HL Deb 05 May 1981 vol 420 cc1-3
Lord Brockway

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether as guarantors of the integrity of Cyprus they are satisfied with the progress of the intercommunal talks between representatives of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, intercommunal talks under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations are continuing in Nicosia, and the recent progress made on missing persons is encouraging. The Government will continue to support the United Nations' efforts to reach a just settlement through the talks.

Lord Brockway

My Lords, will the Minister not agree that, seven years after the Turkish invasion, these talks have made little progress?—although one welcomes the recent decision for a joint committee on missing persons. But may I ask, is not the fundamental issue federation within one state, or confederation within two states, and are not the British Government committed, as a guarantor of the integrity and sovereignty of Cyprus—a view to which the United Nations is also committed by its resolutions of 1977 and 1979—to taking, and should we not therefore be taking, further action to secure a solution to this problem?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, if I may take the first point made by the noble Lord, certainly the talks to which he referred have not proceeded as effectively as we would have hoped. However, they are still talking, the atmosphere remains good and after what I fear will be a further pause, pending the forthcoming elections in Cyprus, we hope that further progress will be made.

Lord Goronwy-Roberts

My Lords, will the Minister confirm that while there may be varying views as to the nature of the so-called guarantee, to which this Government were one party in 1962, its real contribution would be to strengthening the support of the United Nations for the present intercommunal talks? Without the success of these talks, however slow they may be developing, there can be no settlement in Cyprus.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord is quite right. Our policy, for the moment anyway, is one of proper and genuine support for the efforts of the United Nations in Cyprus, and we think that is the way forward.

Lord Spens

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the recent meeting of the Cyprus Foreign Minister, Mr. Rolandis, with officials here in London to discuss compensation for the British bases, has caused enormous resentment on the Turkish Cypriot side because there was no consultation? Is the noble Lord the Minister aware that of the property in the British bases, Turkish Cypriots own more than 50 per cent.; and will he assure us that the Turkish Cypriots will be consulted before any final decision on this matter is taken?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that we shall have regard to the interests of all those concerned in the discussions to which the noble Lord referred. The noble Lord will, in addition, be aware of our position on the question of payments for the bases; that is to say that none is due.

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, would my noble friend not agree that abstract proposals like federation or confederation for two communities which have affection for one another like two Kilkenny cats is not really very serious or practicable, and that the real thing is to go softly, softly and slowly, slowly, inch by inch?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I certainly agree with my noble friend that the way forward in this matter is one which has to be taken very carefully, and that is indeed what is happening under the auspices of the United Nations.

Lord Maybray-King

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the slight progress made on the question of missing persons raises a gleam of hope of improvement in relations between Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus, and will he do all he can to encourage the Secretary-General to continue his efforts for peace?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I absolutely agree that the agreement to which the noble Lord referred and to which indeed the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, referred, is a gleam of hope. We would wish to congratulate the United Nations and indeed the parties on their recently announced agreement in that regard, and we certainly hope that the practical work will start without delay.

Lord Brockway

My Lords, while appreciating the sincere desire of the Government to find a solution to this problem, may I ask the Minister whether they would consider action in three directions in order to bring world pressure for a solution: first, a review of this problem in the Security Council of the United Nations; second, consideration of it in the European Community since Turkey and Greece are now to be associated with NATO; and third, within the Commonwealth Secretariat, of which Cyprus is a member? Would not pressure in those three directions support the pressure on the unaligned nations to bring about an end to this confrontation?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I think I can best take those three points together; they are a suggestion that there ought to be initiatives from various directions to solve this matter. I would reiterate what I said earlier, that talks under United Nations auspices remain the only practical way forward, as indeed the two principal parties agree.

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