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Cyprus: Inter-Community Talks

Volume 373: debated on Friday 6 August 1976

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11.9 a.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the breakdown of the talks between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, they will propose to the United Nations Security Council that a mission of reconciliation, composed of leading representatives of Western, Eastern and Unaligned nations, should proceed to Cyprus to seek a solution of its political and territorial conflicts.

My Lords, the talks have not broken down, though we regret that a date has not yet been fixed for the next round and we recently urged Dr. Waldheim to fix a date for their resumption. Her Majesty's Government consider that only the inter-communal talks under the auspices of Dr. Waldheim, which were set up by the Security Council, offer any prospect of finding a lasting solution to this tragic problem.

My Lords, is not that hope rather an illusion? Is it not the case that, while legally the talks may not have broken down, they have repeatedly been disrupted and that, honestly, there is very little hope of ever reaching a conclusion? Would not the Government seriously consider this proposal, which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, our ex-Minister at the United Nations, and would not Turkey and Greece, because of their relationship with the European Community and NATO, take the recommendations of such a commission very seriously?

My Lords, I do not think I take such a gloomy view as my noble friend. Of course I am aware that my noble friend Lord Caradon made this suggestion in your Lordships' House, but I think my noble friend has forgotten that Dr. Waldheim has all the powers he needs under Security Council Resolution No. 367, and that if he felt there was a necessity for action of this kind he could suggest it. He is a mediator who is acceptable to all parties, which is not easy in these days, and I do not think we can really add to that.

My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness whether, if we examine all the resolutions which have come out of the Security Council during the last few years, it would be true to say that reconciliation is not the trade mark of the Security Council, and has not been over the past few years?

My Lords, I have not the detailed personal knowledge that my noble friend has of the workings of the United Nations, but without notice I could not add them all up and come to the right answer.

My Lords, could the noble Baroness give us an indication as to whether further consideration has been given to discussing this matter within the Member States of the EEC, and also whether consideration has been given to the proposal, made both in this House and in another place, that possibly some distinguished European could go to Cyprus, stay there and act as mediator between the parties?

Yes, my Lords. We are in constant touch with the Nine, and they take this very seriously. We have discussions. The proposal to which the noble Baroness has referred has been discussed. I cannot say any more than that, of course, but we are in constant touch both with the Nine and with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that at a meeting of the Council of the European Communities, which is due to take place on 20th September next, the whole question of Greek accession to the European Communities is to be further discussed? Will she convey to her right honourable friend the fairly widespread view that these negotiations should not proceed very much further until steps have been taken to reconcile the positions of the Greeks and the Turks, who are also associated with the Community under an association agreement?

Yes, my Lords, I was aware that discussions were to take place on that date, and I will bring my noble friend's views to the attention of my right honourable friend.

My Lords, having been personally involved in earlier negotiations between the two communities, may I ask the Minister whether she realises that many people will agree with the Government that the best course is to pursue with patience the present negotiations between the two communities, associating also, of course, the two outside countries concerned—Greece and Turkey—and that introducing a large number of additional mediators is most unlikely to help these negotiations?

My Lords, can my noble friend confirm that the prior consent of both the Turkish and the Greek authorities in Cyprus will not be necessary before such a mission of reconciliation is allowed to land in Cyprus?

My Lords, such a mission would first have to be acceptable to the Security Council, which it might well not be, and of course there could be no question of imposing any settlement on any part of Cyprus.