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Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus-TRNC

An Admission of Exclusion

By Guler Koknar
Former Executive director ATAA-Published in The Washington Times

The European Union now stands at the Rubicon over Cyprus. It will soon decide whether to admit the Greek Cypriot administration in the south, exercising no sovereignty over Turkish Cypriots in the north, under the false pretense of governing the entire island.

An affirmative decision before a mutually agreed solution to a de facto division between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot democratic states since 1963 would be traumatic for the United States, NATO and all the peoples of the region. Whereas, a fair and just solution is staring back at the abyss: namely, unity featuring politically equal Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot statehoods.

A fourth round of direct talks between Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktas and Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides commenced last month. Key to success is recognition in a culminating settlement of statehood for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) neither more nor less than Greek Cypriot statehood. That touchstone is no novelty or aberration on the world stage. Indeed, it is modeled after a two-state agreement between Montenegro and Serbia brokered by the EU itself on March 14, 2002. Similar examples abound in history. The case for distinct Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot statehoods coupled with unity over agreed subjects (e.g., national security, foreign affairs, and currency) that could expand with mutual consent, is irresistible.

The TRNC satisfies time-honored international law standards for statehood. It governs over defined territory populated by the Turkish Cypriot people and is endowed with the capacity to engage in foreign relations. All the more, it does so in a pluralistic democracy mirroring international human rights standards.

A political settlement in Cyprus must enshrine TRNC statehood to comport with international law and to avoid fantasizing that Greek Cypriots have any rule or control over Turkish Cypriots.

Recognition of TRNC statehood is essential to Turkish Cypriot security. If the Greek Cypriot side provoked conflict with Turkish Cypriot side, as happened in 1963-64, 1967, and 1974 seeking illegal union with Greece, its statehood would define the aggression as between two sovereignties within the clear jurisdiction of the United Nations Security Council, not a matter of domestic strife. That would trigger important protections of the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war and the prohibition on territorial acquisition by conquest. Sovereignty recognition of the Turkish Cypriot State would be one of the most effective means of providing the Turkish Cypriots with the sense of security that they need and are entitled to.

Failure to recognize TRNC statehood would also cast a shadow over the laws and actions of its government since the de facto founding in 1963, including title to real and personal property. That sovereignty was compelled when Turkish Cypriots were evicted by brute force from constitutional offices and the Turkish Cypriot people suffered attempted extermination, as then United States Undersecretary of State, George Ball, verified to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Legal stability and fairness are also indispensable to attracting investment and sparking economic growth for the depleted Turkish Cypriot economy.

TRNC statehood recognition is further necessary to reassure Turkish Cypriots that the hearts and minds of Greek Cypriots ungrudgingly accept them as an equal co-partner in a new Cypriot enterprise. Ever since 1963 when Greek Cypriots torched the 1960 equal partnership Constitution of the then Republic of Cyprus, their fierce denial of TRNC statehood has been a code for their aim to dominate Turkish Cypriots. Turkish Cypriots have been consistently denigrated as a "minority" population. This is in stark contrast to the concept of political equality enshrined in the 1960 agreements by which the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot peoples co-founded the Republic of Cyprus. The TRNC cannot risk a Cyprus settlement vulnerable to destruction either instantly or on the installment plan because it was disavowed in Greek Cypriot textbooks and cultural idioms and accepted in the Greek Cypriot political and social cultures. This anxiety is not contrived, but has been stoked by Greek Cypriot violence and treachery from 1963-1974 during which Turkish Cypriots were massacred and plundered under the illegal banner of union with Greece, dubbed "enosis".

Turkish Cypriot insistence on sovereignty should not be misconstrued as an attempt to "pocket and run away with it", as the Greek Cypriot side claims. Just as forcefully, the Turkish Cypriots are also insisting on the continuation of the Treaty of Guarantee which is the strongest safeguard against such eventuality. It is the earnest desire of the Turkish Cypriots for a just and sustainable settlement that prompts them to insist on sovereignty, as a means of achieving rather than preventing it.

The two states with unity solution virtually echoes the EU sponsored agreement between Serbia and Montenegro creating a new state of "Serbia and Montenegro."

Why should Cyprus be treated differently?

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