HC Deb 28 October 1992 vol 212 cc1005-6
10. Mr. O'Hara

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the talks on Cyprus recently held in New York under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Mr. Hurd

This is Rabbit's busy day!

Direct negotiations, under the United Nations Secretary-General's chairmanship, reconvened in New York on 26 October. Security Council resolution 774 makes it plain that the international community expects this round to lead to the agreement of an outline settlement on the basis of the United Nations Secretary-General's "set of ideas", as set out in his report of 21 August.

Mr. O'Hara

We must all be positive and optimistic that the round of talks will at last resolve the problems of Cyprus, but we must also be aware of the number of disappointments in the past 18 years and be concerned about the extremely negative statements made by Mr. Denktas before departing for New York. Will the Secretary of State assure us that the United Kingdom Government have contingency plans? Will he offer us a specific initiative—something pro-active—to demonstrate Britain's special position in relation to the problem? Not only is Cyprus a member of the Commonwealth, but Britain is a guarantor power with specific and clear moral and legal responsibilities for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic of Cyprus.

Mr. Hurd

The hon. Gentleman is right to say that we have a special position in that matter. That is why we have been doing our utmost to back up what the Secretary-General plans to do and encouraging him to persevere against the obstacles. The hon. Gentleman knows what the obstacles are, but it is important that both parties in the talks now taking place in New York should understand that the problem cannot be allowed just to drift on. A heavy responsibility falls on them and their friends. In the past few weeks I have talked to the Turkish Foreign Minister, the Greek Government and President Vassiliou to emphasise that point. I urged them strongly that the present round of talks should proceed.

Sir Dudley Smith

Is it not plain that, after all this time, partition is bound to continue in that troublesome island, particularly in view of the negative attitude taken by the Greek Cypriot Government?

Mr. Hurd

I do not agree that partition can be the basis for a settlement. My hon. Friend's underlying thought is perfectly right—there are two communities on the island and they must be given rights as two communities—but if there is to be a lasting settlement, it must be within the sovereignty of one Cypriot Government.

Mr. Cox

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that any attempt to continue the separation of the island of Cyprus would be absolutely disastrous for both communities there? Hon. Members on both sides of the House have worked together continuously for the past 18 years for a settlement for both communities. As the officials in the state department and those in the United Nations said, the problem is the lack of meaningful involvement from Mr. Denktas. When will the Government make it clear that we want a settlement? And does Mr. Denktas want one?

Mr. Hurd

That is something that Mr. Denktas has to answer in the talks. He says that he wants a settlement. I hope that he understands that a settlement is desperately needed by members of his community, and of the other community, and that it will not be reached on the basis of the status quo but must be reached on something like the set of ideas proposed by the Secretary-General at the last round. It was on the basis of those suggestions that the Security Council passed the last resolution.