HC Deb 02 March 1994 vol 238 cc932-3
8. Mr. William O'Brien

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the most recent round of talks on Cyprus.

Mr. Hurd

Negotiations resumed in Nicosia on 17 February. They are focusing on a package of confidence-building measures, which has been agreed in principle by both sides. It is important that the parties should take advantage of the present opportunity to make progress because it may not quickly recur.

Mr. O'Brien

Missing persons and the settlement of land and buildings are issues which involve human rights. I should imagine that they are part of the 14 confidence-building measures arising out of the talks. Will the Secretary of State assure me that the confidence-building measures will continue and that pressure from the special UN representative, Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government will be placed on Athens and Ankara to get the talks under way and settled? Can we be assured that business arising out of the talks will not be withered?

Mr. Hurd

In recent days, I have been in touch with Mr. Joe Clark, the Secretary-General's representative. I saw the Prime Minister of Greece about this matter the day before yesterday and, as my hon. Friend the Minister said, I have talked to the Turks recently. There is an opportunity here, starting with the measures proposed, for the reopening of Varosha and of Nicosia airport.

We will do all that we can as a guarantor power to make sure that all the parties to the dispute seize the opportunity. As I have said, if the opportunity is lost it may not come again quickly.

Mr. Waterson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is growing frustration in the south of the island at the length of time it has taken to get the confidence-building measures in place, particularly as, according to experts, it could take up to two years for the airport to be made usable again?

Mr. Hurd

I agree with that, and I share the frustration. We will urge those involved in the negotiations to press ahead as fast as they can.

Mr. John D. Taylor

In welcoming the decision of the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots to accept in principle the UN proposals which were supported by the Government, may I ask the Foreign Secretary to confirm that the Government also support the recommendations of the UN working party to implement those proposals? Do the Government support in particular the suggestion that in the interests of air safety there should be only one air control system for the new international airport at Nicosia and the existing international airport 10 miles away at Ercan?

Mr. Hurd

The proposal is that Nicosia airport should reopen under UN control. I am not familiar with what is proposed for air traffic control. I am sure that it is important, as the right hon. Gentleman says, and I will look into it further.

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