THE CYPRUS DISPUTE AND THE UNITED NATIONS: PEACEFUL NON-SETTLEMENT BETWEEN 1954 AND 1996
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. Following the 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, indicated that the settlement was temporary, since the Greek Cypriots did never abandoned their ultimate desire. While Turkish Cypriots insisted on the full implementation of the constitution, Greek Cypriots wanted to amend the constitution in favor of Greeks. Unfortunately, inter communal violence started in December 1963. In order to cease the fire Turkey alarmed the guarantor states, Greece and Britain. At the end of the negotiations, UN decision was to send troops to settle peace in the island, yet UN force failed to end violence. Therfore, Turkey decided to invade to the island on June 1964 after consulting to the US. After consulting the US, on 4 June Prime Minister Inonu received the famous the US president Johnson letter, is considered as a turning point in Turkish Foreign policy and Turco-American relations. The most significant impact of 1964 crisis on Turkish foreign policy was because of deterioration of relations with the US, Turkey understood the importance of improving relations with the USSR.
Instability in Greece indirectly brought out the 1967 Cyprus crisis. In April 1967 Greek military held a coup d’état. Junta was secretly aiming the enosis with giving minority rights to the Turkish Cypriots on the island. In spite of all these, Turkish and Greek Prime Ministers made unsuccessful negotiations in September 1967. Only two weeks later Greek Cypriots again attacked Turkish villages in Cyprus. Thereupon, parliament gave government to send Turkish troops abroad, to Cyprus. Because Turkey had equipment shortages and the presence of US Sixth Fleet, Turkey did not invade to Cyprus. At the end of the 1967 crisis the status quo on the island and Turco-Greek relations was kept.
Continuing negotiations until 1968 let Greek administration to be impatient to reach ultimate desire, enosis. Greek administration saw Makarios as an impediment in front of enosis. Eventually, on 15th of July 1974 Makarios was overthrown by a Greek assisted coup d’état and replaced by Nikos Sampson. The military coup in Cyprus changed the character of Cyprus question completely. Eventually, Turkey launched invasion on 20 June 1974. After Turkey’s military intervention in 1974, sympathy has increased in the United Nations for the Greek Cypriot demands for “independence with no shackles,” although the Turkish intervention then actually interrupted the Greek junta’s plan to unite the island with Greece. Soviet Union did not oppose Turkey’s Cyprus landing, and even continued its silence since the second offensive. The Third world states and regional countries did not arouse antagonistic response to Turkey’s Cyprus intervention. And Turkish Government realized that in détente era the US was in no position to interfere in the affairs of its smaller allies. The US congress decision on imposition of an arms embargo, which promoted by a powerful pro-Greek lobby, on Turkey caused repercussions on the eyes of Turkish people. At the end, the US congress completely lifted the embargo in August 1978. If the embargo were not lifted, Turkish government also calculated the withdrawal from NATO. Johnson’s letter of 1964 and the arms embargo of 1975-78 left permanent bad effects on the eyes of Turkish people. On the other hand, because of difficulties in Turkey’s relationship with the US, Turkey accelerated her relations with Soviet Union with decreasing threat coming from Soviets.
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. On 1 November 1974, the assembly by a vote of 117 in favor, none against, and no abstentions, adopted Resolution 3212, which called for the withdrawal of all foreign armed forces from the island and urged all states to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and non-alignment of Cyprus. Then first negotiations started with Vienna talks lasted on and off from 28 April 1975 to 21 February 1976. While Denktash, the president of the Turkish administration, insisted on a federal republic of two mostly homogeneous zones, with each zone enjoying extensive autonomy, Clerides, president of the “Cyprus government,” refused to accept the principle of the territorial federation and focused on the rights of return of the Greek Cypriot refugees to their homes left within the Turkish-controlled zone. In the second meeting four principles were accepted as the basis of the future Cyprus state. Those principles were about the structure of the new state, economic issues, freedoms and functions of the government. Between May 1979 and April 1983, there were about 250 sessions in which the representatives of both sides participated. The U.N. General Assembly resolution on 13 May 1983 called for the withdrawal of all “occupation forces,” the return of the Greek Cypriot refugees to their former homes, and the convening of an international conference to settle the dispute. After that resolution, The Turkish Cypriot Parliament retaliated on 15 November 1983 by unanimously proclaiming the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Security Council characterized the TRNC as legally invalid.
There held several meetings also after 1983. De CuCllar, secretary general, invited Kyprianou and Denktash to a summit meeting on 17 January 1985 to discuss his draft agreement based on the results of the proximity talks. After holding another series of meetings with the representatives of both communities, de CuCllar presented, on 29 March 1986, a new draft. It was talking about territorial problems, bi-zonal federalism and Turkish military on the island.
Vasiliou’s, the Greek Cyprus president, application for European Union (E.U.) membership for Cyprus on 4 July 1990 without even consulting Denktash, Turkish Cypriots fear that if Cyprus were to become an E.U. member before a negotiated settlement, the Greek Cypriots would have achieved most of their demands without making any concessions in return.
In 1991, U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was convinced that Ozal was going to force Denktash to make the necessary territorial concessions and accept the return of a significant number of the Greek Cypriot refugees to the north. Until then negotiations went on, yet there is still no compromise.
Relevance to Class Discussions:
As we said before, on 1 November 1974, the assembly by a vote of 117 in favor, none against, and no abstentions, adopted Resolution 3212, which called for the withdrawal of all foreign armed forces from the island and urged all states to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and non-alignment of Cyprus. First, I am going to explain the issue on sovereignty. Cyprus republic at the beginning was not a fully sovereign country. Because Turkey, Greece and Britain were guarantor states that whenever an intervention became a must, they would intervene. This explicitly indicates that Cyprus was not an under condition of sovereignty. So, by the Treaties of Guarantee, Turkey had the legitimacy to intervene in the island.
If we look at the issue from the perspective of Montevideo Convention, Cyprus Republic had charged all criteria. It has a permenant population, a defined territory, a government, and it has the capacity to enter into relations with other states.
Secondly, self-determination is an evolutunary criteria for statehood. UN General Assembly Resolution, 1514, stressed that: all peoples have the right to self determination, by virtues of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. If we examine the 1974 intervention of Turkey to the Island within the self determination concept, what ever Turkey did was illegal. However, on the other hand, first, Turkey got the right to intervene with the treaties of guaranty; secondly, what EC guidelines underlined the need to respect the rule of law, democracy and human rights and rights of minorities. So, we can say that Turkey intervened to the Island, since, first, no respect to rule of law (1960 constitution was abolished unilaterally), second, no democracy and human rights (attacks and tortures to Turkish people), thirdly, no rights of minorities, even Turkish people were not a minority, they were very much himuliated.
The other issue is the position of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriot Parliament retaliated on 15 November 1983 by unanimously proclaiming the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). As is the case in many similar situations, the international community-in order not to encourage secessionism in Cyprus and elsewhere- was not ready to grant immediate recognition and the UN Security Council characterized the TRNC as legally invalid. TRNC is only recognized by Turkey.
My Comments on the Article and the Author:
One of the reasons for choosing this article is knowing Suha Bolukbasi and his views on Cyprus issue before. He characterizes the Cyprus issue as a permanent conflict area which Greeks and Turks will never give up. In addition to Cyprus dispute, he says, Aegean continental shelf issue makes the conflict much worse. He is in favor of a compromise on the island and a solution that both sides are satisfied. In his article, Suha Bolükbasi did not hesitate to criticize even Turkish administration when necessary. For example, he talks about Denktash as a puppet of Turkey.