HL Deb 31 July 1974 vol 353 cc2327-35

12.10 p.m.


My Lords, with the permission of the House, I should like to repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. The Statement reads as follows:

"Yesterday evening at 10 p.m. I signed with the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey the Declaration which we had negotiated during a period of six days. I am placing a copy of this Declaration and of the statement by the three Governments which accompanied it in the Library of the House.

"We met against a background of numerous allegations that the cease- fire was being violated and this did not improve the atmosphere during the period of negotiation. Nevertheless, I would like to pay tribute to the statesmanship of the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey and their Governments which made this Declaration possible. I am glad to say that both Governments have welcomed the Declaration.

"Members of the House will want to study the Declaration and I will not go through it in detail to-day. Let me emphasise that the arrangements made under it are temporary. We must move on as soon as possible to better and more permanent arrangements.

"The Declaration is the best response which the guarantor powers could make to the request placed before them by Security Council Resolution 353.

"As regards the immediate steps to maintain security in Cyprus, we agreed that the areas controlled by opposing forces would not be extended; that all forces, regular and irregular, should desist from hostile activity and that a security zone should be established by representatives of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom in consultation with the United Nations force.

"As regards the measures to bring a return of confidence to the two communities we agreed that National Guard forces should evacuate Turkish enclaves. In these enclaves the communities would continue to have their own security forces but the U.N. force would also help with protection and security. Detained military personnel and civilians will be exchanged or released under the International Red Cross.

"As regards the future we will be meeting again from the evening of August 8 to discuss the longer term constitutional issues. The representatives of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities will be invited to join us.

"That is a necessary incomplete summary of the main provisions of the Declaration. It is not a perfect document but Greece and Turkey have. I believe, been brought back from the brink of war and what we have done in Geneva will help to keep the peace and give everyone a chance of moving on to the second and more important phase of making a peace which will last and which will create the essential confidence among the communities which has been lacking.

"The immediate aim had to be to remove the risk of war, but our abiding concern is the welfare of the people of Cyprus. Cyprus will not flourish so long as it remains an armed camp. We must do our utmost to secure compliance with Resolution 353 of the Security Council in all its aspects, including its military provisions as well as the Resolution of the constitutional problems of Cyprus in such a manner as will command the confidence of all its peoples.

"I must say a word about the situation in the Island itself. There have been a considerable number of breaches of the ceasefire called for by the U.N. on July 22, but it is the intention of the Foreign Ministers and their Governments that these should now cease and that life should gradually return to normal.

"The withdrawal of United Kingdom citizens and other friendly nationals into the Sovereign base areas and the subsequent evacuation to Britain of those who wished to leave the Island have gone smoothly. The Royal Air Force has flown more than 9,000 people to Britain. I am sure the House will agree with me that in the wholly exceptional circumstances obtaining in Cyprus it would be right to depart from established practice and to make no charge against individual United Kingdom citizens for their evacuation.

"In addition to the two deaths to which I referred in my Statement of July 22, I must report with great regret that four British residents of the Kyrenia area were killed last week. I have assured their families of the sincere sympathy of the House.

"And finally I pay tribute to all those who have been involved during these anxious days in trying to keep the peace or to help individuals who have suffered from the hostilities. There will be difficult days ahead and much more work is yet to be done, but together we have made a start."

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

12.16 p.m.


My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, for having repeated the Statement. I am sure that everybody in the House would wish to be associated with the tributes that he has paid to those who have worked so hard in these last few days and weeks. Perhaps there is a moral to be drawn from what the Services have done over these past few weeks. I hope that that moral will not be lost on noble Lords opposite. Defence cuts must be looked at in terms of the national interest. So far so good, although until one has looked at the Declaration it is difficult to see how far it goes. But we should all like to congratulate the Foreign Secretary on the part which he has played in bringing this about and not least for the stamina which he has shown in achieving it. It must be a source of satisfaction to all of us.

There is just one aspect of this matter which gives me a little cause for concern. Islands are notoriously difficult problems, as we all know. At the moment we have achieved a precarious ceasefire which has averted something infinitely worse—a war between Greece and Turkey. But we have only really scratched the difficulties of the problem.

It is inconceivable that we can go back now to the situation which existed before the coup by the National Guards officers. Inevitably it will be some time before some sort of solution emerges. I do not know what the Government have in mind. In the statement the Foreign Secretary says that he intends to meet again with the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Greece and representatives of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot community on August 8. But inevitably this must be a preliminary to the lengthy discussions which will have to take place about the future of the island and a new Constitution. How do the Government see this developing? It would surely be impossible for the Foreign Secretary to do that himself.

In the meantime—I know that these are difficult questions for the noble Lord to answer—should not something be done to make the Declaration which, as the noble Lord has said, is impermanent, a great deal more permanent while these constitutional discussions continue?


My Lords, I should like most heartily to associate my colleagues on these Benches with the congratulations extended by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, to the Foreign Secretary. Although we do not always agree with the foreign policy of the Government, in this instance we have no hesitation in saying that Jim Callaghan was the right man in the right place. We think he has done splendidly. I wish only that he had somehow contrived to be at the same time in another place, namely Brussels. But clearly in the circumstances that was impossible.

On the Statement itself, I agree with all that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said in his general observations on the subject. But I also draw attention to what is clearly the most important role, which I think emerges from the Statement, of the United Nations Forces in the future, if there is in the long run to be any agreement on the internal front. Would the Minister therefore perhaps say whether, in the circumstances, the Government intend to press in the Security Council, and I suppose also if necessary in the Assembly, for a strengthening of the United Nations Forces, however difficult from the financial point of view that may be, and, moreover, for the establishment in the Secretariat of some rather more elaborate machinery for controlling these forces when they are deployed in the field?


My Lords may I be permitted to endorse the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in paying a well-deserved tribute to our combined forces in Cyprus who have emerged from this affair with flying colours. As to the moral to which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington referred, that might be left to future interpretation. It may be possible to agree with what he has in his mind about it, but I should think at the moment we have to exercise caution and patience in this matter. Can we be permitted to place on record our tribute to my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary who, in spite of the apparent great difficulties which have been recorded in the Press in the last few days. has emerged with great satisfaction? Although this does not mean a complete solution, it is a step in that direction.


My Lords, since the noble Lord the Leader of the House is not here, I wonder whether I might ask the Minister who is in charge of Government affairs, if it would not be better that we took this matter separately rather than to have about 15 questions and then the noble Lord having to answer 15 questions.

12.22 p.m.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for his guidance. If I may address myself to what he so admirably said on the question of the Defence review, I can give this assurance, that the position in Cyprus, particularly in the light of recent events, will very much be taken into consideration in the Defence review which is currently being conducted.

On the other point he raised, as to the permanency of the provisions of the Declaration, I entirely agree with him. He will have noticed that the terminology, the phrasing used, is very cautious. As indeed my noble friend Lord Shinwell pointed out, this is a matter for caution and patience, but I do welcome very much what he and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, had to say, and indeed what my noble friend had to say about the role which my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has played in these crucial negotiations. He has literally worked night and day to achieve this very hopeful, very encouraging, but necessarily initiatory Declaration. As to its permenency, this is a matter for very hard work, for the reconvening of the conference with the addition of the representatives of the two communities on August 8—that is in a very short time—and for bringing into those decisions for making the provisions permanent the full force of the United Nations Resolution 353. That is the answer I have to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, that those discussions, like the ones I have described, will be based firmly on the requirements of Resolution 353.

As to the strengthening of the United Nations Forces on the Island, the Secretary-General, as the noble Lord knows, has appealed for greater contributions in manpower from the participating countries in the force UNFICYP, and we for our part have responded affirmatively to this.


My Lords, may I associate myself with the tribute paid to the Foreign Secretary, who has done a remarkable job in these last few days. With regard to the constitutional problem which will now have to be tackled, is it not clear that the Constitution of 1960 failed to establish peacful relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, except to some extent with the help of a large United Nations Police Force which obviously cannot remain there indefinitely? And is it not also clear that the constitutional safeguards which were established in 1960, for political power-sharing between the two communities, proved totally unworkable? Must we not therefore reluctantly conclude that there are now in practice only two courses open; either to divide Cyprus into separate Greek and Turkish Federal areas enjoying wide internal autonomy; or alternatively to partition the Island between Greece and Turkey, thus involving the total abandonment of the whole concept of an independent State of Cyprus, something which I am sure we should all deeply regret?


My Lords, I wish to support very much what my noble friend Lord Carrington has said, and to take this opportunity to say that arising out of the tragedy in Cyprus perhaps one event has taken place which all Members of this House and those of us who have always been great admirers of the Greek people and their country would welcome, namely the return of Parliamentary democracy. We wish Mr. Karamanlis and his Government well, and send them our best wishes in their seeking a practical and constitutional solution to the many problems that now beset them.


My Lords, I strongly welcome what the noble Baroness has just said. The intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Duncan-Sandys, is of course of special importance in view of the experience he has of this problem, the very prominent and distinguished part he took in trying to achieve some settlement in this troubled Island, a settlement which some may feel did work to some extent over a number of years; and some may also feel that the inter-communal talks which were conducted between Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash were showing some signs of succeeding when the coup was intruded into this hopeful situation. As to what he had to say in regard to the constitutional future of Cyprus, I am sure that everybody will take note of his views and suggestions, but he will not expect me to comment on them to-day.


My Lords, would the noble Lord not agree that there are very many excitable young people, well armed, some with Turkish sympathies and some with Greek sympathies now in Cyprus, and that incidents there are likely to occur? Is it not therefore important that the United Nations Forces should be available in all parts of the Island, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, to intervene immediately in order to try to prevent some small incident which could easily conflagrate into something more serious while all these negotiations are going on? Would not he also agree that one of the lessons of this incident—as in so many foreign and defence incidents—is that there has been a bi-partisan approach across this House and across another place, and that it will be more difficult to continue this bi-partisan approach while neither House is sitting? Therefore, during the Recess, would the noble Lord use his influence to see that all three main political Parties are kept informed on progress in this very difficult and almost intractable problem?


My Lords, I warmly welcome what the noble Lord has to say about approaching this matter in a united fashion. I am quite sure that the Foreign Secretary was greatly helped by the consciousness that all sections of both Houses were entirely with him in his objectives, and I would personally—and indeed I am quite sure that my right honourable friend would—wish during the coming weeks, which may well be difficult and crucial, seek to keep informed the Leaders of the various great Parties of State about how things are going. I very much take on board the suggestion made by the noble Lord. As to the policing of these troubled areas and the restraining of certain sections of the population, not entirely restricted to the youth, we agree that the greatest possible presence and intervention of United Nations Forces is what we should increasingly aim at.


My Lords, as one who is deeply anxious about the fate of some women and children still in lonely parts of Cyprus, may I express my thanks, and those of many people, to the combined Forces, to the Foreign Office and epecially to the Red Cross for all that they have done up to the moment in getting British citizens back? Will the Government continue this work of seeking out these British citizens, women and children, who are still left in very lonely parts of Cyprus?


My Lords, I am aware of the noble Lord's personal interest in the fate of Cypriot citizens in these distressing situations. As he and noble Lords know, at a very early date we set up an emergency unit in the Foreign Office to do what we could to help in these cases, and that will continue so long as there are cases to be helped. In regard to the noble Lord's tribute to various agencies which have helped in this situation, I particularly welcome his tribute to my right honourable friend and to the combined Forces of her Majesty, who in this situation have proved of immense help and of irretraceable importance.


My Lords, I wonder whether this is a suitable opportunity for me to intervene. We have been dealing with this important Statement for some 22 minutes, there is another Statement to be made, and there is another piece of Business in which I have a personal interest. I wonder whether it is the feeling of your Lordships that we should now move to the next piece of Business on our Order Paper, taking into account the time.