HC Deb 22 February 1978 vol 944 cc1426-8
8. Mr. Corbett

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met the Turkish Foreign Minister.

Mr. Judd

My right hon. Friend met the then Turkish Foreign Minister in London on 14th October. I myself visited Ankara in September last year and also held talks with the then Foreign Minister.

Mr. Corbett

I thank the Minister for his reply. Will he seek an early meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister in order to discuss a reported change of attitude by the new Turkish Government over Cyprus? Does he agree that the British Government in particular have a special role which they can play here in trying to bring about peaceful relations and perhaps better sense between the two communities on this tragic island?

Mr. Judd

I think that anyone following developments in Turkey must be encouraged by the statement of Mr. Ecevit and the new Government. We shall do everything we can to facilitate the working out of a solution between the Turkish Government and the Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot communities in Cyprus.

Sir Frederic Bennett

Although there has apparently been a welcome change of heart in Ankara, does the Minister agree that there will also need to be a responsive gesture from Athens if any solution is to be found to these difficulties?

Mr. Judd

The belief of the Government is that the principal way in which a solution will be found is within Cyprus, because it is the people of Cyprus who must subscribe to a solution and make it work.

Mr. Christopher Price

Will my right hon. Friend try to co-ordinate the political efforts that he is making to find a solution in Cyprus with the economic attitude of the European Community, which is making it very difficult for the economy of the Republic of Cyprus, with its agricultural exports, to survive? The difficulty is that this attitude may jeopardise a settlement in the meantime.

Mr. Judd

I am disappointed that it has not been possible for the Community to respond more favourably and readily to the economic needs of Cyprus. I hope that we are making progress and that a solution is within sight.

Mr. Hurd

Will the Minister confirm reports that there is now a good prospect of a meeting between the Turkish and Greek Prime Ministers? In view of the great importance of such a meeting, which is planned to take place, what can Her Majesty's Government do, either directly or through the European Community, to edge such a meeting forward to success?

Mr. Judd

As I understand it, it has already been agreed that a meeting should take place. We have very good relationships with the two Governments and were at pains, in our discussions bilaterally with those Governments, to make sure that we discussed with them ways in which we could facilitate progress not only on Cyprus but on other issues, such as the Aegean and the problem of defence on the southern flank of NATO.