HC Deb 18 February 1987 vol 110 cc907-8
11. Mr. Ron Brown

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has received recent representation calling for the restoration of diplomatic relations with Albania; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Renton

We have not received any representations recently. We offered in 1980 to establish diplomatic relations with Albania unconditionally, and that offer remains open. Unfortunately the Albanians have not so far taken it up.

Mr. Brown

Is it not time that we had direct links with Albania? Perhaps the sticking point is the returning of Albania's gold, which was seized by the Nazis at the end of the war and ended up in the Bank of England. Surely that should be returned. If there is any dispute about the so-called Corfu incident, that can be sensibly dealt with. An indiscretion by a small country is nothing compared to the activities of Germany, Japan or Italy. Let us make amends and return the gold so that we can have direct links with that small but important country.

Mr. Renton

The House will wish to congratulate the hon. Gentleman on moving on from Afghanistan to Albania. Afghanistan is perhaps in danger of becoming too revisionist for him. The fact is, as the hon. Gentleman knows, that we cannot act unilaterally with regard to the Albanian gold. That can be done only by unanimous agreement of the Tripartite Commission for the Restitution of Monetary Gold—[Interruption.] I am not making excuses. We are anxious to resolve all the outstanding problems, but there still remains, for example, the Albanian refusal to settle the Corfu channel claim. That must be dealt with.

Sir Anthony Kershaw

Is there any point whatever in having diplomatic relations with these ruffians?

Mr. Renton

I sincerely hope that my hon. Friend was not speaking about the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Brown). If so, that would be unparliamentary language.

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