HC Deb 25 October 1989 vol 158 cc834-5
6. Mr. Stern

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Bulgarian Government in connection with their policy of Bulgarianisation of the Turkish minority.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. William Waldegrave)

We have always used every opportunity to urge the Bulgarian Government to improve their treatment of their Turkish minority. Most recently, I raised this with the Bulgarian ambassador on 20 September.

Mr. Stern

Will my hon. Friend use the influence of the Government and the regard with which our right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is held in both countries to take forward the process of diplomacy between Bulgaria and Turkey so that they start to talk and stop bouncing people backwards and forwards across the frontier?

Mr. Waldegrave

We shall certainly do that and, with our European Community partners, we hope that there will be a meeting in Kuwait between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries to discuss this issue. I believe that that would be sensible.

Mr. Litherland

Before any representation is made, will the Minister refer to the resolution emanating from the report of, and the in-depth debate that took place in, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in September, when blame was laid on both countries for the human tragedy and make every effort to bring about a dialogue between the two countries?

Mr. Waldegrave

I am well aware of that report, and I think that the hon. Member's advice is wise.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

The Bulgarians are treating their Turkish minority population with great brutality. Can my hon. Friend tell the House what replies he got during his recent visit and discussions with the Bulgarian ambassador?

Mr. Waldegrave

The result was not satisfactory. There has long been a policy of Bulgarianisation—making use of the language impossible, and so on. There are some signs that aspects of that are being abandoned. If so, that is welcome, but the huge scale of the movements across the border when it was open show how much pressure those Turkish people have been under.