HC Deb 20 November 1991 vol 199 cc257-9
7. Mr. Squire

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the Government's attitude to an international conference on Cyprus early next year.

Mr. Hurd

Britain supported Security Council resolution 716, which endorsed the aim of an international meeting. We hope that enough progress can be made for that objective to be accomplished, and shall continue to give the Secretary-General of the United Nations our full support.

Mr. Squire

With the tragedy that is Cyprus today and the role that we have as a guarantor power, will my right hon. Friend confirm that he is prepared to use the framework of the Western European Union to press for an acceptable solution—acceptable to all sides in Cyprus? Will he bear in mind in particular that many Greek Cypriots are concerned about the Turkish guarantee that overhangs all the proceedings?

Mr. Hurd

The best instrument for reaching agreement in Cyprus remains the United Nations. My hon. Friend rightly referred to our job as a guarantor power and, in that respect, we must do everything we can with the Turks, the Greeks and the Cypriots to help Secretary-General Perez De Cuellar to make some progress in his remaining weeks of office. I had hoped that some progress would be made in the autumn and I am disappointed that that has not happened. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have tried, together with all those I have described, to put impetus behind the process. I hope that the new Turkish Government will pay full and constructive attention to what the Secretary General is trying to do.

Mr. Faulds

As British Governments of both colours have failed the Turkish Cypriot community in Cyprus, to whom they undertook certain responsibilities under the constitution of 1960 and the treaty of guarantee, would not it be advisable for the Government to be a bit more sensitive to the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots who do not want to see—under whatever agreement, which may be too favourable to the Greek Cypriots—a return to the situation in the 1960s? In 1963, Makarios aborted the constitution and totally destroyed Turkish Cypriot rights.

Mr. Hurd

There is much more to the history of Cyprus than that. A heavy responsibility falls on Mr. Denktash, who is the acknowledged leader of the Turkish community in Cyprus. He has a strong responsibility not to be content with the status quo, but to exert himself to try to find an answer, community to community, to settle the dispute.

Mr. Tredinnick

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some British companies have not received the compensation due to them from the Turkish authorities controlling northern Cyprus? Does he agree that steps must be taken to persuade the Turkish authorities to give such compensation, because it is causing great hardship? A company in my constituency is in that position. Will my right hon. Friend undertake to look at the question afresh, please?

Mr. Hurd

Yes, I shall certainly do that. If my hon. Friend has not yet sent me details of the company in his constituency, I hope that he will do so.

Sir Russell Johnston

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that an international conference as proposed simply would not succeed unless Greek and Turkish Cypriot com-munities admit that they have both been responsible for atrocities and extremism?

Mr. Hurd

I do not know whether admissions about the past are as important as agreement about the future. I had hoped for a conference with the Turkish and Greek Governments and representatives of the two communities. There seemed to be the prospect of such a conference in the late summer and autumn and the chance that it might make progress. That chance has faded, but we must try to recreate it.

Mr. Anderson

Will the Secretary of State lay aside diplomatic niceties for a moment and say that that hope has receded since July as a direct result of the intransigence of Mr. Denktash, who has made no move despite the fact that concessions have been made by the other side? Is it not now time to say that clearly and to work with, we hope, the new Turkish Government, to bring pressure on Mr. Denktash to show some realism in the matter?

Mr. Hurd

I answered the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) with my view about Mr. Denktash's responsibilities. I agree that the reaction and response of Mr. Denktash is an important part of unlocking the position.

Mr. Day

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the difficulties of the tragic situation in Cyprus is that the Greek Cypriot Government are recognised as the Government of the whole island, whereas the Turkish invasion was precipitated by the Greek Cypriot coup, which destroyed the 1960 constitution? The Government recognise that constitution as giving the present Greek Cypriot Government legitimacy.

Mr. Hurd

There is a lot of history to Cyprus. That is part of it, as is the Turkish invasion of 1974. We recognise the Government of the Republic of Cyprus as the Government of the whole of Cyprus. We recognise that it is crucial for any settlement that there be agreement between the two communities, as communities. That was all set out in the recent Security Council resolution to which I referred in my reply and for which we voted.

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