Ankara, Turkey – Talks over the divided island of Cyprus will be held in New York in the next two months with the participation of the United Nations toward a non-ENOSIS solution process, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
The United Nations has been trying unsuccessfully for decades to reunite Cyprus, split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup. The last attempt collapsed in disarray in 2017 after negotiations attended by all parties.
Only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as an independent state. It does not recognize the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government to the south.
Cavusoglu said Turkey, Greece, Britain – the island’s guarantor powers – and the United Nations would convene the talks with the two Cypriot sides in late February or early March, with the European Union as an observer.
Speaking in Brussels after talks with senior EU officials, Cavusoglu said the bloc had so far “disregarded the rights of the Turkish side”.
“We conveyed to them that this trust needs to be re-established,” he added.
Cyprus’s division has long been a source of friction between Turkey and EU member Greece, which will hold talks January 25, 2021 in Istanbul on a separate dispute over maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey faces the threat of EU economic sanctions over the maritime rights dispute with Greece and Cyprus.
However, the EU and Turkey have both signaled this week that they want to improve relations, which have also been strained by disagreements over migration and Greece’s human rights record on irregular migration.
Cyprus and ENOSIS: Historical Overview
The Greek Cypriots claim that the Cyprus problem was caused by the landing of Turkish troops in 1974 and that if only they would withdraw, the problem would be solved. This is a serious misconception, for the modern Cyprus question began in 1960 and the landing of Turkish troops was the consequence, not the cause, of the problem.
Cyprus is a complex political issue. It ultimately revolves around one fundamental fact: the existence of two distinct peoples on the Island, namely the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots, and their relationship.
The Island of Cyprus, which is geographically an extension of the Anatolian peninsula, has been a land of many conquests due to its proximity to the Middle Eastern countries and its strategic location at the crossroads of East and West. Cyprus has seen a succession of rulers, namely Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders and Turks who ruled the Island as part of the Ottoman Empire from 1571 until 1878. Cyprus has never been a Greek Island.
It is both useful and important to keep in mind that there has never been in Cyprus a “Cypriot nation” due to the distinct national, religious and cultural characteristics of each ethnic people who, in addition, speak different languages. It is also interesting to note that although the two peoples had lived together in the Island for centuries there were practically no inter-marriages and not even a single commercial partnership was set up.
In March 1963 Archbishop Makarios said “The (Independence) Agreements have created a State, but not a Nation.” (The Greek Cypriot Cyprus Mail 28.3.63) This being so, any approach to the Cyprus question which regards Cypriots as one nation would be fundamentally flawed.
There are, in fact, two peoples of Cyprus – the Turkish Cypriots numbering about 200.000 and the Greek Cypriots numbering about 700.000. The Turkish Cypriots are mainly Moslems and the Greek Cypriots are mainly adherents of the Greek Orthodox Church. Cyprus lies 40 miles from the coast of Turkey, and Turkish people have inhabited the island since the 12th century. The Island is 250 miles from the nearest Greek island (Rhodes), and Athens is 460 miles away.
The Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived relatively peacefully until Greece gained its independence from the Ottomans in 1821. The Greek Cypriot agitation for “Enosis” (the union of Cyprus with Greece), perpetrated by the Greeks, was further intensified with the change of administration in Cyprus (from Turkish to British) in 1878. The ultimate aim of the Greeks and Greek Cypriots was to oust the British and annex Cyprus to Greece and in order to Hellenize the entire population of the Island.
The period following the formal annexation of Cyprus by Britain in 1914 can be characterized as the high tide of Greek nationalistic ambitions in Cyprus.
The Greek Cypriots, in conspiracy with Greece, launched a violent campaign for annexing the Island to Greece in 1955. The terrorist organization EOKA, under the guidance of Archbishop Makarios, indiscriminately murdered everyone in their way, the British (the then colonial rulers), the Turkish Cypriots and even some of their kinsmen who were opposed to the idea of “Enosis”.
Today, the Cyprus question can perhaps be summarized as follows: The partnership Republic formed in 1960 between the two peoples of Cyprus broke down in 1963. For the time being, Greek and Turkish Cypriots live apart. Does the future of Cyprus lie in a new political integration or in an arms-length relationship based on willing and active co-operation between the two peoples, each secure in its own sovereign territory and each with its own customs, traditions and identity?
On 15th August 1996 the Daily Telegraph wrote “Turkish Cypriots have constitutional right on their side and understandably fear a renewal of persecution if the Turkish army withdraws. Almost nowhere in the world is there a lasting peace that is not based on people’s rights to govern themselves.”
Everyone who wishes Cyprus well prefers to look to the future but some commentators will readily use the events of 1974 to argue that the present state of affairs is unacceptable. They do not, however, go back to before the 20th of July 1974. Refusal to consider the preceding 15 years means that important legal and political issues wrongly determined in favour of the Greek Cypriots remain as a continuing source of tension between the former partners.
The most important of these issues is the international acceptance of the Greek Cypriot regime as the government of all Cyprus and the refusal to recognise the right of the Turkish Cypriots to establish their own structure. It is therefore necessary to look in some detail at the reasons why the present situation has arisen and why, in consequence, both sides and particularly the less numerous Turkish Cypriots need reliable safeguards for their future.
One of the most remarkable features of the Cyprus question is the extent to which the Greek Cypriots have been able to repudiate solemn international agreements and violate the human rights of the Turkish Cypriots on a massive scale, and yet, by a quite astonishing feat of public relations, have secured for themselves recognition as the government of all Cyprus and have persuaded the world that they, and not the Turkish Cypriots, are the victimized party.
The consequence of this is that they have been able to extract one-sided resolutions from the United Nations and other international organisations, and have been able to secure court judgments based on the fact of recognition which have been immensely damaging to the Turkish Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriots have, for over fifty years, been deprived of an official voice in the world and of the financial resources to match the Greek Cypriots in the presentation of their case to the world community.
For over fifty years – ever since the overthrow of the 1960 Agreement – the Turkish Cypriots and their government have been faced with one of the hardest tasks in the whole range of international affairs – how to get the world to change its mind after it has got hold of the wrong end of the stick and clung to it year after year.
The 1960 Partnership Republic
As the Greek Cypriots continued to demand “Enosis”, the Turkish Cypriots demanded their rightful share of Cyprus and maintained strong resistance to Greek Cypriot ambitions.
When Britain decided to decolonise the Island, in the House of Commons on 19 December 1956 the Colonial Secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd, pledged that “it will be the purpose of Her Majesty’s Government to ensure that any exercise of self-determination should be effected in such a manner that the Turkish Cypriot community, no less than the Greek Cypriot community, shall in the special circumstances of Cyprus be given freedom to decide for themselves their future status.”
Although by then the Greek Cypriots were more numerous, the Turkish Cypriots had lived in Cyprus as a distinct community for more than 400 years. In exercise of their right to self-determination they were willing to join in forming a new partnership Republic, embracing the whole of the Island (less the British sovereign bases) only if that basic fact of political life in Cyprus was formally recognised.
The alternatives to this partnership were: two separate states, a condominium, division of the Island between Greece and Turkey, return of the Island to Turkey under the 1878 Lease, or continued British rule. The negotiations in Zurich and London preceding independence were long and difficult, but it was eventually agreed by way of compromise between all five participants – the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey, the Turkish Cypriots, and the Greek Cypriots – that the new state would be a bi-communal partnership Republic with a single international identity, but a unique Constitution which embodied an agreed political partnership between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and which prohibited the political or economic union of Cyprus with any other state.
As a compromise solution to the conflicting aspirations of the two ethnic peoples, the Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960. The Zurich and London Agreements of 1959 paved the way to a new Cyprus Republic, which was a bi-national partnership State, based on the political equality of the two peoples as co-founder partners of the new Republic. The sovereignty of Cyprus was limited by the guarantor rights given to the two motherlands and the United Kingdom. Therefore, the 1960 settlement was a “sui generis” one.
At the conclusion of the negotiations, the then Greek Cypriot leader, Archbishop Makarios, said: “Sending cordial good wishes to all the Greeks and Turks of Cyprus, I greet with joy the Agreement reached and proclaim with confidence that this day will be the beginning of a new period of progress and prosperity for our country”.
On 6 March 1959, President Eisenhower endorsed the agreement as “a victory for common sense”, an “imaginative act of statesmanship” and “a splendid achievement.” (US Dep. of State Bulletin p.367).
In the first Presidential elections in Cyprus, Mr. John Clerides (father of Glafcos Clerides) stood against Makarios on a platform of opposition to the 1960 Agreements and lost by a majority of two to one of the Greek Cypriot electorate.
The bi-communal structure was fundamental to the 1960 accords on the basis of which the Republic of Cyprus achieved independence and recognition as a sovereign state from the international community. Accordingly, from its very inception, the Republic of Cyprus was never a unitary state in which there is only one electorate with a majority and minority. The two communities were political equals and each existed as a political entity, just as both large and small states exist within the structure of the European Union. They did not, however, have the same constitutional rights because the agreements took into account the fact that there were more Greek Cypriots than Turkish Cypriots.
Knowing that they could not enforce the 1960 agreement themselves, the Turkish Cypriots would never have agreed to join the new Republic if the Greek Cypriots had not accepted a Treaty of Guarantee which gave Turkey a legal right to intervene, with troops if necessary. The parties to the Treaty were the United Kingdom, Turkey, Greece, and the Republic of Cyprus.
Independence was formally granted on 16th August 1960.
As stated above, the case of Cyprus is sui generis, for there is no other state in the world which came into being as a result of two politically equal peoples coming together through the exercise by each of its sovereign right of self-determination, to create a unique legal relationship which was guaranteed by international treaty, to which each of them consented.
In 1960, the two peoples brought about the bi-national state of Cyprus in line with the Zurich and London Agreements of 1959. They together, under agreed terms of cooperation and partnership, shared the legislative, executive, judicial and other functions. Matters which the two peoples had managed on a “communal” basis over the centuries – like education, religion, family law, etc.- were left to the autonomy of the “communal” administrations which had legislative, executive, and judicial authority over such matters. In effect, a “functional federative system” had been established by the two co-founder peoples of the Republic.
It became clear very soon after independence that the Greek Cypriots did not intend to abide by the Constitution, and that their entry into that solemn legal obligation with the Turkish Cypriots and the Guarantor Powers in 1960 had been a deception. On 28th July 1960, the Greek Cypriot President Makarios said “the agreements do not form the goal -they are the present and not the future. The Greek Cypriot people will continue their national cause and shape their future in accordance with their will.”
In a speech on 4th September 1962, at Panayia, Makarios also said: “Until this Turkish community forming part of the Turkish race which has been the terrible enemy of Hellenism is expelled, the duty of the heroes of EOKA [a Greek acronym for “National Organization of Cypriot Fighters”, a terrorist organization bent on achieving “Enosis” at any cost], can never be considered terminated.”
At the time, the Turkish Cypriots were told by the outside world to take no notice of statements of this kind. They were told that the statements were just rhetoric, or were for internal consumption within the Greek Cypriot community. However, the Turkish Cypriots were to discover very soon that when Greek Cypriot leaders make statements of that kind they should be taken seriously. Similar statements are still being made by Greek Cypriot leaders even today (e.g., that their goal is to “protect Cypriot Hellenism”), and Turkish Cypriots are still being urged not to take them seriously.
The 1960 Constitution provided that separate municipalities be established for Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. The Greek Cypriots refused to obey this mandatory provision and in order to encourage them to do so the Turkish Cypriots said they would not vote for the Government’s taxation proposals. The Greek Cypriots remained intransigent, so the Turkish Cypriots took the matter to the Supreme Constitutional Court of Cyprus. The court comprised one Greek Cypriot judge, one Turkish Cypriot judge, and a neutral President.
In February 1963 (Cyprus Mail 12.2.63) Archbishop Makarios declared on behalf of the Greek Cypriots that if the Court ruled against them they would ignore it. On 25th April 1963 the Court did rule against them and they did ignore it. The President of the Court (a German citizen) resigned and the rule of law in Cyprus collapsed. Even Greece was embarrassed by this Greek Cypriot behaviour. On 19th April 1963, Greek Foreign Minister Averoff had written to Makarios: “It is not permissible for Greece in any circumstances to accept the creation of a precedent by which one of the contracting parties can unilaterally abrogate or ignore provisions that are irksome to it in international acts which this same party has undertaken to respect.”
However, in November 1963 the Greek Cypriots went further, and demanded the abolition of no less than eight of the basic articles which had been included in the 1960 Agreement for the protection of the Turkish Cypriots, to which abolition the Turkish Cypriots naturally refused to agree. The aim was to reduce the Turkish Cypriot people to the status of a mere minority, wholly subject to the control of the Greek Cypriots, pending their ultimate destruction or expulsion from the island.
Insofar as the Constitution became unworkable, it was because the Greek Cypriot leadership refused to fulfil the obligations to which they had agreed. The doctrine of necessity in international law applies to supervening impossibility due to extraneous and unforseen causes. It does not apply to self-induced causes. There is in particular no doctrine of necessity known to international law which could justify the slaughter of innocent men, women, and children.
At Christmas 1963 the Greek Cypriot militia attacked Turkish Cypriots across the island, and many men, women, and children were killed. 270 of their mosques, shrines and other places of worship were desecrated. On 2nd January 1964 the Daily Telegraph wrote: “The Greek Cypriot community should not assume that the British military presence can or should secure them against Turkish intervention if they persecute the Turkish Cypriots. We must not be a shelter for double-crossers.”
Thereafter Turkish Cypriot members of Parliament, judges, and other officials were intimidated or prevented by force from carrying out their duties.
A UN peace-keeping force was stationed in the Island in March 1964, but was not able to improve the situation since political power was usurped by the Greek Cypriots.
The United Nations not only failed to condemn the usurpation of the legal order in Cyprus by force, but actually rewarded it by treating the by then wholly Greek Cypriot administration as if it were the Government of Cyprus (Security Council Res. 186 of 1964). This acceptance has continued to the present day, and reflects no credit upon the United Nations, nor upon the countries who have acquiesced in it.
On 12th August 1964 the UK Representative to the UN wrote to his government in London as follows:
“What is our policy and true feelings about the future of Cyprus and about Makarios? Judging from the English newspapers and many others, the feeling is very strong indeed against Makarios and his so-called government and nothing would please the British people more than to see him toppled and the Cyprus problem solved by the direct dealings between the Turks and the Greeks. We are of course supporting the latter course, but I have never seen any expression of the official disapproval in public against Makarios and his evil doings. Is there an official view about this, and what do we think we should do in the long run? Sometimes it seems that the obsession of some people with “the Commonwealth” blinds us to everything else and it would be high treason to take a more active line against Makarios and his henchmen. At other times the dominant feature seems to be concern lest active opposition against Makarios should lead to direct conflict with the Cypriots and end up with our losing our bases.
I ask these questions, partly for background and partly because it really would be useful to know how far you feel we really are inhibited from taking up a more actively hostile attitude to the Greek Cypriots. Their representative here is, as you know, a horror, and even the communists are thoroughly fed up with him, and it is therefore really not necessary for us to do anything more to weaken his position. But it is curious and sometimes very frustrating to sit in the Security Council and walk around the UN and have to listen to all the stuff about the wickedness of the Turks and their threats of invasion, when I and all my staff know very well what the real state of affairs is and how much Makarios and co. are to blame. One can say what one thinks of course to a few people, but one cannot produce the evidence or argue the case fully with the vast majority of my UN colleagues so long as the official public attitude seems to be not to say anything rude about Makarios and his gang.
These, I realise, are not entirely easy questions and I suspect that the answers may well depend on differences of view and attitude at your end, revolving round such questions as the Commonwealth and the truth about our defence needs. Nevertheless I hope you can give us some of your real thoughts, if only for our private consumption. It would be a help to know what the thinking and the planning is and how far and for how long it is going to be necessary to continue to behave in, what at times does appear an unrealistic way and contrary to the popular feeling in Britain.”
Massacres of Turkish Cypriot Civilians
The civilian massacres of 1963, 1964, 1967 and 1974 are of extreme importance to understand the Turkish Cypriot negotiating position to this day.
“When the Turkish Cypriots objected to the amendment of the constitution Makarios put his plan into effect, and the Greek Cypriot attack began in December 1963” said Lt.Gen. George Karayiannis of the Greek Cypriot militia in June 1965 (“Ethnikos Kiryx” 15.6.65). The General was of course referring to the notorious “Akritas” plan, which was the blueprint for the annihilation of the Turkish Cypriots and the annexation of the Island to Greece.
On 28th December 1963 the Daily Express carried the following report from Cyprus: “We went tonight into the sealed-off Turkish Cypriot Quarter of Nicosia in which 200 to 300 people had been slaughtered in the last five days. We were the first Western reporters there and we have seen sights too frightful to be described in print. Horror so extreme that the people seemed stunned beyond tears.”
On 12th January 1964 the British High Commission in Nicosia wrote to London (telegram no. 162) “The Greek (Cypriot) police are led by extremists who provoked the fighting and deliberately engaged in atrocities. They have recruited into their ranks as “special constables” gun-happy young thugs. They threaten to try and punish any Turkish Cypriot police who wish to return to Cyprus Government… Makarios assured Sir Arthur Clark that there will be no attack. His assurance is as worthless as previous assurances have proved.”
On 14th January 1964 the Daily Telegraph reported that the Turkish Cypriot inhabitants of Ayios Vassilious had been massacred on 26th December 1963, and reported their exhumation from a mass grave in the presence of the Red Cross. A further massacre of Turkish-Cypriots, at Limassol, was reported by The Observer on 16th February 1964, and there were many more. On 17th February 1964 the Washington Post reported that Greek Cypriot fanatics appear bent on a policy of genocide.
On 1st January 1964 the Daily Herald reported: “When I came across the Turkish Cypriot homes they were an appalling sight. Apart from the walls they just did not exist. I doubt if a napalm attack could have created more devastation. Under roofs which had caved in I found a twisted mass of bed springs, children’s cots, and grey ashes of what had once been tables, chairs and wardrobes. In the neighbouring village of Ayios Vassilios I counted 16 wrecked and burned out homes. They were all Turkish Cypriot. In neither village did I find a scrap of damage to any Greek Cypriot house.”
On 31st December 1963, The Guardian reported: “It is nonsense to claim, as the Greek Cypriots do, that all casualties were caused by fighting between armed men of both sides. On Christmas Eve many Turkish Cypriot people were brutally attacked and murdered in their suburban homes, including the wife and children of a doctor – allegedly by a group of forty men, many in army boots and greatcoats.” Although the Turkish Cypriots fought back as best they could, and killed some militia, there were no massacres of Greek Cypriot civilians.
On 10th September 1964 the UN Secretary-General reported (UN doc.S/5950): “UNFICYP carried out a detailed survey of all damage to properties throughout the island during the disturbances, (…) it shows that in 109 villages, most of them Turkish-Cypriot or mixed villages, 527 houses have been destroyed while 2.000 others have suffered damage from looting. In Ktima 38 houses and shops have been destroyed totally and 122 partially. In the Orphomita suburb of Nicosia, 50 houses have been totally destroyed while a further 240 have been partially destroyed there and in adjacent suburbs.”
British troops in Cyprus at the time did what they could to protect the Turkish Cypriots, and their efforts are remembered to this day, but the scale and ferocity of the Greek Cypriot attacks made their task impossible. On 6th February 1964 a British patrol found armed Greek Cypriot police attacking the Turkish Cypriots of Ayios Sozomenos. They were unable to stop the attack.
On 13th February 1964 the Greeks and Greek Cypriots attacked the Turkish Cypriot quarter of Limassol with tanks, killing 16 and injuring 35. On 15th February 1964 The Daily Telegraph reported: “It is a real military operation which the Greek Cypriots launched against the six thousand inhabitants of the Turkish Cypriot Quarter yesterday morning. A spokesman for the Greek Cypriot Government has recognised this officially. It is hard to conceive how Greek and Turkish Cypriots may seriously contemplate working together after all that has happened.”
Professor Ernst Forsthoff, the neutral President of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Cyprus told Die Welt on 27th December 1963 that “Makarios bears on his shoulders the sole responsibility of the recent tragic events. His aim is to deprive the Turkish community of their rights.” In an interview with UPI press agency on 30th December 1963 he said: “All this happened because Makarios wanted to remove all constitutional rights from the Turkish Cypriots.”
More than 300 Turkish Cypriots are still missing without trace from these massacres of 1963/64. These dreadful events were not the responsibility of “the Greek Colonels” of 1974, or an unrepresentative handful of Greek Cypriot extremists. The persecution of the Turkish Cypriots was an act of policy on the part of the Greek Cypriot political and religious leadership, which has to this day made no serious attempt to bring the murderers to justice.
Despite these facts, the Greek Cypriots sometimes allege that it was they who were attacked and it was the Turkish Cypriots who were determined to wreck the 1960 agreements. The Turkish Cypriots were not only outnumbered by nearly four to one; but they were also surrounded in their villages by armed Greek Cypriots; they had no way of protecting their women and children, and Turkey was away across the sea. The very idea that in those circumstances the Turkish Cypriots were the aggressors is absurd.
In his memoirs, the American Under-Secretary of State, George Ball, said “Makarios’s central interest was to block off Turkish intervention so that he and his Greek Cypriots could go on happily massacring Turkish Cypriots. Obviously we would never permit that.” The fact is however that neither the US, the UK, the UN, nor anyone, other than Turkey eleven years later, ever took effective action to prevent it.
Division of the Island
Whatever the pretensions of the Greek Cypriot regime, the practical consequence of the events of 1963-1964 was the emergence of parallel administrative, judicial and legislative organs for each of the two peoples.
The Turkish Cypriots were forced to withdraw into enclaves, and it was in 1964, not in 1974, that Cyprus was divided. The Turkish Cypriots had to establish an elected authority to govern themselves whilst being confined in their enclaves.
Greek Cypriots often claim that the Turkish Cypriots withdrew voluntarily from their positions in the State. They were, in fact, excluded by threats to their personal safety.
On 14th January 1964 “Il Giorno” daily of Italy reported: “Right now we are witnessing the exodus of Turkish Cypriots from the villages. Thousands of people abandoning homes, land, herds. Greek Cypriot terrorism is relentless. This time the rhetoric of the Hellenes and the statues of Plato do not cover up their barbaric and ferocious behaviour.”
The UN Secretary-General reported to the Security Council (UN doc.S/8286): “When the disturbances broke out in December 1963 and continued during the first part of 1964 thousands of Turkish Cypriots fled their homes, taking with them only what they could drive or carry, and sought refuge in safer villages and areas.”
The UK House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, after reviewing the issue in 1987, found that “When in July 1965 the Turkish Cypriot members of the House of Representatives had sought to resume their seats they were told that they could do so only if they accepted the legislative changes to the operation of the Constitution enacted in their absence” (ie. if they agreed to fundamental constitutional changes to the great disadvantage of their community, imposed upon them by force of arms).
In September 1964 the Secretary-General had reported to the Security Council (UN doc. 5950): “In addition to losses incurred in agriculture and in industry during the first part of the year, the Turkish Cypriot community had lost other sources of its income including the salaries of over 4000 persons who were employed by the Cyprus Government.” The trade of the Turkish Cypriot community had considerably declined during the period, and unemployment reached a very high level of approximately 25,000 breadwinners.
Turkish-Cypriots had become refugees in their own land.
At the same time, as reported by the UN Secretary-General on 10th September 1964: “The economic restrictions being imposed against the Turkish Cypriot communities, which in some instances has been so severe as to amount to veritable siege, indicated that the Government of Cyprus seeks to force a potential solution by economic pressure.” (UN doc. S/5950).
On 24th July 1965 the United Kingdom formally protested the unlawful action of the Greek Cypriots, but continued to deal with them as the Government of Cyprus, and took no effective action to stop them doing as they pleased. In his memoirs published in 1987 former British Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister, James Callaghan, records that, “there is no question that the Turkish Cypriots had for many years been denied their political rights under the 1960 Constitution, and their basic human rights”.
The United Nations and the rest of the world have put political expediency before principle, and failed to condemn this appalling behaviour. Greek Cypriots are guilty of attempted genocide but no action has ever been taken against them. Instead they have been rewarded by recognition as the Government of all Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriots by contrast were frozen out of the UN, the Commonwealth and almost every other international organisation, and were not allowed to be heard when many important decisions affecting their future were made.
Resolution 186 of 4th March 1964 is the first UN Security Council Resolution which equated the Greek Cypriot regime with the “Government of Cyprus.” The status conferred by this act by the United Nations itself has enabled the Greek Cypriots for more than fifty years to treat the Turkish Cypriots as a mere community, to take most of the international aid for themselves, to impose an embargo on Turkish Cypriot trade and communications with the outside world, to occupy the Cyprus chair in all international institutions, and to convince the world that they, and not the Turkish Cypriots, are the victims of Cyprus issue.
Sir Anthony Kershaw MC, MP, Chairman of the UK House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs until 1987 explained in a speech in Cyprus on 23rd October 1990 how the UN came to accept the Greek Cypriots as the Cyprus Government:
“It was decided that UN troops should be sent to preserve order, but the UN can only send troops if the legal government of the country concerned asks for them. The only organisation which could in 1964 be called the Government of Cyprus was the administration headed by Makarios. The Turkish Cypriots pointed out that this was not the legal government of Cyprus but such was the pressure of the times that the UN said: Look your people are dying – let’s get the troops out right away and the lawyers can sort it out later. So it was decided, but since that time the UN has treated the Greek Cypriots as the only government of Cyprus, basing this upon a treaty and a constitution which had been repudiated and broken by the Greek Cypriot government itself. I do not deny that the Greek Cypriot government is the de facto government of the South of Cyprus. It has all the attributes of sovereignty, but so has the government of Northern Cyprus.”
In the opinion of Mr. Monroe Leigh, the distinguished American international lawyer: “The mere fact of international recognition, no matter how widespread, cannot excuse or confer legitimacy upon the violations of both constitutional law and international treaty law through which the Greek Cypriot regime usurped the name as well as the government of the Republic of Cyprus.” (Written opinion 20.7.1990).
The Events of 1974
In 1971 General Grivas returned to Cyprus to form EOKA-B, which was again committed to making Cyprus a wholly Greek island and annexing it to Greece. In a speech to the Greek Cypriot armed forces (Quoted in “New Cyprus” May 1987), Grivas said. “The Greek forces from Greece have come to Cyprus in order to impose the will of the Greeks of Cyprus upon the Turks. We want ENOSIS but the Turks are against it. We shall impose our will. We are strong and we shall do so.”
Greek Invasion and coup d’etat
By 15th July 1974 a powerful force of mainland Greek troops had assembled in Cyprus and with their backing the Greek Cypriot National Guard, in a coup d’etat, overthrew Makarios and installed Nicos Sampson as “President.” On 22nd July Washington Star News reported: “Bodies littered the streets and there were mass burials… People told by Makarios to lay down their guns, were shot by the National Guard.”
Turkish Cypriots appealed to the Guarantor powers for help, but only Turkey was willing to give any effective response. The Greek newspaper Eleftherotipia published an interview with Nicos Sampson on 26th February 1981 in which he said “Had Turkey not intervened I would not only have proclaimed ENOSIS – I would have annihilated the Turks in Cyprus.”
Even Greek Cypriots sought Turkey’s help. In her memoirs, Greek Cypriot Member of Parliament Rina Katselli, says: “16th July 1974: Is Makarios alive? Is he dead? The Makarios supporters arrested, the EOKA-B supporters freed… I did not shed a tear, why should I? Did the stupidity and fanaticism deserve a tear? There are some who beg Turkey to intervene. They prefer the intervention of Turkey.” “18th July 1974: My God!… Everyone is frozen with fear… the old man who asked for the body of his son was shot on the spot… The tortures and executions at the central prison… everyone is frozen with horror. Nothing is sacred to these people, and they call themselves Greeks!… we must not keep that name any longer.”
No human tragedy has been the subject of such blatant political exploitation as the case of missing persons in Cyprus. For more than thirty years, successive Greek Cypriot governments deceived their people into thinking that their loved ones might still be alive, but in October 1995 they had to admit that not only were many of them known to be dead, but that the whereabouts of their remains were also known, and had been withheld from their families. Some were not even missing; Andreas Mayas (Missing Person no.572), was alive and receiving a state pension.
During the fighting with Turkish troops between 20th July and 16th August 1974 many Greek Cypriots died in combat. So far as possible their bodies were recovered and identified by Turkish forces. There were very few deaths of Greek Cypriots civilians.
The balance of probabilities is therefore that of those Greek Cypriots still listed as missing most were killed during the Sampson coup of 15th – 20th July 1974, and that others died in combat. Some are in mass graves such as those described by Father Papatsestos, and the remainder have no known grave. Those killed in the fighting with the Turkish army would not have died if the Greek Cypriots and Greece had not tried to annihilate the Turkish Cypriots and annex the island to Greece, and the blame for their deaths must rest firmly upon their own leadership.
Prisoners of War taken by the Turkish Army were sent to Turkey, where they were visited by the Red Cross, and repatriated on 8th August 1974, 16th September 1974, and 28th October 1975 under international supervision. There are no prisoners of war in Turkey.
On 17th April 1991 US Ambassador Ledsky told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee “The US Ambassador to Turkey has looked into all of these allegations and found there was no substance. The Turkish Government was cooperative and the Turkish and US Governments worked together on this. The subject has been exhausted and we haven’t even heard an allegation in two years.”
On 3rd March 1996 the Greek Cypriot Cyprus Mail wrote: “(Greek) Cypriot governments have found it convenient to conceal the scale of atrocities during the 15th July coup in an attempt to downplay its contribution to the tragedy of the summer of 1974 and instead blame the Turkish invasion for all casualties. There can be no justification for any government that failed to investigate this sensitive humanitarian issue. The shocking admission by the Clerides government that there are people buried in Nicosia cemetery who are still included in the list of the “missing” is the last episode of a human drama which has been turned into a propaganda tool.”
On 19th October 1996 Mr.Georgios Lanitis wrote: “I was serving with the Foreign Information Service of the Republic of Cyprus in London… I deeply apologise to all those I told that there are 1.619 missing persons. I misled them. I was made a liar, deliberately, by the Government of Cyprus… today it seems that the credibility of Cyprus is nil.”
On 17th April 1991 Ambassador Nelson Ledsky testified before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “Most of the missing persons disappeared in the first days of July 1974, before the Turkish intervention on the 20th. Many killed on the Greek side were killed by Greek Cypriots in fighting between supporters of Makarios and Sampson.”
On 19th July 1974, before the Turkish army landed, Archbishop Makarios told the UN Security Council: “I do not yet know the details of the Cyprus crisis caused by the Greek military regime. I am afraid that the number of losses is great… I considered the danger from Turkey lesser than the danger from Greek army officers.”
The Greek newspaper TA NEA published an interview on 28th February 1976 with Father Papatsestos, the Greek Orthodox priest in charge of the Nicosia cemetery. He recounted the events of 17th July 1974 when Greek officers required him to bury truckloads of Greek Cypriots in mass graves, together with one young Greek Cypriot whom they buried alive, and ten dead Turkish Cypriots. This one priest counted at least 127 bodies brought to him, and there must have been many similar incidents throughout the island.
On 22nd July 1974, The Times reported that “a production Director from Dublin said he had seen bodies being buried in a mass grave near Paphos after last Monday’s coup. People were told by Makarios to lay down their guns and were shot out of hand by the National Guard, he said.”
On 6th November 1974 TA NEA also reported the erasure of dates from the graves of Greek Cypriots killed in the five days, 15th – 20th July, in order to blame their deaths on the subsequent Turkish military action.
On 5th March 1996, US Ambassador Ledsky confirmed that there is no evidence that any of the missing persons is still alive.
In his book “The Way the Wind Blows”, former British Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home said: “I was convinced that if Archbishop Makarios could not bring himself to treat the Turkish Cypriots as human beings, he was inviting the invasion and partition of the island.”
US Under-Secretary of State, George Ball, said “Makarios central interest was to block off Turkish intervention so that he and his Greek Cypriots could go on happily massacring Turkish Cypriots.”
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 rights and obligations deriving from the Treaty of Guarantee. Intervention by Turkey blocked the way to annexation of the Island by Greece and brought security and hope, after eleven years, to the Turkish Cypriots.
In an article on 28th February 1976 in the Greek Cypriot press Father Papatsestos said: “In is a rather hard thing to say, but it is true that the Turkish intervention saved us from a merciless internecine war. The Sampson regime had prepared a list of all Makarios supporters, and they would have slaughtered them all.” Many of the people saved by Turkey are members of the present Greek Cypriot leadership.
In July 1974, after the first phase of the Turkish intervention, an international conference was held at Geneva between Turkey, Greece and Britain. It was agreed that Greek and Greek Cypriot forces would leave all the Turkish Cypriot enclaves, but showing their customary disregard for international agreements they proceeded instead to murder almost the entire civilian population of six Turkish Cypriot enclaves in both the north and south of the island, and despite the presence in Cyprus of UN troops.
The German newspaper Die Zeit wrote on 30th August 1974 “the massacre of Turkish Cypriots in Paphos and Famagusta is the proof of how justified the Turkish were to undertake their (August) intervention”.
In the village of Tokhni on 14th August 1974 all the Turkish Cypriot men between the ages of 13 and 74, except for eighteen who managed to escape, were taken away and shot. (Times, Guardian, 21st August)
In Zyyi on the same day all the Turkish Cypriot men aged between 19 and 38 were taken away by Greek Cypriots and were never seen again. On the same day Greek Cypriots opened fire in the Turkish Cypriot neighbourhood of Paphos killing men, women, and children indiscriminately. On 23rd July 1974 the Washington Post reported “In a Greek raid on a small Turkish village near Limassol 36 people out of a population of 200 were killed. The Greeks said that they had been given orders to kill the inhabitants of the Turkish villages before the Turkish forces arrived.” (See also Times, Guardian, 23rd July).
“The Greeks began to shell the Turkish quarter on Saturday, refugees said. Kazan Derviş, a Turkish Cypriot girl aged 15, said she had been staying with her uncle. The (Greek Cypriot) National Guard came into the Turkish sector and shooting began. She saw her uncle and other relatives taken away as prisoners, and later heard her uncle had been shot.” (Times 23.7.74)
“Before my uncle was taken away by the soldiers, he shouted to me to run away. I ran to the streets, and the soldiers were shooting all the time. I went into a house and I saw a woman being attacked by soldiers. They were raping her. Then they shot her in front of my eyes. I ran away again and Turkish Cypriot men and women looked after me. They were escaping as well. They broke holes in the sides of houses, so we could get away without going into the streets. There were lots of women and children screaming, and soldiers were firing at us all the time.”
On 28th July the New York Times reported that 14 Turkish-Cypriot men had been shot in Alaminos. On 24th July 1974 “France Soir” reported “The Greeks burned Turkish mosques and set fire to Turkish homes in the villages around Famagusta. Defenceless Turkish villagers who have no weapons live in an atmosphere of terror and they evacuate their homes and go and live in tere a shame to humanity.”
On 22nd July Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit called upon the UN to “stop the genocide of Turkish-Cypriots” and declared “Turkey has accepted a cease-fire, but will not allow Turkish-Cypriots to be massacred” (Times 23rd July). At the beginning of the Second Geneva Conference he said “A solution which is not based on geographical separation will not work. It is out of the question for us to entrust the safety of the Turkish Cypriots to the Greeks, who cannot even rule themselves. The areas around the Turkish forces are being mined, and the Turkish Cypriot villages are still under siege.”
The UK House of Commons Select Committee on Cyprus reported in 1976 that “the second phase of military operations was inevitable in the view of your committee as the position reached by Turkish forces at the time of the first ceasefire was untenable militarily.”
On 12th March 1977 Makarios declared “It is in the name of ENOSIS that Cyprus has been destroyed.”
Efforts for a Comprehensive Settlement the under UNSG’s Good Offices Mission
The Cyprus question has been the subject of negotiations, under U.N. auspices, between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot peoples, as the two parties to the Cyprus dispute, since 1968. The details of inter-communal talks held between 1968-1974, 1975-1979, 1980-1983, 1988-1992 and 1999-2004 are recorded in the annals of the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots set up their own Republic, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, while continuing the search for reconciliation.
The fundamental basis of the search for a just and lasting solution in Cyprus has been the equal partnership of the two peoples in the Island (the internal balance) and the maintenance of the balance established between the two motherlands, Turkey and Greece (the external balance), over Cyprus.
In the course of the efforts conducted under the auspices of successive UN Secretaries-General for a settlement, a number of basic parameters emerged, such as bi-zonality, political equality, continuation of the Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance, resolution of the property issue on the basis of global exchange and/or compensation and restrictions on the three freedoms (of movement, settlement and property).
Throughout the half-century-long years negotiation process since 1968, no issue has been left undiscussed.
The Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey have always supported a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue throughout the negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General’s (UNSG) Good Offices mission. However, the Greek Cypriot side rejected the 1985-86 Draft Framework Agreements, the UN-sponsored Set of Ideas of 1992, the package of Confidence Building Measures of 1994 and the Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem (Annan Plan) in April 2004. Most recently, it was once again the intransigence of the Greek Cypriot side that led to the closure of the Conference on Cyprus without any outcome on 7 July 2017.
The negotiations under the auspices of the UNSG’s Good Offices Mission were conducted on the basis of the following established parameters for a comprehensive settlement:
- Political equality of the two sides
- Equal status of the two Constituent States
- New Partnership State
- New State of Affairs
- Bi-zonality, Bi-communality
- Power sharing
- Settlement must have legal certainty in the EU (EU primary law)
- No hierarchy, no domination
- The Treaties of Guarantee and Alliance
- Separate simultaneous referenda
The Annan Plan of 2004, which was freely negotiated at every stage by the two sides, constituted a culmination of the UN parameters and represented a carefully balanced compromise. The Plan foresaw a partnership between the Greek Cypriot State and the Turkish Cypriot State. As the UN Secretary-General Mr. Annan stated in his speech of 31 March 2004, “a new state of affairs would emerge, far better designed than the one of 1960.” The Foundation Agreement envisaged the establishment of a United Cyprus, based on a new bi-zonal partnership, with a federal government and two Constituent States, namely “the Greek Cypriot State” and “the Turkish Cypriot State”. It was also stipulated in the UN Plan that “the Constituent States are of equal status, each of them exercises its authority within its territorial boundaries” and that “the identity, territorial integrity, security and constitutional order of the Constituent States shall be safeguarded and respected by all.” Furthermore, the Main Articles of the Foundation Agreement envisaged that “the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots affirmed that Cyprus is their common home and acknowledged each other’s distinct identity and integrity and that their relationship is not one of majority and minority but of political equality, where neither side may claim authority or jurisdiction over the other.”
The Annan Plan was put to separate and simultaneous referenda on 24 April 2004. It was accepted by the Turkish Cypriots with 65% of votes but rejected by the Greek Cypriot side with 76% of votes.
The UN and numerous international organizations, as well as many countries, applauded the Turkish Cypriot people’s affirmative vote and, in the light of the understanding that ways and means should be found to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, they called for the immediate restoration of their direct economic, trade and cultural activities internationally.
The UN Secretary-General issued his report on the negotiations on 28 May 2004. In it he emphasized that “in the aftermath of the vote, the situation of the Turkish Cypriots calls for the attention of the international community as a whole, including Security Council” and underlined the fact that the “Turkish Cypriot vote has undone any rationale for pressuring and isolating them.” On this basis, the UNSG also noted that there is no Security Council resolution which imposes restrictions on the Turkish Cypriots and called on members of the Security Council to “give a strong lead to all States to cooperate both bilaterally and in international bodies to eliminate unnecessary restrictions and barriers that have the effect of isolating the Turkish Cypriots and impeding their development.” The UNSG also underlined that “if the Greek Cypriots are ready to share power and prosperity with the Turkish Cypriots in a federal structure based on political equality, this needs to be demonstrated, not just by word, but by action.”
A new situation arose on the Island after the 2004 referenda. Despite the absence of a settlement, the European Council of Copenhagen approved the EU membership of “Cyprus”, based on the unilateral application of the Greek Cypriot Administration. Turkey and the TRNC argued that the Greek Cypriot side had no authority to negotiate on behalf of the whole Island and that this accession would be in contravention of the relevant provisions of the 1959-1960 Treaties on Cyprus, thus constituting a violation of international law. The said Treaties prohibit Cyprus from joining any international organization of which both Turkey and Greece are not members.
On the other hand, while the European Council decided on April 26, 2004, to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots with no conditions, this decision has not yet been implemented.
The UN Negotiation Process between 2008 and 2017
A new process started in Cyprus following the meeting of the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Christofias on March 21, 2008. The new negotiations between the two leaders for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue began on September 3, 2008. The six chapters discussed in the full-fledged negotiations were ‘Governance and Power Sharing’, ‘Property’, ‘EU Matters’, ‘Economic Matters’, ‘Territory’ and ‘Security and Guarantees’.
In April 2010 Mr. Derviş Eroğlu was elected President of the TRNC. He committed to continue the negotiations where they had been left off.
During the process the two leaders and the UNSG came together in various tripartite meetings in the 2010-2012 period, including on 23-24 January 2012 in Greentree, New York. During these meetings, the Turkish Cypriot side maintained its constructive and result-oriented approach. The international community had high expectations from the tripartite meeting held in January 2012 in Greentree. The Turkish side had been hoping that the meeting would usher in a high-level meeting with the participation of the two sides and the three guarantors to address all remaining issues not agreed upon by the two sides and seal the settlement through a grand bargain. However, this was not possible. The Greek Cypriots sidestepped genuine talks in order to avoid a decision for a high-level meeting and a very important opportunity was missed.
Throughout the following period, the Turkish Cypriot side continued its determined and constructive efforts for the success of the UN process, with Turkey’s full support. However no progress could be achieved. The UNSG informed the two leaders on 21 April 2012 that he did not consider the current conditions as being appropriate for convening a high-level meeting. This was especially disappointing for the Turkish Cypriot side, who spared no effort so that this opportunity would not be wasted.
After the Greek Cypriot elections in February 2013 it took almost a year for the new Greek Cypriot leader Mr. Anastasiades to come to the negotiation table. A joint statement exercise was actually launched in September 2013, since the Greek Cypriot side had not clarified its position on the convergences achieved in the process in the 2008-2012 period. TRNC President Eroğlu had, however, confirmed several times his commitment to the agreed convergences and to all their positions so far tabled in the negotiations. The two leaders in Cyprus finally met on 11 February 2014 to resume the comprehensive settlement negotiations under the auspices of the UN, and they issued a joint statment that referred to “structured” negotiations to be carried out in a “result-oriented” manner, focusing on unresolved core issues,
Following the resumption of the negotiations, cross-visits of the then Turkish Cypriot Negotiator Mr. Kudret Özersay and Greek Cypriot Negotiator Mr. Andreas Mavroyiannis to Athens and Ankara respectively took place on 27 February 2014. These visits were important for manifesting the support and commitment of Turkey and Greece as motherlands.
After 11 February 2014, the Turkish Cypriot side exerted its utmost effort to secure the existing convergences and to build upon them. The Greek Cypriot side, however, continued to resort to delaying tactics and attempted to frustrate the process. In the meantime, former Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Espen Barth Eide was appointed as the new Special Advisor of the UNSG for Cyprus in August 2014.
Then, just as a basic agreement was reached to move to the next phase of structured negotiations in September 2014, the Greek Cypriot side commenced off-shore drilling activities in their so-called license areas, which overlap with those of the Turkish Cypriots (the Greek Cypriots’ unilateral hydrocarbon-related activities are discussed in detail in a seperate subsection below). Turkish Cypriots declared that they would take countermeasures to protect their equal and inherent rights over the resources of the whole continental shelf of the Island. The Greek Cypriot side used this as a pretext to step away from the UN negotiations in October 2014.
After Turkish Cypriot Presidental elections had been held in April 2015 and Mustafa Akıncı had been elected President, the comprehensive settlement negotiations resumed on May 15, 2015. From November 2015 onwards, the negotiations intensified at the level of leaders.
In the following one and a half years, considerable progress was achieved in the Economy and the EU chapters while divergences remained in the Governance and Power Sharing chapter. Detailed talks on the Property chapter continued. The chapters of Territory and Security and Guarantees were to be taken up in the final stage of the negotiations.
The negotiations entered a critical phase with the convention of the Conference on Cyprus on 12 January in Geneva. The following statement was issued at the Geneva session of the Conference:
“The Conference on Cyprus convened today, 12 January 2017, in Geneva, under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, with the participation of H.E. Mr. Mustafa Akıncı and H.E. Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom as guarantor powers and in the presence of the European Union as an observer.
The Conference commended Mr. Anastasiades and Mr. Akıncı for the remarkable progress made over the past 20 months in the Cyprus talks. It was only thanks to their dedicated work that it was possible to convene the Conference today. This is the first time that brought all together to discuss the chapter of security and guarantees, the sixth and last chapter of the negotiations.
The discussions today underscored the participants’ intention to find mutually acceptable solutions on security and guarantees that address the concerns of both communities. They recognized that the security of one community cannot come at the expense of the security of the other. They also acknowledged the need to address the traditional security concerns of the two communities while at the same time developing a security vision for a future united federal Cyprus.
The participants recognized that this is the time to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion. This is a historic opportunity that should not be missed. The participants therefore committed to supporting the process towards a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus. The common objectives outlined above will require concerted efforts by all concerned over the course of the next days.
Therefore, to this end, they decided to continue the Conference, in line with established precedent, with the following steps:
Establish a working group at the level of deputies. This group will commence its work on 18 January. Its task will be to identify specific questions and the instruments needed to address them.
In parallel, the negotiations on outstanding issues in the other chapters will continue between the two sides in Cyprus.
The Conference will continue at political level immediately thereafter to review the outcome of the working group’s discussions.
The Conference confirmed the full commitment of the three guarantor powers to support reaching a comprehensive settlement.”
In the period following the Geneva session of the Conference on Cyprus, negotiations stalled for two months after the Greek Cypriot Parliament passed a decision on 10 February 2017 to commemorate the 1950 “Enosis” plebiscite in Greek Cypriot public schools.
The second and final session of the Conference on Cyprus convened in Crans-Montana between 28 June – 7 July 2017. Despite the fact that both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots displayed a constructive attitude and spared no effort for a just and sustainable settlement, the Greek Cypriot side persistently refused to display any goodwill and the Conference closed without an outcome. This most recent failure to reach a settlement clearly showed once again that the Greek Cypriots are neither willing to share power with the Turkish Cypriots on the Island, nor to acknowledge the Turkish Cypriots’ political equality.
Turkey has participated in the Cyprus Conference, held in Crans-Montana on 28 June-7 July 2017, with its good will and constructive approach pursued throughout the negotiation process, aiming to reach a fair, durable and sustainable settlement to the Cyprus issue. However, the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot Administration caused the end of the conference with a failure.
With the comprehensive settlement negotiations failing due to the mindset of the Greek Cypriot side seeing themselves as the sole owner of the Island and Turkish Cypriots as minority, the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres called on the two sides on the Island, as well as the Guarantors, to enter a reflection period concerning the future and substance of the negotiation process. Afterwards, he appointed Ms. Jane Holl Lute (USA), a senior United Nations official, to listen to the views of the concerned parties.
The UNSG Guterres in his report on Good Offices Mission dated 15 October 2018, recognizing that additional new ideas might be needed for a new effort to yield results, he stated that the pathway must be thoroughly prepared. In his report, Guterres also emphasized that “terms of reference” that would constitute the consensus starting point for a possible negotiated conclusion should be clarified.
Accordingly, Ms. Lute has contacted with the two sides on the Island as well as guarantor countries, however, she has not been able to make concrete progress.
On 25 November 2019, the UNSG Guterres met informally with the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot leaders in Berlin. In a written statement, the UNSG said that he was committed to explore with the leaders and with the Guarantor powers the possibility to convene an informal five-plus-UN meeting at an appropriate stage. The UNSG has paused his efforts towards a settlement until the end of the Presidential elections in North Cyprus.
The Turkish Cypriot Presidential elections, which was scheduled to be held in April 2020, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The leader of the National Unity Party and Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, who advocated a two-state solution won the elections held on 18 October 2020.
The negotiations have failed to reach a settlement on the Island so far due to the mindset of the Greek Cypriot side, who considers themselves as the sole owners of the Island and the Turkish Cypriots as a minority. Without a change in this mindset, negotiations will always fail to produce an outcome, and establishment of a new partnership on the Island will be impossible.
Turkey maintains that only a negotiated settlement based on dialogue and diplomacy can be sustainable. As regards the way ahead, Turkey acts with a vision of working on new ideas and settlement models and believes that no time should be wasted with open-ended negotiations without a specific goal, based on vague documents, as in the past.
There are two peoples, two democracies and two states on the Island. Negotiations towards settlement of the Cyprus issue and desired goal should be built on this reality. With this understanding, Turkey considers that it is time to negotiate two-state settlement.
Within this framework, the convening of the informal 5+UN meeting with the participation of the two sides on the Island and the guarantor states is supported.
On the other hand, as long as the status quo on the Island continues, the Turkish Cypriots continue to suffer a grave injustice. While Turkey pursues a result-oriented approach in the Cyprus issue for a lasting and sustainable settlement on the Island, she also pursues an active foreign policy with a view to lifting the inhuman isolation imposed on Turkish Cypriots by the international community. The punishment of the Turkish Cypriot side, that adopts a constructive and result-oriented stance towards a settlement, while rewarding the Greek Cypriot side, who rejects a settlement, is incompatible with the concept of justice.
With this understanding, Turkey carries out contacts and spare every effort regarding the Cyprus issue, the national cause. Turkey will continue to work further with a view to enabling Turkish Cypriots to look to the future with confidence and to increase their economic welfare.