HC Deb 29 March 1995 vol 257 cc1006-7
4. Mr. Waterson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit Cyprus to discuss its accession to the EU. [14943]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. David Davis)

We are in regular contact with the Cypriot authorities to discuss Cypruss application for EU membership. President Clerides visited London in January and met my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary.

Mr. Waterson

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the British Government are lending their full support to the efforts of the French presidency to broker a settlement in Cyprus that will involve an agreement to a customs union with Turkey—and also, importantly, the accession of Cyprus to the EU?

Mr. Davis

I certainly agree with the view implicit in my hon. Friends comments—that the conclusion of the Foreign Affairs Council on Cypruss accession and the Turkish customs union is a good deal for all parties concerned. Accordingly, the United Kingdom gave strong support to the French presidency in its successful efforts to reach an agreement. That agreement was rightly welcomed by the Cypriot Government, and President Clerides singled out the United Kingdom among all the EU nations for its helpful contribution.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones

The Minister will be aware that Cyprus is one of a long list of countries that aspire to membership of the European Union. The list, as he knows, includes many countries from central and eastern Europe which will, perhaps, be watching these exchanges carefully. Where does Cyprus come in the pecking order?

Mr. Davis

I do not think that there is a pecking order. The Corfu Council made it clear that Cyprus and Malta would be in the next stage of enlargement, as will the central European countries to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Mrs. Roche

Does the Minister agree that the Government could do much more to help in Cyprus, where there are still problems with missing people and refugees who, sadly and tragically, cannot return to their own homes? Is it not about time that the British Government did much more, in ministerial visits and using their good offices, especially as they are a guarantor power, to bring about a just and lasting solution?

Mr. Davis

The best answer to the hon. Lady would be President Cleridess comment, when he said what a good job we did in supporting the accession discussions. We have taken a strong interest in the missing persons problem. Our view is that if both communities helped more, we would make further progress.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my hon. Friend agree that we owe it to the memory of the British service men who died on active service in Cyprus to ensure that Cyprus becomes the kind of community that we want within the European Union before it is given any kind of nod and wink that it is likely to join?

Mr. Davis

We look forward to Cyprus joining the Community. We would hope to see it join as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, and to join in such a way that all the people of Cyprus gain from accession.