HC Deb 28 July 1976 vol 916 cc634-7
13. Mr. Hastings

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he is satisfied that the Turkish Government are abiding by the 1975 Vienna Agreements on Cyprus.

Mr. Hattersley

The Turkish Government were not a direct party to the understandings reached between the Cypriot communities at the intercommunal talks held in Vienna. We hope that those talks will soon he resumed and that both parties will make a constructive contribution.

Mr. Hastings

I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties, which he has explained to me, but would he not agree that the policy of the Turks looks increasingly like annexation and that this would be against international law? Will he consider the possibility of a new initiative —for instance, a visit by a British or NATO mission into the Turkish area in northern Cyprus to investigate the position of the Greek Cypriots and British citizens there?

Mr. Hattersley

I have told the House on many occasions and am glad to repeat it today that, if we believed that progress could be made either unilaterally through a British initiative or through an initiative that we could encourage in the Commonwealth, the EEC or any other body, we should be happy to promote it. It remains our view, however, that the best chance of progress is to reconstitute the intercommunal talks and for them to take place in a meaningful way with matters of substance on the agenda. That is also the view of Turkey and Greece, and we must work to that end.

Mr. Christopher Price

Is my right hon. Friend aware that tension between Greece and Turkey is now more serious than at any time since the war? Is he aware that simply repeating the same answer Question Time after Question Time is not good enough in view of our particular responsibilities to Cyprus? Has he had any discussions with his EEC colleagues about methods of solving this problem?

Mr. Hattersley

I repeat the answer week after week because it seems to be right. In reply to my hon. Friend's second question, this matter was raised yesterday afternoon during the political co-operation discussions between the Community and the Greek Government. Discussion took place not only between EEC Foreign Ministers but also with a senior member of the Greek Cabinet, who shared my view rather than that of my hon. Friend.

Mr. Townsend

Why do not the Government take a far more robust attitude to the importing of Turkish peasants from the mainland into Northern Cyprus? Does not such action undermine the talks on the future of the island?

Mr. Hattersley

We have expressed our strong disapproval of Turkish resettlement of the northern part of the island on several occasions, and I shall continue to express it as robustly as the hon. Member cares it to be expressed. But our main aim must be to press, in whatever way we can, for an overall solution, and we must use our best endeavours to make the intercommunal talks work.

Mr. Corbett

Has my right hon. Friend had any recent conversations with Commonwealth countries with a view to getting an early resumption of the intercommunal talks?

Mr. Hattersley

We have had conversations at various levels with all parties who seem likely to be able to promote that end. I believe that the talks will be resumed sooner or later and that the parties will begin to talk about material matters. I understand the House's regret and frustration that this tragic affair has gone on for so long, but it is our judgment that the only possible solution can come from those talks.

Mr. Maudling

I recognise that any major new initiative will probably have to await the American presidential elections, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is grave concern that in the meantime the situation will get much worse with the expulsion of Greeks and the arrival of Turks? Is there no way, either through the EEC or the United Nations, to bring pressure on the Turks to ensure that this does not continue?

Mr. Hattersley

There is not much pressure which can be brought on the Turks which would provide a solution. One of my hon. Friends recommended some months ago that such pressure should be brought to bear, and the American Administration tried to bring it to bear. It did not work or help to make any progress in the talks about a solution. I do not believe that pressure or condemnation by this country will bring a solution.

Mrs. Jeger

Has any progress been made with the Turkish Government on the claims for loss and damage submitted by United Kingdom citizens who have been waiting patiently for more than two years for recompense for the outrages they suffered as a result of the Turkish invasion?

Mr. Hattersley

There has been a deplorable lack of progress in this area. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary made representations to the Turkish Government some weeks ago and will continue to press hard on this matter. I regret that I cannot tell the House and my hon. Friend that progress is being made at the speed which is essential.

Mr. Jim Spicer

I do not wish to apportion blame to the Greek or the Turkish community in Cyprus, but would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that since 1960 it has been shown that it is impossible for those communities to live together other than within a federated Cypriot State? Will he press for that solution in the long term?

Mr. Hattersley

The hon. Gentleman asks me to interpret history and to endorse the decision that he believes history has brought about. I do not believe that this is the way to reach a solution. Our position is that we shall support whatever form of future constitution the people of Cyprus want and that we shall provide whatever support they need to bring about that constitution. Our attempts to get the talks going will not be facilitated if I express the Government's view on which solution is preferable.

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