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The Prime Minister: This issue has been part of the negotiation and it has been tremendously sensitive on all sides. Frankly, it can be resolved only in the context of an agreement to a plan for the whole of Cyprus. People understand its importance, but it is probably better if I say no more about it.
Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire) (Lab): On Iraq, the Prime Minister said that the European Council has confirmed its full backing for, and financing of, United Nations protection. Is not part of such action this Government's supplying of weapons to the fledgling Iraqi security forces, police and army? Words are not enough, and such action is surely necessary in order to contain terrorist forces in Iraq.
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and we must ensure that we not only train the Iraqi forces but equip them properly, so that they can defend themselves against terrorists who are often very well financed and well armed.
Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal) (Con): Does the Prime Minister accept that even those of us who are not as enthusiastic as he is about Turkey's membership of the European Union will point out the attraction of the EU to the many countries that want to join it? Central to that attraction is democracy and the rule of law, so how can he go on talking as he does, given what is happening in Guantanamo bay and in Belmarsh? Is it not true that we need to put those things right before Turkey will listen to what we are asking it to do?
The Prime Minister: We have made clear on a number of occasions the position concerning the British detainees in Guantanamo bay; Belmarsh, however, is a different situation. Those detained there are free to leave the country, and some actually have. The right hon. Gentleman faced this problem when he was in government; indeed, for a considerable time back then, the Labour party was probably on the other side of the argument in this House concerning prevention of terrorism legislation. We do not in any way dismiss the argument about the civil liberties of those detained in Belmarsh. However, given what we know these people are capable of, given that our security services tell us that there is a reasonable suspicion that they are plotting terrorist activity, given that we have gone through a judicial processalbeit one that is not in accordance with the normal procedures of law, but which was headed by a High Court judgeand given that these people are actually free to leave this country, I, as a decision taker, having taken account of the civil liberties argument, must in the end put the security of the British people first.
Our security services indicated that if we let such people out, we could not guarantee that we could survey them adequately, or that we would not lose some of
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them. This issue is difficult and we must return to it repeatedly, argue about it in this House and in the media, and have a public debate on it. My belief, on balance, is that we have to maintain this position, but in pointing to my belief I do not dismiss the right hon. Gentleman's argument. I simply say, as he knows from when he was in government, that it is a heavy responsibility to allow out on our streets people whom we know or believe may want to cause death and destruction to our citizens.
Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab): I very much welcome the decision on Turkey, but the fact remains that it is in military occupation of an EU statenorthern Cyprus. The problem would not have been resolved by Annan 5, which would have allowed Turkish troops to remain in Cyprus in perpetuity. Will my right hon. Friend consider whether a new initiative on Cyprus could be launched before October, perhaps after the elections in northern Cyprus in February? On the matter of trade, perhaps we should think more about free trade in the round rather than direct trade with the rest of the EU. In particular, we should ask the Turkish Cypriots to lift their embargo on imports from the Republic of Cyprus into the north.
The Prime Minister: I know that my hon. Friend has raised this issue a number of times and it is obviously of great importance to the Greek Cypriot side. I hope that it will be possible to get back to some sort of sustained negotiations. Cyprus is now in the EU, Turkey wants to join the EU and we have agreed to start accession negotiations, so it really does not make sense to carry on having this contention between the Turkish and Greek side of Cyprus. We have discussed the matter on many occasions with Kofi Annan and we will continue to look for a way to revive the process.
Mr. Andrew Mackay (Bracknell) (Con): In the context of strongly supporting what the Prime Minister said about Turkey's application being an historic moment, I put it to him that, after the sad failure of the Kofi Annan plan, which many people thought was the best way forward for Cyprus, the EU made a clear move to open up trade with northern Cyprus and to internationalise the airport. That has slowed down very badly indeed, so will the Prime Minister assure the House that he is using his full powers to speed it up? Otherwise, confidence in northern Cyprus and Turkey will be lost.
Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab):
Some people argue that we should not sign up to the draft constitutional treaty because it would bring about a European foreign Minister and a shared foreign policy, which they believe would be counter to the interests of Britain. However, does not the experience of this yearwhether we are talking about Iran, where the EU played a significant role in ensuring greater stability and safety for the region, or about the Ukraine, where Javier Solana played an important part in ensuring stabilityshow
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that a shared foreign policy is in Britain's best interests and that the sooner we sign up to the constitutional treaty the better it will be for us all?
The Prime Minister: What the last two years show is the validity and importance of Europe working togetherfor example, in respect of Iran and, more recently, Ukraine. They also show clearly that when Britain decides as a sovereign country to go its own way and disagree with other European countries, as over Iraq, it can do so. Those years also show that there are other issues, such as the middle east peace process, in respect of which we are somewhere between the two. That demonstrates the importance and common sense of Europe co-operating where it can and wants to, and of this country being free to run its foreign and defence policy when it needs to. That is precisely the situation that will be maintained under the new European constitutional treaty.
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South) (UUP): I welcome the Prime Minister's clear thinking on the need for democratic countries to protect their own citizens, but does he agree that Turkey could advance its hopes for accession if it were prepared to acknowledge past failures in respect of the Armenian massacres?
The Prime Minister: If I may, I will not get into that issue. I hope that the hon. Gentleman agrees that what Turkey has done over the past few years represents, on any basis, remarkable progress in human rights terms. Under the guidance, in a sense, and the pressure of EU negotiation, it will continue to do even more. It will do it as a sovereign country because it wants to. It is better to look to the future.
Dr. Nick Palmer (Broxtowe) (Lab): The Prime Minister's report from the European summit quite naturally focused on the accession of new countries, which directly affects the EU. Does he agree, however, that it is quite possible that when we hold the chair of the EU in the second half of next year the key issue will be giving the final push to a settlement for Israel, Palestine and the other countries involved in the long-running conflict there? Does he agree that it would be a crowning achievement for the EU if it helped facilitate a transformation of the situation for the years to come?
I am sure that we would all hope that that is the case. He also said that the Government would send a substantial number of observers. Does he think that a substantial number of observers should be sent to the Iraqi elections, and would they be safe?
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