HL Deb 25 July 1979 vol 401 cc2008-27

6.36 p.m.

Lord NEWALL rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will outline their new policy regarding Cyprus in view of their commitments to all Cypriots as a Guarantor Power. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper regarding the Government's new policy on Cyprus. I worded this particularly hoping that, by using the expression " new policy ", we might get some indication of a change of heart, in that there would be some action where I feel there has not been enough before. Perhaps it is only fair to your Lordships to mention that this Question is put down as a result of a visit I made to Cyprus in February and March of this year. I have given a report of my visit to my noble friends.

At this late hour I shall not weary your Lordships with a long history which is easily obtainable in other places. I just want to mention that it is a country of partition and of many refugees. I feel that Great Britain, as a Guarantor Power, should feel obliged to fulfil certain obligations which were undertaken some years ago. Among them perhaps I may mention that we agreed to prohibit partition. We also agreed to protect fundamental human rights. In the case of a breach of any of the agreements that were made, it was agreed that we should consult the Greek Government and the Turkish Government.

Anybody who has been watching Cyprus and the going on there will know that the current talks have stalled. There are many arguments and counter-arguments. There has been a virtual slanging match, which is now continuing, as it was before, in the local newspapers, one side against the other. I believe that, although the Government and my noble friend may disagree, the time is now absolutely right for the Government to fulfil their obligations and take some initiative before it is too late.

In discussions I have had with various people it seems evident that if the present situation continues there is a distinct possibility that the Turkish Cypriots could be persuaded to declare some sort of independence. I think there are enormous numbers of Turkish Cypriots in this country who are becoming increasingly worried by the present situation and by the lack of any progress. In being brief, I should like to make one or two possible recommendations that could be considered. I shall not put it more strongly than that.

I believe that the time is right for Great Britain to encourage informal talks—especially informal talks without publicity—regarding having a chairman or arbitrator for the talks so that they will not go on splitting hairs over words—words such as "Varosha", " security " and " inter-zonal ". The ground has been covered many times before and those words should not cause the breakdown of talks any more.

Secondly, I suggest that the Government should encourage the other two Guarantor Powers, Greece and Turkey, to renew the talks between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots which have broken down, The de facto situation is obviously not the best one and it could easily get worse; it does not help anybody. But one of the factors I noticed particularly during my visit—and I remain totally neutral—is the lack of help that the Turkish Cypriots are getting from the outside world. It could be said they are suffering a lack of human rights. They should have more assistance from the EEC, from this and many other countries. All the aid is going to the Government of Cyprus, which is the Greek Cypriot side in the South, who are not passing it on.

I am not suggesting that the Turkish Cypriots deserve a great deal, but, as citizens of Cyprus, they must not be deprived of what they are being deprived of at the moment. I should like to hope that international assistance could be encouraged to the deprived people of Cyprus, who are of course mainly Turkish Cypriots in the north. Aid is extremely difficult and I am glad to say that the Save the Children Fund has been persuaded since our visit to send quite a large amount of blankets, toys and other articles to help one of the very deprived schools in the Turkish Cypriot part.

I am certainly not asking the Government to recognise the Turkish Federated State in any way whatever. I realise that that would be impossible and I think it is not right even to think of that possibility. But if we are to consider the future and consider that some form of independence declaration could be made, the current Heads of State of the two sides—call them what you will—who are clearly antagonistic against one another, need some help in forming a proper agreement and a basis on which to continue the talks.

The island itself needs a great deal of help and I firmly believe, after talking to all degrees of people, from Ministers and Members of Parliament on both sides of the island to many other people in less fortunate positions, that the United Kingdom is looked to by nearly all of them to give some assistance. We have a position of strength and integrity, which is believed in by most Cypriots, with which to help the whole country, and surely the time is ripe, in case it gets worse, which it may do very soon, for some leadership from this country.

6.43 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure the whole House will wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Newall, for opening this discussion and, more particularly, for the speech which he has delivered. It is of the greatest importance that Members of this House should be visiting other countries with concern to try to find a solution to their problems. The noble Lord's speech indicates that, and the proposals he made should be considered by the Ministers and the whole House.

My association with Cyprus began in the years before the war when there was no division between the two communities, those who were ethnically Greek and those who were ethnically Turkish. In the heat of the day in the villages one could see the families of both communities resting together in the shade of the trees and their children playing around them. The war came and Mr. Winston Churchill, as he then was, made the promise that, because of their help, Cyprus would obtain its independence. After the war the Greek Cypriot population took that literally and we had the disastrous conflict. It was in that conflict that the division between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots began. Partly there was a quite deliberate policy in the war situation of seeking " divide and rule ", and the conflict arose largely because so many of the Greek Cypriots were demanding Enosis, unity with Greece.

Following the war there was the Zurich agreement and one hoped that would be a solution. I want to acknowledge that I think President Makarios, for whom I had great admiration, used that situation somewhat unfairly towards the Turkish population. Then we had the attempted coup, then the Turkish invasion and the occupation by the Turks, although they are only 20 per cent. of the population, of 40 per cent. of the land, and nearly one-third of the Cypriot people became refugees. We should recognise that in that situation it was not only the Greek Cypriots who suffered but large numbers of the Turkish population as well.

There have been many resolutions by the United Nations on this subject, the most recent being in November of last year, by both the General Assembly and the Security Council. It is worth mentioning what the General Assembly resolutions included. The first was the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and non-alignment of Cyprus; I emphasise " non-alignment " because I shall be making reference to that later. The second was the withdrawal of all foreign troops, and the third was the voluntary return of the refugees. The General Assembly authorised negotiations under its Secretary-General between the two communities.

It is important to note that the Security Council, meeting within three weeks, called on the parties in Cyprus to comply with the implementation of the United Nations resolution within a specified time frame. Discussions began between President Makarios and Mr. Denktash, representing the Turkish Cypriots, and I want to refer only to what has occurred in the most recent discussions. On 19th May there was agreement on 10 points between President Kyprianou, who followed President Makarios, and Mr. Denktash. Those 10 points included, first, respect for fundamental freedoms of all citizens and, secondly, that the discussions should cover all territorial and constitutional aspects.

Priority was given in those 10 points to a resettlement of Varosha, the suburb of Famagusta which had become a ghost town, and the solution of that problem was to be implemented before a general settlement. I do not know whether the Minister is able to give any information as to how far that agreement about Famagusta has been carried out. Next there was agreement that there should be a demilitarisation of Cyprus; and, very importantly—and I emphasise it—the 10 points included the assertion that, The independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic should be adequately guaranteed against union, in whole or in part, with any other country and against any form of partition or secession ". I emphasise the assertion for non-alignment and against any form of partition.

Unfortunately, disagreement has occurred in those discussions. It has occurred on the issue of whether in the future Cyprus should be divided on a bi-zonal basis or on a bi-regional basis—confederation or federation. I understand that the Turkish representatives are making what they call bi-zonal division a condition, although even in the earlier discussions with President Makarios Mr. Denktash had accepted a central federal Government. I believe that the Greek Cypriots are prepared to continue discussions even on the bi-zonal proposal. The difference between confederation and federation is marginal, and I would urge Her Majesty's Government to do everything possible to influence a continuation of the discussions on practical issues rather than the philosophic issue of confederation or federation.

Lastly, I want to turn to the question of non-alignment, which has been accepted by both the Turkish and the Greek Cypriots, and in all the United Nations resolutions, as well as in the discussions that have taken place. There has been some evidence that there is a concern by influential leaders in America, Europe, and even in this country that Cyprus should not remain unaligned, but should become an instrument of NATO. It was first proposed by General Aitchison in America in his memorandum of the 'sixties. The loss of Iran as a base for monitoring the Soviet Union, and the refusal by Turkey to allow monitoring planes to be used in its air space are adding to the pressure that Cyprus should be made a section of the NATO Alliance. General Alexander Haig and his NATO staff in Brussels are known to have turned their eyes on Cyprus in this situation as an alternative. The Daily Telegraph of 21st May stated that, American ' spy planes ' have been deployed in the island for over a year surveying the region ", and British bases are still in Cyprus—


I am much obliged to the noble Lord for allowing me to intervene. I wonder whether he can clarify that point about American planes. He said that they had been deployed in Cyprus—but for what purpose? I did not quite hear.


I was quoting from the Daily Telegraph which, on 21st May, stated that, American ' spy planes ' have been deployed in the island for over a year surveying the region ". That is a quotation from an article by the defence correspondent of the Daily Telegraph.

I submit that it will be a crime if diplomatic, economic, or aid pressure is exerted to impose on the people of Cyprus the sacrifice of their dedication regarding the alignment question, which has been repeatedly recognised by the United Nations and in the discussions between the two communities. It is not only the Greek Cypriots who insist on non-alignment: the Turkish Cypriots do, too. In the earlier discussions between Mr. Denktash and President Makarios non-alignment was accepted in their agreement, and it has been accepted in all the subsequent discussions with President Kyprianou.

The delay in a settlement of the Cypriot problem is causing terrible suffering, not merely to thousands of Greek Cypriot refugees, but also to many in the Turkish population, and one seeks the earliest possible solution of the problem. But the pressure of the unaligned countries in the world, of the great majority of the nations in the United Nations, of the progressive forces in all the countries of the West, and of world opinion will in the long run bring about a solution of the problem on the lines of the United Nations resolution. We are working the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, very hard these days. I am absolutely astonished by the ability of Members of the Front Benches on both sides of the House to do their homework, undoubtedly with the skilled assistance of the Civil Service. I hope that in his speech this evening the noble Lord will be able to assure us that the British Government will be on the right side in bringing about a solution of the problem.

6.57 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Newall for raising this question this evening. I hope that he will be successful in prodding the Government into being perhaps a little more active and certainly much more successful than their predecessors on the question of Cyprus. It would not be using excessive language to say that the Cyprus question has been festering for far too long. The drift—one can only call it that—of events has had the most unfortunate consequences: first, for the island itself; secondly, for the relationships, complicated as they already are, between Greece and Turkey; and thirdly, for NATO. I will not follow the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, into all the intricacies of non-alignment. I think it enough to note the fact that NATO has suffered because this question has been for so long unresolved.

I share with my noble friend Lord Newall his disillusionment about the inter-communal talks. In spite of this, one must also admit that inter-communal talks are very important because in so small an island there cannot be a satisfactory outcome unless the parties can be brought to agreement. Our hopes were raised in May when the latest round of inter-communal talks began; and one could be forgiven for hoping that the issue of Varosha could be taken first and resolved, and that this might lead on to a greater measure of success with the other outstanding issues. But within a week our hopes were totally disappointed, and I should like to ask the Government: what do they think is the next step following that unfortunate result? Do they know what is in the mind of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who had convened the last round, and previous rounds, of inter-communal talks?

I come now to the question of the treaty of 1960. I cannot myself take any line other than a minimalist one. The treaty in itself, I think I am right in saying—I am sure I will be corrected if I am wrong—imposed no legal obligations on anybody. It simply gave the three powers a legal right, first of all, to consult among themselves and, secondly, to take whatever steps they saw lit to restore the status quo of 1960 to 1963 in the event of that being disturbed or upset. The only ray of hope that I can now see stemming from the treaty is that there should be concerted action—and here I agree with my noble friend Lord Newall—between the three Guarantor Powers to draw up a common plan of action.

I can see very great difficulties in the way of drawing up a common plan, and I can see very great difficulties in the way of putting a plan, once established, into practice. But I would ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will at least make the attempt to achieve some concerted action. This, I believe, would he of far greater worth than any number of United Nations resolutions and, indeed, perhaps, of even greater worth than the UN peace-keeping force, though one is bound to admit that it has obviously saved some lives over the course of the years.

My Lords, may I also mention the great influence which the European Economic Community can bring to bear on Cyprus? Access to the markets of the Nine is of prime importance for Cypriot vegetables, fruit and wine, and for their newer industries, such as textiles and footwear. Therefore, the EEC can exercise some leverage. My noble friend Lord Newall mentioned the question of EEC loans and technical aid. This also has an important bearing on the matter, and I agree with him entirely that we should ask for even-handed help from the EEC so that the North as well as the South receives aid from that quarter.

May I now make a long-term suggestion that could possibly improve the situation? It is common knowledge that Cyprus has no university of its own. Therefore, students from that country have to go overseas for undergraduate and post-graduate studies. This is unsatisfactory in itself, and it has the further drawback that it tends to aggravate the existing divisions between the communities. Would the Government take an initiative in trying to get agreement, perhaps in the EEC, perhaps also between the existing universities of Europe and maybe also between the universities of Turkey and of the Commonwealth, in an attempt to found a university in Cyprus? If such a thing could be done, and if the language of instruction were to be English, I believe such a university could be a bridge and a centre of reconciliation. It could be a place where both Greeks and Turks would go for their studies and where students from other countries could be attracted, in such a way that friendships would be formed and some small assistance would be given to the growth of a common culture throughout the island.

I have one other short-term point to put forward, and that concerns the issue of compensation. I personally know a Turk who formerly had a market-stall in Paphos. He now finds himself in the northern sector picking and selling the fruit which belongs to Greek landowners. I know of Greeks from the Famagusta area who are growing crops on the land of a Turkish landowner near Limassol. These are just instances of the problems; and one has to add those of the British residents and former residents who lost their houses and property in 1974. None of these categories of people has so far had any compensation. What I think all are entitled to is either, if that is possible, restitution and free access to their property, or, failing that, compensation. Here I would ask the Government whether they would try to initiate an independent international compensation assessment body which could begin to assess and value these very considerable property losses. If that could be started, then one would need as well, I realise, a mechanism for collecting compensation monies and paying them out again; but, if a start could be made, I think it would take a lot of the animosity out of the situation.

The last point I wish to make is perhaps more fundamental than anything I have touched on so far, and it is this. A major and very fundamental change of heart is, I believe, needed among both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. I think the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, referred in a previous debate to " fundamental nationalistic animosities ". That is what we are up against. There is a need for real conversion of mind and heart, for a turning round and an abandonment of the old ways, and for a firm resolve to live in unison and harmony. This is something which we can all both work for and pray for. It is desperately needed.

7.8 p.m.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Newall, for asking this Question. I accompanied him to Turkish Cyprus in February and March, and we spent the best part of a week there together. We saw as much as we could, I think, of the whole of the Turkish-Cypriot economy. I did not go into the Greek sector because to do that at the moment one has to fly into the Greek sector first and then come across to the Turkish sector, in order to comply with the rules and regulations of the Government of Cyprus. I was not prepared to do that, so I flew into Ercan, the airport on the Turkish side, and therefore I had to stay on the Turkish side.

My Lords, it is very sad that the inter-communal talks have broken down, and they seem to have broken down without having regard to one of the points that was agreed between Kyprianou and Denktash a month earlier. I think it was Point 9, which said: The inter-communal talks will be carried out in a continuing and sustained manner, avoiding any delay ". That has not happened. I believe the reason why they have broken down is a disagreement on Point 2 of the ten points, which was: The basis for the talks will be the Makarios-Denktash guidelines of the 12th February, 1977 ". In the first of those guidelines, there is a disagreement about the wording. Kyprianou may not know the exact wording for he was not present at that meeting, but Denktash was present and so was the Secretary-General of UNO. They ought to be able between them to produce the right wording for that particular point. I see that when I spoke about this in your Lordships' House on an Unstarred Question on 8th March last year, I made as the first point a quotation from the daily news sheet of the Turkish Federated State which ran: We are seeking an independent, nonaligned bi-communal federal republic ". I understand that Denktash is trying to turn that into " bi-zonal " and that Kyprianou is disagreeing. I do not know the rights or wrongs of that at all; but that is one of the blocking points. The other point of the 10 that was agreed to in May was that Varosha should be given priority; but I understand in the mind of Denktash that priority cannot be given until this first point has been settled. I believe that as soon as this first point of " bi-zonal " or " bi-communal " is settled, priority will be given to the handing back of Varosha. That is something for which we must wait and see.

I received a letter a short time ago from the Minister of State for Defence, the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona, which answered a request that I made in my speech on the Address that Her Majesty's Government would confirm that they still accept a special responsibility as a guarantor under the 1960 Treaty. The letter stated: I can confirm that the British Government, as a signatory of the 1960 Treaties, fully accept a special responsibility towards Cyprus ". The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, was not quite certain what that involved. The guarantee given by Her Majesty's Government under the 1960 Treaties was specifically stated in Article II of the Treaty of Guarantee, which reads as follows: Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, taking note of the undertakings of the Republic of Cyprus set out in Article I of the present Treaty, recognise and guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus and also the state of affairs established by the basic articles of its constitution. ". The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, was doubtful whether there was anything legal in that. I believe that there is; and I believe that Her Majesty's Governments—and I say " Governments "—have failed significantly to carry out the second part of that guarantee, which was to preserve the basic rights of both communities under the 1960 Constitution.


My Lords, is not the problem how to put back the clock 15 or 16 years?


My Lords, one cannot put the clock back, but unfortunately the people in Cyprus on both sides have fairly long memories. They are still, I believe, living very much in the past. Somehow, I think we must bring them forward into the present.

On 15th June the Guardian published an interesting article headed: Handouts widen gap between rich and poor in Cyprus ". I do not know whether your Lordships saw that article. I should like to quote from it: The tiny and relatively wealthy society of Greek Cyprus must rank as one of the most heavily subsidised nations in the world. With only half a million people, it receives about £22 million a year in aid from Greece, the USA, the United Nations, Britain, Germany and other countries. In a typical year it gets another £5 million or so in soft loans. Loans and aid together approach a fifth of the annual Government revenue ". It goes on to say that the Greek Cypriot economy also benefits from the presence of United Nations forces and the two British bases. It estimates that the per capita income figure for Greek Cyprus is £13,500 as compared with the figure of only £425 per person in the Turkish sector. Those two figures are so different in their comparison that they really set out the difference between the two zones.

While there is this huge difference in the prosperity of the two areas, and while Greek Cyprus is fully recognised internationally but Turkish Cyprus is not recognised at all, is there any incentive for the Greek Cypriots to come to an agreement with the Turkish Cypriots which would involve a degree of recognition of Turkish Cyprus and probably a variation in that huge difference of economic prosperity? I think it is very good that our Government accept their special responsibility under the 1960 Treaties. I hope that we shall now see them exercise that responsibility because I do not believe that any previous British Government have really done so.

There is an early opportunity, I believe, for the Government to take action. I presume that Mr. Kyprianou will be attending the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference; and that, surely, must give our Foreign Secretary a chance to talk to him quietly and to urge him to get back to the conference table. I believe that he should do that and that we should see a resumption of the talks as quickly as possible.

7.19 p.m.


My Lords, if I may intervene again on what is again a matter of the satisfying of the rights and aspirations of minorities within a single State, I hope that this debate will not in any way convey to the Cypriots, of whatever ethnic and linguistic nature, any indication that we regard this difficult problem from the point of view of being either pro-Turk or pro-Greek. We are all pro-Cypriot. Indeed as my noble friend Lord Brockway, who has this remarkable experience of international affairs, reminded us, a relatively short time ago there was not this strained dichotomy in this beautiful island with a population amounting to hardly more than 650,000. They live together and enjoy life together, the 78 per cent. who are Greek, the 18 per cent. or so who are Turkish and the other 4 per cent. who are Armenian, British and of other nationalities.

We live in an age of exaggerated nationalisms. As the world grows technically closer together it seems that it is determined to become psychologically more separate, more particularist. Our duty in Cyprus is clear. With others—not alone—we signed the two agreements of 1960; we set our hand to those documents. It is easy to ignore or to break an agreement unilaterally; it is impossible to guarantee it unilaterally. When I hear complaints of the behaviour of this country in regard to commitments which it entered into in good faith with others, I hope that we realise that not even this country can single-handed and unilaterally put into effect guarantees, commitments, which were clearly multilateral in intention and in conception.

I wish the Government every success. The Question refers to a new policy towards Cyprus and if they have a new approach to this vexed question I wish them every success. I am sure we all feel that Cyprus must of course be maintained as an independent State with territorial integrity and make its choice as to its continued partnership in the Commonwealth or indeed whatever alignment it feels is best for it. It is very much a member of the Commonwealth and I would think that it is very much part of the Western World. One talks to Cypriots of all kinds and this is the way that they feel; this is the way they react. Therefore, whatever alignments they may or may not adopt, it is entirely for them to decide.

Regarding the solution, it is nothing new to say that this can only come about by agreement among Cypriots of all races, languages and religious through inter-communal talks, which have been stalled of course since April 1977. I join with the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, regarding the 10 points which brought this matter very close to what we thought might be settlement. I believe that this was a very strong point made by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, too. That has stalled and flagged as so many initiatives have done in Cyprus; but, nevertheless, one felt very hopeful when the 10 points were agreed between the two sections of the population and their representatives. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, and my noble friend have a point here: that it could be that the revival of these 10 points, possibly with adjustment in the light of what has happened since, provides a basis for a new departure. The suggestion was also made that the two communities might be brought closer together through institutional co-operation. The suggestion of a university was made; this is an attractive suggestion. No doubt the Government will be looking at this with other Governments concerned and with the people of Cyprus. None of this turns entirely on either the obligation or the capacity of the United Kingdom.

Finally, there is a point that is perhaps peculiar to the United Kingdom. When I was responsible for answering on the other side of the House, I was asked more than once about the progress of the talks about compensation, in our case to British nationals, for loss of property and the sequestration of property, a point which the noble Lord raised this evening. We would welcome any information that the Minister can give us about that point tonight.

7.25 p.m.


My Lords, Lord Newall's interest in this matter is well known and much to be admired. His recent visit to Cyprus clearly gave him an opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge on this important subject. I am very pleased to have a chance of putting the Government's view before your Lordships tonight.

The Question refers, first, to Her Majesty's Government's new policy regarding Cyprus. It would be misleading to suggest that there were going to be any great changes in policy. This is one of the areas of foreign policy where there will be broad continuity. The Government continue to work for a just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem. We acknowledge that Britain has a special position in relation to that problem. And we believe it important to maintain a position of even-handed friendship even when that means attracting criticism from both sides. We take the view that the best way to achieve a lasting political settlement in Cyprus is by means of direct negotiations between the two communities under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. We do not believe that a settlement can be imposed from outside, or indeed that the responsibility should be removed from those who properly bear it: the parties themselves.

For this reason, we very much welcomed the agreement reached on 19th May between President Kyprianou and Mr. Denktash, providing for the resumption of the intercommunal negotiations under Dr. Waldheim's auspices on 15th June. Those negotiations are now in suspense after four meetings; the United Nations are attempting to find a way round the first set of problems that have arisen. These relate in the first place to the concepts of bi-zonality and security and I am hopeful that, with United Nations assistance, an accommodation will be reached and the negotiating process actively resumed. Both parties will, I hope, have very much in mind their agreement on 19th May to carry out the inter-communal talks in a continuing and sustained manner, avoiding any delay.

I understand—and indeed sympathise with—the view that Britain, in view of its status as a Guarantor Power and signatory to the 1960 agreements, should be doing more to help achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem. My noble friend has referred to the Government's commitments. These derive from the treaties and also from Britain's special historical, cultural and commercial links with Cyprus. The sustained interest of British Governments of both parties in the Cyprus problem since trouble erupted in 1963 bears witness to British concern. There is no diminution of that interest and sympathy. The question is however whether some new and well-intentioned initiative by Britain, or indeed by any other outside Power, would really be helpful in present circumstances. One lesson which should have been learned from the sorry history of Cyprus over the past 16 years is that the timing of any outside initiative is almost as important as its substance.

At present the parties are engaged—albeit fitfully—in a negotiating process under United Nations auspices, We have made it clear to them and to Dr. Waldheim that we are ready to help in any way they would find useful. Our European partners have spoken likewise. We are also in close touch with the other Guarantor Powers, Greece and Turkey. We do of course ask them to use their influence with the parties to persuade them to adopt a constructive attitude in the negotiations.

I have little doubt that the best way to fulfil our responsibilities at present is by giving encouragement and support in these ways to United Nations efforts to maintain a continuous and productive negotiating process. In addition, British influence with the parties themselves, in our regular diplomatic contacts with them, is of course used to press the view that it is in the interests of both the communities—indeed, in the interests of Cyprus as a whole—to show statesmanship and a spirit of compromise in negotiation. There is no doubt that, if a solution is to be reached, great flexibility will be required. Hard compromises will have to be accepted by both sides. Mutual confidence will have to be restored. What has so far been lacking is the will actively to seek the sort of solution which would make that possible.

The Question refers to the Government's commitments to all Cypriots. We fully acknowledge that our responsibilities are to members of all communities in Cyprus. At the same time, the formal position, in accordance with our obligations under the 1960 Treaties, is that Britain recognises only one Government in Cyprus—that of the Republic of Cyprus under President Kyprianou. There can be no question, in the present situation in Cyprus, of recognition of any other Administration.

That is not to say, however, that we do not recognise the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot community. It is a firm requirement of our technical co-operation programme in Cyprus, for instance, that it be used to benefit the island as a whole and, as a result, there is a flourishing programme of officially sponsored English language teaching and other educational assistance in the northern part of the island. Similar stipulations are made over other forms of bilateral assistance and aid channelled through multilateral organisations, such as our contributions to the office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for relief work in Cyprus.

Furthermore, it is not Government policy to discourage or prevent commercial or other contacts between British companies and organisations and the Turkish Cypriot community. The British High Commission in Nicosia takes great pains to keep in touch with opinion amongst the Turkish Cypriot community. The diplomatic task in the present situation is not entirely straightforward. I hope that noble Lords will not assume that something apparently desirable is neglected merely because its accomplishment is not advertised.

Perhaps I can now turn to some of the points that have been made in the debate. First, the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, asked about the resettlement of Varosha. I am advised that no settlement has yet been reached on this matter, but no doubt it will be high on the list when these talks resume, as we hope and believe they will, before too long. The noble Lord also asked me about " spy " flights. We are aware of periodic Press reports to this effect, but I am advised that there is no truth in the report that flights of the type mentioned are conducted from Cyprus.

My noble friend Lord Hylton mentioned a number of points and I shall try to deal with as many of them as I can. He asked, first, what would be the next step after the failure of the inter-communal talks. My Lords, we do not accept that there has been failure: we think it altogether premature to talk of the failure of the talks. The United Nations are working hard to keep the negotiating process going, and they certainly have our full support. My noble friend also asked whether Her Majesty's Government would attempt to co-ordinate the plans between Britain, Turkey and Greece, the Guarantor Powers. We do not agree, as I said before, that any attempt to impose a settlement from our side can be a successful substitute for a settlement negotiated freely between the two communities. We would hope, however, that the other Guarantor Powers would use their influence with the parties to encourage a constructive attitude in these negotiations.

I was asked by both my noble friends Lord Hylton and Lord Newall about the position of the EEC in these matters. We have kept in close touch with our partners in the Nine who, like ourselves, are doing all they can to support the United Nations' efforts. The EEC Presidency maintains a regular contact with Dr. Waldheim and the parties, to ensure that no opportunity for the EEC to use its influence to help is missed. We certainly wish to ensure that the benefits of association with the EEC are enjoyed by members of both the communities in Cyprus. The EEC Commission are in touch with representatives of both communities to this end.

My noble friend Lord Hylton and the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, referred to the possibility of a university being established. We would be prepared to consider the possibility of British assistance for the establishment of a university in Cyprus and I would certainly hope that such a university would benefit both Cypriot communities. However, the question of the language of instruction to which my noble friend referred would have to be the subject of agreement with the Cypriots themselves.

My noble friend Lord Hylton also mentioned the question of compensation. The British Government's first concern in this matter must be for the interests of British property owners. We are in communication with the authorities in Cyprus who are concerned with this problem, and we hope that progress can soon be made with both the evaluation and payment of claims by British nationals. I have no evidence to suggest that the Cypriots would be willing to accept the sort of international compensation body suggested by my noble friend. I am sorry to say that I cannot report any significant progress tonight and I certainly recall that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, was asked about this same subject during the life of the previous Administration.

May I now touch on just one point made by the noble Lord, Lord Spens. He asked me about aid and gave some figures about the disparity of aid, as he saw it, which was paid to the two communities. A good deal of aid has gone to both sides since 1974 particularly on refugee relief. The Turkish Cypriot side is by no means neglected, especially over English language teaching. Of course they need more, but there are strict limits to what Britain can reasonably be expected to do, and I must tell the noble Lord that the prospect for expanding aid is not good: rather the reverse.


My Lords, before my noble friend leaves that point, he has not really said anything about trading possibilities, or at least has made only one slight reference to it, and of course on this must depend to a large extent the comparative wealth of the two communities. I know this is a very delicate point, and my noble friend has indicated that steps are being taken, as I think he said, to put commercial interests in touch with the commercial interests in the North of the island. How far is that being successful in stimulating trade between this country and the northern part of the island and indeed between the northern part of the island and other parts of the European Community?


My Lords, as I said earlier in my speech, there is no question at this stage of recognising the Government of the northern part of the island as an independent entity, and while that situation continues there will be difficulties still in the way of promoting trade. However, this is certainly a matter we are keeping very much in mind.

It remains for me to stress once again the Government's firm commitment to the achievement of a just and lasting peace in Cyprus, to put an end to the human suffering and uncertainty with which the people of that troubled island have had to live for so long. This pursuit of such a settlement is in the interests not only of the people of both communities in Cyprus, but of the security and stability of the eastern Mediterranean; it is therefore an important British interest and an important Western interest. We shall therefore continue, in the way I have described, to lend all possible support to the efforts of the United Nations and of the parties, on whom the main responsibility must continue to fall, to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion.

The Government are always glad to have an opportunity to explain their policies and tonight is no exception. I therefore welcome my noble friend's initiative in raising this matter tonight.