HC Deb 30 April 1975 vol 891 cc452-4
10. Mr. Townsend

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the latest negotiations over Cyprus.

Mr. Hattersley

Her Majesty's Government welcomed the resumption of the intercommunal talks in Vienna on 28th April, in the presence of the United Nations Secretary-General. We are encouraged by the initial reports of progress in the talks.

Mr. Townsend

Bearing in mind Britain's special obligation towards Cyprus, is it not curious that the British Government have not been taking a more active part in the series of talks? What pressure are the British Government putting on Turkey to hand back Famagusta—a move which would make a big improvement, overnight, in the refugee situation?

Mr. Hattersley

I think that the British Government have a series of obligations. Some of them concern our legal status in Cypriot matters and others concern reality. Our obligation to reality requires us not to become involved in attempts to set up a conference, and the like. Such attempts might begin with a fanfare of trumpets and a great deal of Press publicity, but might end in failure. Her Majesty's Government have believed since the Second Geneva Conference, that the best prospect of progress and peace in Cyprus is through intercommunal talks. We have done a great deal to get those talks going again. I think we can claim with some justification that we played a substantial part in bringing together the parties on 28th April. I believe that our obligation to reality requires us to hope for, and to promote, the successful outcome of the talks, rather than to mount the initiative on our own.

Mr. Atkinson

If that is the case, does my right hon. Friend not recollect the decision, taken by the Government which he represents, to support Dr. Luns and the NATO nations in their decision to replace the armaments prevented from going to Turkey by the United States' embargo on arms to Turkey? Is he now saying that although it is the Government's intention to allow the Denktash-Clerides talks to get under way without interference from the British Government, it is now our policy to replace the arms embargo operated by the United States by supplying arms ourselves to Turkey through NATO?

Mr. Hattersley

First, I am not saying that it is the Government's policy to allow the Denktash-Clerides talks to get under way; it is Government policy to encourage and promote them, which is a very different matter. As far as the arms embargo is concerned, I hope that I am in order in saying that my hon. Friend has tabled a Written Question today about what he describes as NATO policy of replacing arms which have been withheld as a result of American policy. His assumptions about NATO are entirely wrong. Our attitude towards arms to Turkey is clear. We have two obligations. The first obligation is the preservation of the situation in Cyprus as it should be rather than as it is, and the promotion of a peaceful solution to the Cyprus tragedy. Our second obligation is towards Turkey as a member of NATO. The Government will examine the merits of both propositions in an endeavour to meet both obligations.

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