Cyprus: Situation Status Quo

Cyprus: Situation Status Quo

By: Seyfi Tashan

In his article that appeared in the Hürriyet Daily News of February 4th, 2020 columnist Yusuf Kanlı analyzes the pre-Presidential election programs of political parties in Northern Cyprus and informs us that a great majority of party leaders support federation as a solution to the Cyprus problem.

On the other hand, the Greek Cypriots also support a federal solution. But the contents of federation claims on both sides contrast each other. While Turkish Cypriot federation supporters demand a federation based on the principle of absolute equality, the Greek Cypriot side wants to put the role of the Turks to a minority status under the title of federation. Many countries in the world support the Greek interpretation while the UN’s attitude is unclear and shifting all the time, postponing a clear decision since the leaders of the two peoples in the Island began to negotiate a solution almost 70 years ago. Under these conditions and due to the firm attitude of Turkey on equality in Cyprus even though not clearly declared support of the Western World the current situation cannot be expected to change in the near future.

It is likely that hydrocarbon discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean have made it more lucrative for Greeks to not to change their position and a s a result this complex situation in Cyprus cannot be expected to change in the near future. Therefore, the current situation in Cyprus, a Turkish Cypriot State in the North and a Greek Cypriot State in the South, seems to have become the status quo and we must look at the future accordingly.

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                    THE CYPRUS PROBLEM (*)

                                             RAUF DENKTAŞ

      The search for a settlement of the Cyprus problem through inter-communal talks has been in progress since June, 1968. The success of the intercommunal talks must necessarily depend on identity of views on the diagnosis of the Cyprus problem.


The search for a settlement of the Cyprus problem through inter-communal talks has been in progress since June, 1968. United Nations Secretary-General, U Thant’s view of the talks in his last report (Do­cument S/10005 of December 2, 1970) is not very encouraging; the Greek Cypriot press has virtually established its position against the talks, calling for recourse to the U.N. General Assembly; the Turkish Cypriot press is equally despondent, and suggests from time to time that the guarantor powers (Turkey, Greece and Great Britain) and the two communities should tackle the problem; the countries which pay for the U.N. peace-keeping operation in Cyprus, or contribute men to the Peace Force, are showing increased impatience at the slow progress of the intercommunal talks. Yet the quest for peace continues; the two sides have not thrown in their hands, and in all Cypriot hearts, Tur­kish and Greek alike, the hope for “a just and permanent solution” beams on and off, like a search-light in the middle of a turbulent sea.

The success of the intercommunal talks must necessarily depend on identity of views on the diagnosis of the Cyprus problem. At pre­sent it is difficult to maintain that such identity has been reached.

The Independent Republic of Cyprus was not the desired aim of the Greek Cypriot leadership’s 1955-58 EOKA struggle. Because of Turkish Cypriot resistance to the desired Greek Cypriot aim of ENOSIS (union of Cyprus with Greece), and the consequent intercommunal strife which brought Turkey and Greece to the verge of war, the set­ting up of an independent republic became, for the Greek Cypriot leadership, the only way of attaining a feasible solution without abandoning the desired aim of ENOSIS. The Turkish Cypriot leadership was thus handicapped from the very beginning. All acts and declarations by the Greek Cypriot leaders during the 1960-63 period were tested in the light of the knowledge that the Greek Cypriot leadership would destroy the feasible solution of independence which was reached for the sake of their desired solution – ENOSIS. This was the background to the 1963 events. It was difficult for a political partnership to function where one of the partners continued to aim for a political end (ENO­SIS) completely alien to the spirit of the partnership.

The events which were to erupt in December, 1963, thus had a philosophy behind them, and they were neither accidental nor inevit­able. They were carefully planned, and formed the last link in a chain of calculated events designed to remove all those aspects of the agree­ments which forbade any move in the direction of ENOSIS. A Greek Cypriot document, now known as “The Akritas Plan” has since been published in the Greek press giving full details of the Greek Cypriot motivation as regards the 1963 events  (1).


It can thus be seen that the independence of Cyprus which was found to be the “just and permanent solution” to her problem was to be used for the same end (ENOSIS) which it purported to have prohi­bited as a sine qua non of peaceful cooperation between the two communities. The Turkish Cypriot fear that this intention still underlies all Greek Cypriot actions and proposals in the intercommunal talks conti­nues to be the greatest stumbling block. Unfortunately neither the Greek Cypriot press nor the statements made by the Greek Cypriot lead­ers help to alleviate these fears  (2).


  • Greek Cypriot daily Patris, April 21, 1966. See also Conspiracy to Destroy the Republic of Cyprus — Cyprus Turkish Information Office, 1969
  • Makarios: «I shall prove that I have never deviated from the national path, i.e. Enosis» Eleftheria, January 22, 1970.

But fears have to be cast off and suspicions curbed if a peaceful solution is to be found. Much depends on the attitude of the Greek Cypriot side. Passing off the Greek National Anthem as «the National Anthem of Cyprus» each time a foreign diplomat presents his credenti­als to Archbishop Makarios, playing this anthem as the closing-down tune on Cyprus television each night, having the word «ENOSIS» boldly printed in blue and white on all camps of the Greek Cypriot Army, the removal of the Turkish language from all road signs, and refusal to solve the problems of 20,000 Turkish Cypriot displaced per­sons are but a few of the overt Greek Cypriot acts which daily exas­perate the Turkish Cypriots. It is with this background that the search for peace continues.

What does the Turkish Cypriot side hope or wish to achieve in the intercommunal talks?

The answer to this question is simple. Turkish Cypriots want to retain the community’s political and juridical status as laid down in the 1960 agreements – a status of partnership with vested and undeniable rights in the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus. “The independence and sovereignty of Cyprus was won by our exertions and because of our resistance to Greek demands to colonize the island by uniting it with Greece. But for our resistance to ENOSIS during the 1955-58 period there would have been no Independent Republic of Cyprus”, say the Turkish Cypriots. It is because of this deeply embedded belief that the Turkish Cypriot side is averse to any move to treat the Turkish Community as a minority on the island- a move which forms the axis of all Greek Cypriot offers, and is hammered in daily by the Greek Cypriot press.

From the Greek Cypriot point of view, the problem can be resolv­ed “once the majority rule principle” is accepted. To them majority rule also includes “the right of the Greek Cypriots to decide the fate of Cyprus”, in other words, to decide on the union of Cyprus with Greece.! According to them, the fault of the 1960 agreements lies in the fact that ENOSIS is ruled out., and the independence and sovereignty of Cyprus are fully guaranteed.

The Turkish Cypriots’ partnership status and the community’s  recognized rights and    interests  in  the  independence,    sovereignty and territorial  integrity of the island give juridical   backing to these guarantees. That is why the Greek Cypriot side feels inclined to continue the present situation rather than endorse the rights of the Turkish community which, they know, will continue to bar the way to ENOSIS.

The intercommunal talks began in June, 1968, in the wake – and probably as a result – of the 1967 November crisis. Two Turkish villa­ges, Boğazköy and Geçitkale, had been attacked by combined Greek and Greek Cypriot forces as part of the pattern of overall Greek tactics to eliminate all Turkish Cypriot points of resistance one by one, Turkey’s
reaction  was quick;  a Greco-Turkish war became imminent.    At this stage Greece agreed to withdraw from Cyprus its occupation   forces – numbering some 12,000 men  – together with General Grivas,    their commanding officer    who was then at loggerheads    with Archbishop Makarios. The Greek Cypriot administration, on the other hand, promised full compensation to the Turkish villagers – a promise which  has only partly been fulfilled to this day!

In other words, the armed struggle of December, 1963 – Novem­ber, 1967 yielded no results. The 1960 Agreements, which the Greek Cypriot side thought would be thrown into the wastepaper basket, were still recognized as valid agreements throughout the world. Turkish Cypriot resistance was still continuing; no military victory had been achieved, and the de facto Greek Army presence in Cyprus had now been withdrawn. It was obvious, therefore, that to solve the Cyprus problem by armed force was an impossibility as long as the Turkish Cypriots resisted ENOSIS and Turkey backed them up in this resistance.

At the initial stages of the talks, it was necessary to eliminate subjects whose discussion would lead the negotiations nowhere. ENO­SIS, partition, and any solution based on geographical separation were included in this category. What remained to be discussed was inde­pendence and the means of cooperation between the two ethnic com­munities in running a joint enterprise. As there was neither victor nor vanquished, mutual concessions appeared to be the key to success.

Now, almost three years after the beginning of the talks, both sides claim to have come to the limit of the concessions which they can reasonably make. These talks were said to be of an unofficial and exploratory nature, and secrecy was considered essential for their suc­cess. Consequently, in discussing the difficulties encountered in the intercommunal talks one has to be careful not to cross the boundaries of discretion, or to divulge anything which has not so far been disclosed by both sides.

From 1960 onwards, the Greek Cypriot propaganda machine told the world that “amendment of the Constitution was essential for the better functioning of the state machinery”. Their ostensible reason for the 1963 troubles was projected as “crisis due to constitutional abnormalities”. In fact, of course, their main objective was to remove all those parts of the Constitution prohibiting any move towards ENOSIS by giving specific rights to the Turkish Cypriots. At the intercommunal talks, the Turkish Cypriot side showed willingness to accommo­date the Greek Cypriot demands for certain amendments, provided a) that they did not erode the Communal Status of the Turkish Cypriots, and b) that ENOSIS continued to be effectively barred. Another impor­tant question for the Turkish Cypriots was that of security of life and property. The Turks wanted a guaranteed regime which would prevent the tragedy of December 1963 from being restaged by the numerically greater Greek Cypriot side. The checks and balances introduced into the 1960 Constitution in the form of vetoes, etc. proved inade­quate, and the December 1963 events were planned and staged in spite of them. Now the Turkish Cypriot side, in considering a future arrange­ment, wanted “more real” guarantees in the from of full autonomy in local affairs.

It has been agreed that:

a)The two communities shall share the responsibility of running the government in proportion to the population ratio (80 % Greek Cypriot and 20 % Turkish Cypriot);

  1. Local autonomy shall be given to the two communites.

General agreement has been reached on the functions of autono­mous local bodies, although a few questions remain in abeyance on these. The difficulty seems to be in the interpretation given to the term “local autonomy” by the two sides. To the Turkish Cypriots it implies what it says: Autonomy in its proper sense. The Greek Cypriot treatment of the subject falls far short of this understanding. Hence the difficulty in resolving the conflict.

Other difficulties stem from the Greek Cypriot side’s refusal to reendorse the “functional federation” image of the 1960 agreements, under which the Government was shared between the two communites in agreed proportions, while each community had its separate Communal Administration for “communal matters”. It is this functional federation arrangement that has enabled the Turkish Cypriots to de­fend the independence of Cyprus from December 1960 to this day. The only concession that the Greek Cypriot side is willing to make is to “allow” the Turkish Cypriot side to retain its Communal Administrative set up – the Turkish Communal Chamber – without re-establishing its Greek Cypriot counterpart. Turkish Cypriot proposals for some solu­tion to this question of retaining the “functional federation” image have been turned down, thus increasing Turkish fears that what the Greek Cypriots are hoping for is the creation of a Greek Cypriot state – which the Turkish Cypriots will be treated at best as a “privileged minority”. The Turkish Cypriots feel that acceptance of such a status would gradually move the avalanche of ENOSIS, under which they would sooner or later be crushed. For the Turkish Cypriot side, there­fore, the preservation of the 1960 image of functional federalism is a sine qua non of any future agreement. “If the Greek Cypriot aim is not to use any future agreement as a ‘springboard for ENOSIS’, they should have no difficulty in accepting our proposals on this issue”, argue the Turkish Cypriot leaders. And this, really, is the crux of the whole mat­ter. The Greek Cypriot approach to the problem is alien to the establish­ment of an independent Cypriot State. In the absence of a Cypriot nation, any attempt to base the State on one of the two communities while treating the other as a minority would, in fact, be an attempt to create a new transitional Greek State in the Mediterranean as a prelude to union with Greece, it is this Greek Cypriot tendency “to make Cyprus Greece” which caused the 1963 troubles, and continues to hamper the progress of the intercommunal talks. If Cyprus is to con­tinue as an independent country, its government and administrative set-up have to be based on the recognized and agreed rights of the two ethnic communities.

The persistent attempt in Cyprus to gloss over this reality and to confuse the issue by importing into it questions of minority-majority rights do not infuse the Turkish side with confidence. Akritas’ Plan is still on record, and actions taken in accordance with its terms are not yet past history. The Turkish Cypriot side’s attempt to underline the community’s rights and status and to provide for adequate mea­sures for protection of life and property must be viewed in the light of an existing Greek Cypriot plan to Hellenize Cyprus by hook or by crook, and to bring about ENOSIS by using any agreement which falls short of it as simply a transitional one, called “the feasible solution” which is to be used toward the desired objective of ENOSIS.

In short, the difficulties which lie ahead cannot be minimized; questions of principle on cardinal issues are still far apart, and the chances of bridging them in the near future seem rather dim. But the fact that a “search for peace” still continues, and that guns have been silent in the Island while the intercommunal talks have been in prog­ress, nourish the hope that a solution to this thorny problem will be found through peaceful means – as, indeed, it must.


                 (*) Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy”, Vol 1, No. 1

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A second ‘non-dialogue policy with the EU?’ Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 20 November 2000, Turkish Daily News

A second ‘non-dialogue policy with the EU?’

Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 20 November 2000, Turkish Daily News

Turkey is heading with great political speed for another “non-dialogue” with the European Union. In particular, Turkish public opinion is very angry about the decision of the European Parliament to accept the decision that Turkey should recognize the so-called Armenian Bill and that Cyprus has become another political criteria for EU-membership. Also, some modifications of Turkey’s borders and Kurdish television and radio broadcasting were other issues which created heavy debates among political leaders. Therefore, the good atmosphere which was achieved in Helsinki has been spoiled. Was such a situation expected before the intergovernmental conference? No doubt those who are against Turkish membership of the EU and those who are against EU-membership in Turkey made their points and they made obvious, at least for the moment, what they wanted: the continuation of the non-dialogue.

The main differences between Turkey and the EU will remain the Cyprus, Armenian and Kurdish issues. But why at the last minute make the European Parliament put those two critical issues into the Morillion Report and create such anger? Even Morillion did not accept this change and resigned. Is this not then a fait accompli towards Turkey? Also, the Cyprus question suddenly becomes another political criteria. What is the real purpose behind this? Do they think that Turkey can accept such moves? It seems neither diplomatically, nor politically correct behavior by the European Parliament. Then, the discussions last week centered again on how the EU is not reliable: these have one aim, to destroy Turkey, and get Turkey away from the EU. Even one of the most important criticisms came by the chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee, Kamran Inan, when he said, concerning Cyprus, “They [the EU] want to get Cyprus into the EU because one part of the island belongs to their religion and culture,” indicating Southern Cyprus.

For Turkey, in the words of Ambassador Volkan Vural, Cyprus is a matter of political dialogue and Turkey will further support U.N. Secretary General Cofi Annan in his search for dialogue, but certainly neither Annan nor the EU is a referee in this issue. Cyprus is irrelevant for Turkey’s national program which will be submitted to the EU. Therefore, the Greek government put it in the “political criteria,” and in the letter to Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit by Finland’s Prime Minister before the Helsinki summit. Accordingly it did not contain anything. Now, all this happens and the Turkish government is upset. Then, like Cyprus, they did not expect the so-called Armenian genocide to be accepted by the European Parliament. It gave a signal to all other national parliaments in Europe, as indicated by the French and Italian parliaments’ decisions. It is expected that the Scandinavian parliaments will follow suit. Another important development happened on Friday when Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lind visited Turkey for four hours and told her counterpart Ismail Cem that Kurdish education must be started and that just making a few television and radio broadcasts will not be enough. As is known, Sweden will take the EU term presidency in January 2001 and no doubt Sweden will create more headaches for Turkey.

It is not so important whether Turkey will accept those “unofficial political criteria” by the EU or not. The real question remains whether Turkey will keep its enthusiasm for EU membership. Recent developments show that Turkey is losing its hope for a new dynamic and also its European vision. The modernization process in Turkey will be interrupted again if there is another “second non-dialogue policy,” and this time it will be longer. Then, no political party can support closer EU relations if the EU continues to act in such a way that the Turkish nation is degraded and demoralized. A new, in the words of Cem Duna, “Luxembourg syndrome” is emerging. This time with far more negative consequences for each side. For those who are do not want to see Turkey in the EU it is a great success; but for those who look forward to union membership it must bring great disappointment and resignation.

What will happen then? No doubt, it will not be the end of the world. Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said that Turkey can renounce EU membership and that Turkey would not be seen to accept anything the EU requires of it. Maybe he is now the only political leader who does not have it easy. Two political leaders in the coalition, Prime Minister Ecevit and Deputy Prime Minister Bahceli, stated long ago that, as concerns the Cyprus and Ocalan issues, Turkey has done as much as it can. Now, as a result, Turkish nationalism will experience another rise and anti-EU forces will win another battle, if not the war. The EU is also making it difficult for Mesut Yilmaz, who seems determined to get into the EU. But Foreign Minister Cem is now under very strong pressure because all his diplomatic moves seem like trees without fruit. Now, the Aegean question has raised another political criterion. This means that his sincere policy towards Greece became another disappointment for Cem, but a success for Papandreou.

Far from being a highway for Turkey the EU road map seems rather like a city street full of barriers. The sincerity of the EU and EU institutions is called into question again and membership seems unreachable. It is a pity that the good atmosphere has lasted only one year. The tension between the EU and Turkey has just started and a political solution is not there. Certainly, it will be a cold winter for both sides despite the fact that in Ankara it is as sunny as ever.

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