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11.23 am

Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet): I congratulate you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on your appointment to the Chair of the House, which I regard as a reflection of your long and very distinguished service in this place, and wish you success in your role.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love) on his maiden speech. I thank him for the pretty compliment that he paid his predecessor, Dr. Ian Twinn, who was a friend of many hon. Members on both sides of the House and a very good friend of the Parliamentary Friends of Cyprus. I am sure that it will be of considerable comfort to his constituents, and the wider Cypriot community in the United Kingdom, to know that the Edmonton tradition is being continued, and that the support for the movement behind the Parliamentary Friends of Cyprus and the Cypriot Brotherhood will continue to be represented by him in the House.

The hon. Member for Edmonton described the volatility of the constituency that he represents. However long or short his tenure of office in the House, I hope that he will enjoy it and that he will be successful in it. On this morning's showing, I am sure that he will be.

The hon. Gentleman neatly managed to weave that magic dance that all of us are required to weave the first time that we speak in the House, knitting together the virtues and joys of one's constituency, as the second garden of Eden, with the need to concentrate on the debate. I commend him on the manner in which he did so. I am sure that his constituents will be pleased to read his remarks in local newspapers and in Hansard.

I briefly turn to the subject of the debate--the future of the sadly divided island of Cyprus. Specifically, I shall mention the role that the Parliamentary Friends of Cyprus has played and will continue to play. I am sure that the hon. Member for Edmonton will quickly become a signed-up member of the organisation, and I hope that

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many of his new colleagues in the Government, and many of the colleagues who have joined us on the Opposition Benches, will take up that cause. I hope that they will understand that, as its title implies, the Parliamentary Friends of Cyprus means the friends of Cyprus and of all Cypriots worldwide, not--as, sadly, is sometimes said--merely the friends of Greek Cyprus.

Members of the Parliamentary Friends of Cyprus, on both sides of both Houses of Parliament, have worked for far too many years to secure a settlement of the division of the island of Cyprus that is in the interests of all those who have a legitimate right to live on, and move freely around, the island. No settlement will ever be possible of what has become known as the Cyprus problem that is not based on the three freedoms: freedom of movement, freedom of domicile and freedom of employment. Unless and until all international politicians involved in these debates understand that, there will never be a settlement.

However, I accept that the hon. Member for Edmonton is correct in believing that 1997, being the window of opportunity in the run-up to the Cypriot presidential elections and elections in Turkey, may offer an opportunity for a settlement that, if it is missed, may not come around again for some time. The year 1997 may be the year of Cyprus--the year of the "big push", as the hon. Gentleman described it--which some of us thought might have been 1996, 1995, 1994 or 1993. Such predictions have been made for far too long.

The hon. Gentleman illustrated his concern through the eyes of the neighbour to his office, a Cypriot whose parents live in a peninsula in the north of the island and who has been unable to visit his parents. That illustration encapsulates the problem that confronts many hon. Members. We have constituents who find themselves in a similar position.

I think of George Yerolemou, now an elderly man, who first came to me within days of my arrival in the House of Commons, 14 years ago, showing me a photograph of a simple dwelling in a village in the northern part of the island, which is his home. He has not seen that home now for well over 20 years. Sadly, his wife has died and will never see it again. For me, that is the Cyprus problem--the fact that there are people living in my constituency who are unable to go to their homeland, to move around it, to visit their Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot friends and drink coffee with them and to visit their family's graves. They can do none of those normal things.

The Berlin wall has come down; Germany has been reunited; we have watched the Soviet empire crumble. Wars and conflicts are being settled throughout the world. The Gulf war--a major middle east conflict--has been and gone. In this day and age, outrageously, an army of occupation continues to sit with virtual impunity in half of a territory, where it has sat since an invasion in 1974, while the entire might of the western world stands by, arguing the toss in the United Nations and passing resolution after resolution, and the Council of Europe and the European Union discuss the issue, and nothing happens. It cannot be right that the situation is allowed to continue.

It is time that the world community took the Cyprus issue as seriously as it has taken others. We must recognise that the instability of the Turkish economy and of some Turkish politicians makes it convenient to have a distraction just across the water, to focus Turkish

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attention on it and to distract the Turkish people from their problems at home. That may be convenient for Turkey, the power that works the strings of the regime in northern Cyprus, but it is no longer acceptable.

I hope that the present Administration will take the same determined attitude in the House as have previous Administrations since the invasion. They must send a clear message that the illegal regime in the northern part of Cyprus will never be recognised; that we, with our European partners, will press for the admission of Cyprus as swiftly as possible to the European Union; and that we hope, believe and expect that the international community will bring its best endeavours to bear to ensure that, before the year is out, the island will be united and our constituents, be they Turkish Cypriots or Greek Cypriots, will be able to move freely around their homeland.

11.30 am

Mr. Bernie Grant (Tottenham): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love), first, on being canny enough to secure the debate. He is a new Member, but he has already managed to find his way around the House of Commons. I have been trying for some time to get one of these Wednesday morning debates, but I have not yet succeeded.

Secondly, my hon. Friend is to be congratulated on having the courage to open a debate in his maiden speech. His performance this morning bodes well for the future. That is no surprise to me, as I have known my hon. Friend for many years. He was a councillor in Haringey and the chair of the housing committee when I was a councillor. We spent many years discussing issues, especially matters relating to Cyprus.

My hon. Friend mentioned the ethnic diversity in his constituency, Edmonton, and said that Cypriots were the largest ethnic group. The reason for that is the fact that they left my constituency, Tottenham, and moved to Edmonton and further afield as they became more prosperous, having come mainly to Haringey in 1974 after the invasion of Cyprus. Cypriots, both Greek and Turkish, have made a great contribution to the economy of Haringey and of Tottenham in particular, and I believe that they will continue to play an important role in the local economy.

I was fortunate enough to be invited by the executive members of one of the Cypriot organisations in London, DEKO--the Democratic Party of the Workers of Cyprus--to visit Cyprus in April this year. It was my third visit to Cyprus. I have been to the green line, to demonstrations in Morphou and to conferences in Cyprus. It was my first opportunity to see in detail the way in which the Cyprus problem has affected the lives of people there.

At the Ledra Palace on the green line I met a woman who was there with her daughter. She was looking across at the Turkish side. She pointed out her house to me and said, "It is 100 metres from where I stand, yet I cannot go there." She told me that she had been coming there every day since 1974.

There were huge pictures on display, showing the violence that occurred in Cyprus in August last year, when three Greek Cypriot men were killed. One was an old man who was collecting snails in the mountains. He did not

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know where the green line was and happened to wander over to the Turkish side. He was beaten and shot dead. Another picture depicted a young man who had climbed a flagpole to remove the Turkish flag. He was shot down like a dog by the Turkish authorities. A third person was beaten and killed.

That brought home to me the grief of Cyprus and the problems that exist there. With my hon. Friends, I am determined to do something about the matter. One wonders how the previous British Government could sit in office for 18 years and do nothing to try to resolve the situation in Cyprus.

The United Nations should deal with the matter, but as a guarantor power and one of the old colonial powers in Cyprus Britain has a clear responsibility to do as much as it can to bring the other guarantor powers together. I hope that the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson), will give us an assurance that, in addition to what the United Nations is doing, the Labour Government will do everything in their power to bring together the other guarantor powers, Greece and Turkey, and to get things moving.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton raised various points with which I agree. He spoke about the missing persons. There are about 1,500 missing persons on the Greek Cypriot side and hundreds on the Turkish Cypriot side. Any settlement must deal with their fate.

As a gesture of good will in the talks that are currently taking place, the rights of the people of the enclave, particularly in the north of Cyprus, must be taken into account. Those people are in serious difficulties and their rights must be guaranteed. I call on the Turkish Cypriot side in particular to ensure as a gesture of good will that the rights of the people of the enclave are respected.

I am particularly concerned about the demilitarisation of Cyprus. As my hon. Friend stated, the Turkish soldiers in the northern part of Cyprus have been bolstered by Turkish settlers from Anatolia. When demilitarisation takes place and the soldiers leave, the majority of the settlers, if not all of them, should leave as well.

The agreement must ensure that Cyprus becomes a bizonal and bicommunal community. That was the original agreement made between Mr. Denktash and Archbishop Makarios, and it must be honoured if there is to be a way forward.

In relation to the European Union I believe, like my hon. Friend, that Cyprus should be admitted, regardless of the state of the country--whether it is divided or not. The Government of Cyprus, who are the legitimate Government recognised by the United Nations and by all countries except Turkey, have applied for membership of the European Union. I believe that Cyprus is entitled to become a member, and that that should happen as soon as possible. I hope that when Britain has the presidency of the European Union next year, we will ensure that Cyprus's membership application goes through.

Meanwhile, I oppose Turkish membership of the EU for a number of reasons. First, its relationship with Cyprus rules it out; secondly, and more importantly, human rights in Turkey are a thorough disgrace. There must be no question of Turkey becoming a member so long as it continues to treat Kurdish people in the way it does--

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