HL Deb 08 May 1986 vol 474 cc823-4

3.23 p.m.

Lord Broxbourne

My Lords, I beg leave—after the lengthy exchange on the previous Question I nearly said "at last"—to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a statement on their discussions with President Kyprianou and the position in regard to a possible rapprochement between the two parts of Cyprus.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Young)

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, accompanied by my right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State, had discussions on Cyprus with President Kyprianou on 7th April. We remain convinced that the United Nations Secretary-General's initiative offers the best chance of a settlement on Cyprus. We continue to urge the two sides to co-operate with his efforts.

Lord Broxbourne

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Will she convey to the House the comforting assurance that Ministers will seek, not only through the United Nations but through the Commonwealth and by direct representations, to persuade all concerned (and not least President Kyprianou) to eschew intransigence and to accept that the best solution lies in a federal structure with appropriate reserve powers and safeguards for the two zones? Will she urge the pursuit of security through reconciliation, thereby removing or at least substantially abating the need for reliance on foreign troops and external guarantees? Would not this be the best way to open a new and happier chapter in the long history of this lovely but troubled land?

Baroness Young

My Lords, the answer to my noble friend is that we hope very much that the negotiations under the Secretary-General will continue. We shall do all that we can to support his efforts, as we have done since his initiative began, because we believe that he is best placed to see what we should all like to see—a lasting, peaceful and just settlement of this problem.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, while we would support the Government's efforts to secure a settlement of this extremely difficult problem, can the noble Baroness say whether in the discussions which took place between her right honourable friend and President Kyprianou, and indeed during the discussions which took place in Athens two or three weeks before that when Sir Geoffrey Howe and Mr. Shultz were there, the stumbling block was the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island? Is that not the real difficulty?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I am grateful for what the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, said in his support for the Secretary-General's efforts. There are a number of problems, and one in particular which has been raised by the Greek Cypriots is the withdrawal of Turkish troops. Of course that is not the only problem. A number of others have been raised by the Turkish Cypriot side. However, this is a matter for negotiation under the Secretary-General and we must hope that he will persist in his efforts, knowing that he has the strongest support of the British Government.

Lord Bottomley

My Lords, while the reply of the noble Baroness is very satisfactory, is she aware that I disagree with my noble friend Lord Broxbourne and that the last thing we want is a federated state? What ought to happen in Cyprus is the carrying out of the policy of the United Nations and the Government; that is, a powerful nation within the Commonwealth.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I think we should all like to see a lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue. Cyprus is within the Commonwealth and of course we all hope that it will remain within the Commonwealth. How the details are worked out will be a matter for negotiating parties.

Lord Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that there are many Greek Cypriots who were forced to flee from what is now the Turkish zone, losing not only their property but in many cases their means of livelihood; yet they have received no compensation at all?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I am aware that there is a problem of refugees within Cyprus, and of course any lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem would deal with that issue as well as the others.

Lord Broxbourne

My Lords, will my noble friend on the Front Bench inform and instruct my friend opposite that a federal state is in fact what he calls a united state and that there is no dichotomy or divergence between those two concepts? May I further ask her whether the best way of securing the removal of Turkish troops is to allay the anxieties which led to their introduction?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I think it would be very unwise, in a delicate situation, for me to be drawn into what may be a final outcome of a very difficult problem. There are a number of difficult issues. My noble friend touched on one or two of them and the noble Lord, Lord Bottomley, touched on others. This is a matter for settlement by the parties to the dispute, and one must hope they will be able to reach agreement upon them.