HC Deb 30 May 1951 vol 488 cc197-8
11. Mr. Watkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on British-Turkish relations, with particular reference to economic co-operation and defence.

Mr. H. Morrison

As the answer is inevitably long, I will with permission circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Watkinson

In view of Turkey's great value as an outlying bastion of Western defence, would the Foreign Secretary at least give the House an undertaking that we are doing all we can to bring Turkey into association with us in the defence of Western Union and of the Middle East?

Mr. Morrison

That matter is under consideration. It is a question of what is the best way to do it. I think I can give the hon. Gentleman the answer that in spirit I agree with what he has said.

Brigadier Head

Will the Foreign Secretary bear in mind that in this matter time is of the utmost value?

Mr. Morrison

I will bear that in mind.

Following is the answer:

Economic relations between Turkey and the United Kingdom are governed directly by the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation of 1930, as amended by the Trade and Payments Agreement between the two governments of 1940. Furthermore, both countries are members of the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation and of the European Payments Union, and are contracting parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. They co-operate fully within these organisations, and a mutually satisfactory agreement on tariffs has recently been concluded between the United Kingdom and Turkey.

The defence of Turkey is a matter of vital concern to His Majesty's Government, and our two countries already have close ties in the defence field. First, as Turkey's ally, the United Kingdom is bound by the Anglo-Turkish Treaty of 1939, to go to her assistance if she is attacked. Secondly, the United Kingdom is, by a decision of the North Atlantic Council, associated with Turkey in such aspects of N.A.T.O. military planning as concern the defence of the Mediterranean. Thirdly, by reason of her concern with defence in the Middle East, the United Kingdom has a special interest in collaborating with Turkey in the defence of that area. As the House will recall, General Robertson, the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East Land Forces, recently visited Turkey and had conversations with the Turkish General Staff for that purpose.

There is now a general feeling in Turkey, and in some other quarters, that existing defence arrangements are not enough and that there is need for Turkey to receive a further guarantee of her security and to be associated more closely than she is at present with the defence of the West. His Majesty's Government well understand and fully share Turkish feeling in this matter. We know well the highlighting quality of the Turkish soldier. We have watched with admiration the courage and sturdy endurance of the Turkish contingent in Korea. We shall support and gladly welcome a reinforcement of the defence ties between Turkey and the Western Allies.

The only question is how this can best be done. This question raises complicated military and other problems which concern not only Europe but also the Middle East. There has been a proposal that Turkey and Greece should become full members of the North Atlantic Treaty. His Majesty's Government would certainly not exclude this solution, but would first wish to be satisfied that it is agreed by all concerned to be in fact the best solution. In consultation with their Allies, they are at present examining the whole matter with the greatest sympathy. Whatever solution is finally agreed, His Majesty's Government are determined that it shall bring greater strength and security both to Turkey and to the West.