Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus-TRNC
7 Questions and 7 Answers
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did the Greek Cypriots Persecute the Turks of Cyprus Between
in December 1963, for the next eleven years the Turkish
Cypriots had to seek survival in violent and traumatic conditions.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
do the Parties Stand in Terms of a Negotiated Settlement?
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
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.
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.
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.
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"
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
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.
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.