Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Cyprus Question: The history explained (3)

Episode (3) of this mini-series looks at how independence began to be usurped almost from the beginning of the young republic’s troubled life and early years and which was ultimately to lead to the Turkish Intervention mission on July 20th 1974.


When Cyprus became independent in 1960 it was hoped that the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots, as the two peoples of the island would be able to live harmoniously, side by side, sharing power conjointly in their bi-national Republic. But already on the 27th of September 1960 the President of the young Republic, Makarios, made a statement to the New York Herald Tribune which clearly indicated that he did not believe in the internationally guaranteed bi-national Republic of Cyprus; in fact he said, "the cause of Enosis has not died. I cannot say that Enosis has been forgotten." Indeed, whilst the Turkish Vice President, Ministers, Deputies and community administration were working in full compliance with the Constitution of the bi-national Republic of Cyprus and the international agreements and treaties which led to independence, the Greek Cypriot side had secretly joined forces with Greece and developed the notorious "AKRITAS Plan" seeking to bring about Enosis despite the solemn promise of Greece to preserve the independence of the Republic of Cyprus as a guaranteeing power together with Turkey and the United Kingdom under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. 

In pursuance of this plan in 1963 the bi-national government was put to an end and the Greek Cypriot wing of the bi-national state illegally and by force of arms blocked the Turkish Vice President, Ministers and Deputies and judges from functioning, usurping thereby the sovereignty of the Turkish community that was bestowed on them through the declaration of the independence of the bi-national, partnership Republic of Cyprus, violently and effectively ending this partnership and shelving the contractual Constitution in 1963.

The Greek Cypriot raison d'etre was to achieve a monopoly of political power and to relegate the Turkish Cypriot people to the status of a minority though they were equal co-founders of the Cyprus State. Already on 4th September 1962 Makarios had openly declared this aim; he had said, in a public address: "unless this small Turkish community - forming a part of the Turkish race which has been the terrible enemy of Hellenism - is expelled from Cyprus, the duty of the heroes of EOKA can never be considered as terminated." On 9 April 1963 in a statement to the London Times he said: "Union of Cyprus with Greece is an aspiration always cherished within the hearts of all Greek Cypriots. It is impossible to put an end to this inspiration by establishing a Republic." In a statement to a Stockholm paper on 5th September 1963 he was even more explicit: "It is true that the goal of our struggle is to annex Cyprus to Greece.”

After this political coup in 1963, the Greek Cypriots together with Greece’s military assistance, continued to raid and attack Turkish Cypriot villages and Turkish Cypriot quarters of towns. In one decade, no fewer than 103 Turkish Cypriot villages were destroyed and 30,000 Turkish Cypriots, a quarter of the total Turkish Cypriot population, became refugees. Eventually, in July 1974 a second coup was engineered and staged by the Greek Cypriots under the leadership of a certain Mr. Nicos Sampson, directed by the military government then in power in Greece. Under Sampson, the Greek Cypriots declared the creation of a "Hellenic Republic" and openly announced that they would annex this "Hellenic Republic" to Greece. This second coup d'état was defined by Makarios himself in the United Nations Security Council during its 1780th meeting on 19 July 1974 in the following manner: "It is clearly an invasion from outside... the coup...was the work of the Greek officers staffing and commanding the Greek Cypriot national guard... it is an invasion which violated the independence and sovereignty of the Republic".

In the face of this flagrant violation of both the Cypriot Constitution and international law as well as the peace in the island, the UN Peace-keeping force sent to the island after the first Greek coup in 1964 was unable to protect the Turkish Cypriots against the Greek Cypriot elements who were supported by over 20,000 mainland Greek troops who had been clandestinely sent to the island. In order to act in accordance with the obligations incumbent on the guaranteeing powers, the Turkish government requested the United Kingdom to pay due attention to the situation prevailing in the island. The Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit even went to London to meet with the British Prime Minister Mr. Harold Wilson. Mr. Wilson,however,chose to remain in the Scilly islands on holiday. 

The Under-Secretary-General of the UN for Special Political Affairs, Dr.Kurt Waldheim called for a meeting of the Security Council, but he encountered considerable reluctance to act amongst the Council members. Waldheim also urged the British Foreign Secretary James Callaghan to act jointly with Turkey under the Treaty of Guarantee to safeguard the Turkish Cypriot community, but Callaghan was reluctant. It was therefore left to the Republic of Turkey to act alone in order to prevent the imminent annexation of Cyprus by Greece and the annihilation of the Turkish Cypriot population. The Turkish Military intervention commenced on the July 20th, 1974 and resulted in the physical safeguarding of the Turkish Cypriot community. Upon the onset of this intervention the Security Council passed on resolution No. 353 calling upon the nations of Greece,Turkey and the United Kingdom to enter into negotiations for the re-establishment of constitutional government in Cyprus. The Foreign Ministers of the three guarantor powers met in Geneva in accordance with this resolution and,with the Geneva declaration of 30th July 1974 unequivocally recognised the existence in Cyprus as two separate and autonomous administrations with the following words: "...the Ministers noted the existence in practice in the Republic of Cyprus of two autonomous administrations: that of the Greek Cypriot community and that of the Turkish Cypriot community". 

The two administrations however, could not function together any longer and in Vienna on 2nd August 1975 an agreement was reached between the representatives of the two       peoples of Cyprus, Mr. Denktas and Mr. Clerides for the voluntary re-grouping of    populations in a Turkish zone in the North and a Greek zone in the South.This agreement was reached under the auspices of the UN Secretary General who was working under a re-formulated mission of good offices on the basis of the UN Security Council resolution 367 (1975). 

The agreement to re-group the populations also paved the way for an agreement between the leaders of the two communities Denktas and Makarios on 12th February 1977, forming the basis for a federal solution, and envisaging the establishment of an independent, non-aligned, bi-communal, bi-zonal, federal Republic. In 1979 a further summit meeting between the leaders of the two communities Mr. Denktaş and Mr. Kiprianu took place in Nicosia on 18th and 19th May 1979 and the 10 point agreement which became the acknowledged basis of subsequent inter-communal negotiations was signed. In point 8 of this agreement, it is stated that, 'the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic should be adequately guaranteed against union in whole or in part with any other country and against any form of partition or secession.' From this point onwards a series of meetings have taken place and unfortunately no definitive agreement has been achieved to date.

To publish a detailed account of the negotiations and proximity talks under the umbrella of the good offices of the UN Secretary General would have no value. It is nevertheless    necessary to remember that today, in 2013 when further talks are envisaged in October of this year, there is no 'Republic of Cyprus' as was proclaimed in 1960. Indeed, the original Republic, which was based on a carefully balanced functional federalism whereby the President, is a Greek Cypriot elected only by the Greek Cypriots and the Vice-President is a Turkish Cypriot elected only by the Turkish Cypriots; the Cabinet comprised of seven Greek and three Turkish Cypriot Ministers. Parliament comprised of sixty Greek and forty Turkish Deputies. There were five separate municipalities and a Constitutional Court with both Greek and Turkish judges. None of the aforementioned structure exists today and as such, since 1963, the Republic of Cyprus is defunct.

This series will conclude with a 4th episode which details the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on November 15th, 1983 and the relationship of Cyprus and the European Union.