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Mr. John Austin (Erith and Thamesmead): My hon. Friend has mentioned the abuse of human rights in Turkey

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and Turkey's continued illegal occupation of the north of Cyprus. Does he agree not just that it would be wholly wrong for Turkey to be considered for membership of the EU in those circumstances, but that it is wholly wrong that western nations should continue to supply economic aid and military weapons to Turkey while the illegal occupation continues?

Mr. Grant: I thank my hon. Friend. The difficulty is that Turkey is a member of NATO, and certain treaties need to be upheld. Britain, however, could adopt the stance that my hon. Friend has mentioned; I shall support him if he wants to push the matter further by means of a motion or some other procedural device.

I want to mention Mr. Asil Nadir before I close--that infamous person who jumped bail, absconded and was allowed to stay in northern Cyprus. He has now gone to Turkey, where he is flaunting his presence and trying to do deals with the British Government. I am pleased that our Government have refused to do deals with Mr. Nadir. I hope that Turkey will come to its senses and return him to Britain so that he can face justice here.

When reaching any solution for Cyprus, we must take into account the deserts of both sides. The Turkish Cypriot side has had little championing in this House. Mr. Andrew Faulds, a former Member, was one of the few in this House who spoke up for the Turkish Cypriots. I believe that they have every right to have their safety guaranteed. The events of the early 1970s--Eoka and the coup--mean that Turkish Cypriots have good reason to believe that they would be under severe threat in a reunited Cyprus. It is therefore incumbent on all who are concerned about Cyprus and its reunification to ensure that the Turkish Cypriots are given absolute guarantees of their safety and their ability to purchase and maintain properties in Cyprus. They must be given a fair deal as an integral part of any united Cyprus.

I look forward to further debates on Cyprus. I was extremely pleased that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister mentioned the country in the Queen's Speech, as he did in the Labour party manifesto. I look forward to the Labour Government working to ensure a free, democratic, demilitarised and united Cyprus.

11.43 am

Mr. Alan Meale (Mansfield): I want to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love), who was a sturdy fighter for Cyprus even before he entered the House. I know that the Cypriot community in Britain was overjoyed to hear of his election to this place. I commiserate, too, with his predecessor, Dr. Ian Twinn, who was also a magnificent fighter for Cyprus. I am sure that he will continue the fight outside this place.

I hope that the new Government will take the Cyprus issue more seriously than the previous one did. We have some responsibilities toward Cyprus, and in the past I believe that we have let the people of Cyprus down. The people of Cyprus are our allies. On the first day of the second world war, 40,000 out of an available 52,000 Cypriots volunteered for active service to fight fascism in Europe. During that conflict and in subsequent conflicts they have always been on our side, but unfortunately there have been times when they needed our help and we did not reciprocate.

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Cyprus has been a good member of the Commonwealth and has participated fully in it. Britain is a guarantor power, yet British Governments do not have a good record in the matter: 23 years after the illegal invasion and occupation we have yet to reach an agreement to sort the problem out. One reason for that is the fact that what is at stake is not the foreign policy of Cyprus but rather the foreign policy of the United States of America. Recently the President of the United States visited this country, and I know that our Prime Minister discussed Cyprus with him while he was here.

America's attitude has little to do with missiles based in Turkey, which used to point toward the east of Europe but which now point elsewhere. It has more to do with the fact that 73 per cent. of the world's oil and gas reserves are to be found in the region. That is what interests the Americans and guides their policy. However, it is about time we started looking at the interests of the people of Cyprus, more than 400,000 of whom have been dispatched to live elsewhere in the world because of the partition.

There is a window of opportunity at the moment. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton is sympathetic to the cause of finding a real solution to the Cyprus problem. Our presidency of the EU starts in January, and I know that the Foreign Secretary has put Cyprus's entry to the EU at the top of his agenda. That offers us and Cyprus a genuine opportunity. The EU would be foolhardy even to contemplate delaying Cyprus's entry to Europe. It is in Europe's interests that Cyprus should play a full part as a member country.

Cyprus has excellent trade links with eastern European countries--better than those of any country in the EU. It also has good trading links with the middle east--better than ours. As an economist, I know that the western world's economy has been in recession--a point that the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr. Davis) used to make when he was a Minister--and that the only way out is to trade our way out of that recession with the third world. All the African countries have sound trading relations with Cyprus, for instance.

As for defence, we have two strategic bases in Cyprus which will continue to be important to the defence of Europe once Cyprus joins the EU.

There is an ever increasing need in world trade for shipping, and the fleets of Cyprus and Greece combined would give the EU the second largest fleet in the world. So Cyprus's accession would boost the EU's trading possibilities.

Cyprus is also very active in banking and has its own banking system. More than 1,800 offshore companies are registered there and over the past few years it has developed its own stock exchange. It could perhaps give Europe an opportunity for offshore banking that is not afforded to it at the present time.

Geographically, Cyprus is important for telecommunications and Britain recognises this. Everybody knows that telecommunications will play a large part in the future of the world. As an offshore telecommunications bank, Cyprus is ideally situated, and Europe could benefit greatly from that.

Last but not least, there is a programme, a structure, an agreement, for oil and gas pipelines to come down from eastern Europe, which will service most countries of the European Union, and also to have an oil and gas pipeline

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into Cyprus. That will make Cyprus--particularly with the shipping that it has in conjunction with Greece--the gas station of Europe. It would be foolhardy for Britain and Europe not to allow Cyprus to play a full part in the European Union when that opportunity arises. I see no reason why Cyprus should not be a full member of the European Union.

If my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary push for a speedy solution to get Cyprus in as a full member of the European Union, that will benefit Britain and Europe in the future.

11.50 am

Mr. Robin Corbett (Birmingham, Erdington): It gives me great pleasure to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love) on his maiden speech. As a joint vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Friends of Cyprus, I am particularly pleased that he was generous enough to pay tribute to his predecessor, Dr. Ian Twinn, who worked with us on that committee.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant) said that the needs and views of the Turkish Cypriot community have not been properly attended to. As the hon. Friend the Member for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) said earlier, the Parliamentary Friends of Cyprus has tried since 1974 to be friends of both Cypriot communities and to work with those in both communities--on the island and in London--who were willing to work with us, not for us to tell them what a solution should look like, but to try to create a climate in which that solution becomes more possible.

There was an extremely significant development on the island while we were otherwise engaged in March this year. The all-Cyprus trade union forum, linking trade unions in both parts of the island, came together--something that it has not done for many years--to talk about the effects on the working people of Cyprus of the future accession of Cyprus to the European Union. There is no question but that the main beneficiaries of Cypriot membership of the European Union will be the members of the Turkish Cypriot community. That is indisputable.

Without going back over history--much of it painful--I believe that the people who have paid the highest price for the continued division of Cyprus have been the ordinary working people of the north of Cyprus, who have been starved of the partnerships that have been on offer for many years from the southern part of the island. There was a hope--a distinct possibility--that Varosha could be handed back, and as part of that arrangement there would be joint ventures involving business people from both Cypriot communities.

The all-Cyprus trade union forum met at the Ledra Palace hotel, which is a living example of the futility, the stupidity, the grief of disputes such as those which have torn Cyprus apart. I have nothing but praise for the painful efforts that the United Nations has made over the years, and for those who have made up the peacekeeping force on the island. For those of us with photographic memories of what that hotel was like before the cruel and barbarous invasion of the island in 1974, in many ways it is worse now than the Berlin wall ever was, because it is much nearer.

If one looks from old Nicosia across the no man's land into the occupied part of the island, one sees that it is absolutely untouched by human beings, save for the odd

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United Nations patrol. We are three years from the end of the millennium. Is this really the best that men and women can deliver in an island as small as Cyprus? It is crazy, because there has not been a shared willingness by the leaders of both Cypriot communities to reach a solution. That is what makes so important the move by the all-Cyprus trade union forum to bring together representatives of working people from both Cypriot communities to discuss and debate the benefits that would flow to them, their families and to the island as a whole from the admission of Cyprus to the European Union. There is no question but that that would be beneficial. As ever, of course, politicians will get in the way of that.

Over the years, many of us have valued our contact with Mr. Denktash as the representative of the other Cypriot community. He will understand, I am sure, when I say--perhaps he shares this feeling--that many of us have found the discussions in which we have engaged exceptionally frustrating. He may well have found the same with us. It must be understood--this was mentioned earlier--that the Turkish Cypriot community has an absolute right to have its security and human rights guaranteed. They are in no sense a second-class community on the island of Cyprus. They enjoy, and deserve to enjoy, equal political status. I am not interested in counting heads, as evidence from around the world, including parts of the United Kingdom, proves that counting heads and saying, "This is a majority community and that is a minority community," does not help to solve problems. It helps to make them worse and to keep them going.

That is why I say--I hope that Mr. Denktash will accept this, and that it may encourage him in the contacts that are about to resume--that in no sense does anybody regard the Turkish Cypriot community as second class. They have equal political status. They are entitled to a full say, not just in a settlement to the Cyprus question but in the negotiations concerning Cyprus's admission to the European Union. Seats have been reserved by the Government of Cyprus for representatives from the Turkish Cypriot communities to take part in the negotiations. Given political willingness, ways can be found--and are found, by the representative in Nicosia--to consult and to try to involve them informally in the lead-up to the detailed negotiations. There is no substitute for their taking their proper place.

I hope that Mr. Denktash will seize this new opportunity--heaven knows, as a number of hon. Members have been saying for long enough, it is a glorious opportunity, the best for years--for leaders of both communities to take part in the negotiations. They are getting on a bit, they have seen it all, they studied together and qualified in law in London, and no doubt sank a pint or two, donkey's years back. Now, as they look forward to their active careers in politics perhaps coming to an end, is it really beyond their wit, on behalf of the two Cypriot communities which they lead, to sit down, to put their differences on the table, but to come to the conclusion that they have more in common than not?

There are large issues to be settled. I have mentioned security. There is the question of freedom of movement on the island and the vexed question of the settlers brought in from Turkey. Those questions are not easy, but if there is a willingness to find a solution, a solution can be found.

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As the hon. Member for North Thanet said earlier, despite all the stumbling blocks, potholes and other things that can go wrong, the opposing factions in South Africa and the middle east have found ways of sitting down, talking to each other and committing themselves to a process the end result of which is agreement. Both sides in those examples, and many others around the world, committed themselves to success.

We have a right now to say to Mr. Denktash and President Klerides that we expect them to seize the opportunity later this month of the renewed contacts and to accept their solemn responsibility and duty to bring peace, stability and security to both Cypriot communities. That is to the benefit of both and in the interests of the whole.


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