HL Deb 08 December 1992 vol 541 cc90-2

2.55 p.m.

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

What encouragement, through the European Community or otherwise, is being offered for the determination of a name acceptable to the Greek Government for the state sometimes designated Skopje-Macedonia (the former Yugoslav province of Macedonia) with a view to its recognition as an independent nation by the European Community.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, in view of our presidency of the EC, the personal representative of my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has regularly visited Athens and Skopje in his mission to establish how the republic might be recognised in conformity with the terms of the Lisbon Declaration of 27th June. He has submitted his report to the Foreign Secretary.

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn

My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend for that Answer. Is she aware of the deep concern, which I am sure is felt throughout the House, that the conflagration in the former Yugoslavia should not spread to the Republic of Skopje, once known as Macedonia? Does she agree that the recognition of that republic is crucial to the aid and support that we might hope to offer? Does she further agree that the problem of a name has so far been an obstacle? What incentives have been offered to the leaders of the Republic of Skopje to accept a name which is acceptable to the Greek Government so that United Nations observers can be sent there and appropriate support given to the Republic of Skopje to enable it to be defended against potential Serbian aggression?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, the Prime Minister met the Greek Prime Minister Mr. Misotakis on 27th November. I understand that the talks were very helpful. He also held talks on 3rd December in London with President Gligorov. We have been trying to secure early restoration of trade between Macedonia and Greece. We shall continue to act as honest broker in order to obtain recognition of that state under any name except Macedonia.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that her reply concedes what the Question implies; namely, that there is such an entity as the European Community? In fact at this time there is only the European Economic Community. In pursuit of the general thrust of the Question and sympathising with its objects, may I ask for an assurance that it might be advisable, before facilitating the addition of another independent nation to the European Economic Community, to secure the independence of our own nation within the European Economic Community by rejecting the Maastricht Treaty?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, that is a funny old question.

Lord Monson

My Lords, can the noble Baroness say what would happen if, for example, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and Switzerland were all to recognise the new state of Macedonia under the name of Macedonia? Would Her Majesty's Government follow suit or would they continue to defer to the Greeks?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, the Philippines, Russia and Turkey have already recognised the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. Until the name is settled, our policy remains as I stated earlier.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that the best way to stop the conflagration spreading is to enforce the no-fly zone over Bosnia, which the Serbs are totally ignoring at the present time? Does she agree that that would send a signal that the European Community and the United Nations meant business?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, the noble Lord tempts me almost more than I can bear. The point of the Question concerns a name acceptable to the Greek Government. Sadly, I shall have to resist his blandishments.

Lord St. John of Bletso

My Lords, will the Minister say what the Government are doing to support the Macedonian Government's economic reform programme and what humanitarian assistance, if any, they are giving to the 70,000 Bosnian refugees who have flocked into Macedonia, a country with a population of barely more than 2 million people?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, strictly speaking, I feel that the matter of refugees is a Question for another day. Under the auspices of the international conference, mediation on minorities continues. The latest rounds of talks held on 24th November drew support from all parties for a new census in which the Albanians will participate.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, can the noble Baroness inform the House what proposals the Government intend taking to the Edinburgh conference with respect to the timetable and the preconditions for the recognition of this republic as an independent nation?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, Macedonia was discussed at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on 7th December. We expect further discussions at the Edinburgh summit but I am afraid that I cannot give details.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that Macedonia is Greek, and is in Greece, and that any place called Skopje is certainly not Macedonia?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, there is no doubt about the place of ancient Macedonia in Greek history. What is at issue is the name of the modern-day state and its people.