Başlangıç > Avrupa Birliği, Cyprus Kıbrıs, European Union, International Relations > ARGUMENTS OF BOTH SIDES IN CYPRUS: TURKS AND GREEKS


The issue of the Cyprus has been widely debated between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and also Turkey and Greece. The Cyprus dispute first began to be a conflict in the 1950s. At that period Greek Cypriots demanded independence from United Kingdom in order to achieve their ultimate desire, Enosis, unification of Cyprus and Greece. In 1960s, Cyprus gained independence and the Republic of Cyprus was established by recognizing the 1960 Constitution which performs an egalitarian approach the two communities in Cyprus, the Greeks and Turks. However, in 1963, Greek Cypriots abolished the 1960 Constitution. Turkey preserved a ceasefire until 1974. At that date, Turkish troops invaded the northern part of the island and in 1983; Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded by the Turkish Cypriot community. Since 1974 till today, peace negotiations continued to find a midway for Greek and Turkish plans. Greeks wish for a whole Cyprus that is ruled by Cypriots. On the other hand, Turkey wants two separate autonomous states on the island. Until today, various solutions were suggested to solve the problem. One of them was the Annan plan which offered a unified Cyprus. In April 2003 a referendum was held in order to vote for Annan plan. However, the plan was not accepted by the Greek Cypriots and the island still remains divided into two de facto states (Milne, 2003, p.147). This paper will initially attempt at answering the following question:

Which country is responsible for the Cyprus issue?

To begin with, the Greek Cypriots reject the principles of 1960 Constitution which offers an egalitarian approach to the each community. Stavrinides, a lecturer in University of Bradford, has the impression that

the 1960 constitution was imposed on people of Cyprus by ‘external powers’, and also the Constitution gave the Turkish Cypriot minority of eighteen per cent rights and powers greatly in excess of their numbers, rights which their leader preceded to abuse at the expense of leg                                                                                          itimate interest of the Greek Cypriot majority of eighty per cent (1999, p.60).

Hence, the writer claimed that the 1960 Constitution was an unjust process that gave rights to the Turkish minority more than they have right to get. Stavrinides (1999) further asserts about a just constitution that such a constitutional power should not be given to the Turkish Cypriots. A constitutional order that would govern a whole unified Cyprus without any privileges to a certain community (p.61). As Stavrinides said, in his article, Beriş (2002), the reporter of the External Relation Committee of TUSIAD, states that the basic problem, according to Greeks, is that the 1960 Constitution encourages communal and political separation in the island (p.71).

Secondly, Greek Cypriots thinks that the invasion of the Turkish Military Forces in 1974 was not a legal intervention. Therefore, the invasion was the beginning of the Cyprus question. Moreover, Stavrinides (1999) asserts that “the Cyprus problem is a problem of invasion and continuing occupation of a large part of Cyprus in contravention of international law” (p.74). Thus, the author is questioning the legitimacy of the intervention. In fact, the Greek Cypriots regarded the invasion as a deliberate attempt by Turkey to occupy the island. In addition to this, in his article Clement Dodd (1999), a British professor in University of London, mentions about the Greek Cypriot’s arguments that the consequences of the invasion were brutal. The war of 1974 caused 140.000 Greek Cypriots to flee to the South which they believed to be an ethnic cleaning of North (p.10).

Thirdly, a unified Cyprus with the acceptance of a federal state is Greek Cypriots’ main aim to reach. Stavrinides (1999) argues that there has to be a unified Cyprus that each community has absolute equality. He seems to believe that there would not be any privileges to the each community in the administration process of the unified Cyprus (p.57). Moreover, he points out that the Greek Cypriots do not perceive the Greece as “motherland”. They no more have a desire to achieve Enosis. He says that Greeks in Cyprus define themselves as being Cypriot rather than being Greek. In addition to this, Stavrinides briefly says that the Greeks and Turks can unify within the realm of being Cypriot (p.63). In his article Beriş (2002) summarizes the Greeks’ desire for a unified Cyprus as follows: Rather than two separate states, Greeks want a single state with recognizing bi-communal principle (p.67).

On the other hand, Turkish Cypriots claim that the 1960 Constitution was a just process that it preserves the Turkish minority’s rights to survive on the Cyprus. Süha Bölükbaşı (1998), an associate professor in department of international relations in Middle East Technical University, describes the 1960 Constitution as a relic from island’s past which offered the Turks and Greek Cypriots to share the administration (p.411). Turkish government, according to Dodd (1999), wanted a solution for the island by accepting the equally shared administration that also mentioned in the Constitution (p.130). He argues that by 1960 Constitution the two communities regarded as equal, and Turkish Cypriot’s rights were taken under guarantee (p.316). He finally states that if a federation would be founded in Cyprus, each community has to have equal rights as in 1960 Constitution (p.301).

Secondly, Turkish community believes that the Turkish intervention in 1974 was legal. In his article, Bölükbaşı (1998) says that by the Treaties of Guarantee, Turkey had the legitimacy to intervene in the island if the constitution was abolished. For Treaties of Guarantee, so his argument goes, that was signed by three states Britain, Turkey and Greece, in 1959, Turkey was entitled as “guarantor” state (p.415). In addition, Turkish Cypriots’ another main argument is having been subjected to violence. Dodd (1999) reports that after Greek Cypriots abolished constitutional order, they started to a systematic violence against the Turkish Cypriots to oblige them for the constitutional change (p.7). Moreover, Bölükbaşı (1998) states that after Greek junta’s coup in July 1974, the process of Enosis was wanted to be accelerated by the junta government. For this reason, Bölükbaşı says, because the Turkish government had the fear of Enosis, Ankara sent military forces to the island on 20 July 1974 (p.420).

Thirdly, Turkish Cypriots want full implementation of 1960 Constitution if a reunification would take place. Otherwise, they say, we would have the desire for “taksim”, partition of the island. In his article Dodd (1999) states that Turkish Government wanted the continuation of British rule or the partition of the island within two sovereign states (p.5). Moreover, Necati Ertekün (1999), a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, points out that Greek Cypriots have always aimed hellenisation of a whole island and unification with Greece (p.98). In addition to this, Bölükbaşı (1998) says that because Greek Cypriots have historical purpose to be unified with Greece; Turkish Cypriots always have the fear of being a minority in a Greek island (p.412). For this reason, so his argument goes, Turkish Cypriots want “taksim” in the island in order to feel more secure for their future (p.412).

In the light of all above mentioned opinions, it could be said that reaching a consensus for the Cyprus question is not easy. While the Turkish side contends for the issues that are about the 1960 Constitution, the 1974 intervention and “taksim”, Greek side tries to contest the Turkish assertions. Nevertheless, the Turkish proposals to solve the problem are more rational and just. Therefore, by examining those reliable articles above, provided that s\he is objective one can easily draw the conclusion that the reasons put forward by the Greeks in order to blame the Turks for the Cyprus dispute are invalid at all.

Those who perceive the 1960 Constitution as unjust claim that the 1960 Constitution was a process which gave extensive privileges to Turkish Cypriots. To Greek Cypriots, if the Turkish minority achieves political equality as mentioned in the 1960 Constitution, the Greek majority will not tolerate those constitutional principles, and will reject it. However, the 1960 settlement was basically just. If it is wanted for the two communities to live together on Cyprus, an egalitarian constitution should be held on. Unless a constitution was accepted as in 1960, the Turkish Cypriot minority might have been exposed to the tyranny of majority. Furthermore, Dodd (1999) points out that if a federation, a unified Cyprus, has to be founded by two communities, there has to be equal communities and a federation based on equal sovereignty (p.361). Moreover, the idea that Turkish Cypriots had extensive rights by means of the 1960 Constitution is unlikely to be true. In fact, the rights that were given to the Turkish Cypriots were less than the Greek Cypriots’ rights. Briefly, the 1960 Constitution was the only process in order to live together in Cyprus.

Those who see the Turkish Military intervention to the island in 1974 as illegal believe that the invasion was for occupation of the island. Furthermore, the Greek Cypriots argue that the invasion was violating international laws. However, the 1974 intervention was not done to occupy the island but to bring peace to Cyprus. The intervention was needed because, as Salahi Sonyel (1999), a professor of international relations in the Near East University in TRNC, mentions, Greek Cypriots initially aimed to erode Turkish Cypriots’ constitutional rights. Then, they finally aimed to eliminate the whole Turkish community in Cyprus (p.21). Additionally, the violence that Turk in the island were subjected to was continuously increasing. Moreover, I disagree with Stavrinides when he writes that the invasion had contravention to international law. As Bölükbaşı (1998) states in his article, by signing the Treaties of Guarantee in 1959, Turkey had the legitimacy to intervene in the island when needed (p.415). Therefore, the invasion of the Turkish Military was legitimized by international treaties before the invasion. Moreover, another reason for the intervention is that the signs to achieve Enosis were increasing. The Greek junta was impatient to reach their ultimate goal, Enosis. Besides, the idea that the war of 1974 was the starting point of the Cyprus dispute is incorrect. To me, the beginning of the Cyprus question is the date when Greeks Cypriots abolished the 1960 Constitution. To sum up, the 1974 invasion was legal and it was necessary for survival of Turkish Cypriots on the island.

It is the contention of Stavrinides that Greek Cypriots no more wish for unification with Greece and them any longer perceive Greece as “motherland”. Greeks in the island, so his argument goes, abandoned their Hellenistic ideas and they feel themselves as Cypriot. He adds that “Cypriotness” can be the collectivity for a unified Cyprus. However, it is not easy to abandon a historical aim in a limited time period. As Ertekün (1999) explains, Greek Cypriots not only aimed to Hellenize the island in the past, but they also still aim the unification with Greece (p.98). Moreover, the idea that if a unified Cyprus has to be founded, the two communities should be absolutely equal is certainly wrong. If such a process is exercised in Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriots will be swallowed by the majority. For this reason, the midway for the consensus is not the equality of the communities, but of the rights. At this point, Niyazi Kızılyürek (2003), an academician in the Cyprus University, claims that if a unified Cyprus is founded, the Greek Cypriots will want to eliminate some negative codes of the constitution. And then, after they abandoned the Treaties of Guarantee, they will begin to seek legitimacy for Enosis (p.28). In the light of this claim, Milne (2003) asserts that Greek proposals for a unified Cyprus have lack credibility. In fact, Milne says, there will be a tragedy if a unified Cyprus constituted before appropriate conditions were prepared (p.155). Briefly, Greek Cypriots’ desire for a unified Cyprus could be the initial stage of Enosis. Because of this, the recognition of disunity in the island is the best solution to end the Cyprus dispute.

In conclusion, Greek Cypriots put forward that the 1960 Constitution was not just, the 1974 intervention was not legal and “taksim” is not acceptable. Nonetheless, a topic like Cyprus issue needs a broader perspective to be analyzed healthy and by this new perspective one who is objective will soon realize that the Greek Cypriots’ arguments are not reliable. Actually, we said that the 1960 Constitution has to be the base if a federation is to be founded. Then, the Turkish intervention in 1974 was proven to be legal. And lastly, “taksim” is proposed as an unavoidable solution in this paper. Finally, the other sides of the issue have been showed and one thing is left to be said: the ignorance of the facts can not be continued forever by the international community.

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