|British Parliament on Greek affairs|
|House of Commons - Debates for 27 Nov 1998
Foreign Affairs and Defence
Mr. Roger Gale
I should like to touch on the human rights issue, and to consider Cyprus. I declare an interest as one of those hon. Members--so brilliantly exposed recently in the fearless Daily Mail--who visited Cyprus as guests of the Morphou municipality and the Friends of Cyprus. I just wish that the Daily Mail "political correspondent"--I think that that is what the writer of the article called itself, while taking the chance to swipe at my friend, the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale), and at Madam Speaker--had visited the island and discovered for itself why those of us who go there bother to do so.
I should like some of those correspondents to come with me up on to the green line, to press up to the barbed wire in the heat of the day and to join the old ladies holding photographs of their sons and husbands, whom they have not seen for 18 years, and about whose whereabouts they know nothing. Perhaps then those correspondents would understand why we bother to go.
I should like to draw the Foreign Office Minister's attention to the case of Titina Loizidou. The Government are to be commended, as were the previous Government, on promoting the entry of Cyprus into the European Union. The Government have made it very plain, as did the previous Government, that no right of veto to Turkey will be permitted, and that it is the intention that Cyprus, with or without a settlement, will join. I applaud that. However, in terms of sheer human rights--I am sorry that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was unwilling to allow me to intervene, perhaps because of embarrassment, as I should have raised the matter with him--Madam Loizidou, who is a resident of Kyrenia, has been denied access to her home town and her property since 1974.
In 1989, Madam Loizidou took her case to the European Commission of Human Rights in Strasbourg--the Gracious Speech reminds us that we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the convention on human rights. A nine-year process ensued. The case went to the court in 1993. The first judgment was reached in March 1995 and the second came on 18 December 1996. It said clearly that Turkey and the illegal regime in the northern part of the island had no right to deny her access to her home town and her property. In December 1996, she was awarded $600,000 damages for the loss of use of her property.
The time scale for the payment of those damages expired on 28 October this year. The United Kingdom is a member of the Council of Europe and a guarantor power in Cyprus. It is time that the Government made clear what action they intend to take to enforce the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Titina Loizidou, so that she and others like her can return to their properties and enjoy their use.
I should like to raise two other issues briefly, one of which is of great concern to the families of those in the diplomatic service and the families of our serving men and women abroad: quarantine for pets. In the great scheme of things, it may not seem terribly important, but to those men and women serving abroad, in the diplomatic corps or the armed services, it is a matter of considerable concern, and not occasionally a cause of great distress. The Government have said that they intend to change the laws of quarantine. I urge that special provision be made immediately for those serving in our armed forces, particularly in rabies-free countries such as Cyprus, and most specifically for those members of the diplomatic corps who may find themselves caught by the new regulations because they are in countries that are not rabies-free and to which the new provisions--if they go through, as we hope that they will--will not apply. It would be wrong if those serving this country, who are clearly responsible and dedicated people, were not able to benefit from the changes that the Government intend to enact.
Commons Written Answers (19 Nov 1998)
House of Commons - Written Answers for 19 Nov 1998 Mr. Cox: Question Number  & 
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on the education facilities available to Greek Cypriot children who live in the Rizokarpaso area in occupied northern Cyprus; and if, when the British High Commissioner for Cyprus or one of his officials last visited this area, they visited the Greek Cypriot schools in the area; 
Ms Quin: There is one functioning Greek Cypriot primary school in Rizokarpaso. This school serves Greek Cypriot children from all the villages in the area. There are no facilities for secondary education for Greek Cypriot children in the Karpas. These children have to come to the south of the island to complete their education. Officials from the British High Commission in Nicosia make regular visits to the area. The last such visit on 20 October included a visit to the school, and discussions with the teachers, children and parents. We continue to urge the Turkish Cypriot authorities to cooperate with UNFICYP in respect of their humanitarian mandate towards Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the northern part of the island.