HC Deb 12 May 1998 vol 312 cc137-9
3. Mr. Nigel Waterson (Eastbourne)

What plans he has to visit Cyprus to discuss a settlement between the communities; and if he will make a statement. [40492]

14. Mr. Andrew Love (Edmonton)

What support the Government are giving to efforts to recommence the United Nations-sponsored negotiations in Cyprus. [40505]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Derek Fatchett)

We fully support the current UN efforts to achieve the resumption of negotiations on a comprehensive political settlement in Cyprus. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the UN Secretary-General on 3 April to reiterate that message.

My right hon. Friend has no immediate plans to visit Cyprus, but we continue to maintain close contact with leaders of both communities in Cyprus with the aim of getting the UN negotiations resumed.

Mr. Waterson

I thank the Minister for that answer. Following the recent visit to the island by Mr. Holbrooke, I urge the Minister not to allow any retreat from the proposals for a federal solution and I ask him to continue to urge the Americans to keep up their pressure on the Turkish Government.

Mr. Fatchett

We shall certainly continue to work with all our allies toward the objectives set out by the hon. Gentleman. We strongly support a bi-zonal, bi-communal solution to the problems of Cyprus as that is the only way to make progress. Whatever contribution we, the United States and the United Nations can make toward that objective will clearly be welcome.

Mr. Love

May I add my voice and those of my Cypriot constituents to those expressing concern at Mr. Denktash's decision to impose conditions that effectively block further negotiations toward a settlement? Will my hon. Friend reassure the House that the Government are taking every action, both in Cyprus and in Athens and Ankara, to ensure that the parties are brought to the negotiating table as soon as possible?

Mr. Fatchett

Like all other disputes of this sort, the Cyprus problem lends itself only to negotiation and to a resolution via the diplomatic process. There is no other way in which there can be a just and lasting settlement to the problems of Cyprus. Such a settlement is in the interest not only of Greek Cypriots, but of Turkish Cypriots. We shall continue to remind Mr. Denktash of his responsibility to the peace process and to his own people.

Mr. Mike Hancock (Portsmouth, South)

May I use this opportunity to congratulate David Madden, the high commissioner in Cyprus, and his staff on the work they have done to support the bi-communal activities of the Cypriot people? May I also seek an assurance from the Minister that we will make every effort to bring the two communities together and exert pressure on Mr. Denktash? The real solution to the Cyprus problem, when one accepts that both communities want a solution, is that pressure needs to be exercised through Ankara. Until the British and American Governments are prepared to tackle that issue front-on, the situation in Cyprus will continue not to be solvable.

Madam Speaker

I did not hear a question in that, but I am sure that the Minister will respond to the hon. Gentleman's comments.

Mr. Fatchett

I shall do my best to help the House by finding a question. I shall then set up my own question and answer it.

I shall convey the hon. Gentleman's congratulations and best wishes to our high commissioner—I am sure that they are well deserved. He is right in saying that there is a need for movement on both sides, including Turkey, if we are to come up with a satisfactory solution. I emphasise the point I made to my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love); the only way to achieve that is through negotiation and diplomatic activity and I assure hon. Members that we will spare nothing in our diplomatic efforts.

Ms Joan Ryan (Enfield, North)

I understand that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is to visit Turkey in the near future. Will the Minister comment on whether he will urge the Government of Turkey to press Mr. Denktash and his regime to take a far more positive approach to a just solution for Cyprus in line with the United Nations resolutions?

Mr. Fatchett

I find it surprising that Conservative Members can find nothing else to do but laugh when we are dealing with such difficult and sensitive issues, especially given the suffering endured by the people of Cyprus over the past 20 years or more.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will indeed urge the Turkish Government to become involved in a solution to the problems of Cyprus, which would be in the interests of Turkey and of the Turkish Cypriots. We hope that that approach will enable us to make progress in the near future.

Mr. Eric Pickles (Brentwood and Ongar)

Part of the increasing tension is undoubtedly due to the purchase of £600 million-worth of anti-aircraft missiles by the Cypriot Government. In our presidency of the EU, what pressure does the Minister think we can bring to bear to ensure that that additional military hardware does not further exacerbate the situation in Cyprus?

Mr. Fatchett

I realise, from the serious nature of the hon. Gentleman's question, why he has risen to the status of vice-chairman of the Conservative party. He is taking the issues seriously and he is right to say that the introduction of the S-300 missiles later this year will add to the tension. We have said that that is unwelcome and it is not in the interests of the people of Cyprus. We will urge caution and negotiation, as I have already said and will continue to say. The hon. Gentleman is right to ask for that restraint and continued negotiation.