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Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus-TRNC

Information Note on the Cyprus Issue

Cyprus is an issue involving Turkey's vital national and strategic interests. A great amount of commitment and sensitivity is attached to it both on the public and official level. Our primary consideration with respect to Cyprus, in line with our contractual obligations as a guarantor power, has been the preservation of peace and stability on the island in general and the protection of safety and well-being of the Turkish Cypriot people in particular.

It is a fact that despite a 36 year long UN involvement and numerous rounds of negotiations between the two sides, a settlement in Cyprus has so far not been achievable. As in other cases, dealing with the Cyprus issue requires realism, common sense and a consciousness of the past. While the past should undoubtedly not serve as an impediment to a settlement, its lessons must be taken into full account, if a repetition of its mistakes is to be avoided.

The roots of the Cyprus problem can be traced back to the 1950's when Greek Cypriot and Greek aspirations to achieve Enosis (the island's union with Greece) took the form of a terrorist campaign against the Turkish Cypriots as well as the British colonial rule. Despite attempts by Greece to exploit the issue in the UN, the UN General Assembly did not uphold Greek demands designed to achieve annexation under the guise of self-determination, but urged negotiations among the parties concerned. So when Britain gave Cyprus independence in 1960, a series of sui generis agreements had to be reached designed to compromise the conflicting interests of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, as well as Greece and Turkey.

The "state of affairs" created in Cyprus by the international Treaties of 1960 was one of political and sovereign equality, and the equal constituent status of the two peoples. By virtue of these international Treaties, limited sovereignty had been transferred by the two peoples, conjointly and in partnership, in order to establish the 1960 bi-communal Republic of Cyprus. Under the 1960 Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Greece became guarantors of the new state of affairs which aimed at preventing either one of the two constituent peoples from imposing its political will over the other as well as establishing a fair balance between the two motherlands, Turkey and Greece, vis-a-vis Cyprus.

The 1960 Agreements which gave birth to the "Cyprus Republic" was therefore firmly based on the equality of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots in the independence and the sovereignty of the island. A bi-communal state machinery was created with the effective participation of both sides in all organs of the joint state. Annexation and partition were expressly proscribed. The Greek Cypriots and Greece, however, regarded the establishment of the partnership Republic as a temporary set-back in their ultimate aim of uniting the island with Greece, i.e. Enosis, and attempted to destroy both the internal and the external balances created by the 1960 state of affairs from the very first day they were established. The Greek Cypriots resorted to violence in December 1963 and expelling their Turkish Cypriot partners from all the government organs by force of arms, usurping the state machinery. The Turkish Cypriot people refused to bow to this illegality. Thus, years of unprecedented cruelty, bloodshed and suffering started for the Turkish Cypriot people.

During the 1963-1974 period, hundreds of Turkish Cypriots were murdered by armed Greek Cypriot paramilitaries and a quarter of the Turkish Cypriot population (some 30.000 people) rendered homeless. Hundreds more were abducted or subjected to enforced disappearance, never to be seen or heard of again. Those lucky enough to survive Greek Cypriot atrocities, withdrew into small enclaves, the total area of which corresponded to a mere 3% of the territory of Cyprus, and led a life of refugees, surviving only thanks to Turkish Red Crescent aid. The entire world merely watched all this as a passive spectator for a decade. The UN peacekeeping force sent to the island in 1964 was ineffective and helpless. Greece acted in violation of its Treaty obligations as a guarantor power. Britain also remained indifferent to its obligations under the same status. Turkish Cypriots were relieved from this ordeal and saved from total extermination by the legitimate and timely intervention of Turkey undertaken in accordance with her Treaty rights and obligations in 1974, after the Greeks had made a bloody attempt at the final takeover of Cyprus by Greece through a coup d'etat organized by the junta in Athens and its collaborators in Cyprus.

There can be no greater injustice then trying to portray the Turkish intervention as "occupation". This was both a right and an obligation for Turkey, exercised in restraint after many years of indifference and inaction by the world community. Otherwise, either the ethnic cleansing of the Turkish Cypriots would have been completed or they would have been forced to leave the island for good. Nothing would have remained of the independence of the island.

As from the disruption of the constitutional order in 1963, the two peoples have had their own separate democratically elected administrations. The Greek Cypriot regime, which usurped the title of the "Republic of Cyprus" in 1963, passed itself off as the "government of the Republic of Cyprus" even though in law and in fact it was no longer the bi-communal partnership Republic established in 1960 and its illegal writ had never run over the Turkish Cypriot people . The legitimacy of the 1960 partnership Republic lay in the joint presence and effective participation of both sides in all the organs of the state under and by virtue of the rule of law then established. Neither party had the right to rule the other, nor could any one of them have the right to be the government of the other or represent the Republic in the absence of the full participation of the other in all the organs of the state. The international community, however, continued to treat the de facto Greek Cypriot administration as if it were the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus. This unjust practice lacking legal basis continues to date and is in complete disregard of the international treaties governing Cyprus. It constitutes the main impediment standing in the way of a negotiated solution.

It was only after the Turkish intervention that, for the first time after 1963, Greek Cypriot violence could be brought to an end and a serious search undertaken for a negotiated settlement. An agreement for voluntary exchange of populations was reached between the two sides and implemented by the UN. Regrouping of the Turkish Cypriots in the north and the Greek Cypriots in the south of the island and the new set of circumstances of the 1974 contributed to the flourishing of democracy in both parts of the island. The two peoples of Cyprus established their own administration, in their respective territories, strengthened their democratic structures and prospered economically. The institutional organization of the Turkish Cypriot people developed through various stages and culminated in the setting up of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983.

All this experience has shown that the only sure guarantee for the Turkish Cypriots is to live in their own independent state with the effective protection of Turkey. On the basis of this reality, the Turkish Cypriots strived to work-out a final compromise. They proposed the establishment of a federation between the two entities.

The Greek Cypriot side resisted such a settlement, never negotiated sincerely for a federation and frustrated all attempts for an agreed solution. They continued to pursue their goal of extending. Greek Cypriot sovereignty over the entire island and to engineer a return to the pre-1974 conditions. They continued to posture as the government of the Republic of Cyprus, which had been forcefully turned into a purely Greek entity since 1963. They continued to exploit this usurped title against the Turkish Cypriots in international fora. They pursued the outrageous embargo designed to isolate and cripple the Turkish Cypriots. They did not accept the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots, the required bases for a federal solution.

The Greek Cypriot leadership demonstrated a continuous intransigence rejecting numerous UN proposals envisaging a federal settlement. Brushing the repeated warnings of the Turkish Cypriots aside, the Greek Cypriot side with a consistently intransigent attitude, rejected the 1985-86 Draft Framework Agreement, the UN-sponsored Set of Ideas of 1992 as well as the package of Confidence Building Measures of 1994 and many others. This intransigence should demonstrate to all concerned that the Greek Cypriot side is not interested in a negotiated settlement but is out to destroy the very parameters which had been established through the process of negotiations.

With its unilateral and unlawful application for EU membership in 1990, the Greek Cypriot side added a new and crucial dimension to its efforts to frustrate the negotiating process and do away with the parameters which had been developed through hard work over the years. The Greek Cypriot side never concealed that it was using EU membership as a ploy for doing away with the vested rights of the Turkish Cypriot people and for destroying the balance between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus in favour of Greece. The unilateral and unlawful application of the Greek Cypriot regime for EU membership is, void ab initio and cannot be binding on the Turkish Cypriot people or on Cyprus as a whole. The Greek Cypriot administration has no lawful authority or right under the 1960 Treaties to make such an application on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot people or the whole of Cyprus. Consequently, the EU should not have processed it as if it were a valid application.

The EU decision to start accession talks with the Greek Cypriots under the name of Cyprus made a federal settlement unfeasible. Basic parameters such as political equality and bizonality were rendered meaningless given the EU membership perspective. The EU approach ignored the basic provisions of the 1960 Treaties that do not allow the membership of Cyprus in any political or economic union which excludes either Turkey or Greece. Otherwise, Turkish Cypriots would be left without the security provided by Turkey and the external balance established by the 1960 agreements between the two motherlands over Cyprus would be disrupted.

It is obvious that as long as the Greek Cypriot side is unjustly treated as the government of the whole island, it will not adopt a flexible, realistic approach to the Cyprus issue. On the other hand, the decades-old approach adopted by the international community of having negotiations at the level of "the two communities", in the belief that the question of equal status would come about as the final outcome, has failed to produce results. Because the Greek Cypriot leadership, encouraged by the diplomatic and economic benefits of political recognition, lacking any incentive to share power with the Turkish Cypriot side on the basis of political equality, has shown no will to compromise.

It has, therefore, become imperative that a new approach and parameters which reflect the existing realities on the island are determined in order to open the way for reconciliation. The fact that there are two distinct peoples and two separate independent states in Cyprus is an indisputable reality. It is for this reason that any future negotiations should take place, not as hitherto between the "two communities", but between the two sovereign states in Cyprus.

The Turkish Cypriot side, with the aim of paving the way for a settlement based on the realities in Cyprus, took an important initiative on 31 August 1998 and made a proposal envisaging the establishment of a Confederation in Cyprus.

The proposal, in essence, updates the 1960 state of affairs pertaining to Cyprus by preserving the internal balance in and the external balance over Cyprus. These are the main elements for peace in the island and in the Eastern Mediterranean. The proposal reflects realism and vision in that it represents a common future based on full equality, symmetry and unity. This proposal is also consistent with the spirit and underlying philosophy of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, in that:

•It calls for a just and lasting settlement,
•It provides for a freely negotiated and mutually acceptable solution,
•It preserves togetherness and integrity of the island,
•It preserves and confirms the internal and external balances upon which the •1960 system and treaties were based,
•It eliminates partition or division,
•It addresses the EU accession issue.
•In short, the confederation proposal constitutes an important step forward and presents a genuine opportunity to resolve the long-standing Cyprus dispute once and for all.

Despite the constructive approach of the Turkish Cypriot side, Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, without giving it serious consideration, turned down the proposal in haste. Consequently, by rejecting the confederation proposal, the Greek Cypriot side, has once again demonstrated that it prefers going its own way instead of establishing a new partnership structure which safeguards full equality and symmetry between the two peoples of the island as well as the historical balance between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus, as envisaged by international Agreements.

At this stage, what should be done in Cyprus is to help create the basis required for result-oriented negotiations.

The two sides in the island have no institutional links since 1963. They are living under their own respective states and governing themselves separately. These two states should be able to resolve their differences through their own free will. They should arrive at an agreement over the core issues such as property, territory and security. They themselves should decide how they wish to live in the future. Attempts to impose settlement models from outside would only bring grave risks. Enforced co-habitation of the two peoples by way of formulas which do not respond to the realities of the island and thereby risking the re-emergence of ethnic strife and violence cannot be labeled as a good solution. The tragedies in the Balkans have thought us to be absolutely cautious in addressing ethnic conflicts.

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