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CYPRUS ISSUE (summary)


In 1960, a partnership state between Turkish and Greek Cypriots was set up in accordance with the international agreements signed by the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sides, as well as the Turkish, Greek and British governments. However, in 1963, only three years later, the Turkish Cypriots were ousted by force from all organs of the new Republic by their Greek Cypriot partners in clear breach of the founding agreements and the Constitution.  The claim put forth thereafter by the Greek Cypriots to represent the “Republic of Cyprus” has been illegal, and has not been recognized by Turkey. The 1974 attempt by Greece to annex the Island, through a coup attempt, was resisted by Turkey in accordance with the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. Consequently, Turkish Cypriots set up their own Republic, while continuing the search for reconciliation.

The decision of the EU to start negotiations with the Greek Cypriot Administration for the accession of “Cyprus”, without the consent of Turkish Cypriots, and in disregard of the negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary General further complicated the situation.
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 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, and thus, constituted a violation of international law. The said Treaties prohibit Cyprus from joining any international organization of which both Turkey and Greece are not members.

Cyprus is the home of two nations and there exist two democratically organized states in the island. Turkish side always supported the efforts carried out under the good offices mission of the United Nations Secretary-General towards finding a just and viable settlement to the Cyprus issue. 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 more recently the Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem (Annan Plan) in April 2004. 

Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have always believed that only a sincere and constructive approach which also takes into account the vital interests of the both sides could produce a just, lasting and viable settlement in Cyprus. With this understanding, the Turkish side took yet another initiative to re-launch the negotiation process, towards the end of 2003.

Turkish Prime Minister met with the UN Secretary General in Davos on 24 January 2004. UNSG Annan has welcomed and supported the initiative to restart talks on Cyprus. President Denktaş and the TRNC Government also showed the necessary political will towards this goal.

It was considered that a solution before 1 May 2004 would be in the interest of all concerned, and in the interest of international peace and security. It would have constituted the only means by which Cyprus could enter the European Union united on 1 May 2004.

Accordingly, the UN Secretary General sent letters to the concerned sides and suggested that the negotiations be resumed on 10 February 2004. The Turkish side accepted the invitation of UNSG to attend the meetings in New York, which was held on 10-13 February. The talks in New York were completed successfully due to the constructive attitude of the Turkish side and have paved the way for the resumption of the negotiations in the Island. The main objective of this endeavor was to enable the Turkish Cypriot side and the Greek Cypriot side to bring into being a new state of affairs in Cyprus.

The negotiations were conducted in two parallel tracks -- political and technical level. The first phase of the talks was held in the Island between 19 February and 22 March. The Turkish side continued on its constructive approach. At the political level the two sides were not able to reach an agreement although some progress was achieved at technical level. The second phase of the talks began on 24 March 2004 in Switzerland with the participation of the two motherlands and Guarantor powers Greece and Turkey. On 31 March, the UN Secretary-General submitted the final text of the plan to the parties. The UN Secretary-General finalized the Plan with the contribution of all parties.

The EU Commission was also present at the final stage of the negotiations in Switzerland and the EU commitments with regard to the comprehensive settlement were agreed upon between the parties and the EU Commission. The European Union had repeatedly expressed its strong preference for the accession of a reunited Cyprus and its support to the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-General and had made specific commitments to encourage and promote such an outcome.

The agreement reached in Switzerland was put to separate and simultaneous referenda on 24 April in both parts of the Island. The Greek Cypriot people and the Turkish Cypriot people have thus exercised their inherent constituent powers. While the Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected it (75.83% against), the Turkish Cypriot people approved the settlement Plan by a clear majority (64.91% in favour) despite the significant sacrifices that it entailed for them. Greek Cypriot leader Mr. Papadopulos delivered a televised speech on 7 April, calling Greek Cypriot people to cast a resounding “no” to the plan. The leaders of the Greek Cypriots not only opposed the Plan but at the same time, conducted a very strong and active State-run “NO” campaign. Thus, against the repeated calls of the international community the Greek Cypriot people were directed to a “NO” vote by their leaders.

The Plan foresaw a partnership between the Greek Cypriot State and the Turkish Cypriot State. As the UN Secretary-General Mr. Annan said 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 is 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.”

A new situation has arisen in the Island after the referenda. It has been once again confirmed that the Greek Cypriots have no authority to represent the whole of Cyprus or the Turkish Cypriots.

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. Some developments in that direction, although limited, have already taken place.

The UN Secretary-General issued his report (S/2004/437) on the negotiations on 28 May 2004. In his report the Secretary-General 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 underlines the fact that the “Turkish Cypriot vote has undone any rationale for pressuring and isolating them.” On this basis, Mr. Annan calls on “the members of the 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.” In this context, a strong call has also been made at the 31st Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, held in Istanbul from 14 to 16 June 2004. The UN Secretary-General in his report, 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.”