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Cyprus

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit the Republic of Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. [144407]

Mr. Vaz: The Foreign Secretary has no immediate plans to visit Cyprus. However, I hope to visit the island in March.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Ministers from his Department have visited northern Cyprus since May 1997. [144406]

Mr. Vaz: My right hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Ms Quin), the then Minister for Europe, visited northern Cyprus in April 1999, as part of a wider trip to the island. During her visit to the north of the island she met Mr. Denktash, and party leaders Mr. Akinci and Mr. Talat.

I plan to visit Cyprus in March.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has recently had with Greece and Turkey on the proximity talks on Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. [144400]

Mr. Vaz: The Secretary of State meets his Greek and Turkish counterparts frequently. His most recent substantive discussions with them on Cyprus took place at the OSCE Ministerial Meeting in November.

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Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met President Clerides of the Republic of Cyprus. [144408]

Mr. Vaz: The Foreign Secretary last met President Clerides on 12 March 1998 at the EU Birmingham Summit. The Prime Minister met President Clerides on 10 April 2000 in London. The Foreign Secretary and I met the Cyprus Foreign Minister, Mr. Kasoulides, in London on 3 October and 29 September respectively.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with Mr. Rauf Denktash on freedom of the press in northern Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. [144412]

Mr. Vaz: The UK has made it clear to the Turkish Cypriots at various levels that we expect the rights of Turkish Cypriots, including the freedom of the press, to be respected. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who Her Majesty's Government's representatives will be at the next meeting of the United Nations' sponsored proximity talks on Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. [144402]

Mr. Vaz: The United Kingdom is not party to the United Nation-sponsored talks on Cyprus. However, we follow developments closely and Sir David Hannay, UK Special Representative for Cyprus, is likely to meet the parties during the next meeting. The UK urges all involved to co-operate with the UNSG's efforts to reach a just and lasting settlement.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with Mr. Rauf Denktash regarding the legal action taken against Turkish Cypriot opposition politicians and journalists in northern Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. [144413]

Mr. Vaz: The United Kingdom has made it clear to the Turkish Cypriots at various levels that we expect the rights of Turkish Cypriots to be respected, including the freedom of the press. We have expressed concern about particular instances, such as the recent case of Mr. Levent, and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Ministers from his Department have visited the Republic of Cyprus since May 1997. [144399]

Mr. Vaz: My right hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Ms Quin), the then Minister for Europe, visited Cyprus in April 1999. The visit included meetings with President Clerides, Foreign Minister Kasoulides, Mr. Denktash, and several Greek and Turkish Cypriot party leaders.

I plan to visit Cyprus in March.

Belarus

Mr. Trend: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent human rights record of the Government of Belarus. [142800]

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Mr. Vaz: The human rights record of the Government of Belarus remains poor in many respects. The political system is oppressive and undemocratic. The judiciary is not independent of the executive. Opposition politicians are harassed and have, in some cases, been subject to politically motivated legal proceedings and harsh sentencing. There is bias in the state mass media. Independent trade unions have suffered unacceptable pressure from the authorities, including having their bank accounts frozen. The Belarusian authorities have failed to investigate satisfactorily the disappearances of several opposition sympathisers. The parliamentary elections on 15 October failed to meet international standards for democratic elections.

Minurso

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British personnel work for Minurso; what is the proposed expenditure for the 2001-02 financial year; and if he will make a statement. [144516]

Mr. Hain: There are currently no British military or civilian police personnel working for Minurso. The United Nations 2000-01 projected budget for Minurso was $49,317,037. They have not yet produced a projected budget figure for 2001-02.

The Government fully support the UN's efforts to bring peace to the region and will continue to work for a just and durable settlement to the region's problems.

Turkey

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussion he has had with the Turkish Government on the recent prison riots in Turkey; and if he will make a statement. [144580]

Mr. Vaz: Neither I nor my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has discussed this issue with the Turkish Government. We regret the loss of life and injuries during the Turkish police operations, and our concerns about the handling of the police operations have been raised with the Turkish authorities by our officials.

Belize and Guatemala

Dr. Marek: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the boundary between Belize and Guatemala; and what action he will take in the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of Belize. [144569]

Mr. Battle [holding answer 8 January 2001]: The UK continues to support Belize's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We remain committed to the long-standing British undertaking to consult internationally in the event of a threat to Belize's security and to play an appropriate part in any response. This has been the UK's position since the withdrawal of the British garrison from Belize in 1994.

Settlement of the dispute is in the interests of all concerned. We are pleased that confidence-building measures have been agreed by Belize and Guatemala under

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the auspices of the Organisation of American States. We believe it is essential that these discussions continue and that there is early progress on implementation.

EU Council

Mr. Casale: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union for January and the major European Union events for the period 1 February to 30 June. [145522]

Mr. Vaz: To date we have received the detailed agendas for the following Council meetings in January:














The following are the principal events in the EU between 1 February and May 2001 (certain relevant events are also included: the list is based on the information available at the date of issue.)

DateVenueEvent
February
8-9BrusselsJHA Informal Council
12BrusselsECOFIN Council
12BrusselsEducation/Youth Council (possible)
12BrusselsResearch Council
15-17BrusselsInformal Employment/ Telecommunications Council
19-20BrusselsAgriculture Council
25BrusselsInformal Trade Minister dinner
26-27BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
March
6BrusselsEmployment and Social Affairs Council
8BrusselsEnvironment Council
12BrusselsECOFIN Council
12BrusselsInternal Market/Consumer Council
15BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
16BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
19BrusselsAgriculture Council
19BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
20BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
20-21BrusselsFisheries Council (possible)
23-24StockholmEuropean Council
March/April
31-1BrusselsMeeting of Environment Ministers
April
5-6BrusselsTransport/Telecommunications Council
8-10BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
8-10BrusselsAgriculture Council (Informal)
24-25BrusselsAgriculture Council
May
5-6BrusselsGymnich
7BrusselsECOFIN Council
7BrusselsEmployment and Social Council (possible)
14-15BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
14-15BrusselsIndustry and Energy Council
22-23BrusselsAgriculture
28-29BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
28BrusselsEducation and Youth Council
30BrusselsDevelopment Council
31BrusselsHealth Council
June
5BrusselsECOFIN Council
5BrusselsInternal Market/Consumer Council
7-8BrusselsEnvironment Council
11-12BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
11BrusselsEmployment/Social Affairs Council
15-16GothenburgEuropean Council
18BrusselsFisheries Council (possible)
19-20BrusselsAgriculture Council
19BrusselsECOFIN Council (possible)
21BrusselsCulture Council
25-26BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
26BrusselsResearch Council
27-28BrusselsTransport/Telecommunications Council

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