HC Deb 27 January 2003 vol 398 cc563-4W
Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the role the British Government are playing in the negotiations to unify the island of Cyprus. [92958]

Mr. MacShane

We fully support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his special adviser on Cyprus, Mr. Alvaro de Soto. The Government believe that a crucial opportunity has now arisen for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement in Cyprus. While it is for the two sides in Cyprus to agree on the details of a settlement, we strongly urge the parties to reach agreement, based on the UN Secretary-General's 10 December 2002 proposals, by the UN deadline of 28 February.

This would enable referenda to be held on both sides of the island and a reunited Cyprus to sign the Treaty of Accession with the EU on 16 April. Our aim remains for a reunited island to accede to the EU. We believe this is in the best interests of Cyprus, of Greece and Turkey, and of the wider European community.

This is a vital opportunity: we urge the two sides not to let it slip away.

We have taken every opportunity to convey these points to the parties. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary expressed these points to Turkish Ministers at the Copenhagen European Council. The Defence Secretary did likewise during his visit to Ankara on 8 January.

The UK Special Representative for Cyprus, Lord Hannay, will visit Athens and Nicosia this week, and Ankara at the beginning of February, in order to help facilitate negotiations at this crucial time.

Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the effect Cyprus' accession to the EU will have on the status of the British sovereign bases on the island.[92993]

Mr. MacShane

I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 10 December 2002,Official Report, column 10WS, and to the answer given in another place by my noble Friend Baroness Symons on 14 January 2003, Official Report, column 123.

The UK's policy is that, following Cyprus's accession, the SBAs should remain outside the EU, with technical adjustments to ensure the continued smooth functioning of the relationship between Cyprus and the SBAs. We expect final agreement to take the form of a protocol which will be part of the terms of Cyprus's accession. The accession treaty is due to be signed on 16 April, and a Bill introduced to enable its ratification by the UK.

Forward to