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Column 866problem. Would that continue if the Israelis settled large numbers of Soviet Jews in the occupied territories? How would that affect the Government's policy on that issue?
Mr. Waldegrave : I have already quoted the Israeli Prime Minister's clear statement on this. Whether or not he was misinterpreted--I hope that he was--he aroused many anxieties in the middle east by appearing to endorse the process of the settlement of emigre s from Soviet Jewry in the occupied territories. In our view, it would be illegal for such settlements to take place.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Francis Maude) : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign andCommonwealth Affairs next expects to meet the President of the Commission at the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 2 April, at which a range of EC issues will be discussed.
Mr. Hoyle : Will German reunification be on the agenda? Will the Secretary of State tell the President of the Commission that under article 23 of the West German basic law, reunification must be not absorption of East Germany into West Germany but on a basis of equality and partnership leading to a coming together of both Germanys on equal terms?
Mr. Maude : As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said already, the way in which the two Germanies unite is essentially an internal matter for them. We have stressed for some time that there are effects on others outside which the Germanys must take into account. As a result of the initiative that my right hon. Friend took, there is now a framework which will enable proper account to be taken of all these matters.
Mr. Michael Marshall : Will my hon. Friend assure the House that an opportunity will be taken to discuss with the President of the Commission the outcome of the Nicaraguan elections, given that the supervision by the United Nations and the role of the Organisation of American States and of observers from both sides of the House--I was lucky enough to be one-- suggest that a secret vote has led to an important development for democracy? Will my hon. Friend assure us that Europewide co-operation on further assistance for Nicaragua will be explored urgently?
Mr. Maude : I am sure that that will be the case. It is just possible that the amount of interest that has been expressed today in the Nicaraguan elections will not spread quite so far across Europe as might be thought. However, it is a matter which will be discussed.
Mr. Kaufman : Will the Minister discuss with the President of the European Commission the failure of the Minister's own visit to Hanoi to try to get acceptance from the Vietnamese of the voluntary return, let alone compulsory return, of Vietnamese boat people? As the hon. Gentleman failed absolutely in that endeavour, and as the problem continues to exist, would not it be a good idea to ask our partners to co-operate in seeking an
Column 867international solution? Would the hon. Gentleman agree that part of that solution is not to offer economic aid as part of a deal, which he tried to do, but to reopen European Community aid, United States aid and United Kingdom bilateral aid as the best way of establishing a secure economy in Vietnam so that the Vietnamese would no longer feel that they had to leave their country to better themselves?
Mr. Maude : Again, it is just possible that Mr. Delors did not follow my travels to Vietnam with quite the flattering degree of attention that the right hon. Gentleman did. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I achieved some extremely useful results during my visit, including a fivefold increase in the number of Vietnamese boat people who will return to Vietnam under the United Nations voluntary scheme. That has been widely welcomed.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about seeking an international solution to the problem. He may not have noticed that there already is one. At the Geneva conference last June a comprehensive plan of action was agreed. As the right hon. Gentleman will know from having studied it carefully, it involves the mandatory repatriation to Vietnam of those who are not refugees. The entire international community now subscribes to the principle of mandatory repatriation. The Archbishop of York, having just visited Hong Kong, has expressed strong support for a resumption of mandatory repatriation. The only people who do not seem to have understood the position are the right hon. Gentleman and his friends.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have a continual dialogue with the Soviet authorities about human rights. We raised both individual cases of concern and the wider need for institutionalised reform during the meeting of the Anglo-Soviet working group on human rights on 9 January. I followed this up when I visited the Soviet Union from 21 to 25 January.
Mr. Marshall : Did my right hon. Friend make any representations to the Soviet authorities about the evil activities of Pamyat and the threatened pogrom of 5 May? Is he aware that 50,000 people with exit visas are awaiting flights to Israel? Will he make representations to the Russian authorities suggesting that they allow direct flights between Moscow and Tel Aviv?
Mr. Waldegrave : I discussed the first issue with Soviet leaders and with representatives of the Jewish community in Moscow. I am happy to be able to tell my hon. Friend that the Soviet Government are in the process of prosecuting Pamyat under their law, which is rather similar to ours, dealing with the stirring up of racial hatred. We should watch that carefully, but we should welcome it as proof that the Soviet authorities are taking the matter seriously. Direct flights are a matter for the two Governments concerned.
Column 868pogroms and anti-Semitic harassment? Does he accept that a tribute should be paid to Mr. Gorbachev as thousands are now leaving freely to go to live in Israel? As Israel, unlike nearly all its neighbours, labours under the advantage of being a democracy and thus cannot direct its citizens, however new, on where they may or may not live, does the Minister accept that fewer than 0.5 per cent. have settled outside the green line, which nails the propaganda lie that there is a danger of mass settlement-- [Interruption.] It is no laughing matter for those whose lives are in the process of being saved.
Mr. Waldegrave : We certainly pay tribute to the much better regime which Mr. Gorbachev and his colleagues have introduced. One of my hon. Friends recently went to Moscow, at the invitation of the Russians, to discuss the drafting of the law. These are all better steps which we welcome. On the latter point, although what the hon. and learned Gentleman says is true, the concern in the middle east about that arose after some rather unguarded remarks--to put it mildly--from Prime Minister Shamir. To talk as he did seemed liable to lead to exactly the outcome that has resulted, which is that everyone is exceedingly worried.
Mr. Hurd : I visited Hungary from 27 February to 1 March and had talks with members of the Government and representatives of the opposition. I welcomed the steps which Hungary is taking to full democracy, including free elections on 25 March. I confirmed our support through the know-how fund. The prospects for full and effective use of the fund are good.
Mr. Field : I thank my right hon. Friend for his very full answer and the extension of the know-how fund from Poland to Hungary, as well as 40 other projects. Does he agree, however, that the real test of merit for the Soviet Union is the timing of the withdrawal of its troops? Having so recently visited the area, can he say why there is such a choke point at the border station of Csap, which also involves the withdrawal from Czechoslovakia? Will he, on behalf of the Conservative side of the House, wish the Hungarian people great success in the election and in overthrowing a Communist Government for the first time in 40 years?
Mr. Hurd : My hon. Friend is well informed and quite right. There has been a hiccup in discussions between the Hungarians and the Soviet Government, not on the principle of Soviet withdrawal of troops but on the timing. My hon. Friend may have put his finger on one of the reasons for that--the congestion on the railways which serve for evacuating Russian troops from Czechoslovakia and from Hungary. I join my hon. Friend in hoping that the elections on 25 March are a resounding success and that there is a high turnout.
Mr. Winnick : It would be useful if Conservative Members were committed to free elections everywhere, as Opposition Members are. Will the Foreign Secretary take the opportunity arising from the question to praise the Soviet leadership not only for bringing about the rule of
Column 869law and parliamentary democracy, or the beginnings of it, in the Soviet Union but for pursuing a policy in eastern Europe whereby at long last the people in those countries will be able to elect the Governments that they want without any interference from the Soviet Union?
Mr. Hurd : Certainly the Soviet Union is now allowing things to happen in eastern Europe which previously it suppressed, but the main tribute for that is due to the people of Hungary who have insisted on that and have been pioneering and making a success of it.
15. Mr. Tredinnick : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met representatives of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic ; what was discussed ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : I saw the Federal Chancellor on 6 February, Mr. Genscher with the Prime Minister on 15 February and repeatedly since, Defence Minister Dr. Stoltenberg on 22 February, and the German Democratic Republic Foreign Minister, Mr. Fischer, on 13 February. We discussed a number of subjects, including the external aspects of German unification.
Mr. Tredinnick : I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the work that he has done to establish a proper framework to discuss German unification, particularly the two-plus-four formula, but is he aware that there is widespread concern in Poland, which has sovereignty over the former German territories of Silesia and Pomerania, that it has been insufficiently consulted? Will my right hon. Friend therefore consider making representations to European executive representatives next time to the effect that a two-plus-four-plus-one formula would be in order so as to accommodate Poland's worries?
Mr. Hurd : I discussed that with the Polish Foreign Minister in Ottawa and the Polish Prime Minister discussed it with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and myself here in London. It is accepted, first, that the Poles should have a treaty defining their western border and, secondly and obviously, that when those arrangements are discussed the Poles will have to be there.
Mr. Tony Banks : Does the Foreign Secretary agree that it would be in the interests of European security and East-West relations if a unified Germany were declared a demilitarised zone and the new Germany neither in NATO nor in the Warsaw pact? Would not that be helpful to both sides?
Mr. Hurd : The hon. Member should consult some of his friends in eastern Europe on that as it is a prospect which they are beginning specifically to repudiate. There is a growing consensus, which does not yet include the Soviet Union, that it would be sensible for the stability of Europe if a united Germany were in NATO.
Mr. William Powell : Has my right hon. Friend had the opportunity to discuss the prospective currency reform of the Ostmark with the Governments of East and West Germany? Has my right hon. Friend read the reports that there are apparently 155 billion Ostmarks in savings which will need to be converted, and that there is an international
Column 870dimension to this because unless the matter is handled sensitively it may well result in a high level of inflation going out of Germany?
Mr. Hurd : That has been touched on from time to time in discussions, but I would not claim to be an expert on it. Expert views on the point that my hon. Friend raises are varied, but I believe that the matter is being handled with caution by the relevant German authorities, bearing in mind the kind of worry that my hon. Friend has expressed.
Mr. Maude : My right hon. Friend and I discussed Cambodia and the Vietnamese boat people with Secretary Baker on 11 December. The question of the Vietnamese boat people was also discussed on 30 January, during my right hon. Friend's visit to Washington.
Mr. Mullin : Did the Minister put it to the Americans that until they call off their war against Vietnam and end the aid, trade and diplomatic embargo against that country, and withdraw the vetoes in connection with the World Bank, the IMF and various other organisations, there will be no prospect of solving the boat people problem and the flow of refugees will continue indefinitely?
Mr. Maude : We took the opportunity to explain to the American Secretary of State that Vietnam is a country undergoing a process of reform and is a different regime from what it was. We have also made it clear to the Vietnamese that we would not feel able to resume full bilaterial relations, including the resumption of economic aid to them, unless they felt able to fulfil their full international obligations, including especially their obligations to their own people.
Mr. Lester : Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the most helpful things that could now happen, following the discussions in Jakarta, would be for a United Nations mission to be allowed to go into Cambodia to verify that the Vietnamese have withdrawn and to deal with the question of Vietnamisation, which is constantly heard at every international meeting as a means of preventing further progress towards a settlement?
Mr. Maude : It is regrettable that there was not a more favourable outcome to the talks in Jakarta. The sort of mission to which my hon. Friend refers could certainly be considered again, but I do not think that it would be sensible to look at the practicalities at this stage until the framework for a comprehensive settlement is fully in place.
Column 871handed over? Will he ensure that any aid given to Nicaragua goes towards genuine demobilisation of the Contras? To use the Foreign Secretary's words, will he ensure that the money is used for tractors and not tanks?
Mr. Sainsbury : I am glad to confirm that my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) has already discussed those matters with President Violetta Chamorro. The sort of aid that we would be considering particularly would be technical co-operation covering matters such as English language teaching and scholarships, rather than the subjects to which the hon. Gentleman referred.
Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : Will the Minister try to convince Labour Members that they should abide by the advice on the placard carried by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) outside the American embassy the Sunday before the election and respect the result in Nicaragua?
Mr. Sainsbury : I am happy to know that the result is being generally respected. As I have said, we hope that there will be a full and peaceful transfer of power in due course and that the result will be accepted by all elements of the previous Sandinista Government.
Mr. Heffer : Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the Somoza regime was overthrown because Mrs. Chamorro's husband was killed and that the Sandinistas were totally in association with her and others who were then fighting the dictatorship? Will he also bear in mind that in 1984-- [Interruption.]
Mr. Heffer : There was a general election in 1984 which was won by the Sandinistas. They won that election fairly. Now, having lost the latest election, they have handed over power-- [Interruption.] It is about time that Her Majesty's Government decided to support democracy instead of arguing that it was a Marxist-Leninist Government when part of that Government were members of the Roman Catholic Church.
Mr. Sainsbury : I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman's verdict on the earlier election. I am happy to confirm, however, that all the observers have pronounced that the election which has just taken place and which resulted in a decisive rejection of the Socialist management of the Sandinistas, was indeed free and fair.
Mr. Waldegrave : The know-how fund which is already operating in Poland will shortly be extended to Hungary, and in due course to other eastern European countries which show a clear commitment to reform. We are also contributing to multilateral aid efforts, notably the stabilisation fund for Poland, the planned European bank for reconstruction and development and the Community's food and humanitarian help for Poland and Romania.
Mr. Thompson : Can my right hon. Friend confirm that that assistance is in addition to, and quite separate from, the United Kingdom's overseas aid budget? Will he say a little more about specific help for Poland, particularly in regard to the know-how fund?
Mr. Waldegrave : I can confirm that the answer to my hon. Friend's first question is yes. We have given a range of help to Poland. There are now more than 40 projects operating. Some of the biggest have been the establishment of capital markets, a programme for privatisation, and assistance with the administration of local and municipal authorities and the establishment of civil law. Those are three examples among many.
19. Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with what countries he has had discussions (a) resettlement of the boat people and (b) resurrecting the economy of Vietnam.
Mr. Maude : I discussed the subject of Vietnamese boat people most recently with European Community and Association of South-East Asian Nations Ministers on 16 and 17 February and with the Vietnamese Government in Hanoi from 19 to 21 February. Arrangements to resettle over a three year period boat people who are refugees were agreed as part of the comprehensive plan of action adopted by the international conference on Indo-Chinese refugees last June in Geneva.
Mr. Young : Is not the real stumbling block to the economic regeneration of north Vietnam the American Government's refusal to allow economic regeneration to take place unless they can officially sanction the type of government which operates in Hanoi? In the name of humanity, can we ask the American Government to stop fighting the wars of the past and to help with the regeneration of that area, as that is the solution to the problem?
Mr. Maude : As I have already said, we have pointed out that reform is taking place in Vietnam so there is no longer quite the same regime as there was. I know that in Vietnam there is a good deal of interest in the resumption of aid from the West, but, as I have made clear, before that can take place we shall want to be satisfied that Vietnam is fully accepting its obligations under international law and particularly the obligation to accept its own people back.
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