HC Deb 25 January 1984 vol 52 cc899-900
1. Mr. Bell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the level of diplomatic representation of Her Majesty's Government in Turkey.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Ray Whitney)

We are represented by a resident ambassador in the Turkish capital Ankara with a full supporting staff.

Mr. Bell

Will the Foreign Secretary convey to our ambassador in Turkey the strong feeling, not only in the House but in the country, over the fact that 33,000 political prisoners are languishing in Turkish gaols, and that, by Telex to newspapers throughout the country, the military recently banned any references to an amnesty for those political prisoners? Given the fact that we are partners in NATO, will our ambassador in Turkey make the strongest representations to the new Government there about our great disquiet over the number of political prisoners in Turkey?

Mr. Whitney

Her Majesty's Government have steadily made clear to the Turkish Government our concern about human rights in Turkey, and this was last done by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State in Stockholm last week in his discussions with the Turkish Foreign Minister. We shall continue to make the Turkish Government aware of this concern. We welcome the fact that immediately on taking office the new Turkish Government declared that they were opposed to any action aimed at reducing basic human rights and freedom.

Mr. Hill

Should not the Turkish Government be further complimented on the fact that within the first few days of their office they have agreed to the holding of local government elections throughout the country, involving all political parties? Is this not a great step forward in democracy?

Mr. Whitney

I accept what my hon. Friend says. We welcome that development, as we do any further development towards the full restoration of democratic rights in Turkey.

Mr. Ashdown

Is the Minister aware that, as we approach the 10th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, there still remain 800 United Kingdom nationals uncompensated for the losses incurred during the campaign, some of them for sums amounting to £10,000? As we participated last year in giving $32 million of aid to Turkey through article 113 of the Committee of the EEC, has not the time come for more strenuous representations to be made to ensure that these people are compensated?

Mr. Whitney

We have continued to make the strongest representations and have given support to ensure that British nationals in Cyprus are duly compensated. We regret the delays and continue to keep up the pressure.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

Are not Moslem countries which are parliamentary democracies extremely rare? Turkey suffered a period of ferocious political and civil violence, followed by a period or martial law, and it is now trying to re-establish democracy. Does not Turkey require and deserve all our help and support throughout this difficult period?

Mr. Whitney

I agree with my hon. Friend. We understand the problems that have affected Turkey over many years, and we commend the efforts that have been made, to put things right in particular, the elections that were held in November. We look forward to a continuance of the evolutionary process to restore democracy in Turkey.

Mr. George Robertson

Will the Minister remind himself and his hon. Friends that Turkey is a full member of NATO and as such should respect the central tenet of that organisation, which is respect for individual freedom? Is not the continual breach of human rights in Turkey utterly unacceptable? Will the hon. Gentleman make the strongest representations about the imprisonment of political prisoners, in particular that of Dr. Mahmut Dikerdem, the former ambassador, whose show trial was an affront to any normal standard of justice?

Mr. Whitney

We understand the concern that the hon. Gentleman has expressed, but I can only repeat that we continue to make that concern known to the Government of Turkey and that that was done most recently last week on 19 January, when my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State met the Turkish Foreign Minister.

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