Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnes (Questions 39-59)



  Q39 Chairman: Lord Hannay, can I welcome you, as a fellow parliamentarian. You are formerly the Government's Special Representative for Cyprus and closely involved in the drafting and negotiation on the Annan plan. I understand that you wish to make a very brief statement to the Committee.

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Yes, Chairman, thank you very much. My statement is purely to underline the fact that I have not now, and have not since May 2003 had, any connection whatsoever with the British Government; and I am not speaking, therefore, and answering your questions, in any sense on their behalf, nor should what I say be held to reflect their policy. I think it is important to say that for the avoidance of all misunderstanding.

  Q40 Chairman: It is important to get that on the record. Basically just to set the ground, perhaps you could say a little about your own involvement in pushing, as Sisyphus, this stone to the top of the hill only to see it rolling back again, so could you summarise your own involvement both in generally finding a solution to the problem of Cyprus and particularly in the drafting of the Annan Plan.

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Yes, Chairman. When I started in 1996, when Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the then Foreign Secretary, asked me to take on a job which had not existed before as Special Representative for Cyprus, it was because the British Government felt at the time, so they told me, that having committed themselves to Cyprus's membership of the European Union and that having some quite tricky implications for the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, it was really part of our duty to make a further effort, a further serious effort, to get a settlement to the Cyprus problem to obviate some of the tensions that would arise, so that was where my job started. For the next seven years I, as you put it, pushed the stone, like Sisyphus, up the hill and saw it roll back down again several times. At the beginning, the prospects were really very poor because there had been two attempts, the attempt by Boutros Boutros Ghali in the early 1990s and then the major confidence-building measures involving Varosha and Nicosia Airport after that, both of which had run into the sands; and there was no enthusiasm on either side of the island for a new attempt to settle the problem. Both, in their different ways, took a very gloomy view. Mr Denktash did not want a settlement and President Clerides would have liked one, but did not believe that one was even faintly possible; so the first stages were really to get a show on the road and that we managed to do by 1997. But the tension that arose during 1997 over the Commission's handling of Turkey's EU application made that also run into the sands and the stone rolled back to the bottom of the hill. Then from 1998 onwards, once the tension over the stationing of missiles in Cyprus had dissipated, we had a further and much more elaborate attempt in which we, the European Union, the United States and the United Nations worked systematically together and that led through a series of negotiations, with which I will not bore you, to the Annan Plan.

  Q41 Chairman: Were you directly involved in the drafting of it?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: No, I was not involved in the drafting of it. The drafting was entirely done by the United Nations. Of course they were inspired very largely by negotiations which had been going on since 1963 and, in particular, the negotiations in 1992 when Boutros Ghali's Set of Ideas had made a lot of progress and had established quite a lot of common ground, but had not got agreement, so they were not starting from scratch. I expect I contributed to some thinking here or there, but I did not draft the Plan.

  Q42 Chairman: But the end result was Annan Five which many would say was by far the best chance of uniting the island since the invasion in 1974 and the rejection led to a feeling of being let down both at the United Nations and no doubt with the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and, within the European Union, Gunther Verheugen. Did you feel personally a sense of let-down at the events of only this year and the referendums?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Well, in a fairly lengthy diplomatic career, I have felt that it is unwise to feel personally let down in these matters. If so, you tend to suffer from terminal pessimism which I do not normally do. No, I did not feel personally let down. I felt extremely sad about what happened because I did, as you suggest, believe that this had been a real opportunity, that the Annan Plan, in all its iterations, One, Two, Three, Four and Five, provided a negotiable outcome which could have respected the vital interests of both sides; I thought a huge opportunity was missed, and I was sad. I was sad for the people of Cyprus who, in my view, were going to suffer from this because nobody was going to go back to their homes in the, no Turkish troops were going to be withdrawn and the situation was going to remain stuck, which I think is not in anyone's interest.

  Q43 Chairman: In April, when it was clear that security was becoming a matter of great concern to the Greek Cypriots, the United States and the United Kingdom took to the Security Council a draft Resolution which one would have hoped would have solved or allayed the fears of the Greek Cypriots. That was vetoed by Russia, some say under the pressure of the Government of Cyprus. What is your reading of that attempt to find a solution to the security problems and the reason for the veto?

  Q44 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Well, I was not in New York at the time, but I did notice that Mr Iacovou, the Foreign Minister of Cyprus, was in Moscow at the time that the veto was decided, so I will leave it to others to draw their own conclusions from that, but I think it was very unfortunate that it was vetoed. Let's put it this way: the British and the Americans, when they took to the Council this Resolution, were not doing something off their own bat; what they were doing was in the Annan Plan, as needed to be done. In the Annan Plan, there is a page at the back which says, "Action to be requested from the Security Council", because it had been understood all along that the say-so of the signatories to the Annan Plan would not be enough in itself, that this needed to be underpinned by the guarantees of the international community and, in particular, of the Security Council, guarantees about a legally enforceable ban on any weapons going to the island, a ban on any divergence from the implementation of the Plan. It was crucial to answering the Greek Cypriot concern that they could not be sure that the Turks would actually implement everything properly. The underpinning of a mandatory Resolution of the Security Council, I am not saying that is an absolute guarantee, but it is certainly a lot better than not having it.

  Q45 Chairman: What was the motive in vetoing that?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I think you would have to ask the people who argued against the Resolution. I have no idea, except that I think, if I had to speculate, it is because it involved endorsing the Plan and that was of course extremely inconvenient for a government, the Greek Cypriot Government, which was actually campaigning to reject the Plan.

  Q46 Mr Maples: I would like to try and get at why precisely you think the Plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriots. Do you think that it simply did not meet the aspirations of the 76% of Greek Cypriots who voted against it or was it a function of the change of leadership from Clerides to Papadopoulos and if Clerides had been President, do you think, if he had campaigned for the "yes" vote, he would have got it? Perhaps at the same time, if you think it was Papadopoulos's call for a "no" vote that actually got the rejection, is there any type of Annan Plan that he is likely to accept or is he looking at a completely different solution from a sort of unitary state that would guarantee the minority rights for Turkish Cypriots rather than a Byzantine state? That is an awful lot of things rolled up in one.

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Yes. Well, I think that the chances of the Plan being accepted would have been a great deal better if it had been accepted and put to the people a year earlier; and the fault for that was not actually on the Greek Cypriot side, but it was Mr Denktash's fault that it was not, because it was Mr Denktash who prevented the negotiation and acceptance of Annan Two or Three at Copenhagen and then at The Hague. I think if it had been put then, when President Clerides had still been in office, there would have been a much better chance. Why do I think it failed more widely than that? I do think that all Greek Cypriot politicians, and that includes President Clerides and his Party, have some responsibility for the fact that they did not prepare opinion on their side of the island for the necessary compromises. For many, many years, Greek Cypriot politicians in every election had promised the sky, the moon and the stars to their electorate, that all Greek Cypriots would go back, all Turkish troops would be removed and all the settlers would be sent back to Turkey. If you read their election speeches, that is what they said. Then of course the Annan Plan appeared, and it did not quite say that, and nobody was ready for it. Now, interestingly enough, on the of the island, they were ready for it, because they had been having a tremendously lively debate for two years about whether or not they could trust Mr Denktash to negotiate in good faith and finally they had come to the conclusion, the majority amongst them and that was reflected in the huge demonstrations in Nicosia at the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003, that he could not be trusted; and that they wanted to sign up to the Annan Plan and to join the European Union at the same time as the south. Therefore, ironically, public opinion, in the most proper, democratic sense, was properly prepared in the for what was in the Annan Plan and, not surprisingly, therefore, they voted for it; and public opinion in the south was not prepared for what was in the Annan Plan and was, therefore, I fear, prey to all sorts of scare stories which, to my mind, were greatly exaggerated.

  Q47 Mr Maples: If one were trying to resurrect the process now, is it a question of trying to amend the Annan Plan in a way which would get Mr Papadopoulos to campaign for a "yes" vote or do you think that there is no form of the Annan Plan which he is going to find acceptable? Is he looking for a completely separate kind of solution or indeed no solution?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Well, I would take a fairly pessimistic view about his attitude to any version of the Annan Plan which is even remotely acceptable to the other side. The other side, you must remember, has actually voted for the Annan Plan as it stands and is not very heavily motivated to change that view. But when I read what President Papadopoulos said both during the campaign for the "no" vote and subsequently in the long documents that he has sent forward to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I find it almost impossible to believe that he would accept any version of the Annan Plan, because his reasoning takes seriatim every single bit of the foundations to the Annan Plan and throws it away. So I do not find it very convincing, the thought that he could have been negotiating in very good faith at the time that he was talking about the Annan Plan. Whatever reason anyway, I am afraid to say that his communications to the Secretary-General that I have seen in the last year bear a striking resemblance to those of Mr Denktash in the previous 30 years.

  Q48 Mr Maples: Do you think we made a terrible mistake in agreeing to let Cyprus into the European Union before insisting that there was not this problem because it looks to some of us as though we have been comprehensively out-manoeuvred by the Greek Cypriots and that they have got into the European Union without having to do a deal with the Turkish to reunite the island? Do you think that is it or do you think that is just a happy accident for Mr Papadopoulos?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I think that is to delve a long way back into history. It was a decision that was taken effectively in 1995 at the time when the Customs Union Agreement for Turkey was going through the Council and it was part of the price that the European Union and Turkey had to pay to get that very important agreement through which was to establish the customs union between Turkey and the European Union. Was it sensible to do that? I think we had better leave that to the historians, frankly; I do not want to pass a judgment on it. During the whole of the time that I was responsible, I took that as a given. I did not feel, I do not feel, that the European Union can do other than work on the basis of pacta sunt servanda; and it had made an agreement.

  Q49 Mr Olner: Perhaps following on along the same line Mr Maples took, the thing that is different now, whether we like it or not, regardless of the referendum, is that Cyprus is in the European Union. How are the benefits of the Union going to be delivered to the island of Cyprus in a way that is beneficial to both sides of the island?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Well, the objectives agreed by the European Union immediately before Cyprus joined at the end of April and immediately after the referendum failure, with the agreement of the Greek Cypriot Government, was that the European Union would earmark and disburse a large sum of money,

259 million, over the next two or three years and also that it would deal with trade problems in a way which would help bring the of Cyprus closer to the European Union; and that effectively means getting both cross-Green Line trade and trade from the into the European Union moving again, which, as you know, has been prevented by a European Court of Justice judgment of 1992, I think. There are two proposals on the table in Brussels now, as I understand it, one which deals with the aid and one which deals with trade; and the aid one is more or less through now and the trade one is stuck and there are many arguments being put forward by the Government of Cyprus to the effect that it would be a bad thing to resume trade from the to the European Union because this would consolidate the separation of the island. My own view is that that is very counter-intuitive. I think that if trade from the were resumed, this would help what is an absolutely essential feature of the reuniting of the island which is to narrow the gap between the economic prosperity of the and the economic prosperity of the south, so I would hope that at some time in the next few months it will be possible to agree a basis under which this trade can be resumed.

  Q50 Mr Olner: Can you confirm one thing for me. Who is going to keep account of the checks and balances because I would imagine that both sides of the island are watching like hawks to see if one side of the island is being favoured more than the other, particularly in terms of economic aid and restructuring? Who is really going to keep a proper score on that?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I think there is no simple answer. The reality of the Cyprus situation is that it has always been accepted that any settlement would have to be endorsed by the electorate on both sides; in the end, they are the arbiters. I do myself think that the Cypriots have, however, handicapped themselves in making this judgment by locking themselves into what I would call a `zero-sum mentality' by which they believe that anything that is done to deal with a sensitive point or a difficulty of the other side must ineluctably be to the detriment of their side. Now, that is not actually the case. If you, for example, found ways in which more European money could be diverted to help the south bear the economic costs, for example, of reuniting, that would not damage the Turkish Cypriots at all. If you enable the Turkish Cypriots to feel more certain that their bi-zonality, that their control of their own constituent state, is not going to be undermined in the future, that does not damage the Greek Cypriots at all, unless they have the object of dominating the Turkish Cypriot constituent state which they have forsworn in the settlement. I think it is wrong myself to have a zero-sum approach, all the more so because I think it is pretty clear that a reunited Cyprus that joined the European Union would not in itself be a zero sum at all; quite the contrary, the cake would get a lot bigger over the years. Cyprus is well placed to make the most out of the opening up of the Turkish market and out of its place close to the Middle East and so on. I believe myself that the Cyprus after a settlement would get a great deal of benefit and that is why I think somehow or other in this next period we have got to try, all of us, to persuade Cypriots to stop doing zero sums.

  Q51 Mr Mackay: Could we just briefly stay on the role of the Greek Cypriot leadership and then move on to the Turkish Cypriot leadership. Taking you back slightly, Kofi Annan in his Good Offices report, you will recall, more or less said that the Greek Cypriots at the time had failed to articulate their concerns. Perhaps more interestingly, their former Foreign Minister said, "The problem is that a specific strategy on what we want changed to the Annan Plan doesn't exist". You are broadly endorsing that, are you not, and just saying that they assumed it would not happen and did not put forward an alternative and now it is so overwhelmed, it is bearing down on the Annan Plan and we are back to square one. I do not want to put words into your mouth, but is that a fair interpretation?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: That is very broadly the case. I think it is important to remember that the words that Kofi Annan used in April of this year, 2004, towards the Greek Cypriots are almost identical to the language he used in March 2003 towards the Turkish Cypriots after Mr Denktash had destroyed the meeting at The Hague and had effectively brought the whole process to a grinding halt; and he used very similar analysis and language on that occasion. I think myself he was justified on both occasions.

  Q52 Mr Mackay: We will be in both Cyprus and northern Cyprus, both sides of the island, as you know, next week. We are not quite clear of the background to Mr Talat's resignation. Do you interpret it as being about a battle with the hard-liners or do you think it is more personality? How should we prepare for when we meet these key players?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Well, I do not know. I have not been to Cyprus for 18 months, but, as I understand it, the reason for the resignation is that Talat, the Prime Minister, lost his majority in the Assembly and could not, therefore, get government business through and quite properly, therefore, had to resign. But it appears that the hard-liners, the previous Prime Minister Eroglu, has discovered that he too cannot form a government, so the likelihood is that there will be premature parliamentary elections in the north to establish where the balance lies, but I cannot go beyond that. I think you will find a lot more next week. I think there is a rather confused situation, although I was told by somebody I spoke to in just the last two or three days that the support for the Turkish Cypriot parties who voted for a settlement or those who did not vote against, and that is Serdar Denktash, is much stronger than the vote for the rejectionists. But I think you will have to find that out; it is not a clear-cut situation. However, I do not think that is necessarily a disaster, because my own view is that it is not likely that the Cyprus situation will become more flexible and fluid for some time. First of all, I think the decision to be taken by the European Union on 17 December on Turkey's application is absolutely fundamental and until that is taken, I do not think there is much that one could do to address the Cyprus problem. Once it has been taken, I think it will bring about over time a fundamental shift of appreciation by everyone, because I think at that point it will become pretty clear that a settlement at some stage is inevitable and that may help to create a climate in which these matters can be addressed again. I would myself not be in favour of rushing at it; I think the situation particularly in the south is not very propitious at the moment.

  Q53 Mr Hamilton: Lord Hannay, we have talked a lot about the reasons why the referendum was so roundly rejected by southern Greek Cypriots. I am delighted that you feel that a settlement is inevitable ultimately, but in order to understand how we can move forward, we need to understand why they did indeed reject the Annan Plan. Do you think it was based around the Greek Cypriots' fears about the troops, about their own security, about the cost involved in reuniting their island and indeed about the timescale that the Annan Plan laid down?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I think I have mentioned in this discussion now really three elements which seem to me to have contributed to it. One was the failure of all Greek Cypriot politicians to prepare the electorate for the necessary compromises, the second is the zero-sum mentality, by which some concessions that were made to one side were, therefore, automatically scored as losses to the other, and the third is the issue of security and the credibility of the undertakings. It is true that the Plan envisages a gradual surrender of territory by the Turkish Cypriots to the Greek Cypriot state, a gradual withdrawal of Turkish troops and so on. It is frankly extremely difficult to think of any peace plan that has not indeed had a gradual approach of that sort; it is the normal thing to happen. But you do have to believe in it and that is where the underpinning of a Security Council Resolution is absolutely vital. Also, I would add frankly that it should not be impossible to get the Greek Cypriots to understand that once Turkey has started accession negotiations with the European Union, the stakes will have gone up so high that the chances of the Turks not implementing international undertakings they have taken are, I think, very small because the cost to them would be colossal. It would of course immediately impact on their accession negotiations if they reneged. So I do not believe they would and I see no reason to believe it. I believe that this Turkish Government has negotiated in good faith and I believe they wish to apply the Annan Plan to the letter. But I do understand that the Greek Cypriots, who have had a long and troubled history, find it difficult to take that for granted and, therefore, want reassurance. Well, the answer, as I say, is a mandatory Security Council Resolution and EU/Turkey accession negotiations ongoing.

  Q54 Mr Hamilton: You said earlier, and I have to say I agree entirely with the point you made, that one of the things that will enable Turkish Cypriots more likely to be acceptable to Greek Cypriots is if the levels of prosperity were more equal, in other words, that Turkish Cyprus should have the chance to become a little bit wealthier through trade through its own efforts. Do you think that is one way in which the Annan Plan could be modified to make it more acceptable to Greek Cypriots if there was education and understanding amongst Greek Cypriots without making it unacceptable to Turkish Cypriots or are there other ways?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I believe myself that if you freed up trade both on the island and between the island and the European Union, you would get a lot of prosperity for the Greek Cypriots too because the Turkish Cypriots are going to buy a lot of Greek Cypriot services if there is a freedom of trade on the island, so I think, as I keep saying, it is not a zero-sum game; it is a game in which the cake can get larger. However, I do believe that you do have to do something about this gap; the poverty and the deprivation in the north is real and it is not helpful to a settlement. You have, I think, something near to 50% of the active population in the civil service and there is very little economic activity, although it has picked up a bit in recent times. So I think that enabling the north to trade with the European Union, which was, after all, agreed by the European Union back in the 1980s when the customs union with Cyprus was negotiated, and the north had every right to trade with the European Union; unfortunately they destroyed it, on a technicality (their ability to do so) by declaring their independence and thus invalidating all the stamps and seals which they used to show that the goods had been properly inspected and so on, so it was a self-inflicted wound by the Turkish Cypriots, by Mr Denktash's policy of pursuing status rather than pursuing a settlement. But I do not think we should forget that the European Union's original purpose in signing the customs union with Cyprus was that all Cypriots, Greek and Turkish, should benefit from free trade and the customs union.

  Q55 Mr Hamilton: How then, do you think, are Greek Cypriots to be persuaded that an improvement in the living standards and an eradication of some of the poverty of northern Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, is actually to their benefit as well? Surely it needs some inspired leadership rather than simply some of the old mantras being repeated?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I agree with that, but I do not think it can be done by foreigners simply telling them that they are wrong. I think they have to come to that conclusion by their own processes. I would hope, above all, that in doing so they would once and for all understand that in many of these cases these are not zero sums, that just because the Turkish Cypriots are going to get more prosperous, the Greek Cypriots are not going to get poorer.

  Q56 Mr Hamilton: The Annan Plan is legally null and void, and that is certainly described in the Plan itself, should it be rejected by either side, but is there any hope of it being resurrected?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I find it difficult to believe that a settlement of the Cyprus problem can be found on a basis very far removed from the Annan Plan in the form that it was submitted in April. I do not want to say that absolutely nothing can be changed; it obviously can. The Annan Plan itself was changed four times and each time the package that was put forward by the Secretary-General of the United Nations had a number of concessions to points raised by both sides, so could it happen again? I think it probably could. But don't let us exaggerate the extent to which that can happen, first of all, because the Turkish Cypriots have actually signed up to it and, secondly, because, by definition in a way, Kofi Annan has used up a lot of flexibility that was available in producing the amendments to the four versions of his original Plan.

  Q57 Mr Hamilton: Kofi Annan himself has said that he sees "no apparent basis for resuming the good offices effort". What do you think the UN should be doing?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I think there is not a great deal that the UN can do in the short term, quite honestly. I am not myself in favour of diverting, as was the case in the 1990s, away to confidence-building measures, which proved to be a dead end. I think the United Nations has to remain available, it has to remain willing to lend its undoubted authority and skills to a further attempt to solve the problem, but only, and this is what Kofi Annan said at the time in 2003 when Mr Denktash destroyed the effort at The Hague, only when there is a fundamental indication of willingness to negotiate on the basis of the Plan. That fundamental willingness to negotiate on the basis of the Plan was established by the Turkish Cypriot parliamentary elections in December 2003 and by the messages that were given to Kofi Annan personally by Mr Erdo­gan, the Turkish Prime Minister, in January 2004. Who am I to say how that should be indicated, but I think he needs to have an indication, a clear indication, of a willingness from the Greek Cypriot side of that nature. The Turks and the Turkish Cypriots certainly did not say that they were accepting every single word of the Plan; there and then, but they did say they were prepared to come back to the table and negotiate firmly on the basis of the Plan and they demonstrated, by their dealings with the Secretary-General, that they really meant that.

  Q58 Andrew Mackinlay: Earlier, reference was made to the visit of the Foreign Minister to Moscow at the time of the Security Council discussions and you sort of said, "I know he was there at that time", but what about one of the factors, that the Americans accompanied the United Kingdom delegation to Bu­rgenstock? Did that not in itself contribute to deep suspicion by the Greek Cypriot Government, with some legitimacy, that this was America not only muscling in, but bearing in mind the view in Greek Cypriot circles that America acquiesced in the invasion all those years ago, that sort of thing, was that not a factor?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: It may have been a factor, but I do not think it should have been. Successive Greek Cypriot governments had pleaded with the Americans again and again to use their influence with the Government of Turkey to influence Mr Denktash to come to a settlement. I do not know quite how the American Administration was meant to use its influence at Bu­rgenstock if it was not there. Every Greek Cypriot Administration, as I say, from time immemorial has always said to us and to the Americans, "You've got to persuade the Turks", and we said, "Yes, we understand that it is part of our role to convince the Government of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots that it is in their interest to come to a settlement". This objective was very hard to pursue so long as Denktash was in charge of policy, but became a great deal easier to pursue thereafter. Frankly, I cannot get myself terribly excited about whether or not Tom Weston was in the British delegation or not at Bu­rgenstock. I do not really see what the argument is, given what seems to me to be fairly obvious, if one is not slipping into the conspiratorial view that often does run on the island, that neither Britain nor the United States had any particular axe to grind in this matter. What they wanted, both of them for rather different reasons, was a settlement which the two parties and the two motherlands, Greece and Turkey, would subscribe to. The Americans, why? Because it would bring stability in the eastern Mediterranean. The British, why? Because it would mean that a reunited Cyprus could join the European Union. Those are perfectly open, in my view, defensible motivations. They were not motivations about helping one side or helping the other. My own experience was that both we and the Americans spoke extremely toughly in private to both sides all the time.

  Q59 Andrew Mackinlay: I wonder if you can throw any light on the suggestion that there was a "secret appendix" or codicil to Bu­rgenstock relating to the Sovereign Base Areas and in any event the fact that the United Kingdom basically offered up as part of the settlement I think, in land area, about half of the Sovereign Base Areas, does it not raise a separate, but very important issue for the United Kingdom as to our legitimacy in holding that part of the Sovereign Base Areas, particularly against the background of the United Nations with the Kurds and so on, so, firstly, do you know if there was any secret codicil and, secondly, what about the Sovereign Base Areas because really if we can throw them into the pot, we cannot justify holding them, can we?

  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: As far as I know, there is no secret codicil. I was not in government employment at the time of Bu­rgenstock. There is of course an amendment to the Treaty of Establishment which is a necessary part of the package because that is what enabled the British Government to cede the 46 square miles that it was offering in the context of an agreement. It is there written clearly, like the other several hundred pages of the Annan Plan and there is nothing secret about it at all. It is a necessary requirement to give effect to that. Does that invalidate Britain's position in the Sovereign Base Areas? I do not believe so. The position was established under international law in the Treaties of Guarantee, Alliance and Establishment of 1960 and it remains valid. The British Government decided on its own that, in order to help get a settlement and in order to slightly enlarge the territorial pot that was available to both sides in terms of adjustments, it would surrender about half the Sovereign Base Areas which were not necessary to its military requirements. This unrequited offer has never ceased to puzzle the conspiracy theorists in Cyprus who, I fear, have found it almost inconceivable that anybody could ever make such an offer. But they did. The question about colonialism does not honestly arise because I think there is a misunderstanding. The Sovereign Base Areas are not colonies. There are no Cypriots colonised. The Cypriots who live in the Sovereign Base Areas are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, they are taxed by the Republic of Cyprus and they are looked after in every way, health and every other way, by the Republic of Cyprus. They are Sovereign Base Areas, not colonies.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2005
Prepared 22 February 2005