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Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus-TRNC

Cyprus: 7 Questions and 7 Answers

Cyprus in the period 1571-1959
Cyprus which was ruled by different suzerains, but which never in its entire history came under Greek rule, was conquered by the Ottomans in 1571 and ruled by them until 1878. Under Ottoman rule the Turks and Greeks of Cyprus lived in peace and harmony, despite their differences in terms of ethnicity, religion, language, culture and communal traditions. Unlike the Venetians, who were the previous rulers of Cyprus, the Turks enabled the Greek Cypriot population to flourish in all fields. In 1878, Great Britain assumed the provisional administration of Cyprus. In 1914, when the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War, Cyprus was unilaterally annexed by Great Britain. Turkey formally recognized this annexation with the signing of the Peace Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

Although the Turks and Greeks of Cyprus peacefully co-existed under the Ottoman Turkish administration, their relationship began to deteriorate following the take-over of the island by Great Britain. Under British rule, the Greek-Orthodox Church campaigned for the union of Cyprus with Greece (Enosis). Starting from the mid-1950s, this campaign was given support by Greece. EOKA was established as an underground terrorist organization to achieve this aim. Thus, the Enosis movement took a turn for violence, ostensibly against the British, but in fact with the objective of uniting the island with Greece. EOKA violence claimed British and Turkish Cypriot lives. From 1955 to 1958 Turkish Cypriots were driven away from mixed villages and their houses were burnt down. Greek and the Greek Cypriot coercion, killing and intimidation, however, failed to achieve its aims. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots strongly opposed Enosis. Geopolitically, Cyprus was of great importance for the national security of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots refused to accept Greek dominance and regarded Enosis as neo-colonialism. Britain, as the colonial power, also resisted Enosis and declared that the Turkish and Greek Cypriots were equally entitled to freely determine their own future. In the meantime, Greece made several attempts to exploit the UN as a means of realizing Enosis. However, the UN General Assembly did not support Greek demands designed to achieve annexation under the guise of self-determination, but urged a peaceful and just solution among the parties concerned.

What Happened in 1959-1960
After causing much suffering to achieve Enosis, the Greek government realized that neither Turkey or the Turkish Cypriot people, nor Great Britain or the UN would consent to the union of Cyprus with Greece. In shaping the destiny of Cyprus, a negotiated settlement remained to be the only way. In the late 1950s the world was undergoing rapid change and the colonies were becoming independent one after another. Britain expressed its readiness to transfer sovereignty jointly to the Turkish and Greek Cypriot peoples for the creation of an independent, partnership state in Cyprus. To achieve this, Britain insisted on retaining sovereign bases in Cyprus and safeguarding the rights of both Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Besides, Britain maintained that she should have the right to intervene along with Turkey and Greece, if there was an attempt to alter the agreed state of affairs.

Against this background, talks were initiated between the Turkish and Greek governments, with the knowledge of the two sides in Cyprus. These talks led to the Zurich Agreement of 1959 which soon afterwards was endorsed in London between five parties, namely, Turkey, Greece, United Kingdom, Dr. K¸Á¸k on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot people, and Archbishop Makarios on behalf of the Greek Cypriot people. On this basis, the constitution of 1960 was negotiated and the Treaties of Guarantee, Alliance and Establishment were concluded. When the five-party Treaties were signed, Great Britain transferred sovereignty to the two peoples on the island. Thus, the Republic of Cyprus came into being as an independent partnership state.

These arrangements were based on the equality and partnership of the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in the independence and the sovereignty of the island. 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. Neither party had the right to rule the other, nor could one of the partners claim to be the government of the other. Basic articles of the constitution and the Treaties safeguarded the rights of the two equal peoples.

In addition to the internal balance thus created between the two constituent peoples of Cyprus, the Treaties also established an external balance between the two respective motherlands. In this connection, Turkey and Greece would not be able to obtain a more favorable political or economic position than the other over Cyprus. As part of these balances the 1960 Agreements prohibited the membership of Cyprus in any international organization or pacts of Alliance in which both Turkey and Greece were not members.

Enosis and partition were expressly prohibited. Since the two peoples had special and close ties with their motherlands, both Turkey and Greece were given the right to station military contingents in the island. Turkey, Britain and Greece undertook to guarantee this state of affairs. Finally, as a result of the Cyprus Agreements, Britain retained sovereignty over two military bases.

Why and How Did the 1960 Order Collapse?
As established in 1960, the Republic of Cyprus was not a unitary state but a political partnership. It was hoped that the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots, as the two peoples of the island and new partners, would be able to live peacefully together. But this expectation was not fulfilled. The Greek Cypriots and Greece did not give up their ambitions and designs. They regarded independence merely as a springboard for annexation of the island to Greece. The Greek Cypriot leadership continued to campaign for this "objective" and sought to unlawfully bring about constitutional amendments which would negate the partnership status of the Turkish Cypriots. This would clear the way for annexation by creating in effect a Greek Cypriot state, with a Turkish minority.

Since the pursuit of such goals were prohibited under the constitution and the guarantee system of 1960, they could only be achieved by defying and destroying the legitimate order. This meant the use of force to overtake the joint-State and to force the other partner into submission. Greek Cypriot and Greek designs and the use of force to achieve their unlawful aims led to the collapse of the partnership system. As a result of the Greek Cypriot armed attacks, the bi-national Republic, as envisaged in the international Treaties, ceased to exist in December 1963. The breakaway Greek Cypriot wing of the partnership state usurped the title of " Government of Cyprus". The Turkish Cypriots who never accepted this seizure of power, began to set up a Turkish Administration to run their own affairs.

How Did the Greek Cypriots Persecute the Turks of Cyprus Between 1963-1974?
Starting in December 1963, for the next eleven years the Turkish Cypriots had to seek survival in violent and traumatic conditions. Nearly 30.000

Turkish Cypriots who were forced out from their homes became refugees in enclaves which corresponded to a mere 3% of the territory of Cyprus. In these enclaves the Turkish Cypriot people lived under what the UN Secretary-General called, in his reports to the Security Council, "veritable siege", with no freedom of movement and deprived of basic necessities to survive.

The Greek Cypriots, with Greek military assistance, raided isolated Turkish villages and attacked the Turkish Cypriot quarters of the different towns. The armed campaign led to the destruction of 103 Turkish Cypriot villages along with all the mosques and holy places. Hundreds of Turkish Cypriots were murdered, wounded and taken as hostages. In the course of the violence that erupted in 1963, over 200 Turkish Cypriots went missing. Due to immense human suffering, thousands of Turkish Cypriots fled from the island. Those who managed to survive were deprived of their salaries, their land, and their other means of livelihood. The Security Council discussed the situation and decided to dispatch a UN peace-keeping force. This force which was stationed in the island in March 1964 could not however secure the return to normal conditions since power was already in the Greek Cypriot hands.

As part of the Enosis strategy, Greece had secretly sent 20.000 troops to the island in collaboration with the Greek Cypriot leadership. A military junta had assumed power in Greece and differences developed between the junta and the Greek Cypriot leadership over the method of achieving annexation. On 15 July 1974, a coup d'etat took place in Cyprus, planned and executed by Greece, as a short-cut to Enosis. A puppet Greek Cypriot government was formed under a Greek Cypriot gunman. The coup staged by the military junta in Athens resulted in further bloodshed in the form of massacres of Turkish Cypriots and through clashes between anti- and pro-coup Greek Cypriot factions. During the events of 1974 more Turkish Cypriots went missing who remain unaccounted for until today. The Greek Cypriot leader Makarois, barely managing to escape, appeared on 19 July 1974 in the Security Council to accuse Greece of an act of invasion and occupation.

How Did the Situation Change after July 1974?
After consultations with Britain which did not want to take joint action under the Treaty of Guarantee, Turkey intervened as a guarantor power on 20 July 1974 in conformity with its treaty rights and obligations. The Turkish intervention blocked the way to the annexation of the island by Greece, stopped the persecution of the Turkish Cypriots and brought peace to Cyprus. The conditions became ripe for a negotiated settlement for the first time since December 1963.

In February 1975, the Turkish Cypriot people re-organized itself as a federated state in the hope that this would facilitate a federal settlement. The UN Secretary-General was entrusted with a mission of good offices by the Security Council in order to bring the two sides together and facilitate their negotiations on an equal footing. On 2 August 1975, at the third round of the Vienna talks an agreement was reached between the two sides, for the voluntary regrouping of populations. The agreement made it possible for the Turkish and Greek Cypriots to live in two geographically separate areas and under their own administrations. Following 1974, the new set of circumstances contributed to the prosperity of the island. Democracy flourished in both parts of Cyprus.

The high-level agreement of 1977 between the two sides in Cyprus set the goal as the establishment of a new partnership in the form of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. Under the auspices of successive UN Secretaries-General, a number of parameters such as political equality, bi-zonality, bi-communality, property exchange, the continuation of the Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance and the tackling of EU membership after a settlement emerged as a framework for a solution. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side strived for a federation. They maintained that partnership and reconciliation in the island can only be achieved by safeguarding the sovereign equality of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots and the balance between two motherlands vis-a-vis Cyprus.

From 1974 onwards, in defiance of the rule of law and the established principle that federations can only be built between equal partners, the Greek Cypriot side continued with its sovereignty claims over the entire island. This prompted the Turkish Cypriot side to assert its rights by proclaiming the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983.

But the Turkish Cypriot side continued to participate in the UN process and to contribute to the efforts for the achievement of a federal settlement. On the other hand, the Greek Cypriot administration paid only lip-service to the internationally supported proposal of federation and dragged its feet in the talks that were being held under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. The course which the Greek Cypriot side followed, namely its rejection of the 1985-86 UN Draft Framework Agreements, the 1992 UN Set of Ideas and the 1994 Confidence Building Measures, demonstrated that it was out to ignore the framework established through the UN process. Indeed, the defiance against the basic parameters for a solution clearly show that the Greek Cypriot side never foresaw a bi-zonal federal system and that it totally rejects the idea of equal partnership with the Turkish Cypriot side.

Where do the Parties Stand in Terms of a Negotiated Settlement?
In 1990 the Greek Cypriot side unilaterally applied for membership in the EU on behalf of Cyprus as a whole. This application was made in contravention of the law and in complete disregard of the fact that since 1963 there had not been a joint government representative of the entire island. The Greek Cypriot side perceived EU membership as a way of achieving dominance on the whole of the island and ensuring a more favorable position for Greece (a member of the EU) than Turkey ( a non-member) over Cyprus. In fact, the Greek Cypriot side has never concealed that it has initiated the EU membership process to get rid of the above- mentioned internal and external balances that it felt prevented extension of Greek Cypriot control over the Turkish Cypriots. Mr. Clerides, the leader of the Greek Cypriots, saw nothing wrong in telling his people that once "Cyprus" was accepted as a member of the EU, the national cause of Hellenism would triumph as the Treaty of Guarantee would be inapplicable against a member state. He went further by stating that the principles that had so far emerged regarding a bi-zonal, bi-communal settlement would have no status or meaning under EU legislation.

From the very start, Turkey and the TRNC opposed the application made by the Greek Cypriot Administration of South Cyprus as unlawful and illegitimate. They objected on the grounds that this application was done and processed in the absence of a joint authority competent to act on behalf of the whole island. They stressed that the established parameters envisioned that EU membership could only be discussed and agreed upon after an overall settlement. Moreover, Turkey and the TRNC maintained that the 1959/1960 Agreements do not permit Cyprus to join international organizations and pacts of alliance in which both Turkey and Greece do not participate.

The period as of 1990 has been overshadowed by this application. Though fully undermining the UN negotiating process, the Greek Cypriot administration insisted on proceeding with EU membership. Finally, at the Luxembourg Summit of December 1997, the EU decided to open membership negotiations with the Greek Cypriots. The effect of this decision was two-fold. First, it marked the beginning of unilateral and illegal process of Greek Cypriot accession to the Union. Second, the parameters that had evolved for a federal settlement became invalid and inapplicable.

The destruction of the framework for a federal settlement and the relevant parameters brought Cyprus to a new phase. Looking at this situation, the Turkish Cypriots stressed that a fundamental change was required in the mentality and approach of the Greek Cypriots before a new partnership became a viable project. They maintained that the Greek Cypriots, as a first step, should acknowledge the sovereign equality of the Turkish Cypriot side. Later, in August 1998, the Turkish Cypriot side put forward the confederation proposal, which addresses all the legitimate concerns of the parties, including the status of the two sides and the Turkish-Greek balance over Cyprus. It also provides that a policy of accession can be pursued by the joint agreement of the two parties if Turkey is accorded the rights of an EU member with regard to Cyprus. The Greek Cypriot side has so far declined to negotiate on this basis.

Why Greece and the Greek Cypriots do not Want Peace in the Island?
The international community is trying to help the two parties to reach a negotiated settlement ever since the outbreak of the Cyprus conflict in 1963. There is more than one source of division in Cyprus. But the most crucial one is the differences in the aspirations of the two sides. Soon after the creation of the bi-national State of Cyprus in 1960, the Greek Cypriots attempted to eliminate the Turkish Cypriots through ethnic cleansing in order to clear the way for Enosis. They destroyed the 1960 order and turned the joint state into a Greek Cypriot entity by usurping the title of "Government of Cyprus". However, in the face of the strong resistance of the Turkish Cypriots and the stance of Turkey, the Greek/Greek Cypriot camp failed to realize their design of "Hellenizing" Cyprus.

In the period following 1974 it became clear that the Greek Cypriots and Greece have not given up their ambitions of achieving dominance over Cyprus. Despite the bitter events from 1963 to 1974, the Greek Cypriot administration, instigated by Greece, increased its military build-up and provocative activities in the island. The armament efforts were stepped up under the so-called " joint military doctrine". Sophisticated weapon systems were introduced into the Greek Cypriot military arsenal. Air and naval bases for the use of Greece were constructed. All these military activities have further raised tensions and deepened the existing mistrust in Cyprus. In the past, Greek Cypriot arms build-up has only brought about suffering. Then why does it continue? The Greek Cypriot leadership has made it clear that they would never give up the cause of Hellenizing Cyprus and that use of force would not be excluded in attaining this goal.

On the other hand, the Turkish Cypriot side has expressed its readiness for a partnership agreement which safeguards the sovereign equality of the two sides and the balance between Turkey and Greece. But the Greek Cypriots have shown that they do not want a partnership on this basis. And why should they? They have not destroyed the 1960 order in order to share power with the Turkish Cypriots in a new partnership. The Turks want to live as equals. The Greeks want dominance and power over the Turks.

Today, the two peoples of Cyprus are enjoying conditions of peace and tranquility. But the bitter events from 1963 to 1974 are not forgotten. The humanitarian tragedy of the Bosnians and the Kosovars recall the sufferings endured by the Turks of Cyprus. The conflict in Kosovo has also unveiled the open support of the Greek Cypriot administration to the aggressor. The Greek Cypriot community and the church have mobilized their means for the Serbs.


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