Today, the Republic of Cyprus is a modern European democracy with state-of-the-art telecommunication systems which has direct-dial telephone links to nearly all the countries of the world; one of the largest merchant navies in the world with 1 932 registered vessels; and over 1 000 international business companies operating from fully-fledged offices in Cyprus.
The European Union is the main trading partner of Cyprus absorbing over 50% of the latter’s exports and providing over 50% of imports.
Despite the heavy blow inflicted by Turkey’s military invasion in 1974 resulting in the loss of Nicosia International airport and 65% of hotels, the growth of the tourism sector has been vigorous. Today, tourism is one of the major sectors of the Cypriot economy. In 2002, 2.35 million tourists visited Cyprus generating CЈ 988 million in foreign currency earnings. ** CJ1 (Cyprus pound) = € 1.58; US $2.18 (May 2005).
Despite the heavy blow inflicted by Turkey’s military invasion in 1974 resulting in the loss of Nicosia International airport and 65% of hotels, the growth of the tourism sector has been vigorous. Today, tourism is one of the major sectors of the Cypriot economy. In 2002, 2.35 million tourists visited Cyprus generating CЈ 988 million in foreign currency earnings. ** CJ1 (Cyprus pound) = € 1.58; US $2.18 (May 2005).
Cyprus’ salubrious climate, beautiful nature, archaeological wealth, well-educated population, high standards of services offered, and the traditional hospitality of its people make the island a perfect holiday destination.
Significant progress has also been made in the social sphere. In 2001, over 68.4% families owned their own homes. Illiteracy, rate of which was about 20% in 1961, today is practically non-existent. And with regard to higher education, Cyprus ranks very high among developed countries. In the academic year 2003/2004, the total number of Cypriot tertiary students within the country and abroad amounted to 38 480. In 1992, the island acquired its own State University.
Medical care, both public and private, is at a high level and continuously improving. Infant mortality has dropped from 40 per 1000 live births in 1960 to 4,1 in 2003. The average life expectancy has risen from 65 years in 1950 to 81,4 for women and 77 years for men in 2003. The number of persons per doctor has fallen from 1.470 in 1961 to 384 in 2003.
The steadfast commitments to safeguard the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, along with the progress achieved in all fields of activity since the country gained independence, as well as the determination to always be an active and constructive EU partner form the foundations of the Republic’s continuing struggle for the restoration of freedom and justice throughout the territory of the island.
Trying to solve the Cyprus problem and reunite Cyprus, since 1975 the UN has organized several rounds of intercommunal talks and launched a number of initiatives. After having barely begun taking shape, progress, however, has invariably been obstructed by the Turkish side which has sought a settlement that in effect would leave Cyprus divided and hostage to foreign interests, whereas the Greek Cypriot community insists on the genuine reunification of the island, free from foreign interference and with its people enjoying all benefits of EU membership and a reintegrated economy.
The latest effort of the UN consisted in the presentation of the proposals by the UN Secretary-General for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus dispute known as the «Annan plan».
On April 24, 2004, the people of Cyprus was given the opportunity to approve or reject the Annan Plan through separate, simultaneous referenda by the two communities. A clear majority of 75,8% Greek Cypriots rejected the proposed Annan Plan because they felt that the finalised text submitted to the referendum was not balanced and did not meet the greatest concerns of Greek Cypriots regarding security, functionality and viability of the settlement. The majority of Turkish Cypriots (64.9%) voted in favour of the plan. By their vote the Greek Cypriots rejected not the reunification of Cyprus, which remains their primary goal, but only the particular proposed plan because it did not lead to the genuine reunification of the island and the reintegration of its people and economy. Consistently advocating this position, the Cypriot Government has been systematically working to create the necessary conditions for substantive and constructive negotiations, under UN auspices, which would lead step by step to a coherent, constructive and reliable settlement of the Cyprus problem in a new context resulting from the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. The people of Cyprus long for a viable and durable settlement that would enable both Greek and Turkish Cypriots to live amicably with each other as they had done for centuries in the past and enjoy together the benefits of EU membership. In a united country that is an integral part of the European Union, the people of Cyprus would be able to maximize the potential of their cultural diversities and share in the prosperity and peace that will come about.
Accession to the EU was a natural choice for Cyprus, dictated by its culture, civilisation, history, its European outlook and adherence to the ideals of democracy, freedom and justice. Accession to the EU marked the beginning of an era of new challenges, opportunities and responsibilities for Cyprus.
The application of the EU laws and regulations (the acquis communautaire) is suspended in the area under military occupation by Turkey, pending a solution to the division of the island. Meanwhile, the government of Cyprus in cooperation with the EU Commission has been promoting arrangements to facilitate increased economic transactions between the two communities and improve the standard of living of Turkish Cypriots.
While having a lot to benefit from EU membership, Cyprus in turn has a lot to offer as a member of this union of states. Strategically situated at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, Cyprus is becoming an even more important regional business centre, as well as an international communications and transport hub. With its modern infrastructure, robust legal system, tax incentives, low crime rate and well-trained labour force, Cyprus is an extremely convenient regional operations platform for European companies.
Since its accession to the EU, Cyprus has undergone significant structural reforms that have transformed its economic landscape. Trade and interest rates have been liberalised, while price controls and investment restrictions have been lifted. Along with the abolition of monopolies, private financing has been introduced for the construction and operation of major infrastructure projects.
All this gives hope that the new political context created by the accession to the EU will have a positive impact on the progress of efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem – Cypriot reunification and reintegration of the economy within a single country.
The inclusion of Cyprus in the number of countries joining the EU in the next phase of enlargement was confirmed in the statements of the European Council at Corfu (June 1994) and Essen (December 1994). The statement of the Summit in Corfu expressed satisfaction with the considerable progress made by Cyprus towards rapprochement with the EU. It was also confirmed that, in accordance with the UN resolutions on Cyprus and the high-level agreements, any solution of the Cyprus problem ought to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of the country.
The climax of the deliberations to secure the accession course of Cyprus was the decision taken at the Helsinki European Council (December 1999) to dissociate the decision for the accession of Cyprus to the EU from solving its political problem.
At the same time, in March 1998, former President of the Republic of Cyprus Gl. Clerides proposed that the Turkish Cypriot community send its representatives to participate in the negotiations in the composition of the Cyprus delegation. However, the proposal was immediately rejected by the Turkish Cypriot leadership.
Prerequisites for Cyprus accession were as follows:
· participation in certain targeted projects to improve the standard of judicial capacity and administrative management in the internal affairs of the country;
· participation in certain Community programmes;
· assistance related to Technical Assistance Information Exchange Office (TAIEX).
According to the procedural arrangements set by the European Commission, the accession negotiations were to be conducted in two phases. The first phase consisted of the analytical examination of the norms of the various spheres of life and the institutional system of the candidate country (acquis screening) for compliance with the acquis communautaire of the European Union to determine the directions of practical work. The second phase consisted of substantial negotiations on practical elaboration of these directions.
By December 2002, the process was completed and all the chapters were closed.
In March 2003, Mr. Takis Hadjidemetriou, former Member of the House of Representatives, took the place of coordinator of the Harmonisation Process following Mr G. Vassiliou.
From 1977 to 1995, Cyprus and the EU signed four protocols were signed on the granting of financial assistance totalling 210 million euro. The funds were used to finance infrastructure projects, as well as the social and economic development of the country and help to adapt to the EU acquis including bi-communal projects. Besides the financial protocols, the EU assigned additional 57 million euro for the implementation of Cyprus’ pre-accession strategy.
As a full member of the EU, Cyprus participates in the European Union's battlegroups - rapid reaction force. In view of the plans for the demilitarisation of the island, Cyprus will not provide combat troops or artillery. It has offered, however, logistics support and auxiliary services to be placed at the disposal of the EU's military force for its crisis management and peace-keeping operations in the region. Among other things it has offered to make available to the EU a transport company, the military air base in Paphos, its civilian airports and sea ports, telecommunications, reconnaissance facilities, radar equipment, and medical and rescue services.
Proposals submitted by the European Commission on June 3, 2003 included measures for the economic development of the northern part of the island, in particular, the allocation in 2003 of financial assistance in the amount of 12 million euro.
On April 30, 2003, the Government of the Republic, in its desire to give the Turkish Cypriots living in the occupied area the ability of maximizing the benefits which the Republic provides to its citizens in the free territory, including the benefits of joining the EU, announced their own package. These measures, of course, take into account the country's laws, international law and the acquis, but absolutely do not imply recognition of the occupation administration of the northern part of the island.
The package of measures to support the Turkish Cypriot side includes:
· facilitate the movement of goods produced in the occupied area to the territory controlled by the Government;
· the export of such goods to the EU and third countries in accordance with the provisions of the Cyprus legislation and the acquis;
· employment of the Turkish Cypriots in the government-controlled territory;
· Turkish Cypriots access to medical care on the free territory;
· participation by Turkish Cypriots in local and the EU parliamentary elections;
· participation by Turkish Cypriots in international sporting and other events abroad;
· distribution of projects among contractors and subcontractors;
· participation by Turkish Cypriots in the EU research and in other programmes, such as LEONARDO, SOCRATES and the 6th Framework Programme;
· cooperation between local administrations on both sides of the ceasefire line; and
· project funding at the local level in the occupied part of Cyprus.
This position was reaffirmed in the outcomes of the European Council Summit held in Nice on December 9, 2000.
The European Parliament also has taken a clear and firm position on the Cyprus Question. In its resolution of 13 June 2002, it reaffirms that only a single sovereign Cypriot State will be permitted to accede. The European Parliament noted that “State as provided for in the UN Security Council resolutions, i.e. bi-zonal and bi-communal, but it has to be a fully functioning entity at international level and must be in a position to exercise decision-making power.” The European Parliament expressed its firm belief that, “that responsibilities for foreign policy, European policy, economic and monetary policy, citizenship, and security and defence policy must be delegated to a common structure.”
It stated further that “whatever constitutional arrangements the parties may lay down, the acquis communautaire, fundamental freedoms, and human rights must be observed in full, and that exceptions to the acquis resulting from a settlement can be accommodated in the accession framework, whereas there can be no derogation from the principles on which the European Union is founded (e.g. human rights).”
Further, in resolution of September 5, 2001 the European Parliament expressed its support for the formation of “a joint State with a single international personality, sovereign and indivisible, which would have a single citizenship and guarantee fundamental freedoms and human rights.” The European Parliament also reiterated UN Secretary-General's view that “any solution should be based on international law as set out in resolutions adopted by the Security Council of the United Nations.”
The Cypriot Government is convinced that the accession to the EU could contribute to finding a solution to the political problem, and this belief is largely shared by the European Union itself.
Cyprus became an independent Republic on 16 August 1960. Unfortunately, as a result of the Turkish invasion in July 1974, in violation of the UN Charter and fundamental principles of international law, and continuing occupation of part of the island, the Republic remains forcibly divided. The dire consequences of the military aggression and the subsequent occupation of nearly forty per cent of the territory of the sovereign country are felt today by the people of the new member of the European Union. Military occupation, forcible division, eviction and displacement of indigenous people, ethnic segregation, massive violations of human rights, colonization, the destruction of cultural heritage and property usurpation carried out by Turkey since the very beginning of the intervention – this is the status quo on the island since 1974. Aspiring to membership in the European Union, Turkey still stands guilty of international aggression against the member state of the Union. The continuing military occupation of part of the territory of Cyprus by the foreign state and the forcible division of this independent, sovereign country are, of course, unacceptable, and this status quo must be redressed by the international community.
In 2006, over thirty years later, the Cyprus Question or, as it is commonly referred to, the Cyprus Problem remains unresolved, an affront to the international legal order and a threat to regional stability. Turkey' s actions have been condemned by unanimous UN Security Council resolutions, UN General Assembly resolutions, international court decisions, and decisions by other major international and regional organizations. Regrettably, most of these resolutions and decisions remain unimplemented, thereby undermining the credibility of international institutions and of the international legal and political order. As a result, the Republic of Cyprus remains forcibly divided and occupied, the only such country in Europe since the end of the Cold War. It is imperative that the plight of a small and weak country like Cyprus be redressed.
On May 1, 2004, the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union without, unfortunately, achieving the desired goal of accession as a unified country. The government and people of Cyprus, however, remain committed to a viable settlement that would allow the genuine, peaceful and secure reunification of their country, in conformity with European norms. Only then will all Cypriots be able to benefit from EU membership.
Addressing the 60th session of the UN General Assembly (September 18, 2005), Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos noted that on April 24, 2004 the Greek Cypriot people rejected the UN proposed plan on Cyprus because it «did not provide for and could not bring about the reunification of the country, its society, economy and institutions…» The President also expressed his government's gratitude to the Secretary-General's “mission of good offices” on Cyprus and called for a sustained peace process that:
· Would facilitate a negotiated settlement without any arbitration
· Would involve the active contribution of the European Union in the negotiation process
· Would put to referendum only an agreed settlement endorsed by the leadership of the two communities
· Would allow the negotiation process to continue to fruition without deadlines dictated by exogenous elements
· Would endorse a negotiated settlement that satisfies the concerns and expectations of the people of Cyprus and not the interests of foreign powers on the island
· Would achieve a settlement consistent with the concept of single reunified state, without abnormally long transitional periods for its implementation
· Would provide for a functional, working democracy that will not require exceptionally taxing efforts for basic governance.
In addition, the President expressed the hope that Turkey's EU accession process would «radically shift its mentality» and thus, ipso jure, «rid the Cyprus problem of some of its most intractable components and facilitate a settlement». In conclusion, the President reiterated his commitment to a bizonal, bicommunal federal Cyprus in line with the high-level agreements of 1977 and 1979 between the two Cypriot communities that meet relevant UN resolutions, the EU acquis communautaire, all rules, laws, regulations, decisions, agreements and international law.
From the Declaration of Independence through the Turkish Invasion, 1960-1974
On August 16, 1960, under agreements signed by Greece, Turkey and Britain in the spring of 1959 in Zurich and London, Cyprus became an independent Republic. Those agreements, which ended 82 years of British rule following a four-year Greek Cypriot uprising and repeated appeals by Greece to the UN General Assembly on behalf of Cyprus, were in effect imposed on the Cypriots. Even though they signed those agreements, Cypriot leaders had no serious role in their drafting.
Peaceful development and sovereignty of the Republic were soon infringed by foreign interference due to the divisive nature and rigidity of key provisions of the Constitution. A stumbling block in the work of the democratic Government was the right to veto repeatedly used by Turkish Cypriots when discussing budget and taxation issues. Consequently, in November 1963, President Makarios proposed a number of constitutional amendments for discussion intended to improve the functioning of the Republic. The government of Turkey rejected outright the proposed amendments, and the Turkish Cypriot leadership followed suit.
On December 21, 1963, a minor incident was used by Turkish Cypriot extremists to instigate inter-communal clashes. In a pre-arranged plan, these clashes led to the withdrawal of Turkish Cypriot ministers from the Cabinet, of Turkish Cypriot members of the House of Representatives, and of Turkish Cypriot civil servants from their respective functions in the government of the Republic.
Early in the spring of 1964, in the face of a looming threat by Turkey against Cyprus, the government of the Republic brought the matter to the UN Security Council. The Security Council unanimously adopted resolutions 186 of March 4, 1964 and 187 of March 13, 1964, the basic principles of which have guided international actions on Cyprus ever since. These resolutions:
• Established the UN Secretary-General's “mission of good offices” aiming at a peaceful solution on the basis of an agreed settlement in accordance with the UN Charter
• Created the UN peacekeeping force on Cyprus (UNFICYP)
• Reaffirmed the sovereignty and continuing existence of the Republic of Cyprus
• Reaffirmed the continuity of the government of the Republic of Cyprus
Despite calls by the Security Council to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic of Cyprus and to abstain from the threat of use of force against it, Turkish air forces bombed villages in Cyprus in August 1964 and Turkey threatened to invade in the same year and in 1967. On March 26, 1965, UN Commissioner Galo Plaza issued one of the most significant reports ever on Cyprus (S/6253). The Plaza report questioned the functionality of federalism demanded by the Turkish side due to the hardship and inhumane nature inherent in forced displacement of population; was critical of disproportionate minority vetoes; and saw the protection of the rights of minorities in international instruments such as the European Convention. Turkey renounced the report and its recommendations.
The government of Cyprus took various measures to restore normalcy on the island. Steps were taken to end violence between communities and significantly reduce the tension between them. The government also offered economic incentives to Turkish Cypriots, whom their leaders had forced to move to Turkey-controlled enclave, to return to their homes. In 1968, the government initiated talks with the Turkish Cypriots under UN auspices for an amended constitution. These talks had achieved considerable progress and, according to some reports, were close to success, when they were interrupted by the tragic events of 1974.
The 1974 Turkish Invasion and its Consequences
On July 15, 1974, the military junta ruling Greece carried out a coup against the democratically elected government of Cyprus. Using this criminal act as a pretext, Turkey five days later managed to land their troops on the island. Despite calls by the UN Security Council, in a two-phase invasion Turkey occupied 36.2% of the sovereign territory of the Republic and forcibly expelled more than 142 000 Greek Cypriots from their homes. Another 20.000 Greek Cypriots who remained in the occupied areas were eventually also forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge in the safety of the government controlled areas. By 2005, only about 500 enclaved Greek Cypriots remained in the occupied areas, primarily in the Karpas peninsula.
Turkey has systematically deprived the displaced Greek Cypriots of their right to return to their homes and properties. This has given rise to appeals to the European Court of Human rights. The Court has issued numerous decisions on Turkey' s violations of the European Convention (see “Legal decisions on the Cyprus Question”).
In addition to the economic devastation caused by the invasion and the forcible displacement of population, over 4 000 persons were killed during the invasion, while 1 476 Greek Cypriots remain missing. Turkey refuses to account for their fate.
Turkish occupation brought economic downfall to that part of the island which prior to 1974 was the richest and most developed. Turkey introduced the inflated Turkish lira as the currency of the occupied areas and brought in administrators to manage the Turkish Cypriot economy. Bad economic conditions in Turley and the systematic colonization of the occupied area by settlers from Anatolia have forced Turkish Cypriots to emigrate to Europe and elsewhere. The settlers currently outnumber the indigenous Turkish Cypriots by about 2:1. Independent observers, in particular Alfons Cuco and Jaako Laakso, documented this issue for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 1992 and 2003 respectively. Finally, there are over 43 000 heavily armed troops from Turkey deployed in the occupied areas.
In violation of international law and UN resolutions, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership have systematically attempted to eradicate the Greek cultural heritage in the occupied areas. Towns and villages have been given Turkish names, while archaeological sites, churches and cemeteries have been looted, damaged or converted to other uses (see “Legal decisions on the Cyprus Question”).
In November 1983, Turkey initiated and endorsed the unilateral declaration of independence in the occupied area by the Turkish Cypriot leadership. The so-called «Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus») («TRNC») has not been recognized by anyone other than Turkey which exercises virtual control over it (see “Legal decisions on the Cyprus Question”). UN Security Council resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1884) have condemned this unilateral action, have declared it invalid and have called on all UN member-states not to recognize this illegal entity. The EU and all other international and regional organizations have adopted the same position. For all legal and political purposes, the international community recognizes only the republic of Cyprus created in 1960 and its government, even though the government cannot currently exercise its authority in areas under military occupation by Turkey.
Issues Under Discussion, 1974-2005
Despite the relevant resolutions unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council, the Cyprus problem and other issues related to military intervention and occupation remain unresolved. The aim of the negotiations, especially since January 16, 2002, was the search for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. Throughout this process, the government of Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot leadership sought a solution which would reflect democratic norms, the UN Security Council Resolutions, international law, European Union law and relevant court decisions. Specific issues under discussion included:
• The implementation of UN Security Council resolutions and the high-level agreements that call for a bizonal, bicommunal federation;
• A new power-sharing formula under a federal government with adequate powers for effective governance, for safeguarding the unity of the Republic, and for meetings its international and EU obligations;
• A Republic with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship;
• Safeguard for the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic and the exclusion in whole or in part of union with any other country or any form of partition or secession;
• Political equality between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities as defined in relevant Security Council resolutions;
• No foreign interference and no unilateral right of intervention by another country;
• Withdrawal of foreign forces under relevant UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions;
• The return of displaced persons and a property recovery system in conformity with the European Convention and court decisions;
• The right to acquire property and reside without restrictive quotas based on ethnic or religious criteria;
• Full respect for the human rights of all Cypriots under the European Convention;
• The repatriation of illegal settlers to Turkey, except for limited humanitarian cases;
• The compatibility of any settlement with the obligations and rights of the Republic of Cyprus in the EU;
• The complete demilitarization of the Cypriot state.
Seeking a Negotiated Solution, 1974-2005
As a result of UN Security Council resolution 367 of March 12, 1975, the Secretary-General's mission of good offices resumed. Since then, intermittent negotiations under UN auspices have taken place. They entered a more sustained phase in the fall of 2000. In addition, there have been high level meetings between successive presidents of the Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriot leaders, negotiations on rapprochement, proposals were made for confidence building measures, and various plans by UN and other foreign emissaries were presented. All these actions have failed to resolve the Cyprus problem for a number of reasons, among which:
• failure to implement UN Security Council resolutions;
• the predominance of third-party strategic, economic and political considerations over a viable and functional solution that would satisfy the concerns of both the state of Cyprus and all Cypriots;
• the intransigent policy of successive governments in Turkey who claim that the Cyprus problem was “solved” in 1974;
• the political conditions in the Turkish Cypriot community and insistence by Turkish leaders on the recognition of the so-called “TRNC”;
• the fact that all major concessions in the peace process came from the Greek Cypriot side
June 20, 1999, seeing the lack of progress of the UN Secretary-General’s «mission of good offices», the G8 leaders called on the parties to meet, without preconditions, to discuss all the issues and to negotiate until a settlement based on the full implementation of relevant UN resolutions and agreements is reached. In support of this formula Resolution 1250 of the UN Security Council of June 29, 1999 was also adopted. The process, having gone through various stages, culminated in the UN proposal known as the “Annan Plan”, which was first submitted to the parties in November 2002 and subsequently, in its final form (“Annan-V”) in March 2004.
The negotiation process under the auspices of the United Nations, 2002–2004.
February 11, 2014, Nikos Anastasiades, President of the Republic of Cyprus, and Dervis Eroglu, the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot community, adopted the Joint Declaration which reaffirmed the basis for a settlement of the Cyprus problem (bizonal bicommunal federation) and clarified the methodology to be followed in the negotiating process.
This period was marked by more vigorous efforts of the UN Secretary-General under good offices mission aimed at achieving a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. All earlier efforts, especially those of 1999-2000, deadlocked over the Turkish Cypriot demand, supported by Turkey, for recognition of their illegal “state” in the areas of the Republic occupied by Turkey.
The direct talks between President Glafkos Clerides, on behalf of the Greek Cypriot Community, and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash which started on January 16, 2003 failed to make substantive progress. In an attempt to secure an agreement by December 12-13, 2002 Copenhagen EU Summit, Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented on November 11, 2002 a detailed plan for a comprehensive settlement (Annan-I). After reaction by the parties were known, the plan was revised twice – on December 10, 2002 (Annan-II) and on February 26, 2003 (Annan-III).
The Secretary-General asked to meet with the leaders of the two communities at the Hague on 10 and 11 March 2003 to find out whether they were prepared to submit his latest proposals to separate and simultaneous referenda. The newly elected president of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, agreed, provided the Cypriot public was offered a complete legal and political settlement framework for their consideration; Greece and Turkey had reached an agreement on vital security issues; and there was adequate time for discussion and a public campaign prior to the referendum. The Turkish Cypriot side, with strong backing from Turkey, rejected the proposal of the Secretary-General.
On 14th of January and 26th of February 2003, massive Turkish Cypriot demonstrations took place in the occupied areas against Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and his Ankara supported policies. On April 16, 2003, the Republic of Cyprus, as was expected, signed the EU Treaty of Accession.
On April 23, 2003, under growing public Turkish Cypriot opposition and international pressure following the Turkish rejection on the UN proposal (Annan III), Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership were forced to partially lift restrictions, which they had imposed since 1974 along the UN ceasefire line, on the movement of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Since then, thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been crossing regularly the ceasefire line. In addition, thousands of Turkish Cypriots cross daily, some to work in the free areas, some to claim passports and other documents issued by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus, and others to receive free medical care. These peaceful crossings have destroyed the myth cultivated for years by Turkish propaganda that the two communities cannot live together. But, obviously, these peaceful crossings are no substitute for a comprehensive solution.
The U.S. government was eager to capitalize on the readiness of the Greek Cypriot side to participate in new negotiations on the basis of Annan-III, and on the consensus that emerged in meetings with Turkey's premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington, in January 2004. The U.S. then convinced Secretary-General Kofi Annan to call for a resumption of negotiations in New York.
On February 13, 2004, it was agreed by the parties that negotiations in good faith would commence in Nicosia for changes that fell within the parameters of Annan-III. In case of continuing deadlock, even after the involvement of Greece and Turkey in process, Kofi Annan, exercising his discretion, would finalize a text which would then be presented in separate and simultaneous referenda to the two communities on Cyprus.
This was a significant change in the Secretary-General's mission of good offices as it had been conceived since 1964. Without Security Council authorization, the Secretary-General assumed the power of arbitration as a precondition for the new round of talks. In accepting this formula, the Greek Cypriot side assumed that the secretariat would maintain its objectivity and commitment to fundamental UN principles. They were proven wrong. By the time of the Buergenstock talks late in March 2004, the Secretariat became a partial to the dispute by promoting most of Turkey's positions on the Cyprus problem.
The change in the Secretary-General's role, coupled with extremely tight negotiating deadlines and Turkey's intransigence, contributed to the absence of serious negotiations both in Nicosia and in Buergenstock, Switzerland. In order to gain Turkey's consent, nearly all of her demands were incorporated arbitrarily in the two plans (Annan-IV and V) presented by the Secretary-General. Annan-V was presented to the two sides on March 31, 2004. Turkey and the United Nations agreed to grant the EU only an observer status in the talks, while the EU made the commitment to accommodate the derogations from European law that were included in Annan-V. The Secretary-General's plan was a comprehensive document of nearly 10 000 pages (http://www.cyprus-unplan.org/). It should be noted that this complex legal document was not available in its totality on the UN website until hours before the referendum. Cypriots were called to vote on the document on April 24, 2004, only days before the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU on the 1st of May.
Negotiations between the two communities were interrupted in October 2014 by unlawful seismic surveys by Turkey within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus. These Turkish actions were a flagrant violation of the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus over its Exclusive Economic Zone and shelf, as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and relevant rules of customary law.
Once Mustafa Akinci was elected the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community in April 2015, and Turkey had desisted from illegal seismic surveying in the EEZ of Cyprus, agreement was reached on the resumption of intercommunal talks on May 15, 2015.
Since then, the negotiations have unfolded in an overall improved and more positive climate, and the two sides have reached a common understanding on a number of important issues related to the chapters of governance and power-sharing, property, economy, and the EU. However, significant differences still remain in the aforementioned chapters, while two further chapters of decisive importance, namely territorial readjustments and security and guarantees, as well as on other issues, which are fundamental and constitute an integral aspect of the comprehensive settlement, have not been discussed yet.
On June 8, 2016 the two leaders agreed on intensifying their efforts in the coming months with a view to achieving more early progress through targeted and in-depth discussions.
Turkey’s contribution in real and tangible terms to these efforts remains a prerequisite for the successful conclusion of the negotiating process, as Turkey continues to exercise control in the occupied area of Cyprus through the illegal stationing of more than 40 000 troops, the continuing influx of settlers from mainland Turkey, and the severe economic dependency of the occupied areas on Turkey.
The Republic of Cyprus expects that Turkey will grasp the opportunity offered by the current positive climate and will abandon its intransigent position by taking into consideration the interests of all Cypriots and the stability and prosperity of the wider Eastern Mediterranean area. To this end, Turkey must immediately terminate the occupation in Cyprus, safeguard the unity of the country and contribute to the restoration and respect of human rights for all Cypriots.
The 24 April 2004 Referenda – the Will of the People
Following a spirited public debate, the Greek Cypriot voters, by a vote of 75,8% overwhelmingly rejected Annan-V, while, in contrast, 64,9% of the Turkish Cypriot voters approved the plan. It is noteworthy that settlers from Turkey made a significant percentage of the Turkish Cypriot community vote.
The Greek Cypriot “no” vote should not be interpreted as a vote against reunification or reconciliation. It was an expression of rejection of a process that led to a unilateral settlement which was perceived as unacceptable for the legitimate rights of the Greek Cypriot community and the survival of the State of Cyprus as a whole. It was a rejection of a plan that did not provide for the genuine reunification of Cyprus, its people and its economy. This negative vote came from Creek Cypriots of all ages, political parties and gender.
The positive Turkish Cypriot vote is easy to explain:
• it was a rejection of the authoritarian policies of Rauf Denktash
• it was motivated by the anticipated economic benefits of EU membership and of the economic support of the Greek Cypriots
• hope for the recognition of the Turkish Cypriot illegal «State»
• nearly all settlers from Turkey would be legitimized and remain in the Turkish Cypriot component state
• permanent presence of troops from Turkey on Cyprus would be legitimized
• it would legitimize the right of Turkey to intervene in Cyprus
Киприот-гректердің теріс жауабын түсіндіретін заңды себептердің арасында:
• Rigid negotiating deadlines, no real time for discussion of a most complex legal document, and threats expressed or implied by some of the interlocutors if the Greek Cypriots did not accept the UN plan;
• Major derogations from the European Convention of Human Rights depriving all Cypriots of fundamental rights, while other EU nationals residing in Cyprus would enjoy all their rights under the Convention;
• The internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus would be “dissolved” and replaced by a loose confederation of two largely autonomous states;
• The functionality of the new state would be questionable in view of the provisions on changes in the powers of the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches, and the presence of enhanced minority vetoes. Non-Cypriot third parties not related to the people of Cyprus would cast deciding votes in key policy areas;
• The confederal nature of the proposed constitution was reflected in the absence of a provision on the hierarchy of laws. This carried the risk of jurisdictional conflicts, which would accentuate the divisive nature of the proposed new polity;
• The absence of adequate guarantees to ensure that the commitments undertaken by the parties and particularly by Turkey would be carried out;
• The economic cost of the proposed settlement (convergence, reconstruction, property compensation to settlers, monetary policy) would be largely borne by the Greek Cypriots. Turkey, whose military aggression divided the island, was absolved of any financial responsibility for its actions in Cyprus;
• Security issues involving the gradual reduction and continued presence of Turkish troops with expanded intervention rights even after Turkey joins the EU. The “United” Cyprus was excluded from the common European defence policy and would be totally demilitarized. Turkey's proposed guarantees violated the obligation of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states and the respect of the territorial integrity of all states;
• Issues of citizenship definition and the fact that nearly all settlers from Turkey would remain in Cyprus;
• The property provisions of the plan violated essential rights under the European Convention and overturned important European Court precedents;
• The plan expanded Britain's rights in the sovereign base areas and in the Republic' s territorial waters;
• The plan deleted the ratification by the Republic of Cyprus of the 1936 Montreux Treaty (Cyprus is a major maritime power). It also granted Turkey near veto rights on the continental shelf of Cyprus;
• The plan violated the European Convention by denying the right of Cypriots to acquire and live wherever they chose, as other EU nationals could, without restrictive based on ethnicity and religion.
Finally, the plan was rejected because it was judged by the great majority of Cypriots not to be the best for the common interest of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. “The only real beneficiary of this plan would have been Turkey”, President Papadopoulos stated after the referendum, explaining that “while all demands by Turkey were adopted in the final Plan on the last day, basic concerns of the Greek Cypriot side were disregarded. All involved in the talks were anxious to bring Turkey on board and ensure a “yes” vote by the Turkish Cypriot community, and ignored the fact that the biggest Greek Cypriot community also needed to be convinced to vote “yes” on the Plan. Thus, this process failed to address the legitimate concerns, needs and interests of both sides.”
Where Do We Go from Here?
Even though the latest UN effort did not resolve the Cyprus problem, the referendum was not the “end of the road”. As President Papadopoulos said, “The result of the referendum must act as a catalyst for reunification and not as a pretext for further division.” The Greek Cypriots and the government of the Republic are committed to reaching a solution that will provide a prosperous and secure future for all citizens and ensure respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots within the EU.
Many in the international community were unfamiliar with the detailed provisions of Annan-V and its implications on the future of the State of Cyprus and its citizens. It was, therefore, not surprising that they expressed disappointment with the outcome of the referendum. What was actually regrettable and disappointing, was that the Plan presented to the people did not allow both communities to endorse it. Whereas other parties simply wanted “a solution” or “a closing up” of the Cyprus problem as quickly as possible, the Greek Cypriots have always insisted on achieving a comprehensive, functional and viable solution that would stand the test of time. A solution that is viable and can withstand the test of time must be both fair and be perceived as such by the people who will have to live with it. Thus, no solution can succeed if it does not address the legitimate concerns that prevented the Greek Cypriots from approving the plan presented to them on 24 April 2004. The fact that Cyprus is a small and week state makes it even more imperative that all Cypriots enjoy the fundamental rights that all other EU nations enjoy under European law and the European Convention, and that there is no discrimination based on ethnicity or religion.
In May 2005 a personal envoy of the President of the Republic met with UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Sir Kieran Prendergast in New York. In several meetings they reviewed the views of the government of the Republic on both the procedure and the substance of any future talks under the good offices mission of the Secretary-General. Following these meetings, Mr Prendergast visited Cyprus, Greece and Turkey between May 30 and June 7 for further consultations. The Under-Secretary, reporting to the Security Council on June 22, indicated that it would be “prudent to proceed very carefully” and that the UN Secretary-General “intends to reflect on the mission of good offices in the period ahead”. It was apparent that no common ground existed yet to enable the resumption of a new round of negotiations.
President Papadopoulos himself exchanged views with the Secretary-General in New York on September 16, 2005 concerning the preparation of a renewed effort on Cyprus by the UN. The Secretary-General also met with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, on October 31, 2005. In his report to the Security Council on 20 November 2005, the Secretary-General noted that both leaders and representatives from many countries urged him to consider holding new talks in the context of his good offices mission. He further stated that President Papadopoulos “concurred that, for the next round of talks to resume, it must be well prepared”. Reiterating his belief that “only the achievement of a comprehensive settlement will bring an end to the Cyprus problem”, the Secretary-General nevertheless concluded that the time was not ripe to appoint a full-time person dedicated to his good offices mission on Cyprus and that the conditions surrounding the resumption of negotiations “necessitate further clarifications”. The Secretary-General indicated that he would continue to assess the situation through ad hoc missions in the area by senior officers from the Secretariat and the UN Chief of Mission in Cyprus.
February 28, 2006, UN Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan and President Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos met in Paris to review the situation in Cyprus and examine modalities for moving forward on the process leading to the reunification of the island», as was said in the joint statement read out to the press after the meeting.
The statement also indicated that the participants of the meeting «agreed, as they have in the past, that the resumption of the negotiating process within the framework of the Secretary General’s good offices must be timely and based on careful preparation». It was noted also that “to that end the Secretary General was pleased to note that the leaders of both communities have agreed that bicommunal discussions on a series of issues, agreement on which is needed for the benefit of all Cypriots, will be undertaken at the technical level.” Further, the Secretary-General and President Papadopoulos expressed «their common hope that these discussions would help restore trust between the two communities as well as prepare the way for the earliest full resumption of the negotiating process.
The Turkish Cypriot leadership, with Ankara's backing, has attempted to use the positive Turkish Cypriot vote on Annan-V to attain the upgrading and de facto recognition of the so-called “TRNC”. They have also attempted to use the humanitarian argument of ending the “economic isolation and disparity” of the Turkish Cypriot community to gain international support for their actions. Based on earlier statements by the Secretary-General, Annan-V would be implemented only if both sides ratified it in separate and simultaneous referenda. Any moves leading to the de facto recognition of the occupied areas would undermine regional stability and would not lead to the reunification of Cyprus.
The economic backwardness of the occupied areas is real, but it is not the result of actions taken by the Government of the Republic of Greek Cypriot community. European court decisions (see “Legal decisions on the Cyprus Question”) imposed restrictions on export from the occupied areas. Moreover, Turkey brought in the settlers; Turkey introduced the valueless Turkish lira as the currency of the occupied areas in 1983; and Turkey brought in Turkish bureaucrats to manage the economy of the occupied areas. The Turkish Cypriot leaders have also rejected EU assistance and the implementation of trade regulations in their attempt to gain de facto recognition of their illegal regime. Turkish Cypriot political and economic isolation is the result of Turkey's aggression on Cyprus which keeps the country and its economy forcibly divided. It is also the result of misguided policies by the Turkish Cypriot leaders who have consistently promoted Turkey's interests at the expense of their own community and of Cyprus as a whole.
With the support of the Republic of Cyprus, the European Council, on December 17, 2004, decided to invite Turkey to open accession talks with the EU on October 3, 2005. On July 29, 2005 Turkey signed, as required, the Customs Union Protocol with all ten new EU members. However, Turkey declared that its signature does not imply the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, nor does it imply any change in its relations with the illegal regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus, the so-called “TRNC”. Furthermore, Turkey still refuses access to its ports, airports and air corridors to aircraft and ships from the Republic of Cyprus. This awkward and anomalous situation, where an EU candidate state refuses to recognize one of the EU members who will be voting on Turkey' accession prospects, will need to be rectified. Turkey's obligations toward Cyprus have been made clear in the EU Declaration of September 21, 2005 and reiterated in the revised EU-Turkey accession partnership document of December 13, 2005. Accordingly, Ankara must now submit an action plan outlining ways in which it intends to implement its EU obligations including toward Cyprus with regard to the Protocol and normalization of relations.
Legal Decisions on the Cyprus Question
Legal decisions by Regional and National courts in Western Europe, in the US and in the United Kingdom provide an important independent record of the consequences of Turkish 1974 invasion and its continuing occupation of Cyprus. They also affirm the legitimacy of the Republic of Cyprus and of its government. These decisions constitute an important foundation for any future comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
· Cyprus vs. Turkey (6780/74) and (6959/75) – European Commission of Human Rights, 1976
In a joint report (1976) under former article 31 of the European Convention, Turkey was found to have violated articles 2 (Right to life), 5 (Liberty and security of person), 8 (respect for private and family life, home, etc.), 13 (effective remedies for violations of rights and freedoms), and article I of Protocol I (peaceful enjoyment of possessions). On January 20, 1979, the Committee of Ministers adopted resolution DH (79) calling for the enduring protection of human rights through intercommunal talks leading to a solution of the dispute.
· Cyprus vs. Turkey (8007/77) and (6950/75) – European Commission of Human Rights, 1983
The Commission, under former article 31 of the European convention, found Turkey in breach of its obligations under article 5 (liberty and security of person), article 8 (respect for private and family life, home, etc.) and article I of Protocol I (peaceful enjoyment of possessions). On April 2, 1992, the Committee of Ministers adopted resolution DH(92)12 in respect to the Commission's report and made the 1983 report public.
· Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus vs. Goldberg & Feldman Fine Arts Inc., 917 F.2d278, US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Decision of October 24, 1990
By its decision, the Federal Circuit Court of appeals affirmed the verdict of August 3, 1989 of the US District Court in Indianapolis. The case involved the ownership of plundered 6th century mosaics from the Church of Kanakaria in the occupied part of Cyprus. The mosaics had been removed by Turkish antiquities smugglers and sold to an American art dealer for $1,2 million. The mosaics were returned to their legitimate owner, the Church of Cyprus. This decision set an important precedent in the US for the protection of cultural property. Even though it has ratified the 1954 and 1970 UNESCO conventions on the protection of cultural property, Turkey has done little to stop the vandalism, destruction and plunder of Greek Cypriot cultural property in areas controlled by the Turkish army.
· Court of Justice of the European communities – Case C-439/92, July 5, 1994
The court ruled that only important and phytosanitary certificates issued by the competent authorities of the Republic of Cyprus could be accepted by the European Community member-states. The ruling acknowledged that the only Cypriot state recognized by the European Community is the Republic of Cyprus. Import and phytosanitary certificates issued by Turkish Cypriot “authorities” are excluded because the “entity such as the established tin the northern part of Cyprus … is recognized neither by the community nor by the member states”.
The Court of Justice looked into the matter at the request of Britain's High Court following a case filed in the United Kingdom by Cypriot exporters of citrus fruit and potatoes. The High Court requested an interpretation of relevant provisions of the EC-Cyprus Association Agreement of 1972 and of the EC Council Directive 77/93/EEC. Britain' s High Court affirmed the Court of Justice decision in November 1994. This important decision recognized the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole of the island with regard to its relations with the European Community.
· Loizidou vs. Turkey – European Court of Human Rights, December 18, 1996 and July 28, 1998
The European Court of Human Rights found the applicant, Ms. Titina Loizidou, a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus, remained the legal owner of her property that was located in the areas occupied by the Turkish army. The Court made three judgments: on March 23, 1995 on preliminary objections; on December 18, 1996 on the merits of the case; and on July 28, 1998 on “just satisfaction”. In a precedent-setting decision, the Court regarded Turkey as an occupying power responsible for the policies and actions of the authorities in the occupied areas. The Turkish Cyprus “authorities” were described as Turkish “subordinate local administration”.
Turkey was found in breach of article I, Protocol I of the Convention by its continuous denial to the plaintiff of access to her property and by its purported expropriation without compensation. On July 28, 1998 the Court ordered Turkey to pay damages to Ms. Loizidou. Turkey's refusal to comply with the judgment resulted in resolutions by the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe. These resolutions deplored Turkey's non-compliance, reminded Turkey of its acceptance of the Convention and of the Court's compulsory jurisdiction, and called on the Council to take appropriate steps to enforce compliance. With decisions pending on Turkey's EU application, Turkey, in December 2003, did pay the sum of 641 000 Cyprus pounds (approximately $ 1.5 million) to Titina Loizidou.
· Cyprus vs. Turkey, Application No. 25782/94 – European Court of Human Rights, May 10, 2001
This is the most far reaching decision on the applications filed by the government of the Republic of Cyprus against Turkey. The decision affirmed the earlier interstate applications by Cyprus under former article 31 of the Convention (July 10, 1976 and October 4, 1983). The earlier cases had documented various violations of the Convention by Turkey since the 1974 invasion.
By majority votes this decision determined:
I. That Turkey was in continuing violation of articles 2,3 and 5 of the Convention by its failure to conduct effective investigations into the whereabouts and the fate of Greek Cypriots missing persons.
II. That by its refusal to allow any Greek Cypriot displaced persons to return to their homes, Turkey was in continuing violation of article 8 of the Convention. Similar continuing violation of Article I, Protocol I (denial of access, control, use, enjoyment of property rights); and article 13 (absence of effective remedies for the property rights of displaced Greek Cypriots).
III. Turkey violated the rights of Greek Cypriots living in “Northern” Cyprus; This includes violations of Article 9 (respectful treatment); Article 10 (censorship of school books); Article I Protocol I (right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions); Article 2 (no appropriate secondary school facilities); Article 3 (discrimination amounting to degrading treatment); Article 13 (absence of remedies).
IV. Violation of Turkish Cypriot rights in the occupied areas under Article 6 (trial of civilians by military courts).
In addressing the case, the Court also affirmed the Loizidou vs. Turkey case (1996 and 1998); the illegality of the proclamation of the so-called “TRNC” in 1983 and its “constitution” (1985); the earlier decisions on the interstate applications filed by the Republic of Cyprus (6780/74, 6950/75 and 8007/77). The Court held Turkey responsible for all these violations as it had “effective overall control of Northern Cyprus”. The Court also affirmed that the government of the Republic was the sole legitimate government on the island.
· • Admissibility Decision, Xenidis –Arestis v. Turkey, (Application No. 46347/99) European Court of Human Rights, 6 April 2005
In a unanimous decision, a Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights declared admissible the application of Ms. Myra Xenides-Arestis. The applicant complained of a continuing violation of her rights under article 8 of the Convention (right to respect for home), and of article I, Protocol I (protection of property). Turkish military forces have deprived her of her right to property and home. The applicant also claimed that Turkey' actions constitute a violation of article 14 of the Convention (prohibition of discrimination), because she is a Greek Cypriot and Greek Orthodox. Without prejudicing the merits of the case, the Court rejected the presence of “domestic remedies” in the occupied areas. It also noted that because of the rejection of the UN plan for the reunification of the island (Annan-V, 24 April 2004) by the Greek Cypriots, its property provisions could not enter into force.
Currently, there are at least 33 additional property cases that have been declared admissible by the Court.
The people of Cyprus voted on Annan-V in a free and democratic way. The Greek Cypriots – the majority community on Cyprus – overwhelmingly rejected the seriously flawed plan because it failed to address properly a number of fundamental concerns, including security, thereby endangering the very existence of the state of Cyprus. Bur as President Papadopoulos pointed out “the rejection of the Annan Plan is no victory for anyone”. The Greek Cypriots rejected a process and a specific plan. They did not oppose a solution to the Cyprus problem. In fact, the search for a viable and functional solution will go on within the parameters that have guided the talks until now and the new political context created by the accession of Cyprus to the EU, in order to safeguard the rights of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike. In this manner, all Cypriots will fully enjoy the benefits and advantages of EU membership, contribute to the process of European Unification, and bring about the reunification of their country after more than three decades of artificial division.
Cyprus remains forcibly divided since 1974, when Turkey militarily invaded and subsequently occupied nearly forty percent of the sovereign country’s northern territory. Through the military operation, Turkey has implemented a geographic separation of the population of Cyprus along ethnic lines, by expelling the Greek Cypriots out of their homes in the occupied areas and forcing the Turkish Cypriots to move out of their own homes into the areas occupied by Turkish troops.
The forcible division of Cyprus and the illegal prohibition of movement across the UN ceasefire line, imposed by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, led to a relative “isolation” of Turkish Cypriots, depriving them of government services and other benefits and opportunities available to all Cypriot citizens irrespective of ethnic origin.
The purported secession of the occupied areas from the Republic of Cyprus through a “Unilateral Declaration of Independence” to establish the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” [”TRNC”] in 1983, exacerbated the situation. The international community immediately and categorically condemned this secessionist move, while the UN Security Council itself declared the act “legally invalid” and called for the withdrawal of the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). Subsequently, the Council called on all states not to assist or cooperate in any way whatsoever with the secessionist entity. It also called upon all states not to recognize any state on Cyprus other than the Republic of Cyprus.
Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot leadership created additional problems for Turkish Cypriots through their secessionist policies..
On the one hand, they were not allowed to carry official documents of the Republic of Cyprus, which they were entitled to as citizens of the Republic, or make use of services and facilities, including the legal ports and airports of entry and exit on the island. On the other hand, their own leadership forced Turkish Cypriots to carry documents issued by an illegal regime, not recognized by the international community, thereby restricting their international transactions and creating serious legal and other problems for them.
Following the failure of the “Annan Plan-V” in the 2004 referendum, because the majority of Cypriots felt that the proposed Plan did not satisfy the fundamental concerns of both communities, there has been talk about ‘easing’, ‘lifting’ or ‘ending’ the isolation of Turkish Cypriots and bridging the “economic disparity” between the two communities on the island. Regrettably, this has led to widespread misinformation and some questionable proposals, ostensibly to change the situation. Turkey even misled some in the international community into believing that the Government of Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot community are, somehow, responsible for the predicament of the Turkish Cypriots.
The Turkish side has used this novel approach of easing Turkish Cypriot “isolation” to divert attention from Turkey’s ongoing aggression on Cyprus in view of Ankara’s EU aspirations, and to upgrade politically the illegal regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus.
In essence, they have been seeking to secure, for Turkey’s subordinate local administration in occupied Cyprus, economic attributes of an independent state without formal international recognition. This would allow the illegal regime in occupied Cyprus to operate, but without any incentive for the reunification of the island.
In order to gain international support for their actions, Turkish leaders have adopted, as their main argument, the misleading slogan of “ending the economic isolation” of Turkish Cypriots when, in fact, their goal has been all along political.
But any moves promoting the de facto recognition of the illegal secessionist entity would be in direct violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions, especially resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984). Such moves would also undermine efforts for the reunification of Cyprus, which is the declared position of the UN, the EU and the international community at large, as well as of the two Cypriot communities themselves.
The plight of the Turkish Cypriot community is the direct result of Turkey’s aggression on Cyprus, which keeps the country, its people, its institutions and its economy forcibly divided. It is also the result of misguided policies by Turkish Cypriot leaders who have consistently promoted Turkey’s interests at the expense of their own community and of Cyprus as a whole. It is certainly not the result of any action taken by the Government of the Cyprus, which has sovereignty over all Cyprus, and which abides by its obligation to defend its sovereign rights and the rule of law.
The record clearly shows that the military occupation of Northern Cyprus by Turkey has victimized both communities on the island, in different ways, and is, along with the Turkish Cypriot leadership that is answerable to Ankara, directly responsible for whatever sense of “isolation” Turkish Cypriots may have experienced.
• Turkey keeps the island, the two communities, its institutions and its economy separated, thereby preventing normal interaction and transactions by Turkish Cypriots within Cyprus and abroad and depriving them of essential services provided by the Government.
• • Turkey has, until recently, prevented Turkish Cypriots from acquiring passports, identity cards and other official documents that all Cypriot citizens are entitled to and which facilitate travel as well as other essential activities and transactions in Cyprus and internationally. These documents allow Turkish Cypriots to enjoy EU benefits such as study, work and live anywhere within the Union, and enjoy diplomatic and consular protection in third countries.
• Turkey has flooded the occupied areas with more than 160.000 illegal settlers from Anatolia creating economic, social, demographic and, ultimately, political problems for the Turkish Cypriots and for Cyprus as a whole. Low-paid settlers from Turkey, who currently outnumber Turkish Cypriots by two to one, pushed Turkish Cypriots out of their own labour market causing much of their relative economic deprivation.
• Turkey introduced the Turkish lira in the occupied areas in 1983, causing high inflation and other serious economic and social problems for the Turkish Cypriots. This and other similar steps designed to integrate the economy of the occupied areas with that of Turkey, subjected Turkish Cypriots to many of the disadvantages of the Turkish economy.
• Turkey has controlled the economy of the occupied areas through conditional aid, direct instructions and management, creating an inefficient and corrupt system, with disastrous results for the Turkish Cypriots.
• Turkey has since 1980 been behind the rejection by Turkish Cypriot leaders of confidence- building measures, including several concerning trade, because, although resulting in benefits and ending the “isolation”, such measures would not promote the international recognition of the illegal regime in occupied Cyprus.
• Turkey is behind the rejection by Turkish Cypriot leaders of substantial financial assistance from the EU for the Turkish Cypriot community and the implementation of trade regulations and other constructive proposals by the Government of Cyprus that would greatly benefit Turkish Cypriots.
• Turkey created the illegal situation in Northern Cyprus that led to European Court decisions, which have determined restrictions on exports from the occupied areas of Cyprus; and, it is this illegal situation, which prevents the implementation of the EU acquis communautaire in Northern Cyprus.
• Turkey prevents the export of Turkish Cypriot goods and services through the legal ports and airports in the government-controlled areas. The Government of Cyprus has even offered special arrangements to Turkish Cypriots for this purpose at Larnaca Port, but their leadership and Ankara discourage them from availing themselves to these facilities.
In other words, Turkey prevents Turkish Cypriots from realizing their full potential and enjoying the benefits and opportunities emanating from their status as citizens of Cyprus and the EU.
The Government of Cyprus was concerned about the economic situation of Turkish Cypriots long before the Annan Plan. It has demonstrated its good intentions toward their economic development and welfare through the adoption of practical and tangible policy initiatives designed to benefit the people directly.
Clearly, only the genuine reunification of Cyprus that provides for the reintegration of its people and economy can improve the situation of the Turkish Cypriots, allow them to realize their full potential and share the benefits of EU membership. The top priority of the Government, therefore, is to end the artificial division of Cyprus.
But even under the prohibitive conditions of military occupation and division, the Government has always extended to Turkish Cypriots, where possible, a number of essential services, including free supply of electricity, pensions and social security benefits, and sharing of international economic and other assistance secured by the Government of Cyprus. It has also provided protection for Turkish Cypriot properties in the government-controlled areas.
Repeatedly, however, the Turkish Cypriot leadership and Ankara rejected proposals by the Government of Cyprus that would have benefited Turkish Cypriots. For example, the invitation to the Turkish Cypriot community to join the Cyprus delegation for the EU accession negotiations was turned down by their leader, depriving them of the opportunity to participate in that important historic process.
The Government also proposed and strongly supported the EU Regulation on Financial Assistance of 259 million euro to benefit the Turkish Cypriot community. Unfortunately, there were efforts by others to attach political and other stipulations for its release. Significantly, it is again the Turkish Cypriot leadership, backed by Ankara, which has denied Turkish Cypriots much of that substantial economic assistance by forfeiting half of the funds, and by risking losing the rest as well.
The Cyprus Government has been better able to provide services to Turkish Cypriots since the partial lifting in 2003 of illegal restrictions imposed by the Turkish side on the free movement of people across the UN ceasefire line.
Turkish Cypriots have since been able to work, in increasing numbers, in the government-controlled areas, earning income estimated at more than 700 million dollars so far, and enjoy an expanded range of benefits, including free medical care. Their economy has also benefited greatly from the millions of crossings by Greek Cypriots and foreign tourists to the occupied areas.
There have been more than 10 million crossings of people and nearly 3 million crossings of vehicles across the ceasefire line since 2003.
The substantial increase in economic activity and trade across the ceasefire line since 2003 has been a major factor in the rising per capita income of Turkish Cypriots, which has more than doubled in the last two years to about $11.000.
These peaceful, incident-free crossings have also destroyed the myth cultivated for years by Turkish propaganda that the two communities cannot live together and must therefore be kept separated.
In order to facilitate increased transactions between the two communities, the Government has proposed further steps: the opening of at least eight additional crossings points along the ceasefire line; the clearing of minefields along the buffer zone; the disengagement of military forces from the walled part of the capital city of Nicosia and others.
While steadfastly promoting efforts for a comprehensive settlement to the division of Cyprus, the Government also continues a systematic policy designed to foster trust and reconciliation between the two communities and to promote conditions for the ultimate reunification of Cyprus. The Government has already implemented a series of such tangible measures that have yielded visible results.
Policy initiatives by the Government, unilaterally or in cooperation with the EU (such as the EU Green Line Regulation), facilitate inter-island trade for agricultural goods produced by the Turkish Cypriot community as well as their export through legally operated ports and airports of Cyprus. Regrettably, the Turkish Cypriot leadership, always backed by Ankara, refuses to implement many of these measures for political considerations, thereby depriving Turkish Cypriots of additional significant economic and other benefits.
The Turkish side seems to hold out for the prospect of external “direct trade” through illegally operated ports and airports in occupied Cyprus, an idea not justified by economic considerations, but pursued as a political goal to promote the secessionist regime. In this context, “direct trade” has become a code term for an effort to legitimize an illegal situation in the territory of Cyprus, an EU member-state, where the EU has suspended the acquis communautaire because the area is under military occupation by Turkey.
“Direct trade” and “direct flights” through ports and airports operated by the secessionist regime in occupied Cyprus are contrary to the rule of law, in violation of Cyprus’ sovereign rights, and counterproductive in the efforts to achieve a genuine reunification of Cyprus in the context of a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
The reintegration of Turkish Cypriots into the international community can be accomplished, legally and comprehensively, only through the effective reunification of Cyprus and not through the upgrading of the illegal regime in occupied Cyprus, which is Turkey’s subordinate local administration.
There are legal and more effective ways to advance both the economic development of Turkish Cypriots, and the reunification of Cyprus, for the benefit of all its citizens. A number of such proposals, including the opening and joint operation by the two communities of the Port of Famagusta under EU supervision, proposed by the Government of Cyprus, are on the table for the Turkish side to consider.
The constructive approach of the Government of Cyprus toward the Turkish Cypriot community will continue and will help to strengthen the foundations for reunification and reconciliation.
It is therefore imperative that those in the international community, who genuinely wish to contribute to the economic development of Turkish Cypriots, and the cause of reunification of Cyprus, do so in cooperation with the Government of Cyprus and in ways that violate neither the rule of law nor the sovereign rights of Cyprus.
Only the reunification of Cyprus and the reintegration of its economy can adequately address the political and economic welfare of the people of Cyprus as a whole.
Encouraging separatist tendencies in the occupied areas under the false banner of “ending the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots,” or other politically motivated schemes currently promoted by Turkey, will do little to enhance the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community.
To the contrary, such ideas divert attention from Turkey’s continuing aggression against Cyprus that keeps the island divided and from Ankara’s failure to abide by its obligations to the EU, including the opening of its ports to ships carrying the Cyprus flag. They also inhibit the political will and discourage initiatives to address the core issue at hand, which is the solution to the division of Cyprus. As such, these proposals help to solidify the illegal situation created by Turkey in Northern Cyprus, victimizing Turkish Cypriots even further. They also set back the cause of reconciliation and lasting peace on the island and in the region.
The Government of Cyprus will continue to expand its integrative policy initiatives unilaterally and in cooperation with the EU Commission and its EU partners while pursuing a viable settlement on Cyprus that will reunify the country and its people, reintegrate its economy and satisfy the fundamental concerns of all its citizens.
As Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos stated “What we demand is very reasonable and what we aim for is self-evident: We demand and aim for the reunification of our country and our people in the framework of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation; a state with one economy, a cohesive society and non-fragmented institutions. We demand and aim to safeguard our fundamental rights and basic freedoms. We demand a solution which can be workable and lasting in order to serve the interests and rights of all Cypriots and not of other countries.”