HL Deb 19 November 1991 vol 532 cc815-7

2.45 p.m.

Lord Stallardasked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to promote a negotiated settlement in Cyprus.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (The Earl of Caithness)

My Lords, we continue to give active support to the UN Secretary General's efforts to promote a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Lord Stallard

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. However, can he go a stage further and advise the House of any definite progress in convening an international peace conference such as the one proposed for New York? Does the noble Earl have any details of that conference? Can he give an indication as to when Her Majesty's Government will meet to discuss the matter further with the US Government and our EC partners?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, there are continual discussions. The correct forum in which these matters should be taken forward is the UN, and we therefore support the UN Secretary General's initiative. We hope that he can make sufficient progress to enable an international meeting to be convened soon which will lead to an overall framework agreement.

Viscount Tonypandy

My Lords, in view of the enormous influence of the United States of America in the Middle East, are we in close co-operation with the American administration to put pressure on Turkey to withdraw her army from the occupation of Cyprus? Until that is done a settlement is impossible.

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, there are two sides to the agreement. However, I can confirm that we are in close touch with the Americans.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, we welcome the references made by the noble Earl to the United Nations. Does he agree that probably the only way of resolving what is an almost intransigent problem is through strong action by the United Nations? For example, in the first instance we could send a fact-finding mission to Cyprus. Is there any possibility of that?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I am grateful for the support of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition for the principle of supporting the UN Secretary General's initiative. With regard to sending a mission to Cyprus to find out the exact situation, I believe we are clear as to what the position is. However, I shall certainly report the comments of the noble Lord.

Lord Bonham-Carter

My Lords, while recognising the extraordinarily complex issues involved in the dispute, is there any evidence that the conference to which the noble Earl referred is likely to be called? What does the noble Earl mean by "soon" in that context?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, we hope that a conference will be held soon. "Soon" is very much dependent on the Secretary General.

Lord Glenamara

My Lords, does the noble Earl agree that settlement of the Cyprus problem should be a prerequisite to consideration of Turkey's admission to the EC?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, that is a different question.

Lord Monson

My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that when I was last in Cyprus a couple of years ago I discovered that a surprising number of the less sophisticated Greek Cypriots were firmly convinced that all they had to do was sit back and wait? They felt that sooner or later Mrs. Thatcher would come along and help to liberate Northern Cyprus from the Turks just as she liberated the Falkland Islands from the Argentinians. Nothing one could say or do would sway them from that conviction. In the light of that, the most helpful gesture by Her Majesty's Government would be to try and gently persuade the Greek Cypriots that we do not live in a perfect world and never have done and that the Turks hold most of the cards, just as the Israelis hold most of the cards 150 miles to the south-east in their area. If the Greek Cypriots want a settlement they must move in the direction of the Turkish proposals, which would at least allow them to repossess around 25 per cent. of the area at present occupied by the Turks.

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I am delighted to hear that other people in the world also think that my right honourable friend Mrs. Thatcher is a remarkable woman. The future must be with the UN Secretary General.

Lord Stallard

My Lords, the noble Earl's replies, while partially helpful, do not take us much further along the road as regards details of the international peace conference. Would it not be useful for Her Majesty's Government to meet representatives of the Turkish and Greek communities as well as of the Greek. and Turkish governments before the conference in order to brief themselves on the problems?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, we have a special position in Cyprus, as the noble Lord will be aware. I shall bring his remarks to the attention of my right honourable friend but I am sure that every effort is already being made.

Lord Whaddon

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the Common Market's influence in Cyprus is likely to be limited while its grants to that country are disproportionately given to the south?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, the Community has a role to play but it must play that role within the United Nations.