British National Archives: Callaghan “Not Prepared” to Give Evidence on Talks with Turkey Before Turkey’s 1974 Invasion

A limited number of files on Cyprus, dating back to 1976, have been included in the latest release of Foreign Office archives in London.

The files include a letter by the then Foreign Secretary James Callaghan, (dated 28 January 1976) to the head of the Parliament’s Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, with regard to the terms of reference of the Select Committee on Cyprus.

The Committee had just been reappointed following its previous examination (from August to November 1975) of the events that led to the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Callaghan expresses his disagreement with the “ambitious programme of work” of the Select Committee, and especially the intention of its members to quiz him “about events during the Cyprus crisis of 1974.  This includes ‘what Mr Ecevit had said to the Secretary of State about giving the Turks a free run’.”

He thought that “there was a general feeling that if ministers were to give evidence to such Select Committees, they should not normally go further than they would be prepared to do in addressing the House as a whole.”

In his view, the widened terms of reference of the Select Committee “would make even more difficult if not impossible the chances of getting some progress on the complicated Cyprus problem.”

Therefore, he makes clear in no uncertain terms that he “would resist any attempt to call for papers about diplomatic business on Cyprus including our negotiations with the previous Turkish Government” and that he would not be prepared to give evidence on what passed between Ecevit and himself during the period when the former was Prime Minister of Turkey, that is during the invasion in Cyprus.

Callaghan penned a similar protest letter to his Prime Minister.

(Source: AMNA)


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