By C. T. Sofocleous, MD, PhD
Refugee from Kythrea, Cyprus
I am a Greek Cypriot refugee from Kythrea, Cyprus, a victim of Turkish invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus since July 1974. I have been closely following developments in the Cyprus problem and I am extremely disappointed that despite the rejection of the Anan plan in 2004 the UN as well as leaders in Britain, Cyprus, Greece, USA, and in particular Turkey insist on proposing “solution plans” to “unify” the divided island country that far deviate from any democratic norm with the sole intention to legalize the results of illegal military occupation of Northern Cyprus by Turkey and the division of the island along ethnic lines and religion!
For a brief history and background, Cyprus, an ex British colony, became a partnership independent island country in 1960 with a problematic constitution providing the Turkish Cypriot minority (18% of population) a veto over all executive and legislative decisions, a mandatory vice president and a 30 % participation in all public and government administration. Britain, Greece and Turkey were named guarantors of the constitution with rights of unilateral intervention to maintain constitutional order! As anticipated this fragile arrangement reached a stalemate when in 1963 the Turkish Cypriots blocked government function with rejection of the budget. This led the Greek Cypriot president to request constitutional amendments that would allow the government to function. The Turkish Cypriots, under the guidance of Turkey that bombarded the island, withdrew from the government and declared the partnership state as dead. Multiple UN and Security Council resolutions indicated that Cyprus would remain a sovereign island state represented by the Greek majority until the inter-communal conflict would be solved.
Disagreements between the elected Greek Cypriot president and the Greek dictatorship (1967-1974) led to a Greek Junta coup against the Cypriot president in July 1974 that was used as the pretext of Turkey to invade the island with military force using NATO weapons. Roughly 170,000 Greek Cypriots were forced out from their homes in the north and are still not able to return. To this date Turkey is still occupying 37% of Cyprus territory with 40,000 soldiers. In the Turkish occupied North, the majority now consists of Turkish settlers moved in an organized plan to purposely change the island’s demographics.
The entry of Cyprus into the EU on May 1st, 2004 is probably the only undeniable success of the Greek and Cypriot foreign policy of the last 50 years. This resulted in an acceptance by Turkey to consider more substantial negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem. It is clear however that any Turkish interest as expressed by all high level Turkish leaders within the last 12 years is only undertaken to neutralize the previous international recognition of the Greeks as the legal representatives of the Republic of Cyprus since the Turkish Cypriot withdrawal from the Republic’s administration in 1963. Despite a highlighted Turkish rhetoric regarding the desire to reach a comprehensive, fair, and democratic settlement in Cyprus, all Turkish actions and official declarations speak against this.
In 1983 Turkey proclaimed the illegally occupied North of Cyprus as the so called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” recognized only by Turkey and deemed illegal by Security Council resolutions that affirmed the Republic of Cyprus administered by the Greek Cypriots as the only legal and recognized state representing the entire island and called for the parties to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Since 2004 the Republic of Cyprus became an EU member and Turkey started negotiations with the EU. This was done after a common EU state declaration that any significant progress of Turkish negotiations require Turkey to recognize the Republic of Cyprus and contribute to an acceptable solution.
Despite these, Turkey continues to declare that the Republic of Cyprus does not exist and under military blackmail demands that any solution includes the recognition of the occupied North of Cyprus as a constituent state in a new Federal Cyprus where 2 states are created based on ethnic and religious majorities and the Federal State administration requires Turkish agreement for any decision and any level. They further claim that a rotating presidency is required. These proposals backed in all UN plans are more dysfunctional and unfair than the originally dysfunctional 1960 constitution. All plans violate basic human rights. Even more concerning is the fact that they legitimize an illegal military invasion and occupation of a country member of the UN and the EU! They even require the displaced victims (refugees like myself) to accept a new partnership state where the perpetrator is a partner and guarantor of the new state maintaining the same or stronger rights of intervention than those that created the 1974 ethnic cleansing in the first place!
The Cypriot president seemingly appears to negotiate despite the monstrous demands of Turkey. Greek Cypriots, many of us victims of prior foreign interventions whether from the Greek Dictatorship or Turkey, are horrified and feel totally betrayed by our own representatives, the UN as well as the US and Britain. It is inconceivable that we will be asked again to vote for an unfair and antidemocratic plan only to give our democratic and legal rights away and legitimize the ethnic cleansing policies that have been implemented with military force in our occupied motherland in northern Turkish occupied Cyprus. We are further watching in great fear the Cypriot president to be ready to accept what the majority has clearly rejected in the 2004 referendum for the Anan plan. It is more than painful to see that the international community and the UN do not support what is right and fair which would be a unified Cyprus where administration is based on the desire of the majority regardless of color, religion, or ethnic background.
Cypriots remain victims of real politic and any developments like those we will witness this week in Geneva have nothing to do with the legal rights of the legal Cypriot citizens or the reparation of committed war crimes. On the contrary, they will be another international effort to legitimize war crimes and international interests on the small and tortured eastern Mediterranean island.