HL Deb 20 February 1980 vol 405 cc756-98

3.30 p.m.

Lord SPENS rose to call attention to the political and economic situation in Cyprus and the special responsibility of Her Majesty's Government; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: I am delighted to sec that the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, has put her name down on the speaker's list to make her maiden speech. She worried me a little bit this afternoon because I have only just now spotted her coming in: but we are all expecting an excellent speech from her on Cyprus because of her knowledge of the country and the fact that she served on a Select Committee in another place.

There are six interested parties in the Cyprus situation: the three guarantor powers, the two communities in Cyprus and the United Nations. I believe that some blame for the present situation must be attached to each of those parties. I blame Turkey for taking what I would describe as a sledgehammer to crack a nut with the amount of force that she used in 1974. I also blame Turkey for occupying a greater part of the island than she ought to have done. I blame Greece—not the Greece of today, but the Greece of the Colonels—for encouraging and actively helping Archbishop Makarios and later Sampson, to achieve enosis by force. I blame ourselves, our own country, for failing to keep our guarantee to give security to the island in 1974 and also for failing to keep our guarantee that the constitution of 1960 would be observed.

I blame the Turkish Cypriots of today for bringing in large numbers of mainland Turks to the island after 1974 and for allowing quite a number to settle there. I blame the Greek Cypriots of today for the atrocious behaviour they displayed towards Turkish Cypriots from 1963 onwards, and for the continuing economic battle against the Turkish Cypriots today. Finally, as regards the United Nations, I blame the United Nations for failing to keep the peace after 1963 and for not giving adequate recognition now to the Turkish Cypriots. I believe that the actions and failures I have mentioned are between them the cause of today's impasse.

As regards the political situation today, there are 20,000 Turkish troops dividing the island, but they have given security to the Turkish Cypriots for the first time. The Greek Cypriots claim to be the Government of all Cyprus and are recognised as such by most countries. I think they want to see a unitary State or if they cannot get that, then a federal State, which is very centralised. Above all, they want freedom of movement to go into the whole of Cyprus and to be able to let their refugees return to their own homes in the North.

The Turkish Cypriots claim autonomy within their zone. They enjoy security for the first time and they have set up their own administration, a democratic one—I think there are at least five political parties involved—which they say could quite easily be made to fit into a loose confederation of the two zones. They have resettled some 78,000 Turkish refugees from the South in the homes vacated by the Greeks in the North and they are not now prepared to give up those homes to their former owners; but they will be quite prepared to pay compensation, provided that they in turn receive compensation for their property in the South. They are infuriated by Greek Cypriot efforts to internationalise the situation, such as the wanderings of President Kyprianou to Havana for a Third World summit and to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. He is coming here next week and visiting other countries in Western Europe. They think this is a breach of one of the 10 points that were agreed last May between President Kyprianou and Mr. Denktash. That point, if I may quote it, reads as follows: It was agreed to abstain from any action which might jeopardise the outcome of the talks, and special importance will be given to initial practical measures by both sides to promote goodwill, mutual confidence and a return to normal conditions, They say that President Kyprianou is not doing that. They hold empty the huge complex of Varosha, to the South of Famagusta, which I believe could hold up to 30,000 in population. They hold it empty at the moment because they are worried about the security of Famagusta if they were to allow the Greeks to go back into it and, of course, they do not have enough people to populate it themselves. I think they are ready to talk to the Greek Cypriots, but only if they are treated as partners and not as subordinates of an all-Cyprus Government. The latest talks started in the middle of June last year and broke down after five days; now we have reached this impasse.

As regards the economic situation, Greek Cyprus is thriving, with a very high standard of living. There was an article on 15th June last year in the Guardian with the title: "Handouts widen gap between the rich and poor in Cyprus". That article said—and I have only the article's words for the truth of this—that the per capita income of Greek Cypriots is £13,500 sterling, as compared with a per capita income of £425 sterling for the Turkish Cypriots.

The Greek Cypriots are very good merchants and traders and very hardworking. They are also excellent at propaganda and they appear to be very excellent beggars because, for a population of just under half a million they obtained more than £22 million in aid last year from outside sources; and of course they control the Bank of Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriots are just getting by with large financial help from Turkey. I think about a third of their total budget comes from Turkey, and it comes in the form of Turkish lira, which at the moment is a rather soft currency. They are severely handicapped by the economic warfare that is carried out against them by the Greek Cypriots, particularly over transport, because the Greek Cypriots, as the Government of Cyprus, have declared the airport in the north of Cyprus and the seaports in the north of Cyprus to be illegal. With regard to the airport, I asked the noble Lord the Minister last Thursday a question in the airports policy debate. He did not answer it then, but he has told me that he will answer it today. The question that asked him was: …is there any policy or any rule which prevents charter planes from flying direct from airports in this country into Northern Cyprus?" [Official Report, 14/2/80; col. 387.] I know what the answer is, and it will be another example of the economic warfare carried out by the Greek Cypriots against the Turkish Cypriots.

The Turkish Cypriots are also handicapped by their lack of expertise and by a serious lack of middle management. Moreover, they have no control over foreign currency. They have no central hank and there is a very large black market in foreign currency. But they have security and I believe that that is the most important fact of their existence.

The special responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government arise from the fact that they are guarantors, with Greece and Turkey, of the independence of Cyprus and guarantors, also, of the 1960 constitution. When we had a debate on the gracious Speech last May, I asked the Government whether they would confirm that they still had that special responsibility and I received a reply from the Minister—not at the time, but by letter afterwards—saying that he confirmed that responsibility. We have two sovereign bases in Cyprus, both south of the dividing line, and those are treated at the moment as part of the United Kingdom.

Our association with the island goes back even further than our association with Rhodesia, because we leased the island from the Ottoman Turks in 1878, which was about 10 years before Cecil Rhodes was granted his charter for Rhodesia, and, despite our failings, there is still a great deal of goodwill towards us, certainly in the north of the island. I do not know about the south, because I have not been there. I am persona non grata in the south, because I have flown direct into the North and that is an illegal act.

I believe that Her Majesty's Government can put pressure on both sides. I believe that she can put pressure on the Greek Cypriots, either by offering some form of recognition of the Turkish Cypriots or by threatening to take away our recognition of the Greek Cypriots. It is more difficult to put pressure on the Turkish Cypriots and I think it would have to be done in concert with the United States or the EEC. But if we and they could guarantee the security of the Turkish Cypriots, then there might be a chance to get rid of the Turkish forces there.

Both sides, at the moment, are waiting for the other to move. They need a third party to bring them together. The United Nations has failed to do this, although the Secretary-General is still trying very hard. I believe that we, in our special position of third guarantor power, are the country which could bring these two communities together. The United Nations has also failed because it has allowed resolutions to be passed which have infuriated the Turkish Cypriots. I want to read to your Lordships paragraph 3 of the latest resolution, which was passed at the end of November last year. That states: Affirms the right of the Republic of Cyprus and its people to full and effective sovereignty and control over the entire territory of Cyprus and its natural and other resources". That is perfectly all right. It then goes on: and calls upon all States to support and help the Government of Cyprus to exercise the above-mentioned rights. It is that which upsets the Turkish Cypriots very seriously. They do not admit that the Greek Cypriot Government has any authority over the North of the island.

If I may quote once again, … the tone of last week's debate … in the United Nations … was one-sided and absurdly selective. Such polemics can only increase tension and make the implementation of the settlement more difficult." [Official Report, 6/2/80; col. 1344.] That was said by our Foreign Secretary. Of course, it was not said about Cyprus, but it was said about Rhodesia and only a fortnight ago. But it is a similar situation.

To sum up, the sticking points to any agreement between the two communities are, first, the security of the Turkish Cypriots; secondly, the refusal of the Turkish Cypriots to give up their homes; thirdly, the problem of Varosha and the security involved in giving that up and, fourthly, the type of federal constitution. Those are the four sticking points. I want to point out, having illustrated to your Lordships the enormous economic disparity between the South and the North, that there is no incentive for the Greek Cypriots to reach any agreement. They are doing extraordinarily well as they are and why should they come to the conference table, where any agreement is likely to reduce what they have today?

I have one final point. I do not believe that the Turkish Cypriots will wait very much longer for a settlement to come about. There has already been a lot of public discussion of the possibility of declaring the North to be independent—a kind of UDI. It has happend during the last three months. I was out there in October and there was no discussion then, but almost as soon as I left the papers began to talk publicly about going it alone. I must also point out the strategic situation there. I do not want to go into detail, but we all know the strategic importance of Turkey, and the fact is that the Greek Cypriot Government have not shown very much enthusiasm for what is happening about Afghanistan. It was one of the few countries—18, I think—that abstained in that General Assembly vote, which has infuriated the Turkish Cypriots. They have also, since then, said that they will be sending a team of athletes to the Olympics.

That is the position. Something must be done about it and I think that we are the only country to do that. I believe that I am thought to be a bit, biased on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots, but I am quite certain that that bias will be corrected by the later speeches. I hope that out of this debate will come some indication from Her Majesty's Government that they are ready to take an initiative. I beg to move for Papers.

3.50 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Spens, for drawing our attention once again to this unresolved and unhappy situation in Cyprus, not least because it will enable us to have the opportunity to listen to the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger.

At the beginning of his remarks the noble Lord, Lord Spens, distributed blame all round but towards the end of his remarks he did perhaps hint that there may have been a shade of bias towards the Turkish argument in the course of what he had to say. While I admire the sincerity with which he put his argument, nevertheless I feel compelled to take a more even-handed approach to the dispute between the communities in Cyprus.

In the last three and a half years we have had three debates on this subject—on 14th June 1976, on 8th March 1978 and as recently as 25th July 1979. I do not think that the basic situation has altered very considerably in that time. It has been clear in these debates that, as the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said on one occasion, we are faced with nationalistic animosities. We know that atrocities have been committed by persons on both sides. We know that both sides have understandable fears. The 1960 settlement was based on three principles: first, that there should be no union with Greece; secondly, that there should be no partition of Cyprus; and thirdly that Cyprus should be united and independent.

While we could understand the Turkish grievances about the past, most of us could not accept as being consistent with those three principles the invasion in 1974 by the Turkish Army and the occupation of 40 per cent. of Cyprus by the Turkish Army on behalf of a Turkish population amounting to 18 per cent. of the population at that time. As the noble Lord, Lord Spens, said, Turks have been introduced from Turkey, so the Turkish population must have increased in the meantime. I wonder, therefore, whether the Government have any information as to the proportion of Turks now living in Cyprus.

There has been the virtual partition of the island into two separate zones. A solution has seemed to depend on an agreement between the two communities in the first instance: the withdrawal of foreign troops and a reconciliation between Greece and Turkey as a background pressure towards a solution. The longer the present situation obtains, the more difficult the finding of a solution becomes. I think that on that point I am in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Spens.

We are familiar with the "stop-go" nature of the intercommunal talks. On 13th February 1977 guidelines were agreed between President Makarios and Mr. Denktash. They stipulated that Cyprus should be an independent, non-aligned, bicommunal, federal republic. But problems have arisen since that time over the definition of the word "bicommunal". First, there is the question of the area which each community is to occupy. The Greek Cypriots have suggested that the Turkish area should be 20 per cent. of the island, and as I understand it the Turks have stipulated for 32 per cent. Secondly, there is the problem as to whether the Government should be federal or confederal—in effect, whether it should be one country with a certain amount of intermingling between the communities, with free movement throughout the island, with one economy, though with regional government in the different zones, or whether there should be two régimes, two economies, virtually two countries, but linked together by a federation, or confederation, or whatever you like to call it, with minimal powers. Whatever the powers of the government of Cyprus should be, I am quite certain that free movement is essential and that the concept of one economy is essential.

Then there has been the question of the representation in any federal Government of the different communities. As I understand it, the Turks have been pressing for parity, and the Greeks, on the grounds of the population balance, have been resisting it. On 18th and 19th May of last year the leaders of the communities agreed on 10 points, which included the demilitarisation of Cyprus. I do not quite know whether they felt that the British bases would figure in that—whether they left that issue outside the demilitarisation, or whether they were hoping to bring the British bases into that as well.

The agreement also included non-alignment; that was again confirmed. And it re-emphasised that there should be no union with any other country and no partition of the island. The talks were to be continuing and sustained but, as the noble Lord, Lord Spens, has told us, they were adjourned some five days later. We understand that they are likely to get under way again, and that is good news, but I hope that work has been done, through the agency of the United Nations, to develop an interpretation of the concept of the word "bicommunal" so that when the meeting starts again the two parties will be nearer to agreement than when they were broken off.

In this context, it is perhaps useful to recall the plan which was put forward in November 1978 by the United States Government—a plan for a federation in Cyprus, a plan which they put forward as a framework for discussion between the two communities. This was to provide for two constituent regions, one predominantly Greek and one predominantly Turkish but neither to be exclusively of their particular community. The Turks were to make significant geographical concessions to the Greeks. The federal Government, in this plan put forward by the United States Government, were to have responsibility for foreign affairs, defence, currency and central banking, inter-regional and foreign trade, communications, federal finance. Customs, immigration and emigration, and civil aviation.

There was to be a bicameral legislature, with the upper house to be divided equally in representation between the two communities, and the lower house to be divided on a population basis between the two communities. The approval of both houses was to be required for any legislation, and the upper house could be overruled by the lower house by a two-thirds majority, provided that 38 per cent. of each of the communities' members in the lower house were present and voting. Then there was to be regional government in the zones. The President and Vice-President, one Greek and one Turk, as was the position at one time and which ought to be the position under the present constitution, would jointly select the Council of Ministers. No community would have less than 30 per cent. of the membership of the Council of Ministers, and the President and Vice-President would exercise a joint veto over legislation.

It seems to me that some such solution is desirable, though no doubt with stronger safegurds than I have suggested there for the minority, particularly on constitutional issues and perhaps on certain other key issues as well. But, of course, no amount of constitution-making can produce a solution if there is not the will to make it work and if there is not the readiness on both sides for a certain degree of give and take. In the background, again there is the importance of an understanding between Greece and Turkey. Greece will be entering the EEC on 1st January of next year, in recent weeks the Turkish Government having expressed their desire eventually to become a member of the EEC.

The noble Lord, Lord Spens, has referred to the strategic position, and there is the strategic position of Turkey on the exposed NATO flank and suffering from grave economic problems at the present time. It is clear that the West generally—not only this country, although this country, one would hope, might play a prominent part—the EEC in particular, and the Commonwealth also, have important roles to play in seeking to bring Greek and Turk together and in seeking the support of Greece and Turkey to bring Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot together.

4.1 p.m.

Baroness JEGER

My Lords, I ask the indulgence of your Lordships as I speak here for the first time. It is over 25 years since I made my maiden speech in another place but I must confess that today I feel rather more apprehensive than I did then.

We must all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Spens, for this opportunity to discuss Cyprus; but I must confess that as I read and re-read all the speeches and questions in both Houses I find a sadness of repetition from a succession of Ministers. Resolutions of the United Nations are acknowledged, support for the United Nations in setting up intercommunal talks is pledged time after time, but real progress seems there none. Nearly six years after the invasion the cement is setting round the feet of the negotiators and there is developing among all the people of the island a cynicism about the international community and about the authority of the United Nations. Sadly, I find a growing feeling about the total meaninglessness of Commonwealth membership, which must especially concern your Lordships. Many Cypriots feel that they live in an orphan island, stranded in an endless nightmare. Of their three guarantors, Greece turned fascist and the Colonels tried to murder President Makarios; the Turks invaded and the United Kingdom did nothing.

About one-third of the people are still refugees. There is no fate more hitter than to be a refugee in one's own country. I have messages of misery from Turkish Cypriots transplanted to the North who are as unhappy as the Greeks forced to the South. Many of these people are peas- ants and there is no bereavement so grievous as a peasant's loss of the land of his fathers. One hears on both sides of the line the oldest cry in the world, "I want to go home".

Of course both communities recount old scores—they can go back, if necessary, to the Ottoman invasion of 1571, and even before then. But their only future is in living together; and we have to ask, how then can we all get our feet out of the cement? President Kyprianou is coming here later this month; the United Nations resolution of 20th November last has requested a report on the next intercommunal talks to be made by 30th March of this year. I believe there are several reasons why the next round of talks could possibly achieve some progress, and I am sure that Her Majesty's Government will contribute as far as possible.

The new talks will take place in a different context from before. First, there is the increased danger of the situation in the Middle East caused mainly by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This gives an urgency to any explosive point in the area. Cypriots have asked me why the world seems to care so much more about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and so little about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Of course they know that the answer lies in the logistics of Western defence policies and of great power politics, but this only increases their despair and cynicism.

I believe that the first necessity in the coming talks is to recognise that previous communal talks have not in truth been genuinely intercommunal talks. The heart of this dispute is no longer between the two communities in Cyprus but between Turkey and the legitimate Government of the Republic of Cyprus. There is ample evidence that Athens does not lean and intrude on the decisions of Mr. Kyprianou in the way that Ankara dominates Mr. Denktash. Mr. Denktash cannot send the Turkish soldiers home; Mr. Denktash cannot stop the importation of Turkish nationals into the North of Cyprus—both matters of essential policy which are settled in Ankara, not at intercommunal talks; and there are many other examples. Therefore I hope Her Majesty's Government will use their influence to support the holding of genuinely intercommunal talks so that the people who live in the island can work things out for themselves. Previous discussions have dragged on about bizonal or bi-regional arrangements, and to what extent there should be central federal government with strong or limited powers. This must be for the Cypriot people to decide.

There are some forms of federation which could amount to de facto partition. If there were to be no freedom of movement, if there were to be separate armies, separate currencies, visas, separate treaty-making powers, that would be partition in practice. My Lords, we are talking about a little island half the size of Wales. What is the sense in cutting it in half?

The next Cyprus talks will take place against a background of Turkish demands for military and economic help from the West. The two questions cannot be separated. Of course Turkey is right to ask for help from her friends, but I believe that the taxpayers of the countries who will pay for that help are entitled to ask why, if Turkey is so worried about Soviet invasion, she does not start by withdrawing some soldiers, about 25,000, say, from Cyprus.

There is another new dimension. The next talks will take place in the context of Turkey's anxiety to become a full member of the EEC. I trust that common membership of the EEC will build bridges between all these countries. If the EEC is to have any credible political aspect and if the word "Community" is to mean anything, it must expect from all its members a respect for the territorial integrity of each of the others. I hope the London dicussions will take the matter forward and I hope, too, that the Government here will give every possible assistance to President Kyprianou.

I must remind your Lordships that President Kyprianou is a democratically elected President and he will have to face the hustings again. If his moderate Government is undermined by failure I foresee two possible results, neither of them welcome to us. People will turn either to the strong, well-organised communist party of AKEL or to the extreme right, to the embittered survivors of Eoka B, who are recruiting dangerously and whose main propaganda is that after all these years the ways of peace are not working.

Meanwhile, on a practical level in Cyprus I see some movement. For instance, whatever the politicians say, there has long had to be co-operation in divided Nicosia over the realities of the water and the sewerage services. The trade unions are increasing their contacts quietly on the basis of the common interests of the workers of both communities. Often practicalities can be more emollient than politics, and on a practical basis it is nonsense for this island to bifurcate itself. About half of Nicosia's water comes from Turkish-held Morphou. Nearly all of Turkish-held Famagusta's water comes from Greek-held Larnaka. There is no future in fragmentation, and if the politicians do not see this the ordinary people do, as they need to trade wheat from the central plain, citrus fruits from the North-West, tobacco from the North-East, grapes from the South-West and shoes and shirts from the factories of the South.

On 14th January President Kyprianou offered immediate payment of old-age pensions to eligible Turkish Cypriots from the Social Insurance Fund, the employment of Turkish Cypriots in the construction industry, and the availability to Turkish students of places in the various institutions of higher education. I do not yet know the response, but I am sure this is the way forward. It has nothing to do with Athens, Ankara, London or Washington. Left to themselves the communities could work out some way of rubbing along together, as they have done for centuries, short of loving but also short of fighting.

My Lords, let me finish with a personal recollection of my first visit to Cyprus. I went there after the terrible Paphos earthquake in 1953. Visiting that shattered town, where the hospital was competely destroyed, the sick and the wounded being looked after in tents, hot in summer, cold in winter, in terrible conditions, I remember the splendid matron as she came in, with mud on her shoes from going from tent to tent in the rain, and her eyes were very tired: I said to her: "Just as a matter of interest, what staff do you have here? Are they Turks or Greeks?" She said "Why do you ask? What does it matter? I am a Turk, the sisters are Greek, the anaesthetist is Greek, the surgeon is a Turk, I think the cook is an Armenian. Does it matter?". My Lords, I want to go to that lovely tormented island again, and if I ask the same question I hope someone will give me the same answer, "Why do you ask? What does it matter?"

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, it gives me enormous pleasure to be able to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, and to compliment and congratulate her on her maiden speech. She has shown a knowledge of the subject, and her moving choice of words is as apt as the quality of her writing, which many of your Lordships will have read. Her breadth of interest, which includes work on councils and in many Government Ministries, will undoubtedly give us a new Member who can hardly fail to add substantially to the expertise which is already here in strength. No doubt as chairman of the Labour Party she will have her hands very full of other matters; nevertheless we hope to hear her on many future occasions.

My Lords, we are very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Spens, who brought out a great many points, especially one with which I very much agree, the anomalies of United Nations resolutions. The noble Lord, Lord Banks, mentioned the fact that we have had four debates in as many years. I would say one thing: what better reason for a further debate if nothing has happened after all this time? Perhaps we can persuade a Minister or two to listen more carefully.

This subject has been raised many times. There is in both Houses, not only a lot of interest but great concern at the lack of initiative by successive British Governments, an initiative which we agreed to take many years ago with the responsibility we assumed as a guarantor power, a guarantor of peace-keeping and security for all Cypriots, majorities and minorities. This seems to be the crux of the whole problem. I think that most right-minded Cypriots, however fervently they may take sides, know in their hearts that some new lead is required, that something new has got to happen before long, and this country is possibly the best suited, the best able, and the most trusted by most Cypriots.

Her Majesty's Government, often in the past, and possibly today, have said that outside help is unacceptable except from the United Nations itself. Surely much more could be done to prepare the ground for the United Nations negotiators. I believe I am right in saying that no Foreign Office Minister has visited Cyprus since the general election. There have been promises to go. There have been many problems in Rhodesia and Afghanistan and in other parts of the world which have undoubtedly been very important, but I do not think it is good enough for nobody to go to this island, which has had so much trouble for so long.

Some people say, "Why bother with Cyprus?". But, surely, apart from our duty, which is specially set out in guaranteeing the constitution, we are building up other problems for the future. Children have had six solid years, starting at whatever age you like, learning only their own language, and possibly English if they are lucky. What do they know about the island of Cyprus as a whole? They only know a divided island. They are learning also to hate the people on the other side, whichever side they are on; it is bound to happen, and they are going to grow up with the wrong ideas.

The sovereign bases have been touched on already. They are vital to this country, they are vital to NATO, especially in view of all the recent developments that have been happening around the world. The Cypriots in some parts of the island are already making noises about getting back some of this land. The longer the dispute goes on between the two sides the greater will become the need for more land for the Cypriots to continue the expansion, which the South at least is managing to do extremely well.

Thirdly, I turn to the stability of NATO itself, which is somewhat bound up in the EEC in some ways. Both the Greek and Turkish Governments are having great difficulty (which is an understatement) in keeping down inflation. Surely no easy agreement will be possible until their antagonism over Cyprus is brought to a halt by a settlement in the island of Cyprus. Those of us who have been lucky enough to spend some time in both halves of the island—I sympathise with the noble Lord, Lord Spens—see the island tearing itself apart day by day, month by month, year s by year. The situation is not stagnating; it is getting deeper and deeper into the bog. Both sides are set in their ways and getting more so. Some of the mud-slinging that goes on between the two sides is quite infantile sometimes. Many people are suffering hardships. There is a feeling of being let down by Britain, and this is a very strong feeling from some of the people. Apologies for lack of action by this country do little to alleviate the sense of shame of any Englishman who talks to Cypriots, particularly in that country. I believe that this country has a duty to keep its word, and action is long overdue.

Perhaps action can be taken in several ways. We could actively discuss with both sides in Cyprus trying to reduce differences with a view to helping the United Nations in its active role, which may lead to talks soon, and we hope it will. We could possibly actively encourage charities and explain to them how they can help some of the more deprived and alleviate some of the hardships on both sides of the island. We could actively encourage both sides to put up suitable projects for the £7 1/2 aid million offered by us, and still not taken up, since 1978. Perhaps also we could influence the two sides to take up the 30 million or so European units of account which have been offered and have not been taken up since, I believe, 1973.

My Lords, I am fully aware that the Government must tread delicately in the minefield of international agreements in which we have recognised a Government of Cyprus. There are problems with stamps, problems with flights, problems with ships. But everyone knows that the Government of Cyprus, as it is known by the world, can only control a portion of the Cypriot nation. Mistakes have occurred on both sides, but the biggest mistake to my mind has been the lack of action by this country, the failure to keep our word and to be a guardian to the Cypriot people. If action is not taken very soon the situation could easily become much worse and reach a point of no return. With renewed initiatives of some strong nature perhaps some decent headway could be made. If then the two sides still fail to agree, maybe a time limit could be set before some more effective action is taken to make a solution more desirable and imperative to both sides.

With the proven skill and ability in diplomacy of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, I can only ask that he should take urgent steps to remedy the situation, started and agreed to by a Conservative Government, and now a stain on the good name of our nation in upholding our solemn obligations.

4.21 p.m.

The Countess of LOUDOUN

My Lords, efforts to find a peaceful solution to the problem of Cyprus are still being pursued, and I should like to think that there was a slight glimmer of light in the darkness. Therefore, I hope that nothing we say in this debate will help to extinguish that glimmer.

It is now five and a half years since one-third of the people of Cyprus were uprooted from their homes and—as the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger said in her fine maiden speech—were turned into refugees in their own country. Of those 200,000 refugees there are over 70,000 children, many of them still living in primitive camps. To replace the tents, which are by now worn out, timber and chipboard huts are being erected. Apart from being more economical, those huts also constitute an improvement in the living conditions of the displaced persons who have already spent three rough winters under canvas.

The Government are doing their best to provide accommodation and help for those refugees, but the size of the operation is enormous. A group of brothers and sisters of eight to 10 children is not unusual and for those children the situation worsens continously as time only makes their position as refugees permanent. The bitterness of the parents, which for many has turned into apathy or despair, must reflect on the children.

Apart from the physical hardships involved, the greatest hardship today is the climate of uncertainty which prevails, and that applies to both sides. For the Greek Cypriots there is the uncertainty as to whether they will ever again see their homes, their land and the businesses which were built up by them over the years. There is the uncertainty as to the whereabouts of missing members of their families. Are they alive or dead? Great efforts are being made to trace the thousands of missing persons, but these are hampered by the unwillingness of Turkey to co-operate.

However, the Turkish Cypriots, too, are suffering. They have the worry as to whether the owners of the land on which they have settled will return and dispossess them. But, not all Turkish Cypriots are genuine. I have seen the figure of 50,000 Turks quoted as being the number from the mainland who have settled in Cyprus and are posing as Turkish Cypriots. That in no way improves the position of the real Turkish Cypriots who are now discriminated against in favour of an alien people with whom they have little affinity. The people of Cyprus are, by nature, a happy, friendly and hardworking race with a strong bond within families. They have suffered enough. I certainly wish them well in their efforts to bring peace and prosperity to their island.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, I think that it might be said at this stage in the debate that we are fortunate to have been able to listen to the remarkable speeches that have been made to us today. I would refer first to the very moving maiden speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger. I am sure that it is a happiness to all of us that, in our rather dry male discussions, we should have strong feelings put forward by the ladies. I think that the speeches made by both the noble Baronesses who have addressed us today conveyed to us the almost passionate feeling that many of us have when we think of the hardships and the sufferings of the people of Cyprus on both sides of the line.

We think today of the future rather than the past. It is a little difficult for me to remember that it was nearly 40 years ago that I first acted as Governor of Cyprus. It is worth remembering those days—it is almost impossible to remember them now—because then the enemy was in Rhodes, Crete and the Greek Islands, and we were in many ways the front line at that time. But, while the world was at war, Cyprus was in peace. The two or three years that I spent in Cyprus at that time were some of the most productive and constructive that I had known for many years.

In the Executive Council there was a distinguished Greek and a distinguished Turk. They worked together day by day in full understanding and friendship In the English School there were Turks and Greeks together. In all the departments of Government there were Turks and Greeks and when I say, "Turks and Greeks" I mean Cypriots, but I pay attention to their basic allegiance which is certainly a factor that we must remember. Even in the military units we had Greeks and Turks working together serving both at home and overseas.

Subsequently, when I returned almost 20 years later to be Governor again, in days of violence, revolt, bitterness and animosity, it was a great comfort and consolation to line, and a source of confidence for the future, that I had seen Cyprus when there was peace, friendship and understanding between the two communities. Today, in view of all that has happened, if I remember the days of the Second World War in Cyprus, I have confidence that it is possible for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to work together in understanding and full co-operation.

It is unwise to devote too much time to recollection but I also recall that, in 1960—and I remember the scene—I, on behalf of the British Government, a Conservative Government, I think, at that time, signed the Treaty of Guarantee. Your Lordships can imagine that, having had that honour and obligation, I remember it frequently when I study the unhappy situation which now exists in the island. I remember the wording of the Treaty of Guarantee. We are all familiar with it, but it may be just as well to remind ourselves of it once again. It said: Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom likewise undertake to prohibit, so far as concerns them, any activity aimed at promoting, directly or indirectly, either union of Cyprus with any other State or partition of the Island". It went on: In so far as common or concerted action may not prove possible, each of the three guaranteeing Powers reserves the right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs created by the present Treaty". So, having been given the privilege of signing the treaty it is, to me, a matter—as was said just now by a noble Lord on the other side of the House—of the greatest shame (yes, shame!) that we should have failed to carry out our clear obligation. Most of all, I felt that feeling of shame after the crazy act of violence which took place in 1974, when they surrounded what used to be my Government House and pumped their heavy guns into the presidential palace, seeking to kill the President. As noble Lords will remember, he escaped. I do not know the full story; we shall not know it until the documents are subsequently released but, possibly under American pressure and in spite of the obligation of our clear treaty, a deliberate decision was taken to do nothing. We would not even call on the Security Council of the United Nations. Nothing was done at that time. That stands to our discredit and our shame. It makes it all the more necessary that we should now consider what this country can do at this important stage when we drift into a situation which, at the present rate, can only become worse.

So I turn from the past to think about the future. Do we know the objectives? Yes, I think we do know what they are. One or two steps have already been taken. There was the step taken by Archbishop Makarios and Mr. Denktash when they clearly set out three or four purposes which were agreed on both sides. Admittedly, they did not state details; they did not create a constitution; but they set out a purpose. Again, there were the 10 points agreed upon by Mr. Denktash and Mr. Kyprianou. That set of 10 points, it is true, was not the final answer, but they were agreed. I return to those 10 points. It may be as well to repeat the main purpose: 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''. That was the agreed purpose. Therefore, we know the aim. I should also like to quote the very important reference in that document to Varosha: Priority will be given to reaching agreement on the resettlement of Varosha under United Nations auspices. Instead of being a terrible hostage of years of animosity, I sometimes think that Varosha can perhaps be the gateway to peace. There is no reason why Varosha should stay abandoned in waste, as it is at present, when it could very largely provide an answer to the refugee problem about which we all feel so intensely.

Where do we go from here? The Secretary-General has done his best, but he has no power except what he is given by the Security Council or its members. He has reported four, five or six times that there is no agreement. Are we to go through that process again? Are we merely to say, "Leave it to him", when we know that that will produce no result? It has not produced a result so far. Having read the statements made by both sides in Cyprus, it seems that there is no indication that either side will abandon its position. Therefore, I believe that there has been one sad neglect on the part of the Turkish Government and the Turkish Community. I say this to them, with the greatest respect. When there is a dispute of this depth and feeling in different parts of the world—for example, in Israel or in Africa—nearly always there has to be an independent initiative, something has had to be proposed which neither side could propose itself but which in the end both sides can accept.

I understand the feelings about internationalisation very well. It is said that they turn their faces against internationalisation, but that is not my impression. When I talk to Mr. Denktash —as I do when I go to Cyprus—about the feelings of those who are genuine friends of Cyprus, who love the island and who like both communities, I get the impression that they do not want to refuse to accept the help, the advice and the guidance of people who wish to see an answer. We know roughly what the answer must be. Most certainly there must be provision for the Turkish community to be safe, secure and confident. That must be provided in their area. We know the difficulties of forming a federal constitution; I have had some experience of it myself in Nigeria and elsewhere. The most difficult thing in the world is to create a federal constitution and prior to it one must create a genuine will on both sides to make it work.

return to the point that there must be some intervention. It is not sufficient to be told from the opposite side of the House that we simply have to wait for the next meeting with the Secretary-General. That is not enough. If any country is to take an initiative, I believe that it should be our country, with its special obligation. We have bases and troops on the island. We play a prominent and principal role in the United Nations peace-keeping force there. We have the obligation of association with the island for almost a century. We have leadership in the Economic Community, the commonwealth and the United Nations. I do not believe that we would favour one side or the other. I believe that, working with the Secretary-General, we should and must be able to end a shameful situation.

I am watching the clock because I know that time is restricted. Perhaps noble Lords will permit me to take up a minute or two to recall one other incident which may have some bearing on what we are talking about this afternoon. Many years ago in the United Nations two resolutions were placed before the General Assembly. One was backed by the Greek Government and one was backed by the British Government at that time. Our representative was Sir Pierson Dixon, the British Ambassador to the United Nations. He left his office at 99 Park Avenue to go to the General Assembly and to certain victory. He had worked for weeks and knew that an overwhelming victory in the General Assembly awaited him on his arrival at the United Nations building. I was in Nicosia at the time and late that night he sent me a telegram telling me what had happened on that momentous day.

Apparently as he went to the United Nations he said to himself, "What we want today is not a victory, but a success." The phrase "not a victory, but a success" stuck in his mind. When he arrived at the United Nations he (lid not go straight into the great Assembly, with all the votes that he had been promised; he went to an upper room and asked the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey to come and see him. Zorlu of Turkey came to see him first and he said, "At this last moment, why should we not try to take one step towards a settlement instead of scoring victories over each other in the vote?" Mr. Zorlu said, "It is no good talking to me now; we have to go down to the Assembly; they are waiting to vote now. Anyhow, it is no good taking to the Greeks, they know that they are going to lose and they are in the frame of mind of Greek tragedy. You will get no sense from them." Sir Pierson asked where Mr. Averoff, the Foreign Minister of Greece was, and why he had not come, and was told that he had gone to meet the Queen of Greece that day. He managed to get him on the telephone and asked him to come down. He said that he would come as quickly as possible. The three men together in the upper room, with the angry Assembly waiting below, talked on the basis of searching not for a victors' but for a success. At the end of half an hour Mr. Zorlu shook hands with Mr. Averoff and each pledged his personal honour to work as rapidly as possible for a final settlement in Cyprus. It was too late to get anything typed; they scribbled out a new resolution which did not mean very much, except that neither side was scoring a victory over the other.

The problem remained of who would propose the resolution, because the rule of the Assembly is that the sponsor of one resolution cannot sponsor another. They went through the long list of sponsors. Was there anyone missing? It seemed that Mexico was missing. They then had to get hold of the Mexican Ambassador, so they put out a call for him on the loudspeakers. He hurried from his place in the General Assembly. Would he move a resolution on Cyprus? He said he would like to know what it was. They quickly explained it to him, and he understood and then agreed. Then, to the astonishment of the Assembly, the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey and the Ambassadors of Mexico and the United Kingdom entered the Assembly together. Then, having obtained the special permission of the President, the Ambassador of Mexico rises to propose a resolution they have never heard of, when every delegate in that great hall has promised his vote to his own country and to many others. Then, to their amazement the Mexican resolution is supported by the Foreign Ministers of both Greece and Turkey and the Ambassador of the United Kingdom. In a spirit of astonishment it passed unanimously that day. In three months Mr. Zorlu and Mr. Averoff kept their word. In three months we had a settlement in Cyprus. It was a joy to work through that final year with Greeks and Turks working again in full agreement and understanding in that same executive council to produce the independent Republic of Cyprus.

It may be worth remembering the story because I believe at this time, when I speak to the Greeks or Turks, I feel that there is a willingness, if it can be done with honour and with the full recognition of the needs of both sides, and an eagerness and longing to end the dispute which was, in the first place, unnecessary and which has done such terrible damage. I come back time and again to the feeling that, of all the countries in the world who could not only contribute to that but could make a decisive contribution, ours is the country.

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, as it is to pay tribute to him for his life service to Cyprus and to so many other countries in the Commonwealth. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Spens, for introducing this debate, although he would not expect me to agree with every word he said. I am delighted to congratulate my dear friend the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, on her moving and excellent maiden speech.

Cyprus is an independent sovereign State—recognised as such by practically the whole of the world. Yet part of Cyprus tonight—and that the naturally richest part of Cyprus—is occupied by foreign troops, by Turkish troops, and has been so ever since some five and a half years ago. It was then that a pro-Greek fanatic, Colonel Sampson, tried to murder Archbishop Makarios as part of the movement to make Cyprus part of Greece—the movement called "Enosis"; a movement which Makarios had left.

In my latest of many visits to Cyprus I had the privilege of meeting with President Kyprianou and the leader of the Turkish Cypriots, Mr. Denktash. Both received me courteously and both spoke to me frankly. I found that still in the minds of some of the leaders of the Turkish Cypriots there lingers the old idea that the Greek Cypriots want enosis with Greece. From my many contacts with Greek Cypriots and Greek leaders in Athens I know that the suspicion, if natural in view of what happened in history, is unfounded. Enosis had really died a natural death under the enlightened leadership of Archbishop Makarios. Any suspicion should have vanished with the overthrow of the Greek Colonels and with the overthrow of Sampson by Greek Cypriots who are now members of the Cyprus parliamentary Government.

No serious politician in Cyprus or in Athens has any desire for anything but the independence of Cyprus: independent of Greece and independent of Turkey. I believe that it ought to be possible for the three guarantor nations, Greece, Turkey and ourselves, to hammer out a solution which would end for all time the present unhappy state of affairs in that beautiful island. I hope that my noble friend, if I may so call him, the Foreign Secretary, who is winning golden opinions for what he is doing in his office, among his many duties will take under his wing the problem of making an initiative some day, and very soon, and call together the co-chairmen.

For years now 200,000 Greek Cypriots have been dispossessed of their land and their homes. The Greek Cypriot Government has done miracles in housing most of them and in finding work for most of the refugees, those who are able bodied. But I also saw former Turkish Cypriot villages, in the Greek Cypriot part of the island, empty. I forget the exact number, but some 50,000 Turkish Cypriots were turned out of their own homes in the Greek part of the island. The return of all dispossessed Greek and Turkish Cypriots would be a great achievement indeed for the happiness of the island.

There is still the problem of the missing persons—Cypriots of both kinds who were missing after the civil war and who have never yet been accounted for. I spoke of this at length in an earlier Cyprus debate, and I spoke to both leaders on my last visit to the island. This human problem is still unresolved. On my return to Britain I received a letter from a number of Britons in Cyprus. They were men and women who had settled for their retiring years in a part of Cyprus which is now taken over by the Turks. They were seeking compensation from Mr. Denktash, and had not yet received anything like adequate compensation. I took up this matter with Her Majesty's Government, and I hope we may hear at the end of this debate how far we have gone in the claims of the dispossessed British citizens in Cyprus deprived of their homes by the Turks.

As one who has many Cypriot friends who have lost everything in that island, I am always deeply moved when I consider the lot of the island, which could easily be so happy, as the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, told us in the early part of his magnificent speech. In the international setting Cyprus has an important role to play. We want Greece in the European Community, and are glad that she is coming in. We want her in NATO too. We are glad to have Turkey in NATO, and we want them in the European Community.

At the present moment we are trying to strengthen an alliance of the democracies of the world in face of grave dangers. Greece and Turkey face the same dangers that we do. If the co-chairmen would get together and exercise a little pressure on the Cypriot leaders, recommence the communal talks, start compromising—and Varosha, the part of Famagusta, is a possible first step towards compromise—it would be good for the Free World and it would be more than good for Greece.

At the recent annual meeting of the Pan-Cypriot Refugee Committee they passed a resolution. I want to read just two sentences from it: The sixth Pan-Cypriot Refugee Congress extends to our Turkish compatriots feelings of friendship and sincere wishes to build jointly a new Cyprus—peaceful, happy and thriving—where all communities will enjoy an equally high standard of living and where reciprocal trust will bring security and co-operation. I am sure that that is in the minds of all of us in this debate.

4.50 p.m.


My Lords, I join with others in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Spens, for initiating this debate, and I wish very deeply to congratulate my noble friend Lady Jeger on her maiden speech, which was so sincere and combined with such knowledge. I knew she was going to make a splendid speech and she did not disappoint those of us who have known her for many years.

I have found this debate unique in one respect; I have not taken part in a debate in which there has been expressed more deep feeling than we have heard today, a feeling which is on both sides of the House and a feeling which was certainly illustrated in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Newall. Combined with that deep feeling has been some quite extraordinary knowledge; indeed, nearly every noble Lord has spoken from experience of Cyprus. I was moved most by the description which my noble friend Lord Caradon gave of co-operation between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in the councils and committees of the Government when he was governor there. I did not have that privilege, but I had the privilege of going to Cyprus and mixing with the ordinary people in the villages. He described cooperation at the top; I saw it at the bottom.

At that time in the villages of Cyprus there was not the least antagonism between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots. I have described in this House before how, under the trees at mid-day, they could be seen taking the shade together, with Turkish and Greek families and children playing together. Not only that; one could witness the gossiping of both in the streets, the going to the same shops, the young lads, both Turks and Greeks, kicking a ball around. There was no antagonism between them at that time and the fact that there was no antagonism in the past gives reason to believe there may be co-operation in the future.

It is five-and-a-half years since the Turkish invasion took place. Maybe I have youthful impatience, but I have impatience with the fact that so much time has passed without a settlement being reached. The last talks were in July. At the end of the talks it was said they were breaking up for a few days' recess. They have not met since. However, now we are hoping they will meet very soon, and I ask Her Majesty's Government what they will be proposing when the new talks which Dr. Waldheim is calling take place. I believe our whole concentration should be on seeking a solution through those talks.

There is more than one ground for optimism. President Kyprianou has been showing extraordinary friendship towards the Turkish Cypriots by his recent proposals for the employment of Turkish Cypriots in Government enterprises, extending old age pensions to them, expanding the opportunities for Turkish Cypriots in higher education, his urging that there should be co-operation between many of the Turkish and Cypriot organisations, and his endeavouring to recreate the co-operation which previously existed.

I had hoped when we last discussed this subject that agreement was near about Varosha, the new suburb of Famagusta, but I have been a little disappointed recently. The fact that the Turkish authorities there have insisted on the hotels being re-opened under Turkish administration, and threatening that they will re-open them themselves unless the proprietors did so, has created a bad atmosphere. I am glad that the Governments of Britain, the United States and West Germany have warned of the dangers of that course and I hope that that warning will lead to a reconsideration of the approach to that problem.

What is the difference between the attitude of the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots to the future of their island? It can be defined as a difference between confederation and federation: the Turkish Cypriots desiring that there should be two separate States but associated in confederation; the Greek Cypriots insisting that while there shall be greater autonomy in the two provinces, in the island there must be a central Government with authority for foreign affairs, defence, but also for the common economy.

I heard my noble friend Lord Caradon say that when these issues are discussed it is very difficult to reach a solution unless there is a will to bring about a solution. Honestly, if one examines the situation one sees that the differences between confederation and federation are not such that if one has the will one cannot find a solution to them. I take some consolation from the recent statement by the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mr. Erkmen, on this subject. He said: There was sound logic at the root of Mr. Denktash's call for independence", but, we are holding him back at this stage. I believe that the situation in South-East Europe, in Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus, in regard to relations with Europe is such that a new opportunity now arises to try to find a solution to these problems.

I want to draw to a conclusion with a reference which may seem more controversial. The West seeks Cyprus as a site for NATO, as a geographical instrument for NATO. The majority of the people of Cyprus want that country to remain neutral and unaligned, and we must be very careful indeed as we approach that problem. The United Nations has recently carried a resolution for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Cyprus, including the British troops which are at their bases, and, because that point was included, the West at the United Nations voted against the resolution. I nevertheless say this: As we approach this problem we must understand the right of the people of Cyprus to their own self-determination in these matters. They are fearful that the British bases may be used for purposes which would destroy their non-alignment. The United States used them for military aircraft flown to the Middle East. We used them for the attack on the Suez Canal; and Cyprus inevitably becomes involved because there are bases on their territory. I think that we must recognise their deep feelings on this matter.

I conclude by quoting what President Kyprianou has said on this subject: When the question of wider disarmament comes up for discussion, then certainly we would like to see Cyprus demilitarised in a peaceful Mediterranean. We want Cyprus to cease to be the centre or cause of friction and become a bridge for peace, happiness, tranquility and co-operation between the three surrounding continents. I should like to see our country and our Government supporting the aims of President Kyprianou as expressed in those words.

5.4 p.m.


My Lords, in expressing my thanks to the noble Lord. Lord Spens, for bringing this subject before your Lordships this afternoon, I should like to say that I came with a prepared speech, which I have now abandoned because of what I have heard from various Members of your Lordships' House. What rings so clearly in my mind was graphically expressed by the noble Baroness in her splendid maiden speech: these peoople who live on an island half the size of Wales just want to go home, stay at home, and live and work in peace. To me as a scientist that message has come out clear and simple. It was a great privilege to hear the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, with his vast and deep experience of this island, appealing for what I as a scientist would call a catalyst—a catalyst in the real sense of the word—to bring together these people who really want to agree, hut do not know quite how to do it.

The other fact that has emerged for me is that there is too wide a gap between the rich and the poor in Cyprus; and there is too much free money (as it were) available to those who use their wits and not their hearts, as was brought out in the splendid speech of the noble Lord, Lord Newall. Therefore I should like to suggest to your Lordships that the catalytic agent in this picture might well he to take advantage of the really singular—and I mean singular—mineral resources on the island of Cyprus, It is an island in the Medierranean that is geologically unique; and because of this I should like to put before your Lordships several facts.

One of the facts is that in this mass of land thrust above the waters of the Mediterranean there is a whole mass of mineral veins of incredible richness, but not one of these ore bodies has been processed on the island. All the ores dug out of Cyprus have been exported in a raw state. If we could introduce into Cyprus the value-added character which one associates with the smelting and the processing of these ores, it would uplift the economy of the country. It would provide a variety of work for the country, and the Cypriots would work—as the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, had proved—happily together in all kinds of enterprises, and would not have to seek financial aid from the outside world.

It would take too long to recite the numerous deposits which could be exploited in this way, and I shall mention only two or three. One is asbestos. Not a single ton of asbestos is processed out of that fabulous deposit on the island; it is all exported. Imagine, my Lords, the value-added returns which would come from the processing of asbestos on the island. The island also exports between 33,000 and 35,000 tons of chrome, and this chrome is of special value, but not one gramme of it is extracted on the island. Likewise Cyprus exports about the same quantity of copper, and it is a very special copper ore, which is processed in Spain and elsewhere. Not one ton of it is processed in Cyprus.

In other words, what I am really saying is that if the Cypriots could introduce into their country the value-added characteristics of their valuable resources, they would have a financial stability which would enable them to live in peace and resist any outside intrusion from anybody. In order to do this they will need to have at their disposal a considerable quantity of electrical energy for the electrolysis of the metals, the conversion of smelters, the development of desalination plants, etcetera. This is where Cyprus is really a geological jewel in the Mediterranean. It is the product of earth pressures, unique in the Mediterranean, which have lifted pillar lavas from the junction between the solid and the molten parts of the earth's interior. Consequently, it is geologically a "hot-spot"; and we have only to look round the Mediterranean to see Stromboli, Etna and Vesuvius to be convinced.

I am therefore quite seriously suggesting that the catalyst which the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, has been asking for would be to use the money which the noble Lord, Lord Newall, has so graphically brought out, unused, into the light of day for developing, with British know-how (and I emphasise "British" know-how, because we have got it), a geothermal power station which could provide eternal energy for the island of Cyprus. A board could be set up, carefully selected, involving the Greeks, the Turks and everybody else in Cyprus, to develop a power station which would provide for Cyprus a new picture of the parental attitude of Britain to the welfare of that island. We love it; we want it; we want to keep it as it is, as the noble Baroness has said, and let the Cypriots go home and live in peace, and work and play in happiness.

5.11 p.m.


My Lords, when we debated this subject last July Her Majesty's Government had been in office for only two months. Now some nine months have gone by, and I think we are entitled to ask them what they are doing and how they are facing their responsibilities. I should like to raise three points, of which I have given notice to my noble friend. For the last 5½ years young Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been growing up in isolation from each other. They have been separate at school and they are separate in higher and further education—for which, incidentally, most of them are obliged to go overseas. I know there is some English language teaching in both zones, but there is little or no chance for Greeks and Turks to communicate in their formative years, when they are perhaps at their most sociable and most experimental. I very much hope that the offer by President Kyprianou, which was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, will be taken up because if it is not taken up and if this separation continues, there is the greatest possible danger that the cynicism which she mentioned will become deeply implanted in the young.

It is for these reasons that I come back again to the question of a university for Cyprus. When I mentioned this idea in your Lordships' House last July, the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said it was an attractive suggestion. My noble friend Lord Trefgarne said at column 2025: 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". [Official Report, 25/7/79.] My Lords, what progress has there been since then? Have Her Majesty's Government communicated their willingness to Cypriots and to the allies of Cyprus? Might there not also be scope, perhaps, for transferring some university teaching in relation to overseas students from Britain to Cyprus? In examining the benefits that might flow from a common but neutral university in Cyprus, where English was the main language of instruction, it may be helpful to make some comparison with Northern Ireland. There, as we know, the schools are rigidly divided on community and religious lines, but at least Queen's University, Belfast, Rupert Stanley College and Belfast Polytechnic are fully integrated, to the very great benefit of Ulster. If we cannot immediately obtain a university for Cyprus, could we not at least try to achieve a college of advanced technology, or perhaps a polytechnic?

My second point concerns health. I have been informed that plans were ready and agreed in 1974 for a cancer hospital, or at least a cancer unit in an existing hospital. This would have served the whole island. Then came the unfortunate coup and the invasion, and nothing resulted from those plans. Are Her Majesty's Government aware of this situation, and what are they doing about it? Will they, as I hope they will, rally to so humane a cause on the understanding that, of course, the cancer unit must serve the whole island?

My final point concerns compensation. My noble friend Lord Trefgarne said in our last debate: …we hope that progress can soon be made both with the evaluation and payment of claims by British nationals". [Col. 2026.] What has happened since then? Has anyone been paid anything after 51/2 years? The question of compensation, however, goes rather wider and deeper than that. There are Greeks and Turks in Cyprus who deserve compensation every bit as much as British citizens. I will not weary your Lordships by repeating the details which I gave in July. I just ask: Has any progress been made on these aspects of compensation? If the answer is, "None", surely this reinforces my previous suggestion for an impartial international assessment body. Will Her Majesty's Government test out this suggestion instead of merely pouring cold water on it? I fear that many basic local interest groups do not much desire a solution. In this situation, what can we do to work towards a change of heart?

I have made three suggestions for institutional co-operation. Do Her Majesty's Government reject them? If so, what better ideas have the Government to put forward? I have already said, in an Irish context, that we need a coming together of minds and hearts of people—Greek and Turkish Cypriots, British, Greeks and Turks. We need someone to give a lead in practising the politics of forgiveness. This, I am quite sure, is the key to unlocking the future in the island of Cyprus.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, I am mindful of the fact that the rules of debate require that I should be as brief as possible to enable the noble Lord to speak during a given time and to sit down at an appropriate time, much as we would otherwise regret his having to do so. The House is truly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Spens, for having given it the opportunity to discuss this very important and very sensitive question; and I myself am glad to follow the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, who in a very short time made three extremely important points, with the first two of which I hasten to say once more I am in very considerable sympathy. I think that to introduce certain communal institutions, such as a university and hospitalisation of the kind he mentioned, would go very far indeed to knit together the needs, and therefore the efforts of the two communities on the island. I hope the Government will give thought to his suggestions, as I believe we did when he first raised the question in this house when I was Minister.

My Lords, the maintaining of the independence and integrity of Cyprus is not only important to Cyprus itself and all its people; it is also of extreme relevance to the defence and survival of the Free World. So we must not apologise for discussing Cyprus in much larger contexts, particularly after recent events in the Near and Middle East have brought the importance of Cyprus and of nearby countries into even keener focus than they were before. Certainly good relations between Greece and Turkey, as well as between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, are essential to the cohesion of the Western Alliance. Everything that has been said in this debate, including what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, has been in support of promoting good relations between the two communities on the island and also between the two countries, Greece and Turkey which, naturally, have an immediate interest in the future of the island. Both Greece and Turkey have a long-standing tradition of friendship with this country. They are both members of NATO—in varying degrees, if I may put it like that—they are both prospective members of the European Community, Greece imminently so, and Turkey prospectively so; and we would welcome the adhesion of both to the European Community to strengthen the Community politically and economically.

It is therefore of the utmost importance that we in the Western world, as well as our friends in Cyprus itself, should consider the future of that island in this wider context. The basic accord of Greece and Turkey, apart from being essential to the restoration of normal political progress in Cyprus, is also immediately essential to the restoration of stability in a wider area. Therefore, it is cheering news that certain difficulties between Turkey, for instance, and the United States have been resolved and that the Western Alliance and its members are taking a constructive view of the needs as well as the prospects of our two friends in the Eastern Mediterranean. So that I am not without hope that there may be rapidly approaching, not just in Cyprus, but surrounding Cyprus, the political conditions, the imperative conditions, the conditions of compulsion by extraneous forces, which may lead to meaningful discussions and durable solutions.

The central difficulty, as has been described clearly by more than one speaker, is the present division of the island marked by the presence of Turkish forces in the north; and, naturally, Greek Cypriots regard this as an impediment to the consolidation of the island as a whole, while Turkish sympathisers in the island and outside ascribe the present situation to a number of causes, some of them deepseated, in the past, but particularly traceable to the Sampson attempt at a coup in 1974; so that the argument is evenly balanced, as it always is when there is a clash of nationalistic interests and sympathies. One feels attracted to the suggestion of my noble friend, Lord Caradon that possibly an independent lead, an independent initiative, might well be taken which will take the matter out of the immediacy of the antagonisms and suspicions that have ruled on the island so far. I am sure that the Government will take a very good look at his suggestion that such an independent initiative might well be taken by this country through the United Nations. He speaks with authority and experience and he would not make this suggestion today, I know, without having thought carefully about it for a considerable time.

For the moment, we must pin our hopes on the inter-communal talks which have recently re-activated under the aegis of the United Nations and we must not despair that something will come of them. Here, practical suggestions such as those we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, are helpful. Where talks of this nature flag or halt because neither side is prepared to make a concession in case they weaken their own position, then something on which both sides can immediately agree, something like a joint institutional movement forward, may unlock the position. However, there must be a basis for any solution by conference, whether by the iniative of this country or by a corporate initiative such as that of the United Nations.

It occurs to many of us that the fundamental, two-fold basis clearly is, on the one hand, that the Greek community in Cyprus and outside should abandon all intention of seeking enosis. We heard my noble friend Lord Maybray-King testify to his immediate knowledge of the feelings on the island. My information and the result of my talks with many on the island and in London is that he is quite right. The Greek Government and the vast majority of Greek Cypriots on the island and outside have totally abandoned this as a practical solution. This was kept alive by the facist régime of the Colonels, and Sampson was the demented child of that dictatorship. The Greeks are, above all, at once practical and democratic; and we have in Greece today an enlightened government to which we look for attitudes which will reassure the entire population of Cyprus as to the way in which Greece and the Greek Cypriots regard the future of the island. That is the concession, if it is a concession, because it is, I believe, a permanent attitude on the Greek side.

On the other hand, the Greek community on the island and outside needs to be assured that it is not the intention of Turkey permanently to annex northern Cyprus, or indeed, to perpetuate indefinitely its present division. That is the balance of attitudes between Greeks and Turks on the island and outside which is essential to moving forward to the kind of solution which my noble friend Lord Caradon put forward. He suggested this with some courage, because anybody who suggests a federal solution almost immediately calls upon himself denunciation and even derision. I never know why this is so, because federation has succeeded in as many parts of the world as it has failed in. He has experience of the diffi- culties of federation and of its successes, so that what he had to say is real evidence.

There are various gradations of federalism. The line to be drawn is between any form of federalism and confederalism. Most of us would agree that confederalism is out in Cyprus, but there is certainly room for an effective form of federalism within a united, independent, sovereign Republic of Cyprus. We have heard from this side of the House suggestions as to how that federalism should be constituted. That is a matter for negotiation. So long as we work to a Republic of Cyprus which is united, independent and sovereign, with a single sovereign government but within which state there is agreed appropriate and ample freedom to develop by the two main communities concerned, we may hope to make progress.

I repeat that federalism in one form or another has as many successes—probably more—to its credit than failures. One thinks of the great Dominions of Canada and Australia—of the United States itself—of the Federal Republic of Germany and of the Indian union. That it failed in Central Africa and one or two other parts of the world is not evidence against its success in so many parts of the world. It may be the wave of the future that the implacable nationalisms of our time should find their proper expression not within the old-fashioned nation-state but within the new enlightened aggregation of communities within federations.

5.32 p.m.


My Lords, may I first say how much I enjoyed and appreciated the very remarkable maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger? We do not often hear maiden speeches like that—or any other speeches for that matter— and I think that the noble Baroness is a very fine addition to your Lordships' House. I hope that we shall hear her again soon and often.

Your Lordships last debated this topic in July 1979. Since then there have been but few new developments. The second half of the year was dominated—as are the second halves of so many years—by the annual recourse to the United Nations General Assembly. We doubt whether the resolutions that emerge from New York on this subject are worth the price that is paid in suspension of the intercommunal dialogue, as each year the parties to this question turn their eyes and ears westwards hoping for new enlightenment which does not come.

Along with virtually all our Western partners, we abstained on the resolution as a whole and voted against parts of it. But, in the New Year, the dust of the debate began to settle and the United Nations Secretariat once again resumed the search for a formula that would enable the inter-communal talks to be reconvened, and to consider substantive issues. There are encouraging signs that they have made some progress; and we wish them well. But it is they, the United Nations, who have been given the mandate by the international community to carry on this task. To those who wish Her Majesty's Government to launch some new initiative over Cyprus, I can only repeat, as I said last July, that we did not believe either back-seat driving or a new initiative by us now would do any practical good. Those most concerned are not asking us to do this either. Although of course we acknowledge that we have a special responsibility arising from the 1960 treaties, this does not mean that we have the practical power to bring about change in the situation by unilateral action. On the substance of the issue we have made our contribution in the form of the paper presented in 1978 along with the Canadians and the Americans; and that paper remains on the table for the parties to use as they choose.

On procedure, we support Dr. Wald-heim's initiative. He and the parties know that we and our partners are ready to use our influence to help in any way that they would find useful. Indeed, in the process of discussion with the governments and parties concerned, we constantly use our influence to promote better understanding and to move the situation forward. But a settlement cannot be imposed on the people of Cyprus from outside. Their leaders must accept the main responsibility for negotiating a settlement among themselves; and they must take the political risks by making the necessary concessions. Otherwise, there will be no settlement.

These, then, are the Government's views on the Cyprus question. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister looks forward to her discussions with President Kyprianou when he comes to London next week.

But if on the main political issue the opportunities and the problems are much as they were when we last debated Cyprus, there are other areas where things have moved on. Economically, the South continues to make remarkable progress while the North, though clearly affected by the economic crisis in Turkey, shows no signs whatever of the economic collapse which some have predicted for it in recent years.

May I now deal with as many of the points as I can which have been raised in the debate. The noble Lord, Lord May-bray-King, and others, dealt particularly and at some length with the consultations with the guarantor powers and initiative by them. They were particularly asking—as was the noble Lord, Lord Caradon—that we should take our own initiative. I referred to that just now. I can say that we maintain close and regular contact with the Governments of Greece and Turkey about this problem. We have made it clear that we look to them to use their influence with the parties to encourage a constructive attitude towards the inter-communal talks which I have mentioned. It would be a mistake, as I said earlier, to engage in any initiative that would cut across United Nations' efforts, especially at the time when the parties are close to a resumption of talks.

The noble Lord, Lord Spens, referred to our position at the United Nations. I have already touched upon that. The noble Lords, Lord Spens, and Lord Brockway referred to the position of Varosha. The Government have no information to confirm reports that the status quo in Varosha is to be altered. We have made it clear to those concerned, in response to the rumours that we have heard, that action which could harm United Nation's efforts to reconvene the inter-communal negotiations should be avoided. I believe that they have reacted to what we said.

Both my noble friend Lord Newall and the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, referred to sovereign bases. There is no present intention to give up any part of these bases. Nor is there any question of our having failed to meet our obligations over them. The bases are in fact sovereign territory. They are not rented and the aid promised under the 1960 agreement, which the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, will recall, was given. Apart from substantial contributions to refugee relief and to United Nations' Cyprus Force and Services expenditure in Cyprus, a £7½ million offer was made in 1978, as my noble friend Lord Newall reminded us. On the question of aid generally, the Government have stipulated that aid provided to Cyprus should benefit both communities. Similar conditions attach to financial aid from the European Community. A fair share of the British Government's technical information programme in Cyprus is used to assist the Turkish Cypriot community.

The noble Countess, Lady Loudoun, the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King, and at least one other noble Lord, referred to missing persons. We greatly regret the lack of progress towards the solution of this essentially humanitarian problem. We believe that all concerned should co-operate with the United Nations to resolve it, and we are hoping that they will before long do that.

Compensation claims were also raised by several speakers. The Turkish Cypriots have now approved some 140 ex gratia awards to British subjects, as recommended by their Claims Commission, and payment of the awards has now begun. Discussions are taking place with the competent authorities about the effect on claims payments of the recent devaluation of the Turkish lira, which we hope can be resolved before long.

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, also asked me about the possibility of a university for Cyprus. I am sorry to say that I have nothing further to add to what I said to him some months ago on that subject. We are certainly prepared to consider the possibility of the establishment of a university there, but it has to be done with the agreement of the parties in Cyprus, which so far has not been forthcoming. As for the provision of a cancer unit or hospital, we are always ready to discuss any requests that are put to us by the Cyprus authorities, but my noble friend will be aware that funds for aid of this kind are very limited.

The noble Lord, Lord Spens, raised a point during the debate on airports policy last week concerning air transport from the United Kingdom to Northern Cyprus, which I considered it more appropriate to answer in the course of today's debate. The position is that the Cyprus Government have declared that they do not consider Ercan Airport to be an approved airport under Cyprus legislation, nor a designated customs airport in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Chicago Convention of 1944. Since Her Majesty's Government recognise only one government in Cyprus—that of the Republic of Cyprus under President Kyprianou—we are obliged to prohibit both private and scheduled flights between that airport and the United Kingdom. As the Government have often said in the past with reference to complaints of hardship affecting the Greek Cypriot side, this is the kind of question which is most likely to be resolved in the context of an overall settlement in Cyprus.

The noble Lord, Lord Banks, gave certain figures of the percentages of territory demanded by each side. I must say that the figures he produced are not ones that are available to us and I think they must be regarded as speculative. As for the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, I felt that was a most enlightened and helpful contribution to our debate and I hope the noble Lord will allow me to study what he said with considerable care and in the full knowledge of his considerable experience in this matter.

However, the sky is not wholly black. Apart from the disappointing matters which I have described, there has been some useful progress in relations with the European Community. That was a matter which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts. Her Majesty's Government have been very active in support of the Cyprus Government's efforts to move the island's relationship with the Community forward towards stage two of the full customs union envisaged in the association agreement. We are glad that an extension to the existing arrangements has now been signed, thus enabling negotiations on stage two to take place later this year. We shall be doing our best to ensure that the momentum is maintained, and we shall naturally also wish to ensure that the benefits deriving from relationships with the EEC are available to both communities in Cyprus.

May I conclude by saying that, of course, we regret that the Cyprus issue remains unresolved after so long, but we are convinced that attempts to impose a settlement from outside would be deeply resented and, in the end, counter-productive. Cyprus is an independent republic, and we believe that the right way forward is for the people themselves to seek to resolve their differences by consultation and negotiation, assisted and supported by the international community. We shall continue to play a prominent role.

5.45 p.m.


My Lords, I believe I could spend another 15 minutes in summing up, but if I were to do that I fear this debate would end on a note of discord. There is one point I want to clarify before beginning my summing up, and that is the apparently generous offer of President Kyprianou over pensions. That must be put into perspective, and the perspective is this. The Greek Cypriot Government have paid no pensions to Turkish Cypriots since 1963, although they took over the National Insurance and Social Security Fund covering all of Cyprus in 1960. Moreover, they are continuing to be sent the national insurance contributions from Turkish Cypriots who are working in the British sovereign bases. Those contributions are now going direct to the Government of Cyprus, because the Government of Cyprus is the only Government which is recognised by Her Majesty's Government. Therefore, although President Kyprianou's offer obviously is a good start, it is nothing like the generous offer that it appeared to be.

I believe we have had a magnificent debate this afternoon and it has been very greatly enhanced by a marvellous maiden speech from the noble Baroness. She showed her very intimate knowledge of the island, and I know that in the future she is going to be a most useful adviser to us on Cyprus matters. Then we had a speech from the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, spoken with all the authority of the last Governor of Cyprus and a signatory to the Treaty of Guarantee. That was absolutely superb, and I noticed that he spoke without using a note: he spoke right from the heart. Another speech which was made by someone who spoke without using a note came from my noble friend Lord Energlyn. He made the very interesting suggestion that the geology of Cyprus, being unique, might be used as a catalyst for bringing the two communities together. I believe that is something that should be pursued.

I am disappointed in the answer that was given by the noble Lord the Minister. I am afraid I expected it, but he must expect me and, I think, other speakers who have taken part in this debate to continue to press Her Majesty' Government to do something. I hope that our pressure will enable them to do something fairly quickly because, as others have said, it is now five and a half years since July 1974 and that small country ought to be brought together. It needs a catalyst: whether it is geological or whatever, it needs to be done by a third party. With those remarks, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.