Apr 2, 1998

Adjournment – Cyprus


2 April 1998

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12.41 p.m.)—I rise today to draw the parliament’s attention to the potential crisis emerging over the issue of Cyprus. As the parliament would be aware, Cyprus has applied for admission into the European Union and European Union negotiations are occurring at the moment. The Turkish government is attempting to derail the Cypriot entry into the European Union and I hope that the EU negotiators judge the application on its merits. I think that, if that occurs, there is no doubt that Cyprus will be accepted as a full member of the EU.

Turkey has responded to this by threatening to annex northern Cyprus into the Turkish state if the EU agrees to Cypriot membership. I think that that, whilst it should not be all that surprising, is an extremely dangerous and volatile move. In the northern part of Cyprus 37 per cent of the island is occupied by some 35,000 Turkish troops. The northern part of the island only survives on the basis of being propped up financially by the Ankara regime. They already share telecommunications facilities and currency with Turkey. The response of Rauf Denktash, the leader of the bogus regime in northern Cyprus, to reject the Cyprus government’s offer to allow for Turkish Cypriot representation in the EU negotiations highlights the fact that they are not serious about a peaceful resolution to the Cypriot question.

This will be the 24th year since the invasion by the Turkish army. Once again we have a situation whereby Turkey is saying that they will annex, formally and illegally, the northern part of Cyprus. That will then undoubtedly lead to the potential for war in the Mediterranean. That would be a disaster, most importantly, for the Cypriot people whether they be of Turkish or Greek origin. I visited Cyprus on a delegation with the member for Watson (Mr Leo McLeay) and the member for Adelaide (Ms Worth) some 18 months ago. What is clear is that the Cypriot people, regardless of their origin, do want a peaceful resolution to this crisis.

If it is the case that in my electorate of Grayndler and in other parts of Australia—I note that the member for Moore (Mr Filing) is here today and he is a great friend of the Cypriot people—we see Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots living next to each other in harmony as part of our multicultural society, it should surely be possible for a bi-communal solution to the Cypriot question. But what we have is intransigence on the part of the Denktash regime and their masters in Ankara; bullying and threats of coercion against the European Union; and a situation wherein the ethnic cleansing that occurred after the 1974 invasion of Cyprus continues to be the fundamental basis of that regime. That is something that all Australians who support multiculturalism should find unacceptable. It is certainly something that the international community—which, with the exception of Turkey, refuses to recognise the Denktash regime, as it is a renegade regime—should be acting on to ensure that there is a peaceful solution to the Cyprus question, and it should be rejecting the bullying by Turkey over Cyprus’s entry into the European Union.