HC Deb 12 March 1980 vol 980 cc1319-21
7. Mr. Norman Atkinson

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement as to the current position of the Cyprus intercommunal talks.

Sir Ian Gilmour

Dr. Waldheim is continuing his intensive efforts to find an agreed basis for an early resumption of the talks.

Mr. Atkinson

Does the Lord Privy Seal agree that, judging by recent remarks of Mr. Denktash and from Ankara, the talks will not reach a successful conclusion? If the right hon. Gentleman agrees that the two priorities must be the withdrawal of Turkish troops and the free movement of people throughout Cyprus, could not the Government take an initiative similar to that which they have taken on Afghanistan and propose that United Nations troops should be asked to replace the Turkish troops occupying the island? Will the Lord Privy Seal consider that as a serious proposition?

Sir I. Gilmour

Talk of a successful conclusion is looking too far ahead. What we want is a successful beginning, or at least a successful resumption of the talks, and that is what we are aiming for and what my right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign Secretary told Mr. Denktash when they met a few days ago. The right approach is to continue with our full support for Dr. Waldheim's efforts to restart the talks and to hope that they will soon be successful. It would be wrong for us or any other Government to try to cut across those efforts. I am sure that they are the best bet for a successful resumption of the talks.

Mr. Christopher Price

Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed that the attempt to restart the inter-communal talks has coincided with further talk of a unilateral declaration of independence on the part of the North by Mr. Denktash? Could the right hon. Gentleman confirm that if that were to happen it would impinge upon the responsibilities of Britain as a guarantor Power of the integrity of Cyprus under the 1960 treaty? Will he confirm that if that were to happen Britain would take action and condemn any such move immediately?

Sir I. Gilmour

Any such move would be highly regrettable and I hope that it is unlikely to take place. I do not wish to say more than I have already said. Our immediate aim is to secure a resumption of the inter-communal talks since I am sure that is the only way forward. Wild talk such as that mentioned by the hon. Gentleman is to be deeply regretted.

Mr. Jim Spicer

Does not the Lord Privy Seal agree that, given the circumstances under which the Turkish Cypriot community lived between 1963 and 1974, their views and their position ought to be given a much fuller airing both in this House and in the world community than it is getting at the moment?

Sir I. Gilmour

I agree. Not all the right is on one side. It seldom is. The views and the interests of both sides should be given an airing. I repeat that the only way forward that I can see to a resolution of the conflicting interests of the two communities is the resumption of the inter-communal talks.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Since it is important that the inter-communal talks should begin again and because it is essential that there should be political stability in the island, will not the Lord Privy Seal ask the United Nations to look again at the terms of reference to see whether both parties cannot be encouraged to come to the negotiating table on the basis of wider discussion?

Sir I. Gilmour

That is up to Dr. Waldheim. The United Nations has immense experience of the problems and its staff are highly expert, skilled and trusted by both sides. I am sure that if those experts believe that different terms of reference are needed they will adjust them. At the moment I am not persuaded of the need for such an adjustment.

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