HC Deb 15 November 1920 vol 134 cc1518-9
62. Major BARNES

asked the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Cypriotes have been officially notified to the effect that the British Government refuse to permit the union of Cyprus with Greece; whether there is an unanimous desire on the part of the Greek islanders, who form the immense majority of the population, for union with the motherland; and, if so, why the British Government has acted in a manner contrary to the principle of self-determination?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Lieut.-Colonel Amery)

By direction of the Secretary of State, I informed the Cyprus deputation, on 26th October, that His Majesty's Government were not prepared to assent to the union of Cyprus with Greece. His Majesty's Government is not aware that there is any unanimous desire on the part of the Greek population to change their present allegiance under which they have attained unexampled prosperity; but even if it were otherwise, account would have to be taken of the views of the large Turkish minority, who would be violently opposed to the union of the island with Greece.


May I ask my hon. and gallant Friend whether it is not the fact that ever since the occupation of this island by the British authorities protests have been made continuously from every section of the population, except a comparatively small minority of Mohammedans in the island; and whether there is any justification whatever for the idea that the Greek Government, which has already a large body of Mohammedan subjects under its control, would treat the minority in Cyprus in any spirit but that of justice and equality?


Is there any reason to suppose that any large proportion of the Cypriote population is satisfied with British rule?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

The minority is a very considerable one. It amounts to something like 25 per cent. of the whole population. I am afraid I cannot say with any certainty whether protests have been received ever since 1878, and I should be very doubtful of that statement. Certainly none of the information we have indicates any general dissatisfaction with British rule, or that the movement in favour of union with Greece extends to more than the limited minority I have mentioned.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Was not an understanding arrived at with M. Venizelos that in the case of Greece entering into the War she should have Cyprus?

Colonel YATE

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Cypriotes have no racial affinity whatever with the Greeks, that Cyprus has never been under Greece since the dawn of history, and that there are, therefore, no grounds for joining them to Greece?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

As to the first part of the question, only an anthropologist could decide; as to the second part, Cyprus was never historically part of Greece.

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