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Mr. Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove) (LD): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, I want to raise the issue of ballot papers in the European and local government elections in the Hazel Grove constituency. Unlike other hon. Members, who have come to the House to say that their constituents have not received ballot papers, I have come to the House to say that my constituents have received ballot papers and that they have been issued with the wrong ones. In two polling districts of the Bredbury and Woodley ward in my constituency, electors have received ballot papers containing forms for the local government elections in the Edgeley and Cheadle Heath ward, which is in the constituency of the hon. Member for Stockport (Ms Coffey).

Madam Deputy Speaker, you will appreciate that that is causing grave confusion to electors in not only my constituency but that of the hon. Member for Stockport. Have you received representations from Department for Constitutional Affairs Ministers that they want to come to the House to explain what will happen next? If not, will you use your good offices to encourage them to do so at the earliest possible moment?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): I have not received any such request from the Department for Constitutional Affairs. The matter raised by the hon.
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Gentleman is not a point of order for the Chair, but it is of serious concern, and I hope that those on the Treasury Bench will note what he has said.

Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, in the light of your ruling that you have not received such notice, if the position remains the same tomorrow, will it be in order for the procedures of the House to be used to make a request to Mr. Speaker for the relevant Minister to come to this House and answer a question about the matter?

Madam Deputy Speaker: The hon. Gentleman knows that all hon. Members are free to submit such a request to Mr. Speaker for his consideration.

Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) (Con): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, I am not questioning your ruling, but this House must be concerned about people being disfranchised. What is happening in the Stockport metropolitan area, Cheshire and other areas of the north-west—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I will not allow the matter to develop into a debate. I have answered the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Stunell).

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. Is this on a different matter, Mr. Heath?

Mr. Heath: It is a related matter, but not the same matter. I seek your guidance because it is important for hon. Members to be aware of the procedures of the House given the extraordinary chaos that is developing across the whole of the north of England with regard to postal ballots.

If a request to the Speaker's Office is placed this evening as a matter of urgency, will it be considered tomorrow morning—if no opportunity arises this evening for a Minister to come to this House—so that the Minister can come to make a statement on a matter that most of us are extremely concerned about?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I genuinely understand the concern of hon. Members on such an important matter. I therefore suggest that they make their representations to the Speaker's Office as soon as they wish.



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Post Office Closures

7.30 pm

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): My constituency, like many others, has suffered from post office closures. We recently had three post offices closed, not to be replaced, and a further three post office closures are now threatened. I wish to present two petitions—one to save the Benfleet high road post office and one to save the Victoria corner post office in Hadleigh. I hope to speak about those tomorrow if I manage to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker. The first petition reads:

To lie upon the Table.

The second petition relates to the Victoria corner post office. It states:

To lie upon the Table.

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Northern Cyprus

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Derek Twigg.]

7.33 pm

Ann Winterton (Congleton): When Cyprus is debated in this House, we usually hear the Greek Cypriot point of view, but the Turkish Cypriot case is rarely heard. I am therefore grateful for this opportunity to redress the balance.

The international community asked for the self-determination of the two peoples of Cyprus on the future of the island and the decision has now been made. The Annan plan, on which the two peoples of Cyprus voted on 24 April, was presented to the world by the United Nations, the European Union, the Americans and the British as fair to both sides. It gave neither side as much as they wanted. On 16 April, the Secretary of State of the United States described it as the end of the process. He said:

Kofi Annan himself said:

The two peoples of Cyprus accepted these statements in good faith and voted accordingly.

Turkish Cypriot voters had serious doubts about whether the Annan plan would secure their physical, economic and cultural future in the island, but they were nevertheless willing to give it a chance. The Greek Cypriots were not.

Likewise, Turkey had serious doubts about whether the plan would create a sustainable settlement or cause instability and conflict, as proved to be the case with the 1960 settlement. Nevertheless, the Government of Turkey worked hard with the Turkish Cypriots, the United Nations and Greece to negotiate the Annan plan and pledged to do whatever was required to support it. No fair-minded observer could have expected Turkey or the Turkish Cypriots to do more.

European Commissioners Verheugen and Patten said on 21 April that they felt cheated by the Greek Cypriots. Indeed, Commissioner Verheugen said:

How much more cheated do the Turkish Cypriots feel? For more than 40 years, they have been subjected to physical and economic deprivation and debilitating uncertainty and it is time to put an end to that. It is simply not fair to the Turkish Cypriot people to expect them to endure that hardship any longer and there must be no more attempts to force unwilling parties together. Nor is it fair to penalise Turkey a moment longer in respect of Cyprus.

The European Union said that Turkish Cypriots could not be left out in the cold if the Greek Cypriots voted no and the former have therefore called on the EU and the international community to lift the restrictions to which they are subjected and give them financial assistance to repair the damage done to their economy by those 40 years of restrictions.

Sympathetic words are not enough and specific action must be taken to lift the restrictions without further delay. Adjustments to the restrictions and the modest financial assistance promised so far is simply not
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enough. In particular, it is wrong to expect the Turkish Cypriots to accept financial aid channelled through the Greek Cypriot Administration. Direct air and shipping services to and from Northern Cyprus must be permitted without further delay and Turkish Cypriot students must have access to education here at the same cost as Greek Cypriot students. Turkish Cypriots should not be expected to export their goods through the territory controlled by the Greek Cypriots and EU inspectors could be based in Northern Cyprus.

The international community should also remove visa restrictions. When Greek Cypriots do not need visas, Turkish Cypriots should not need them. It is especially disgraceful that the elected leaders of the Turkish Cypriots should be told to get a visa before they can enter the United Kingdom, even on official business and I ask the Minister for an assurance that this insulting treatment will be stopped forthwith.

The visit of our high commissioner to Prime Minister Talat's office was welcome but our Government should go further and invite President Denktash and Prime Minister Talat for a meeting with the Foreign Secretary. They should also upgrade our high commission office in the north, with senior UK staff actually living in the north. Relations with the Turkish Cypriot mission in London should also be upgraded to permit the same contact as the Greek Cypriots have.

Some people believe that there would be something unfair or unjust in that. Others think a threat to international peace would remain. To explain why that is not the case, it is necessary to deal with the international perceptions of the reasons for the situation in Cyprus, which are so fundamentally mistaken.

The Turkish Cypriots are aware that Greek Cypriots had to abandon their homes in 1974, but they did not wish to abandon their homes in 1958, 1963, 1967 or 1974, which they had to do for mutual defence. The Turkish Cypriots did nothing to deserve the violent attacks to which the Greek Cypriots subjected them in those years and which resulted in the death of so many of their men, women, and children, and the separation of the two peoples of Cyprus.

The Turkish Cypriots did nothing to deserve expulsion from all their positions in the republic, of which they were co-founders, nor did they use their veto power unreasonably, as is so often alleged. The Turkish Cypriots were heavily outnumbered, had no modern weapons and Turkey was, in 1963, in no position to protect them.

Our former Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, said in his memoirs that if the Greek Cypriot leadership could not treat the Turkish Cypriots as human beings, they were inviting the invasion and partition of the island. Those were prescient words. The Turkish Cypriots called on the guarantor powers—Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom—for help in 1964 and 1967, but none could or would put a stop to the actions of the Greek Cypriots.

It is hard to believe that the United Nations allowed the Greek Cypriots to get away literally with murder and then rewarded them by treating their officials as the Government of Cyprus for the next 40 years. The Greek
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Cypriots sought to justify their position by reference to a so-called doctrine of necessity, but they had created the necessity themselves.

On 12 March 1964, the British Government agreed with Turkey that the title "Cyprus Government" could mean only a Government who act with the concurrence of its Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot members. There has of course been no concurrence since 1963, but that essential point has been quietly forgotten.

This is what the Foreign Affairs Committee found in 1987:

In other words, they could resume their seats if they agreed to fundamental constitutional changes to the great disadvantage of their people, imposed on them by force of arms.

Accordingly, even if there had been any substance to Greek Cypriot claims that they were operating the Government alone of necessity because the Turkish Cypriots were leaving their places vacant, there can be no justification for that claim after July 1965.

The Turkish Cypriots are willing to forgive the Greek Cypriots and to forget the past, but not while they continue their attempt to strangle the Turkish Cypriot economy by restrictions on trade, communications and sport and continue to force diplomatic isolation on their state.

It would not be surprising if hon. Members had a different view of those events, because for the past 40 years the world has been given a skilful version of the story almost entirely from the Greek Cypriot point of view. That is because the Greek Cypriots have had all the Cypriot embassies and high commissions for themselves since 1963. They also occupy Cyprus's chair at the United Nations and in all other international bodies, while the Turkish Cypriots have been excluded from that time until now from all the normal channels of international communication.

The Turkish Cypriots have been prevented for 40 years from having normal trade and communication with the outside world, but what have they done to deserve that discrimination? Their only crime was to be Turkish in an island that Greek Cypriots wanted to turn into a Greek island, by force of arms if necessary.

It is important to remember that, although the Greek Cypriots are more numerous than the Turkish Cypriots, their relationship with each other has never been one of majority and minority. The two peoples joined together as co-founders when they established the Republic of Cyprus in 1960 and successive Secretaries-General of the United Nations have acknowledged that fact. The Annan plan makes it clear that their relationship is one of political equality, where neither side may claim authority or jurisdiction over the other.

The United Nations has never authorised an embargo against the Turkish Cypriots, but the Greek Cypriots were able to place them under restrictions from 1963 to 1974 because they had physical control of the island. By 1974, Greek Cypriot officials had already been accepted for the purposes of day-to-day business by most states and international organisations as if they were lawful
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representatives of Cyprus, and they were able to persuade the world that Cyprus had been subjected in 1974 to an unprovoked attack by Turkey.

In fact, when the civil war broke out on 15 July of that year, the Turkish Cypriots again feared for their lives and called on the guarantor powers for help, as the United Nations force could not, or would not, prevent the violence. This time, after waiting 11 years, Turkey responded to their call by landing troops. Britain did nothing to help.

The Greek Cypriot leader of the anti-Makarios faction, Nicos Sampson, said on 26 February 1981:

annexation to Greece—

Having dealt with Sampson, it would have been absurd for Turkey to depart and leave the Turkish Cypriots again at the mercy of Makarios, who had been responsible for their persecution for the previous 11 years.

Turkish soldiers are needed in the north of Cyprus until the Turkish Cypriots can survive without them. We all know from the 1950s that even the British Army could not disarm the local militia in Cyprus. Notwithstanding those risks, the Turkish Cypriots were willing to accept the Annan plan's reduction in Turkish troops to a mere 650 men—a force that could not even defend itself—and still the Greek Cypriots object.

After 1974, they enforced their restrictions against the Turkish Cypriots by persuading other countries, and more recently by persuading the European Court of Justice, that it was illegal to trade with or fly to any part of Cyprus without the permission of the "Government of Cyprus"—which meant, in practice, the permission of the Greek Cypriots themselves. The purpose of the restrictions was to bring the Turkish Cypriots to their knees and force them to accept a settlement on Greek Cypriot terms. Fortunately they have not succeeded, but it puzzles most Turkish Cypriots to find that the Greek Cypriots also complain about, for example, the ancient heritage in the north—which I have been fortunate enough to see for myself—but do their best to prevent international experts and donors from giving the Turkish Cypriots any help.

The Greek Cypriots were also able, by using international acceptance to their advantage, to secure judgments against Turkey in the European Court of Human Rights in property cases. In fact the second division of the island, which occurred in 1974 and caused property losses on both sides, was caused by the incomparably more serious violation of the human rights of the Turkish Cypriots, none of whom has ever been compensated.

Some people think that the economic embargo should not be completely lifted because Turkish Cypriots might not then wish to unite with the Greek Cypriots. It is also said that to lift the embargo would be to expose the Greek Cypriot tourist industry to unfair competition from the north. In fact, the reverse is true. The south enjoys an unfair advantage, because the Turkish Cypriots cannot have direct flights to the north or get the investment that they need.
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By 1983, the Turkish Cypriots had concluded that it was impossible to achieve a reconciliation with the Greek Cypriots. One important reason was the attitude of the Greek Orthodox Church, along with the extreme views of its leadership. It is clear from the attitude of the Church to the Annan plan, including threats to Greek Cypriot voters that they would be barred from heaven when they died, that that is as true today as it ever was.

The Turkish Cypriots therefore had no alternative but to establish their own state, although the international community never understood the compelling reason for that. The Greek Cypriots were able to obtain Security Council resolution 541, which has dissuaded other states from recognising the Turkish Cypriot state. The resolution calls on the world to recognise only one state in Cyprus, but has advisory force only, and relates to events of more than 20 years ago. The situation today is completely different, especially following the referendum earlier this year, and states need no longer feel that the resolution requires or even advises them not to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

It is sometimes claimed that the UN has also called on all states to recognise the Greek Cypriots as the Government of Cyprus, and that the British Government do so. In fact, on 28 April 1980 the then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said in another place

On 30 July that year, the then Minister of State reiterated that

That was affirmed again on 12 November 1987.

Accordingly, if the British Government recognise states, not Governments, neither the Greek Cypriot nor the Turkish Cypriot Administration are recognised by the United Kingdom as the Government of Cyprus. We should therefore stop referring to the Greek Cypriot Administration as "the Government of Cyprus," as the Americans have already done.

On 25 April 1980, the Government declared that they would

Clearly, any such assessment would conclude that the Greek Cypriots are able to exercise effective control of the southern part of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriots of the northern part, and that they are both likely to continue to do so.

So far as international peace is concerned, the Turkish Cypriots have no aggressive intent toward the Greek Cypriots, and it is they who have opened the border. There is no Berlin wall in Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots know that they have nothing to gain by attacking the north, and Turkey and Greece now have a mature
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relationship with each other. It is unrealistic to regard Cyprus as a threat to international peace. Turkish Cypriots are as determined as anyone to fight terrorism, drugs and organised crime, and are already co-operating fully with the international law enforcement agencies. The only reason why extradition is not possible is that other countries have not as yet signed an extradition treaty with them.

Turning, in conclusion, to the people who had to leave their homes in Cyprus as a result of the violence of the past, of course the Turkish Cypriots are concerned about them—as, indeed, are we all—but the dispossessed persons were not only Greek Cypriots. Many Turkish Cypriots have been dispossessed more than once, as they were forced out of their homes in the 1950s, the 1960s, and again in the 1970s. Families have now been resettled for 30 years and more, and the clock cannot be turned back. The Turkish Cypriots' consistent policy, with which I agree, is that everyone on both sides should stay where they are and be compensated. The Annan plan gave 80,000 Greek Cypriots the chance to go back, but they rejected it.

The property issue must now be dealt with once and for all, and Turkish Cypriots have appealed to the international community for funds with which all those people who lost their property on both sides can be compensated. The British Government should respond generously to that appeal and give further funds with which the Turkish Cypriots can repair the damage done to their economy by 40 years of unjust restrictions.

7.52 pm

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