and unfairness; but if the two communities, who are parts of gifted larger communities and traditions, can put the past behind them and think and work for the future, then the very proposals that the two sides have put forward, despite the differences between them, may prove to be the basis on which a solution will be reached.

I must repeat that the best hope, and in ray view the only hope, for a solution lies in the determination of the leaders of both communities that the Island should remain an integral whole, whatever may be the internal arrangements, freely agreed and enthusiastically operated by the people themselves. They could be bi-zonal, cantonal, regional— who knows? They too, like us, these days have to learn a lot about devolution. Let it be an internal solution, acceptable to the two communities, because it has been invented by them and not imposed upon them from outside. With this as a foundation, the future of Cyprus must be that of an independent sovereign republic, respected as such, and supported as such, not only by Britain but by other countries and certainly by the United Nations.

My Lords, as I have said, I am still cautiously optimistic. Much depends upon the restraint, verbal and otherwise, of the leaders of the two communities and of their natural sympathisers on the mainland. A good deal depends on the moral influence which this country can bring to bear and which it is striving to bring to bear. The record of a debate of this kind, where there are deep feelings but it is conducted on a basis of fact, thought, and tolerance of different views, will be helpful in creating for this troubled and beautiful Island the atmosphere for a lasting and just settlement.

Mr. A. D. Gordon-Brown (Chairman)Home Office.
Mr. J. Marriage, Q.C.Bar Council.
Mr. J. D. ClarkeLaw Society.
Mr. D. H. Kidner, Clerk to the Justices, CoventryJustices'Clerks'Society.
Mr. W. J. Richards, C.B.E., Q.P.M. Chief Constable of Greater Manchester
Mr. C. H. Cooksley, C.B.E., Q.P.M., D.L. Chief Constable of NorthumbriaAssociation of Chief Police Officers.
Mr. C. P. J. Woods, C.B.E. Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police
Mr. F. J. McLaren, Chief Probation Officer, Northumbria
Mr. K. DowlingDepartment of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr. C. JonesLord Chancellor's Office.
Miss E. M. ChadwellHome Office.
Mr. D. J. Belfall (Secretary)Home Office.