Cyprus (Hansard, 2 March 2004)
HC Deb 02 March 2004 vol 418 cc746-7
6. Mr. Adrian Flook (Taunton) (Con)

If he will make a statement on progress towards a settlement in Cyprus. [157416]

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw)

Talks resumed in Nicosia on 19 February. Initial reports are encouraging. The timetable is tight, and both sides are arguing for changes to the plan on some substantive points, but we hope that the constructive spirit shown by the parties in New York will enable them to reach an agreement.

Mr. Flook

I thank the Secretary of State for his answer, but that date is only nine weeks away. What is plan B?

Mr. Straw

In a sense, there is no plan B. If no agreement can be reached, a divided Cyprus will come into the European Union. There is only a plan A. What we are saying not only to the Turkish-Cypriots and the Turkish Government but to the Greek-Cypriots and the Greek Government is that it is in the interests of no one at all for a divided Cyprus to come into the EU.

Mr. Andrew Love (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op)

May I make a plea for flexibility in the negotiations, especially in relation to the Annan plan? As my right hon. Friend has already indicated, when the solution comes forward, it will have to be subject to a referendum of both communities. We need flexibility so that the referendum will be carried on both sides.

Mr. Straw

I commend my hon. Friend's interest in this issue, and the great interest that many of his constituents take in it. A spirit of compromise from both sides is required. The negotiations are being led by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his special representative, Mr. de Soto. We are not interfering in those negotiations, but we will give support when we can. I say again that I hope that my hon. Friend and all who represent Cypriots, whether from the Turkish or Greek side, will in turn urge on their constituents the need to put behind them past hatreds and animosities and recognise that for both sides—Greeks and Turks—the problem can be resolved. This is the best opportunity in two generations, but if the problem is not resolved by 1 May, it will not go away: it will just become more difficult.

Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet) (Con)

All people of good will on both sides of the political divide in Cyprus would like to see a settlement prior to the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. That being so—this point has already been made—there will have to be referendums on both sides of the green line. As a guarantor power, what steps is the United Kingdom taking to ensure that there is international monitoring of the referendums to guarantee that they, in turn, are free and fair?

Mr. Straw

We have particular responsibilities as a guarantor power. Along with our European Union partners and, above all, the United Nations, we would participate in the necessary programmes to ensure that the referendums were free and fair.

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