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1979-1987 - Mr Major’s Written Question on Council of Ministers

Below is the text of Mr Major’s written Commons question regarding the Council of Ministers, made on 20th June 1979.


Mr. Major asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the results of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Nine on political co-operation held on 18 June.

Sir Ian Gilmour The Foreign Ministers met on political co-operation on 18 June. They discussed the conference on security and co-operation in Europe, current problems in the Middle East, and South East Asia My right hon. and noble Friend briefed his colleagues on the present state of the five Western Powers' initiative on Namibia, and on recent developments affecting Rhodesia.

In their examination of the prospects for the conference on security and co-operation in Europe review meeting to be held in Madrid in 1980, Ministers reaffirmed their wish to play a constructive role in conjunction with their allies and other friendly countries. They agreed that the conference on security and co-operation in Europe was a key element in the process of detente. Ministers also agreed to seek a better application of the Helsinki Final Act.

Ministers of the Nine made the following statement on the Middle East: The Nine have examined the situation in the Middle East. 1. They recall, in accordance with their previous declarations, in particular those of 29 June 1977 and of 26 March 1979, that a just and lasting peace can be established only on the basis of a comprehensive settlement which should be based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and on:

- the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force;

- the need for Israel to end the territorial occupation which it has maintained since the 1967 conflict;

- respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of every State in the region and their right to live in peace within secure and recognised borders;

- recognition of the fact that, to establish a just and lasting peace, account will have to be taken of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including their right to a homeland.

2. The Nine deplore any action or declaration which might stand in the way of the quest for peace. They consider, in particular, that certain attitudes and declarations of the Israeli government are such as to create obstacles in the search for a comprehensive settlement of this kind. Notably:

- Israel's ultimate claim to sovereignty over the occupied territories, which is incompatible with resolution 242, which laid down the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force;

- the policy of the establishment of settlements pursued by the Israeli Government in the occupied territories, which is illegal in international law.

3. As regards the Lebanon, the Nine support its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. They deplore all acts endangering the security of the population and hindering the restoration of the authority of the Government of the Lebanon throughout the whole of its territory and particularly in the south of the country. Gravely concerned at the difficulties which UNIFIL, to which some of the Nine contribute, is encountering in carrying out its mandate they appeal to all parties to respect the decisions of the Security Council. The above are the comments which the Nine wish to make at this moment. They reserve the right to return to all of these questions at a later date.

Ministers of the Nine made the following statement on the problem of refugees from Indo-China: The Ministers expressed their concern at the serious problems posed by the massive and continuously growing exodus of refugees from the Indo-China peninsula. They decided to approach the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees immediately to ask that an international conference should urgently be convened, under the aegis of the United Nations, with a mandate to study practical solutions to these problems with the parties concerned. They emphasised the importance of strengthening and sharing more equitably among the international community the efforts on behalf of the refugees which are at present being carried out by a limited number of countries. They expressed their intention of approaching in this conference with the desire, within the limits of what was possible for them, to contribute to the solution of this humanitarian problem, which concerns the whole international community. They agreed also to make a demarche on this subject, in all its aspects, to the government of Vietnam. They agreed at the same time to express their concern to other states in the region, in particular to the members of ASEAN with whom they opened a political dialogue in November last year.