HC Deb 20 July 1994 vol 247 cc407-26

10.2 pm

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)

First, I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry), who is temporarily out of the Chamber, on his return to the Foreign Office—and, indeed, his return to the Chamber. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to our right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Chalker, the Minister for Overseas Development, so he will obviously approach his new portfolio with great interest and experience.

This is a sad day in the history of Cyprus. It is the 20th anniversary of the Turkish invasion in 1974 when, at the dead of night, thousands of Turkish troops parachuted from the skies. That resulted in the partitioning of the island and in hundreds of thousands of Cypriots becoming refugees. Many people lost homes that had been in their families for generations.

I well remember that on one of my earlier visits to Cyprus I met a Cypriot who worked for the Cypriot Government. He said, "We took slightly longer before we fled because my father thought he should take the title deeds to our home as well." Then he added, "And much good it did him and us," because ever since then they have not been able to return to their home.

Last autumn I went to Cyprus with my hon. Friends the Members for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns), for Edmonton (Dr. Twinn) and for Basildon (Mr. Amess). One of the most traumatic occasions that we experienced was when we went with the mayor in exile of Famagusta to see from the border the home in which he had lived and from which he was now barred. It must be frightful for tens of thousands of people to go to that border, to see the homes where they once lived, and which are still their legal property, but to know that they are inhabited by Turkish settlers or soldiers and certainly by people who pay no rent for the homes that were once theirs and in the care of which they have no say. Many tens of thousands of people who fled from Famagusta and Kyrenia are in that dreadful position. There can be few greater denials of human rights than for an individual to be prevented from living in the home that his father, grandfather and great grandfather have also been pleased to call home.

It is not just a question of refugees. As a result of the events of 20 years ago, more than 1,500 people are missing whose fate is unknown. The hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) and I—accompanied by, among others, the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) —were in Trafalgar square on Sunday. It is probably the last time that I shall appear on the same platform as the right hon. Member for Chesterfield, certainly in Trafalgar square.

Among those in the audience were a number of ladies who were dressed all in black because they did not know what had happened to their missing relatives. They could be wives uncertain of the fate of their husbands, mothers not knowing what had happened to their sons and daughters, or men and women who did not know what had happened to their parents. It is a scandal that 20 years later thousands of individuals still do not know what has happened to their dear ones. There are 200,000 refugees, thousands of people do not know what has happened to those whom they hold dearest, and 38 per cent. of the island is inhabited by Turkish Cypriots—although they comprise only 18 per cent. of the population.

To justify the situation in number terms, about 25,000 Turkish settlers have been introduced into Cyprus—not Cypriots, but Turks—and to demonstrate the Government's popularity there are 30,000 Turkish troops. What an advertisement that is of the popularity of Mr. Denktash that he can keep control only by having 30,000 troops from a foreign country in Cyprus. That shows that the so-called independent state of northern Cyprus has no popular support. It is surely wrong that Cyprus should have been repopulated by 25,000 Turkish settlers who are inhabiting homes which are not theirs and which are probably owned by Greek Cypriots who may be able to see their houses but who cannot live in them.

The events of 20 years ago are also a black period in Britain's history. It is one of the ironies of the 1970s and the 1980s that in 1981 my right hon. Friend Baroness Thatcher was able to send a task force to the Falklands to recover those islands from the Argentinian invader while in 1974 the noble Lord Wilson had British troops on British sovereign bases in Cyprus but did nothing to stop Turkish troops landing. He did nothing to use our position as a guarantor power to stop Turkish troops invading Cyprus. That history of neglect is a crying indictment of British politics in 1974.

The real tragedy of the past 20 years is that there is now a real danger that partition will become institutionalised. The blue line in Nicosia is as effective a barrier to movement between the two parts of Cyprus as the Berlin wall was in preventing movement between the two parts of Germany. Before 1974, Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived in the same villages, used the same shops, worked for the same employers and attended the same schools. They may have had differences of religion, but first and foremost they were Cypriots.

Since 1974, Greek and Turkish Cypriots have not spoken to one another, attended the same schools or used the same shops. A whole generation has grown up in which Turk is divided from Greek, Greek from Turk. There is always a risk that the partition which has endured 20 years may eventually be accepted as inevitable by some commentators on the Cypriot issue. One reason for this debate is to emphasise to the people of Cyprus that partition is as unacceptable today, 20 years on, as it was in 1974.

Since an Adjournment debate on the issue in May, on 6 July the European Court banned European Union states importing goods from northern Cyprus unless they were certified by the legal Government of Cyprus. That decision strengthens the possibility of an economic stranglehold on northern Cyprus. There are already huge disparities in the incomes of those who live in northern Cyprus and Greek Cypriots. That will obviously worsen. The northern Cyprus economy survives only because of subventions from Turkey, which itself is scarcely a wealthy economy, and the burden of making greater subventions to northern Cyprus may act as an incentive for Turkey to go to the negotiating table.

Apart from its economic impact, the ban emphasises the unacceptability of partition to national opinion. Peace in the middle east was achieved by a series of building blocks, and so it will be in Cyprus. The United Nations Secretary-General was right to introduce a series of confidence-building measures, based on the Turkish Cypriots allowing the Greek Cypriots back into Varosha and on the re-opening of Nicosia airport. Since 1974, Varosha—once the mecca of the Cypriot tourist trade—has been closed to all but rats and other vermin. No tourist, hotelier or anybody else has been in Varosha for 20 years. Reopening Varosha would have been a practical start to rebuilding confidence between the two communities. It would have boosted the economies of Cyprus, led to job opportunities for Turkish Cypriots and thus helped both communities. Reopening Nicosia airport would have given a great boost to the Turkish Cypriots, because it would have made imports easier and exports more feasible and given the tourist industry a boost.

The fact that the confidence-building measures, which would reduce disparities in incomes between the Greek Cypriots and others, have not been supported by the Turkish Cypriots must be due simply to sheer stubborn stupidity. President Clerides has agreed to those measures, but Mr. Denktash has been less than consistent and one must wonder whether he ever wants reach a negotiated agreement.

The second issue that one must raise is the Corfu summit, because it was agreed there that the applications of Malta and Cyprus should be the next to be considered by the European Commission. I believe that it would be wrong to link Cyprus's application to a satisfactory solution to its political situation, because in effect if we say to the legitimate Government of Cyprus, "We will consider your application only if there has been an agreement between the two communities in Cyprus," we are giving Mr. Denktash a right of veto over the application of the Greek Cypriots to join the European Community.

There is only one legitimate Government in Cyprus, and it is essential that the European Community should listen to them and to no one else. Cyprus has wanted to get closer to the European Union for many years and I believe that there should be no further delay in considering its application. It was agreed at Corfu that the European Union would consider that application in January next year. I know that Commissioner Brittan is anxious that it should be considered favourably, and I very much hope that it can be.

We should also make it clear to Turkey that its application to join the European Union will be accepted only when a fundamental precondition has been reached —that is, a solution to the Cypriot situation—because for Turkey to be able to colonise a country that is seeking to join the European Union and then say, "We want to join as well," is quite wrong.

The events of 20 July 1974 were unacceptable then and their legacy is even more unacceptable today. A whole generation of Cypriots have suffered because of the world's indifference to their situation in 1974. The world must not be blind to the continued difficulties of Cyprus and to the unacceptable consequences of the continued division of that beautiful island.

10.17 pm
Mrs. Barbara Roche (Hornsey and Wood Green)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) on securing the Adjournment debate on this very important topic. He rightly referred to the rally in Trafalgar square, and if I may say so it was a pleasure to see him there accompanied by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn). It was a sight for sore eyes. I am sure that many photographs were taken of the occasion, which could be shown to other hon. Members.

But on a more serious point, as the hon. Gentleman said, the rally, which I have attended on numerous other occasions, was perhaps one of the largest that there has been on the issue. It was attended by a number of people from the Cypriot community in Britain, and in the front, as the hon. Gentleman said, were a number of women who had come specially. They were dressed in black to symbolise the missing people.

There are many examples—with grave consequences internationally—of people who die in the tragic circumstances of war and civil war. But not to know—and still not know 20 years later—the whereabouts of one's husband, father, uncle or son is something too awful to contemplate.

A constituent of mine was at the rally on Sunday. She held up a photograph of her loved one. Many other people held up photographs of their loved ones. All that that woman has left of her loved one is a video tape of the "Nine O'Clock News", in which it is announced that nine police officers in her village have been detained by the Turkish invasion forces. That snippet is all that she has of him; nothing has been heard of him for 20 years. He was a young man in the prime of life, a serving police officer. His sister and elderly mother have no news of him whatever.

There is a problem with the reporting of events connected with Cyprus. I saw very little media coverage of that tremendous rally on Sunday, although I was delighted to read a wonderful editorial on the subject in today's Evening Standard, which dealt with the continuing international problem with great authority, passion and clarity.

On Sunday, we met in the shadow of South Africa house. Under Mr. Mandela's presidency, that country is now in a position that very few hon. Members on either side of the House expected to see in their lifetimes. South Africa is now being admitted back into the international community. Recently, President Clinton and the German Chancellor crossed, through the Brandenburg gate, into a free and united federal Germany. But Cyprus—a member of the Commonwealth and the United Nations—is still cruelly divided.

Many hon. Members on both sides of the House will have visited Cyprus. They will have gone from bustling Nicosia, a wonderful, thriving commercial city, to look at the green line: they will have viewed the divided part of the city, where nothing has moved or breathed for 20 years. It is possible to see the evidence of abandoned car lots and discarded glasses. It comes as quite a shock. I was a student at the time of the invasion; I remember reading about it, but visiting Cyprus and witnessing the desolation is another thing entirely. It really brings home the suffering that is going on.

So many people in Cyprus are refugees in their own land. The Cypriot Government have absorbed their refugees into the community; there are no refugee camps. The Government of Cyprus must be warmly congratulated on what they have done during those years. People forget, however, that many Cypriots are unable to return to their family homes or to visit the graves of their parents and grandparents. Theirs is perhaps the cruellest fate of all: they are refugees in their own country.

One of our difficulties in Britain is that, in many senses, we have lost the connection with land and soil, living as we do in a very industrial society. Although Cyprus, too, is a very modern industrial society, it retains that connection with the land that was owned by parents and grandparents —small pieces of land, perhaps, but they hold important memories.

Like the hon. Member for Hendon, South, I feel that President Clerides has done all that he can in the current negotiations. I find it striking that the Secretary-General of the United Nations clearly reached the view that Mr. Denktash and the illegal regime in the north of Cyprus were ensuring that the talks stalled and nothing happened.

Britain has a part to play in this. We are and we continue to be a guarantor power. I warmly welcome the Minister to his new post, but I must tell him that it is not good enough for Britain just to say that we support the best efforts of the United Nations. Britain has a part to play in solving this matter, as do the European Community and the United States.

I have asked several parliamentary questions on this issue. I asked about the visits of Foreign Office Ministers. From the answers, I understand that since 1979 Ministers have visited Cyprus only three times to discuss solutions to all the problems on the island. In the short time that he has been in his new post I do not suppose that the Minister has had time to make detailed travel arrangements, but I hope that he will visit Cyprus in the near future so that these matters can be discussed. In one case there was a gap of 10 years between visits. That is not good enough for a guarantor power.

The crucial issue involves the application of Cyprus to join the European Union. Rightly, mention was made of the Corfu summit. However, it is something to talk about it and sign a document there and then to hear Ministers say when they come back that Cyprus's application to join the European Union is dependent upon the problems of the island being solved. That is not good enough. In effect, that is the illegal regime in the north holding the legitimate, democratic Republic of Cyprus hostage. In every way Cyprus fulfils all the criteria to become a member of the Union.

If Cyprus became a member of the European Union, there is no way in which the Union would allow the island to be divided. It is vital that Britain does everything it can to encourage its membership and I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about that.

There is also the problem of the fires in Famagusta about which I have written to the Foreign Secretary. They swept through the city. We need to know how they came about and what will be the solution. There are many Cypriots in Britain as well as in Cyprus who are anxious about that. I look forward to the Minister's reply.

The people of Cyprus have waited a long time for justice and for a solution. I am glad that the hon. Member for Hendon, South initiated the debate. After 20 years it would be wonderful if Britain could begin to play its part in bringing about a just solution.

10.28 pm
Mr. Tom Cox (Tooting)

I join my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) in paying tribute to the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) for initiating the debate and for the long and honourable stance that he has adopted on Cyprus. Hon. Members can say that the issue of Cyprus has been kept alive by the actions of honourable Members from both sides of the House.

Like other colleagues I welcome the presence of the new Foreign Office Minister. No doubt he has an idea about the Cyprus issue, but I must tell him in the friendliest way possible that hon. Members from both sides of the House will take every opportunity to raise the issue of Cyprus. To the credit of hon. Members, that has been our record over 20 years and it is the attitude that we shall continue to adopt until there is an honourable settlement.

Both the previous speakers highlighted some of the tragic issues and, sadly, we must continue to remind people about them. Over the years I and other colleagues have had many meetings with senior Ministers. I and a number of colleagues had many meetings with Sir Geoffrey Howe when he was the Foreign Secretary. To his credit, he always said that, for the life of him, he could not understand why Turkey did not substantially reduce the number of its troops in northern Cyprus. Sadly, that did not happen.

I am a member of the Council of Europe. About three weeks ago, its political committee met in Strasbourg. The rapporteur was Lord Finsberg, who had invited both sides —the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots—to Strasbourg to discuss how they envisaged a settlement being reached. The committee will of course publish a report in due course, and I am sure that the Minister will find it very depressing. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green said, President Derides made very clear his position and that of the Government of Cyprus on the confidence-building measures.

As was stated at the meeting in Strasbourg, Mr. Denktash is—as we say—moving the goalposts all the time. The Secretary-General, fully aware of the problems, outlined clearly what he wished to be discussed. However, it was Mr. Denktash who repeatedly moved the goalposts and made meaningful discussions virtually impossible.

In a debate that I secured in, I think, December last year, a Foreign Office Minister, the hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory), outlined what the Government would be doing in the following three or four months, which took us into the beginning of the year. I know that Minister's name, but I regret that I do not know his constituency. He said clearly that the Government regarded the confidence-building measures with great hope, but it is Mr. Denktash, helped by the support that he gets from Ankara, who has delayed any meaningful progress on those measures.

The hon. Member for Hendon, South and my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green mentioned the rally in Trafalgar square on Sunday. My hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. O'Hara) thrilled the enormous crowd by delivering his speech in Greek. I also spoke at the rally. It became clear that, after 20 years, the Greek Cypriots desperately want an honourable settlement.

The first problem to confront the Minister when he sits down with the Foreign Secretary and other colleagues is to decide exactly what to do after 20 years. Despite repeated efforts at inter-community talks and despite the confidence-building measures set out by the Secretary-General, we have got nowhere. Now is the time for the Government to state what action is to be taken.

I liken Mr. Denktash to a blackmailer: he realises that, as long as his demands are being met with nothing being done to him, he will continue to make those demands. Regrettably, that is exactly what Mr. Denktash is doing. It is always Mr. Denktash who demands concessions. I suggest to President Clerides that the time has come for him, as leader of the Greek Cypriots, to make it clear that the concessions are at an end. Mr. Denktash and Ankara must agree that a settlement is needed.

However, in speeches and comments made in the past two or three months, senior Turkish officials have said clearly that they have no intention of withdrawing their troops from northern Cyprus or entering into a meaningful dialogue about a settlement. Mr. Ecevit, the leader of the Democratic party in Turkey, is on record as having said only a few weeks ago that the situation in Cyprus was solved in July 1974; he believes that there is no problem in Cyprus.

I shall not detain the House for very long as I am sure that other hon. Members, let alone members of the two Front Benches, wish to speak. I am the first to admit that the hon. Member for Hendon, South and many of his colleagues have an excellent record of fighting for the rights of Cyprus. I have said many times that I am not interested solely in the Greek Cypriots; I am interested in the people of Cyprus, be they Greek or Turkish, and in the island of Cyprus.

A great injustice was done 20 years ago. I do not know whether the Minister has ever been to Cyprus. Perhaps he has, in another capacity. I hope he takes up the suggestion by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green that Ministers got into the regular habit of visiting Cyprus. If the Minister went there he would see its enormous potential. The south is extremely wealthy. Sadly, the north is not. However, Cyprus is extremely popular with holidaymakers, and has a superb agricultural system that is extremely profitable to it. If only the island could be united, it would soon have one of the most prosperous economies in the world. Yet that still does not happen.

How would the Minister answer someone who said to him, "Look at my hands. Those are the hands of someone who has worked on the land all his life. That was my job, and it is what I love to do—but my lands were taken away from me and I have never had the opportunity to go back to my lands and my property"? The people of Cyprus cannot be expected to continue put up with and to live with that injustice, as they have for the past 20 years.

Those people are entitled to expect certain basic rights. The first is freedom of movement anywhere in the island of Cyprus. We should make the comparison with this country. What happens in Cyprus is as if people in this country were told, "You cannot go to Scotland or Wales; you can travel only in England." I am sure that all hon. Members would say that in any settlement both Greek and Turkish Cypriots must have the right to go anywhere in the island that they want to.

Equally, we can neither allow the situation to continue in which people have had their lands and properties stolen from them, nor allow a settlement in which those lands and properties are not returned.

The hon. Member for Hendon, South told us, forcefully and rightly, what we need to look for as evidence of good will. I have already described to the Minister the reluctance of Mr. Denktash and his friends in Ankara to accept any reduction in the number of troops in the north. As for good will, if Famagusta-Varosha were reopened, that would provide evidence of meaningful good will on the part of Mr. Denktash. Yet when he has been approached, what has happened?

When the Minister has been in his new post a little longer he will be able to sit down with his officials and look at the map of Famagusta as it was before 1974, and that of the Famagusta that Mr. Denktash now says he is prepared to hand back to the Greek Cypriots. He will see that that deal is just not on. It would not be on in this country, either, if any of us—the Minister, myself or any other hon. Member—were confronted by someone saying, "Oh, yes. Once that was yours, but now I've got it. It doesn't matter how I got it. As evidence of good will, I am prepared to give you one little bit back—but I shall keep the bulk of it." That is what Mr. Denktash says repeatedly about Famagusta. Yet if he was prepared to agree to the opening up of Famagusta, it would be evidence of good will on his part.

Although there are problems, they could be resolved, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations has clearly said in the past few weeks. I am sure that the Minister, although he has just come into this post, is aware that the inquiry that the Secretary-General was asked to hold about Cyprus went on for many months. It is only within recent weeks that, regrettably, the Secretary-General has said that he has got nowhere. The special emissaries whom he sent to Cyprus, including Mr. Joe Clarke, the former Prime Minister of Canada, have all said that they want a settlement. The tragedy is that, on the Turkish Cypriot side, Mr. Denktash does not want a settlement.

As I and many hon. Members have said before, we desperately want a settlement. I serve on the defence committee of Western European Union and I attend defence meetings. The Mediterranean comes more and more into our discussions, as do the possible threat and concern caused by countries in the Mediterranean. The lack of any settlement in Cyprus comes more and more into the discussions. That should be of concern to us.

I hope that the Minister takes up the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green. When, in the next few months, he goes to Cyprus for a few days and meets people—not only politicians, but ordinary people—he should do as my hon. Friend said. He should walk along the green line and think that this is happening in a Commonwealth country.

We all know what used to happen in Berlin. Visiting politicians always walked along the wall and had their photograph taken there. They used to say, "What a disgrace to democracy that in this day and age, there is a wall that divides a city." In Cyprus, there is a wall that divides a country. People in the north cannot go to the south and people in the south cannot go to the north. We are one of the guarantor powers. Cyprus is a member of the Commonwealth and the heads of the Commonwealth conference met there last September. Within a Commonwealth country is a wall that divides the country in half.

The Minister will find many friends in the House who will do all that we can to work with him and with his colleagues. What we say to the Minister in turn is that, in the next few weeks, he, the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office must tell hon. Members of both sides what the Government propose to do. They must say to Mr. Denktash and his friends and supporters in Ankara, "You cannot continue, year by year by year, to flout any authority that comes here to try to develop and to get accepted a settlement that would be as honourable for the Turkish Cypriots as it would be for the Greek Cypriots."

I wish the Minister well in his new position. Many hon. Members held him in high regard in his previous post. He may have taken on an even more difficult post now. However, as I said in my opening remarks, he can be in no doubt that at every opportunity the issue of Cyprus will be raised in the Chamber by hon. Members on both sides who are interested in the subject.

10.43 pm
Sir Peter Fry (Wellingborough)

I rise to put, dare I say it, a little more balance into the debate. I have listened to the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox). Just as two languages are talked on the island of Cyprus, it is almost as if two languages are talked in the House of Commons when we consider the issue.

The hon. Member for Tooting made much play of what had happened in the south of Cyprus, and he talked about the events of 20 years ago as if they were the start of the present problem. He knows, and I know, that the difficulties between the two communities go back further than 20 years. He is a regular visitor to Cyprus, so he will have seen the Turkish villages where Turkish Cypriots were murdered by Greek Cypriots. I accept that atrocities may have taken place on both sides.

What was missing from the hon. Gentleman's speech —and what I presume has been missing from the debate as a whole—is some sort of balance between the two communities. Let us take one simple fact: the Turks are a minority, and minorities tend to feel exceedingly nervous when there is a wealthier majority in the same country.

My second point is that, when we talk about a settlement, I must ask the hon. Gentleman and all those who are keen on the Greek Cypriot cause: who has benefited? Who has done well out of the green line and the division of the island? We all know what has happened. We know that the south has developed enormously and is much stronger than the north.

That has happened because the Cypriot Government are recognised by the international community and get the international aid. The problem is that the Turkish Cypriots have felt alone; they have felt that the only people interested in them are those in the Republic of Turkey. I do not think that hon. Members on either side of the House want any settlement forced on either side if it is against the will of the various people.

I make it clear that I do not have an axe to grind. Some of my colleagues may well have Greek Cypriot communities or Turkish Cypriot communities in their constituencies; I have neither. I came to the issue of Cyprus as someone who had no strong feelings in either direction. I became interested as a member, and now an officer, of the parliamentary friends of North Cyprus group because I felt that all the high cards were in the hands of the Greek Cypriots.

If we are to get a proper settlement, we must satisfy the fears of the Turkish Cypriots. We all know that, unless we can satisfy those fears, there is a great danger of the continuing presence of a large number of Turkish troops in the north of the island. Those who are putting forward the case for the Greek Cypriots must understand that fear.

The Turkish troops are seen as the only defenders of the freedom of Turkish Cypriots. We know perfectly well that there are more Greek Cypriots than Turkish Cypriots. We know well that some Greek Cypriots are much wealthier than Turkish Cypriots, with mineral resources. We also know the way in which the Greek Cypriots have built up their forces over the years.

The trouble is that, as this thing has gone on for so long, so much mutual mistrust is buried in the animosities of the past that it becomes difficult to bring about a solution today.

Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)

What sort of role does the hon. Gentleman think the United Nations should play in this problem? I visited Cyprus some time ago. It appeared that the international community had abandoned its responsibility for what was going on there. Does the hon. Gentleman believe that there is a role for the United Nations, at least to intervene on the question of Cyprus to find a solution?

Sir Peter Fry

Yes, I do. One of the great problems is that there have been various UN resolutions. At one time, it seemed that one side or both sides would agree with the resolutions, and they then backed away. That is why we have this continuing problem.

Another reason is that, despite the occasional problems along the green line, it is not like Bosnia; it is not like a country where a war is taking place. Cyprus is a remarkably peaceful country, and people are able to take their holidays in either Greek Cyprus or North Cyprus without fear that they will be shot at or endangered.

In a way, that is part of the problem. As it is something that it is not hitting the headlines, and as it is not seen as an urgent priority compared with some of the difficulties that we see all around the world, perhaps there has not been the urgency for the United Nations to try to get a settlement. I take the point made by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden).

Sir Jim Spicer (Dorset, West)

Other hon. Members have spoken about the role of the guarantor powers. If my hon. Friend casts his mind back to July 1974, he will recall that Mr. Ecevit, representing the Turkish Government, came here and begged the then Government of the United Kingdom to intervene—as we had a right and a duty to do —on behalf of all the Cypriot people.

The then British Government refused because they were craven and cowards. They did not intervene when they should have done. Had they done so, the island would not now be divided, because British troops would have been in Nicosia within 24 hours. There would have been a token Turkish landing, and President Makarios would have been reinstated. I will never, ever forgive—nor, I hope, will my hon. Friend forgive—the then British Government for their behaviour in 1974.

Sir Peter Fry

I endorse my hon. Friend's wise words. It would be a tragedy, however, if we spent all our time looking back and did not make an attempt to see how we can bring about an eventual solution.

Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam)

Does my hon. Friend agree that we have an obligation to look back, because unless we take history into account we cannot look forward? Does he agree that the problem at that time was that the people of the Turkish community were driven into enclaves, were deprived of their jobs and their civil rights? Does he agree that they gave a cry for help, to which the British Government of day failed to respond? That is why Turkey came to the rescue.

Sir Peter Fry

My hon. Friend is right. One must recall that this country was the guarantor of the Cyprus constitution. When that constitution appeared to be torn up by one side, it was inevitable that the Turkish Cypriots looked for help. I am afraid that, in their time of need, the Government of this country did not come to their assistance.

If we concentrate on who did what 25 years ago, we will not, however, get any closer to a settlement. If anyone doubts that, I refer him to the problems of Northern Ireland, where we are too obsessed with the past to alter the problems of today.

I refute the description of President Denktash offered by the Opposition. I have had the pleasure of meeting him on a number of occasions. With respect, I must contradict the hon. Member for Tooting, because I believe that Mr. Denktash wants a settlement. He knows that, in the long run, he cannot always rely on the Turkish Government to spend large amounts of money on Turkish north Cyprus. He knows that, in the long run, a population that is much smaller than its Greek neighbours must be offered certain built-in guarantees if long-term security is to established.

He also knows, however, that it is quite ridiculous to say to him and to his country, "You must rebuild Famagusta." The resources, frankly, are not there to do that. People now living in north Cyprus have lost property in south Cyprus, just as people living in southern Cyprus have lost property in north Cyprus. It is not a one-way process.

If hon. Members intend to ask the Minister, whom I congratulate on his appointment, to take a one-sided view, I must tell him and the House that certain hon. Members would not accept that. This is not a party political matter; we are trying to resolve a difficult situation in part of the Commonwealth.

As usual, the recent negotiations and who said what have been shrouded in fog. As I understand it—I am willing to be corrected—two main issues were to be settled and taken as a measure of the trust between the two communities. First, the main airport was to be opened, so that both parts of the island could use it. That is essential for the development of tourism in north and south Cyprus. I accept that that would have brought great benefits to the Turkish Cypriots.

Secondly, Famagusta was to be handed back to Greek Cypriots. I should have thought that that was a fair offer between the two communities. I understand that Mr. Denktash was willing to do a deal. But when he asked the Greek Cypriot Government to put their ideas and acceptance of the proposal on paper, they declined to do so.

I do not want to go into all the whys and wherefores, but it seems that there must be some doubt about who wants a settlement. As the Greek Cypriots hold nearly all the cards, it suits them perfectly well to let the situation continue as it is for a very long time. Their economy is not suffering. Indeed, it is expanding. They are not under the duress that is being experienced in the north. They are not under the same pressure to come to some form of settlement.

When the Government accept that they are a guarantor of the original constitution of Cyprus, I hope that we shall proceed in a more even-handed manner.

Mr. John Marshall

I suggest to my hon. Friend that he reads the report of the Security Council, in which it is made clear that the feeling of those who have been to Cyprus is that it is much more the fault of Mr. Denktash than of President Clerides that there has been no settlement.

Sir Peter Fry

My hon. Friend is entitled to his view, as is anyone who has been to Cyprus from the United Nations. I visited both parts of the island, and it is my feeling that there has been insufficient consideration of the real threats and fears to which the Turkish minority is subjected.

My hon. Friend talks about what the United Nations should or should not do. Is he suggesting—I ask a simple question—that the United Nations should enforce a settlement regardless of the wishes of the Turkish Cypriots? If he says yes, that is a point of view. I should make it clear that it is one with which I violently disagree.

If my hon. Friend says no, and he feels that there must be a settlement between the two communities, we shall get nowhere by bashing one of them over the head and trying to prove that it is entirely wrong. That will only reinforce its fear that it has no friends, and its desire that the Turkish troops should remain. That will mean only that an eventual settlement will be even further away.

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

The hon. Gentleman might think, on reflection, that he has done a disservice to the 200,000 Greek Cypriots who have been displaced and are refugees. Surely he accepts that those who were in the southern part of Cyprus wish to return to their homes. To suggest that the people in southern Cyprus, or the southern part of the Republic of Cyprus, do not want a settlement, does them a grave injustice.

Sir Peter Fry

A great many Turkish Cypriots were taken from their land in the south of Cyprus. It is an argument that applies both ways, and I am sympathetic to both groups.

The debate has, unfortunately, been one sided so far. Only one point of view has been expressed. I think that there is another point of view. It would be fatal if the Government or the United Nations continue to take what the Turkish Cypriots believe to be the Greek view. If that attitude continues, the problem will not be solved.

There should be a more even-handed approach. We probably need to persuade Mr. Denktash and his Government to arrive at a settlement. We shall not succeed by bludgeoning them—

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir Peter Fry

No. I am sorry, but I am about to bring my remarks to an end.

We shall not succeed if they think that we are not being even handed and that we are biased against them. I think that my intervention has introduced a degree of balance and has focused on the true split of the island—two things which had been missing from the debate.

10.59 pm
Mr. Edward O'Hara (Knowsley, South)

I regret that there is not enough time to develop many pertinent arguments. My intervention will be brief, but I must take up some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Sir P. Fry). He said that we must not look back, but all the rhetoric of those who support the cause of the Turkish Cypriots is based on looking back far beyond 1974. The hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) recognised that, and the hon. Member for Wellingborough should acknowledge the fact.

Great store is made of the Turkish army's right to invade Cyprus in 1974, citing the 1960 treaty of guarantee. It had no such right. The treaty of guarantee afforded it the power to intervene to preserve and restore the constitutional order in Cyprus, which was rescued from an aborted coup d'etat soon after the invasion in 1974. But the Turkish army stayed on and, in so doing, was in breach of the treaty of guarantee.

The hon. Member for Wellingborough should recognise that. He is talking the language of "Alice in Wonderland" when he says that the Turkish army was protecting Turkish Cypriots in northern Cyprus. He knows that there has been mass emigration of Turkish Cypriots from northern Cyprus and a mass import of immigrants from Anatolia into northern Cyprus—a classic case of ethnic cleansing and ethnic engineering.

Given the lack of time, I have time only to say that, behind all the rhetoric, the reality is that 20 years of prevarication and pretence of negotiation have been but a cloak for the real purpose of the northern Cyprus Administration, which is internally to gerrymander their electorate so that they have a built-in support from imported votes for their purpose of partition. Externally, they can now tell the outside world with some credibility that the two communities could not live together, because they have unlearnt the habit of living together by force of arms over 20 years.

Thucydides drew a distinction between pretext and causation in power politics, a classic example of which can be seen in the behaviour of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey since 1974 in Cyprus.

The hon. Member for Wellingborough made great play about the depression of the economy in northern Cyprus. The 200,000 Greeks who were driven out were the economic engine of northern Cyprus, and the Anatolian peasants who have been imported ever since are no economic engine to restore the area's economy. Although only 37 per cent. of the island is occupied, it is potentially by far the most productive part of the island. The Turks took the whole of the tourist industry in 1974—it had to be rebuilt in the south—and the most of the productive agricultural land.

Tacitus once said: they make a desert and they call it peace". Never could that axiom be more clearly applied than to the situation produced by the Turks and Turkish Cypriots in northern Cyprus today.

11.2 pm

Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam)

May I just round up the debate, because I must support my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Sir P. Fry)?

I first went to north Cyprus some 10 years ago. I have no brief from either community, Greek or Turkish. Indeed, I have friends on both sides of the divide. This debate must be regarded in the context of balance and, while I congratulate the newly appointed Minister at the Foreign Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry), I urge him earnestly to listen to both sides of the equation and visit both sides of the island of Cyprus.

When he visits the north side, he will hear a different story. He will immediately become aware of a community of peaceful people who threaten no one. Not a single life has been lost in conflict since 1974. All they want is that their children can grow up without fear and threats to their lives. The older generation remember keenly the deprivation and lack of civil rights that they went through.

While the Greek community rejoice in their prosperity, they rejoice also in their ability to lobby across the world, and do so extremely effectively. By the same token, it is important to bear in mind the fact that there are people in the north who are not so effective at lobbying, who cannot call up the world diaspora to their support, but who none the less have a strong case.

I urge the Minister to take account of their losses—of their loss of dignity, of the lack of support from Britain, and of how hurtful it has been that, although they regard themselves as a member of the British Commonwealth, they are not accorded the right of being an equal member of the British Commonwealth, in the same light as their colleagues and their friends in the south.

Mr. Enright

Will the hon. Lady treat of the subject of colonisation of northern Cyprus? There are no Cypriots in my constituency of Hemsworth, but I am considerably worried about the historical precedents that we have of colonisation of that type—indeed, it happened in ancient Greece. Would the hon. Lady like to justify what is happening there? Will she also perhaps reflect on what happened historically when that took place?

Lady Olga Maitland

I am grateful for that intervention. One fact must be borne in mind. If the hon. Gentleman should visit north Cyprus, he will become well aware that the north Cypriot regards himself with great pride as a Cypriot, not a Turk, and he simply regarded the purpose of the arrival of the Turkish army as being to look after his own personal security and his interests.

North Cypriots long for the day when they can be free of the support from Ankara. Ankara came to their support because they were being deprived of their civil rights, and they had been ethnically cleansed. Surely now the day has come when their wishes must be taken into account. I feel strongly that the House tends to forget them.

Mr. O'Hara

Can the hon. Lady give me an example of the ethnic cleansing of the Turkish Cypriots pre-1974?

Lady Olga Maitland

There are endless examples. If the hon. Member looks at any map of Cyprus, he will see that there are circles round places in which only the Turkish Cypriots may live, work and move. I have heard many personal accounts of Turks who have been totally deprived of freedom of movement across the island.

Mr. Marshall

My hon. Friend spoke about ethnic cleansing, and the fact that the Turkish Cypriots regard themselves as Cypriots, not Turkish Cypriots. Will she explain to the House how they feel when they see tens of thousands of Turkish colonists coming from Turkey and living in northern Cyprus? Is that not anathema to them, and to every other Cypriot?

Lady Olga Maitland

When my hon. Friend takes into account the fact that the people who enter from the country of Turkey are simply other citizens, and that, similarly, many people will have arrived in southern Cyprus from all over the world, I think that, in a sense, that is begging the question.

We are discussing an issue of equality of human rights. The Turkish people of north Cyprus deserve the same amount of attention and concern as the Greek people in the south.

11.8 pm

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

I add my congratulations to the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) on asking for and obtaining this debate. As my hon. Friends and Conservative Members have said, it is significant that today is the twentieth anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey on 20 July 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied just under 40 per cent. of the total land mass.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. O'Hara) rightly said, the occupied area was the most fertile, productive and economically wealthy part of the island, so I completely lost the thread of the argument put forward by the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Sir P. Fry), who seemed to blame the poverty of northern Cyprus on the industrious people of southern Cyprus who have worked hard to rebuild their economy in some of the most hostile territory of the island. It was a perverse argument to advance.

My hon. Friends the Members for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche), for Tooting (Mr. Cox) and for Knowsley, South have advanced many of the arguments and I do not want to repeat them. It is important that all the arguments are rehearsed in such a debate, and it was therefore refreshing to hear the view of the hon. Member for Wellingborough. Some reflective thought, however, might have given him the answers to some of his questions. He claimed that he had much higher motives in saying that he did not have a vested interest and came to the problem free from constituency pressures from Greeks on the one side or Turks on the other. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there are no Greek or Turkish Cypriots in my constituency in the Rhondda.

To the hon. Member for Wellingborough and some of his hon. Friends I would say that we do not have Asil Nadir in our constituencies either.

Lady Olga Maitland

That is a cheap comment.

Mr. Rogers

It is not cheap. If ever a person was supported by and received help from a political party, it was Asil Nadir in his business activities and the way he related to the nexus of politics and trading in the near east. Mine was not a cheap remark: I was saying that many Conservatives had strong connections with Asil Nadir, so they do not come to the problem in a clean state.

Lady Olga Maitland

How would the hon. Gentleman respond to the fact that Serbs from Belgrade and Bosnia used banks in Greek Cyprus to launder their arms-dealing money?

Mr. Rogers

The hon. Lady is perhaps an expert on the laundering of money in the middle east—if one can make Bosnia and Croatia a part of that—while I am not particularly expert. The hon. Lady has obviously made a great study of that area.

Mr. Asil Nadir was a fugitive from justice in this country and was entertained and was welcomed back in the illegally occupied part of northern Cyprus. There is no way that the Turkish Government will transport him back to this country. He certainly had a great deal of influence on certain members of the—

Sir Jim Spicer

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rogers

If the hon. Gentleman wants to speak, he can follow me in the debate.

The hon. Member for Wellingborough also said that northern Cyprus has no friends while the southern part, the Republic of Cyprus, has all the friends. That is fairly natural—if they are in the right and northern Cyprus and Turkey are in the wrong, naturally the world community will support those people who have suffered an injustice and whose land has been invaded by foreign armies.

Sir Peter Fry

Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that, while the minority Turks feel that their future is threatened and they are not given a degree of security, they will never be very willing to make a long-term settlement? Is that not the element that has been missing from the hon. Gentleman's speech and those of his hon. Friends? There has to be some guarantee. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, unless the Turks receive that guarantee, we may be debating the subject for many more years to come?

Mr. Rogers

I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman —in fact, I was going to come to that point. He said that we needed to be even-handed in our approach to the problem. He is right to say that guarantees must be made to both communities. My hon. Friend the Member for Tooting said that his interest was in Cypriots—not Greek Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots. Any solution that is to be brought about by the mediation of the United Nations has to be fair to both communities. That was why President Clerides recently made the offer that if northern Cyprus was prepared to demilitarise its area and Turkey was prepared to withdraw the 30,000 troops, he would disband the national guard. The whole of the island of Cyprus could become demilitarised, with a return to normal policing so that people in each of the communities could feel secure in their homes and properties.

It has been 20 hard years of diplomatic effort towards achieving a settlement. It is my considered opinion—I do not come to the argument from either side—that it is the Turks who have been intransigent in the negotiations. As my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting said, Mr. Denktash seems to be continually moving the goalposts. A study of the detail of the negotiations under the United Nations representative, Mr. Clarke, and an examination of his work over the past 18 months show that, at the end of the day, the difficulty has always been Mr. Denktash.

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

The Turkish army is supposedly defending human rights, but should we not consider Turkey's own record on human rights in relation to the Kurds or, indeed, even Manchester United supporters?

Mr. Rogers

My hon. Friend has made his point. I do not want to go down that road because of restrictions on time and the fact that the Minister wants to give as full a reply as possible to the debate.

The Turkish Government have a substantial involvement in the issue. Their transplantation policy constantly creates a position in which it will be more and more difficult to reach a just solution. The hon. Member for Hendon, South was right to say that the northern Cypriots resent the transplantation of mainland Turks, who are disturbing the whole of their cultural pattern. The people from Anatolia may be coming under duress or of their own free will, but they are coming to a foreign country. Cyprus is Cyprus and Turkey is Turkey.

The transplantation of populations is a form of ethnic cleansing—or ethnic engineering, as my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting said—and it can only confound the possibility of a proper and just settlement. As I have said, some 37 per cent. of the most fertile part of the island is occupied by 18 per cent. of the population. The only way the conflict can be resolved is by international negotiation, but the United Nations is running out of patience and may eventually have to take some draconian decisions to reach a solution.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green referred to the possibility of Cyprus joining the European Union. I am a little more optimistic than she was about the British Government's views on that. My understanding is that the former Minister of State at the Foreign Office said that the entry of Cyprus would be part of the next tranche of enlargement. That will trigger some action and there may be some movement to end the stalemate, which can only be of benefit to a problem that has been bogged down for 20 years.

Mr. Denktash has said that if Cyprus joined the EU, he would want to link up with Turkey. Of course, Turkey also has a vested interest in an association with the EU and eventually becoming a member of it. Although it may not be a candidate at the present time, it has a treaty of association with the EU and I am sure that it would not want to lose that. The Turkish Government might not like Mr. Denktash using them as a threat against their possible future in the European Union.

The solution must be even-handed. There are Cypriots, some of Turkish origin and some of Greek origin, but they are all Cypriots. I am quite prepared to accept that there might have been abuses in the past on both sides, but in the future we must try to create a situation that is just and equitable, so that the warm people of Cyprus—whom many of us have met in this country—on both sides of the line can be safe in their homes and the future of their children secure.

11.20 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Tony Baldry)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) on having secured a debate on this important subject on such a significant day for Cyprus. He has a long-standing and understandable interest in Cyprus.

We have heard a number of heartfelt speeches during this debate and I hope that it will be helpful if I set out some of the considerations governing our overall approach to the Cyprus problem and our view of recent developments in the United Nations-sponsored intercommunal talks, our role in support of United Nations efforts and how we see matters developing, and if I try to respond to as many as possible of the points that have been raised. It has been a relatively short debate, but much ground has been covered and I hope that hon. Members will not consider it discourteous if I do not give way because I, too, want to try to cover as much ground as possible.

As has been said, today is the 20th anniversary of the landings in Cyprus by the Turkish military, coming five days after a coup inspired by the then Greek military junta against the Republic of Cyprus. At the time, the United Kingdom Government rightly condemned those events and was instrumental in securing United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for an immediate end to the fighting.

The hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) made poignant reference to the fate of many of those missing as a consequence of those events and our thoughts must be with the relatives of those missing from both communities. The United Nations committee for missing persons, including representatives of both communities, is charged with investigating the fate of those missing. I am afraid that at times one or both communities have not co-operated with the committee's work.

The hon. Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. O'Hara) and others referred to the position with regard to settlers. We have made it clear that we regard their position, and any attempt to upset the demographic balance, unhelpful in attempts to reach a solution and we have said so. We joined other Commonwealth Governments at the Heads of Government meeting in Cyprus in October 1993 in calling for an end to such settlement.

Twenty years on, our thoughts must be with Cypriots of both communities who suffered then and have suffered since. We should think not of those killed and injured and their relatives, but of those who are displaced and have been unable to live in or return to their homes. We should think, too, of those members of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus, including our service men, who have given their lives trying to prevent fighting, of those who have striven since to keep the peace and those who are still there nobly engaged in the peacekeeping task.

Our efforts to help to find a solution to the Cyprus dispute are driven by the wish to avoid a repetition of the events of 1974. Our overriding consideration is that we should support the efforts of the United Nations in terms of both of peacekeeping and of the good offices mission of the United Nations Secretary-General. But our status as a guarantor power means that we aim to complement as well as support Mr. Boutros-Ghali's mission, while observing the primacy of his mandate. In so doing, we seek to assist both communities to find the way forward to an agreement.

Our activity takes many forms. We are active diplomatically in talking to the parties and the other guarantor powers. We are active at the Security Council in New York, working for measures that will promote a settlement. I make it clear that we are not in the business of prescribing the details of a settlement—but if it is to be a peaceful, just and lasting settlement it will have to meet the interests of both communities and secure their full agreement. The history of such disputes shows that a settlement imposed without agreement will not last.

Although we would not prescribe the details of a settlement, we have views about its overall shape and form. The Secretary-General's ideas provide a good basis. He envisages a bicommunal, bizonal federation. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary put it more clearly and in friendlier terms—one country, one Cyprus, one federal Government and two communities.

The House will gather that we remain committed to one Cyprus, and there is no question of our recognising the so-called Turkish republic of northern Cyprus. We have always considered its declaration invalid and supported UN Security Council resolution 541 of 1983, which called on states not to recognise that republic. That is not to say that we fail to acknowledge the interests of the Turkish Cypriot community. We are prepared to bear the brunt of much criticism because of our contact with that community. We see that contact as consistent with our status as a guarantor power and our obligation to deal with both communities if we are to be effective in encouraging a settlement.

Refusal to deal with one community would merely lead to entrenchment and make a settlement harder to achieve. We maintain contact with Mr. Denktash and others prominent in the Turkish Cypriot community and who have influence, so that we can do our best to encourage that community to reach a settlement. We are determined that those contacts will continue.

We see our role as encouraging the two communities towards a settlement—chivvying and urging them and other guarantor powers, and fostering the right environment for negotiations. We do so not only by substantial diplomatic efforts and intensive contacts but through our contribution to the UN force in Cyprus. In addition to speaking to both communities, it is important to encourage them to speak to each other. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary hosted a lunch in Nicosia for the two community leaders during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting last October. Our High Commission in Nicosia is always trying to promote bicommunal activities and it deserves encouragement, not criticism, for doing so—as do those members of the communities who seek to develop contacts.

Since March 1993 the UN Secretary-General has tried to secure agreement on a package of confidence-building measures for Cyprus. They involve the re-opening under UN control of Varosha, a former Greek Cypriot suburb of Famagusta, and of Nicosia airport. The package is designed to facilitate progress towards overall settlement and to build mutual confidence between the two communities. The leader of the Greek Cypriot community, President Clerides, accepted the package in principle last year but the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, did not.

Consistent with our policy of supporting the UN, my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary raised the Cyprus issue with their Turkish counterparts in January and urged them to promote a constructive approach by Mr. Denktash to the confidence-building measures. Shortly afterwards, he accepted the package in principle and UN-led talks on its implementation began in Cyprus on 17 February.

On 30 May the UN Secretary-General reported to the Security Council on progress. He concluded that a lack of political will on the Turkish Cypriot side was to blame for failure to reach agreement on the confidence-building package. He suggested five options for taking the process forward—withdrawal of the UN force in Cyprus, coercive measures against the Turkish Cypriots, a return to discussion of the set of ideas, far-reaching reflection on how to approach the Cyprus problem and a continued focus on the confidence-building measures package. Since 30 May, Mr. Denktash has said that he could accept the UN package subject to clarifications subsequently discussed with the Secretary-General's deputy special representative and the proviso that the changes are recorded in a revised UN paper.

The UN Secretary-General wrote to the Security Council on 28 June and informed it of that helpful change in Mr. Denktash's position and concluded that the two sides were now close on substance but remained divided on how the package should be presented. He hoped to break the impasse by sending the two parties an identical letter that would set out a basis for agreement. The Secretary-General observed, however, that neither leader was prepared to commit himself to co-operate with him if he proceeded as he had intended. It is now the turn of the Security Council, which is considering the Secretary-General's report and letter and expected to give a steer on the way forward in the next few days.

Our view is that a single option out of the options set out in the Secretary-General's report of 30 May is no longer an appropriate choice. We favour a combination of the two options: a process of consultation led by the Secretary-General with a view to undertaking a fundamental and far-reaching reflection on ways of approaching the Cyprus problem, and a continued effort to secure implementation of the confidence-building measures. We are working for a response which would initiate that wider process of consultation and examine the substance of the problem while not simply jettisoning what has been achieved in detailed negotiations on the confidence-building measures package.

A number of hon. Members raised the question of the possible European Union accession. I make it clear that the UK supports membership of the Community for those European countries that want to join and can meet all the conditions of membership. Cyprus applied to join the European Union in July 1990. The European Commission submitted its opinion on the application in June 1993, and the opinion confirmed Cyprus's European identity and character and its vocation to belong to the Community. On the basis of the progress achieved to date under the 1972 EC/Cyprus association agreement the opinion was generally positive about Cyprus's ability to adopt the necessary acquis within a reasonable time scale, but a number of structural and other reforms are still necessary.

The opinion also recognised the difficulties of accession ahead of an intercommunal settlement, but, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said: We want to remove those difficulties; we want to see Cyprus admitted. That is one reason … why we, perhaps more than any other outside country, are working so hard to find a solution … Our attitude is a positive one—to remove the obstacles to the accession of Cyprus."—[Official Report, 11 July 1994; Vol. 246, c. 702.] It is important to stress that it is not in the power of the United Kingdom, the European Union or, indeed, the United Nations, to compel a workable solution—

The allotted time having expired, the debate was concluded, in accordance with MADAM SPEAKER'S statement—[Official Report, 14 July 1994; Vol. 246, c.1197.]