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The Lennox-Boyd statement of 19 December 1956 and the origins of the proposed ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’ in Cyprus


In Politics, Aristotle suggests that to obtain the clearest insight into anything, it is necessary to explore its origins.

With Aristotle in mind, one is obliged to ask a key question at a critical time when the Republic of Cyprus may be on the verge of being transformed into – or succeeded by – a ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’.

Republic of Cy 1a logo LLLLLLWhat are the origins of the proposed ‘federation’ together with the ‘bi-communalism’ and the ‘bi-zonality’ at its core?

A substantial part of the answer is to be found in the events in the House of Commons in Westminster 60 years ago.

On 19 December 1956, a landmark statement was delivered by Alan Lennox-Boyd MP, a Conservative politician who was the then British Colonial Secretary and, thus, the minister with responsibility for what was, at the time, the Crown Colony of Cyprus.

(Source: Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 19 December 1956, Columns 1267-1279.)

The statement was delivered against a turbulent backdrop formed by the Cold War, mounting tensions between Greece and Turkey and an armed anti-colonial campaign which was being waged in Cyprus by EOKA, an underground organisation which espoused self-determination via Enosis, i.e. the union of Cyprus with Greece.

The Lennox-Boyd statement of 19 December 1956

To all intents and purposes, the Lennox-Boyd statement of 19 December 1956 rested on three limbs: sustained ‘bi-communalism’ in Cyprus; the prospect of a geographical partition; and the imprisonment of Cyprus within a triangular international relationship involving the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey.

The first limb manifested itself when Lennox-Boyd welcomed the publication of the Report and proposed Constitution composed by Lord Radcliffe, a senior judge serving in the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords who, since July 1956, had been serving as the Constitutional Commissioner for Cyprus.  By welcoming what became known as ‘the Radcliffe Plan’, Lennox-Boyd effectively reiterated that the United Kingdom opposed the pure application of majoritarian democracy in Cyprus.  Instead, the United Kingdom endorsed what has come to be known as ‘bi-communalism’, i.e. the idea that Cyprus must be governed by, for and on behalf of two separate ‘communities’.

‘Bi-communalism’ did not sit easily with the demographic realities on the ground.  In paragraph 23 of his Report to Lennox-Boyd, dated 12 November 1956, Lord Radcliffe acknowledged that ‘the population of the island’ was ‘formed, as to about 80 per cent of Greek Cypriots’ and ‘as to about 18 per cent of Turkish Cypriots’.  Lord Radcliffe added that the remaining ‘2 per cent’ consisted of ‘smaller communities of British residents, Armenians, Maronites and others.’

Against this background, Lord Radcliffe eloquently identified the disparate causes as well as the divisive consequences of the ‘separation’ of people into ‘the two communities’; Lord Radcliffe used that specific phrase even though he had effectively admitted that there were more than two ‘communities’ in Cyprus.  To quote from paragraph 24 of Lord Radcliffe’s Report: ‘The influences that make for separation between the communities are strong – religion, language, education, tradition, and custom. They are reflected in the towns; by separate quarters for Greek and Turk: in the country[side] by Turkish villages and Greek villages.’  That said, in paragraphs 24 and 28 of his Report, Lord Radcliffe was keen to highlight the existence of ‘mixed villages shared by Greek and Turk’ and the fact that ‘[t]here is no pattern of territorial separation between the two communities’.

Lord Radcliffe likewise spotted what was inherently wrong with what some Turks were pressing for in 1956: the governance of Cyprus along ‘federal’ lines, subject to what has come to be known as ‘the political equality’ of ‘the two communities’.  To quote from paragraph 28 of the Report of Lord Radcliffe:

‘If it is said that what is proposed is in reality nothing more than a system of functional representation, the function in this case being the community life and organisation and nothing else, I find myself baffled in the attempt to visualise how an effective executive government for Cyprus is to be thrown up by a system in which political power is to remain permanently divided in equal shares between two opposed communities.  Either there is stagnation in political life, with the frustration that accompanies it, or some small minority group acquires an artificial weight by being able to hold the balance between the two main parties.’

Having said all that, Lord Radcliffe did not call for the integration of Cypriot society, let alone the application of majoritarian democracy or Enosis.  Instead, Lord Radcliffe proposed that the constitutional future of Cyprus under sustained British sovereignty should rest on the concept of ‘two communities’, as reflected by two electoral lists and other forms of ‘bi-communal’ division.

At paragraph 11 and at other parts of his Report, Lord Radcliffe also proposed ‘a system of diarchy’ involving a British Governor with reserved powers.  Lord Radcliffe envisaged that under such a ‘diarchy’ the governance of Cyprus would become subject to ‘two law-making authorities, their fields distinguished according to their subjects, and two distinct forms of administrative control.’  (Source: Lord Radcliffe, ‘Constitutional Proposals for Cyprus’, 12 November 1956, CAB 129/84, National Archives of the UK.)

As events were to unfold, the ‘Radcliffe Plan’ bit the dust.  However, the very fact that it was published – and endorsed by Lennox-Boyd – on 19 December 1956 had long term consequences.  Above all, the ‘Radcliffe Plan’ breathed fresh life into ‘bi-communalism’.  This in spite of ‘bi-communalism’ being an inherently divisive concept emanating from the archaic Ottoman millet (i.e. religious community) system.

In this context, it should not be forgotten that after the first Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1570 and after the subsequent Turkish conquest in 1571, the island was ruled – or, rather, misruled – by the Ottoman Caliphate and Empire until 1878.  Nor should it be forgotten that after the acquisition of Cyprus by Queen Victoria under the Anglo-Turkish Convention of Defensive Alliance of 1878, the United Kingdom perpetuated and adapted aspects of the millet system and the Ottomanism of which it formed part.

To take one conspicuous example, under Article 1 to the Annex to the Anglo-Turkish Convention of 1878, the United Kingdom maintained the separate ‘Mussulman religious Tribunal’ in Cyprus.  This continued to subsist until the British eventually replaced it with the Turkish Family Court established by the Turkish Family Courts Law of 1951.

This separate system of family justice was supplemented by a separate system of family law.  After 1951, the latter was embodied in the Turkish Family Law 1951.  To quote from its Preamble, this Law applied to ‘marriage and divorce and matters incidental thereto regarding the Turkish Moslem Community of Cyprus’.  In other words, the British consistently maintained a separate system of family justice and a separate system of family law as part and parcel of a ‘bi-communal’ and, it seems, ‘bi-faith’ approach to the governance of Cyprus.

In this context, it should not go unremarked that the Turkish Family Law 1951 imposed direct legislative discrimination on certain people, both on the grounds of gender and religion.  After all, under section 7(1) (c) of the Turkish Family Law 1951: ‘A marriage is prohibited – … between a moslem woman and a non-moslem man…’.  This provision was enacted in Cyprus on 29 January 1951 by the British imperial authorities in Nicosia operating under the ambit of a supposedly progressive Labour administration in London, namely the one headed by Clement Attlee MP, the then Prime Minister.  Needless to say, this legislative discrimination formed part of a broader pattern of direct and indirect discrimination dished out to the detriment of women in Cyprus.

To take another pertinent example of post-1878 British-inspired Ottomanism, in 1882, the British procured the formal constitutional ‘division’ of Cypriots along separate ‘Mohammedan’ and ‘non-Mohammedan’ lines.  To cement this division, the British even introduced separate adult male electoral lists along these very same religious lines.  It was not until the late 1920s, if not sooner, that British ministers in Parliament began to refer to ‘Mohammedans’ as ‘Turkish Cypriots’ and to ‘non-Mohammedans’ as ‘Greek Cypriots’.  (Source: Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 4 May 1882, Column 92 & 18 June 1928, Column 218 & Criton G. Tornaritis QC, Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus, Cyprus and its Constitutional and Other Legal Problems (Nicosia, 1980), pages 23-25.)

On 19 December 1956, with the publication of ‘the Radcliffe Plan’ and the delivery of the landmark statement by Lennox-Boyd, the expressions ‘the Greek Cypriot community’ and ‘the Turkish Cypriot community’ started to gain traction.  Indeed, both expressions were deployed by Lord Radcliffe in his Report of 12 November 1956 and by Lennox-Boyd in his statement of 19 December 1956.  To all intents and purposes, therefore, both expressions were – and remain – ‘made in Britain’.

As regards the second limb of the Lennox-Boyd statement of 19 December 1956, this appeared when the Colonial Secretary raised the spectre of a geographical ‘partition’.  As such, he implicitly envisaged an accompanying exchange of populations.  Such an exchange had already been expressly envisaged behind the scenes in ‘A Memorandum on Possible Schemes of Partition’, dated 10 November 1956 and prepared by the Secretariat of the British Colonial Government in Nicosia.  (Source: CO 926/78, National Archives of the UK.)

More specifically, Lennox-Boyd informed the House of Commons that subject to a forthcoming ‘review’ of its policy, the British Government recognised that ‘the exercise of self-determination in such a mixed population must include partition among the eventual options.’  Lennox-Boyd thereby purported to cement ‘bi-communalism’.  At the same time, he brought into the open the crude idea of giving ‘bi-communalism’ a geographical expression via a ‘partition’ of Cyprus into segregated Greek and Turkish – as well as British – ‘zones’.  Once again, this idea had already been aired behind the scenes, for example at a meeting of the British Cabinet on 12 December 1956.  (Source: CM(56)99th Conclusions, CAB 128/30, National Archives of the UK.)

The idea of partitioning Cyprus had been inspired via a handwritten note dated 31 May 1956 and written by Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, the then Permanent Secretary in the British Foreign Office.  The note was short and to the point: ‘If we are to “declare” a solution we should, I think, seriously consider partition.’  (Source: FO 371/123894, National Archives of the UK.)  Over the subsequent months, as the Suez Crisis unfolded, Kirkpatrick built up a head of steam in support of partition.  By 17 December 1956, partition had been approved by Adnan Menderes, the then Prime Minister of Turkey.  Menderes had been influenced by the first pro-partition report of his adviser at the time, Professor Nihat Erim, dated 24 November 1956.  (Sources: Robert Holland, Britain and the Revolt in Cyprus 1954-1959 (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008) & Hikmet Zeki Kapci, ‘Nihat Erim Report of the Solution of the Cyprus Problem’, Journal of Modern Turkish History Studies, XIV/29, Autumn 2014, pages 353-375.  In this context, the author is also indebted to the research of Ms Fanoulla Argyrou and Neoklis Sarris.)

In other words, the proposed de jure partition of Cyprus into ‘zones’ was British-inspired and Turkish-backed.  Today, the idea is embodied in the prospect of de jure ‘bi-zonality’ as a means of legalizing the de facto partition manufactured by the two Turkish invasions of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974.

As for the third limb of the Lennox-Boyd statement of 19 December 1959, this was expressed in rather subtle terms.  Lennox-Boyd disclosed that ‘Her Majesty’s Government have brought these proposals [of Lord Radcliffe] to the attention of the Greek and Turkish Governments, and, as the House knows, I have just visited Greece and Turkey for discussions on them.’  By means of this disclosure, Lennox-Boyd reminded the House of Commons that Cyprus was, in effect, imprisoned within a triangular international framework encompassing Turkey, as well as Greece and the United Kingdom.  This despite Article 20 of the Treaty concluded in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 24 July 1923, under which ‘Turkey hereby recognises the annexation of Cyprus proclaimed by the British Government on the 14th November, 1914.’  This also despite the fact that only a few years before 1956, on 18 June 1941 to be exact, Turkey had shown its ‘loyalty’ to the United Kingdom by entering into a Treaty of Friendship and Non-Aggression with Hitler’s Germany.

The eagerness of the United Kingdom to accommodate Turkey was no flash in the pan.  On 29 August 1955, the opening of the tri-partite Anglo-Greek-Turkish conference in London had erected this triangular framework for the primary benefit of Turkey.  Months later, on 19 July 1956, Lennox-Boyd even went as far as to claim that Cyprus, a British possession, was an ‘off-shore island of Turkey’.  (Source: Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 19 July 1956, Column 1518).  Lennox-Boyd thereby parroted the line which Turkey had been propagating for some time, not least at the tri-partite conference in 1955.

Interestingly enough, a visitor to the website of the Turkish Foreign Ministry today will find the following claim which is on all fours with the one put forth by Lennox-Boyd in 1956: ‘The Island of Cyprus … is geographically an extension of the Anatolian peninsula …’.  (Source: ‘Cyprus (historical overview)’ at last accessed on 27 December 2016)

In the short term, neither Turkey nor the United Kingdom achieved a ‘bi-zonal’ let alone a ‘tri-zonal’ geographical partition.  Crucially, the Eisenhower Administration in the United States opposed partition.  The upshot was the Greek-Turkish Zurich Agreement of 11 February 1959, which was approved by the United Kingdom (and, from afar, by the United States).  In common with the London Agreement of 19 February 1959, the Zurich Agreement was founded upon the novel idea of curtailed but ‘guaranteed’ statehood for Cyprus.  More to the point, the Zurich Agreement was founded on the first and third limbs of the Lennox-Boyd statement, namely ‘bi-communalism’ and the triangular international framework mentioned above.

All of which was of some satisfaction to the United Kingdom.  As the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Selwyn Lloyd QC MP, acknowledged on the day after the conclusion of the Zurich Agreement: ‘Her Majesty’s Government have always maintained that the only hope for a final solution of the Cyprus problem lay in agreement between the Greek and Turkish Governments and the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.  We therefore warmly welcome the fact that this Zurich agreement has been made.’  (Source: Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 12 February 1959, Column 1356.)

All these decades later, the policy articulated by Selwyn Lloyd on 12 February 1959 found an echo in December 2016 with the news that a ‘Conference on Cyprus’ is to ‘begin’ in Geneva on 12 January 2017 ‘with the participation of the two sides and the three guarantor powers’ of the Republic of Cyprus, i.e. Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom.  Its aim is to address ‘the international dimension of the Cyprus problem, Security and Guarantees.’ (Source: Written Statement by the Deputy Government Spokesman of the Republic of Cyprus, dated 10 December 2016 at

It seems as if, in common with the secret and opaque procedures resulting in the Anglo-Turkish Convention of 1878, the Lennox-Boyd statement of 19 December 1956 and the Zurich and London Agreements of February 1959, the forthcoming ‘Conference’ in Geneva will be conducted behind closed doors and behind the backs of the people who ought to matter most: the citizens and lawful residents of Cyprus.

The ‘bi-communal’ and international features of the settlement brought into force in 1960

On 16 August 1960, the Republic of Cyprus was established as an ostensibly independent but inherently divided and segregated sovereign state, subject to one constitution, ‘two communities’, two British sovereign base areas and three treaties.

In line with the first limb of the Lennox-Boyd statement of 19 December 1956, the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus procured ethno-religious segregation in various ways.  For example, Article 1 of the Constitution required the President to be ‘Greek’ and the Vice-President to be a ‘Turk’.  Meanwhile, Article 2 of the Constitution divided citizens by establishing the following two ethno-religious ‘Communities’: ‘the Greek Community’, whose members were constitutionally defined as ‘all citizens of the Republic who are of Greek origin and whose mother tongue is Greek or who share the Greek cultural traditions or who are members of the Greek-Orthodox Church’; and ‘the Turkish Community’, whose members were constitutionally defined as ‘all citizens of the Republic who are of Turkish origin and whose mother tongue is Turkish or who share the Turkish cultural traditions or who are Moslems’.

It follows that the Constitution endowed each ‘Community’ with an ethnic name but with an ethnic and religious substance.  This was broadly in keeping with the pre-1878 Ottoman millet system, as adapted by the British after 1878.

Ethno-religious segregation was similarly achieved by other constitutional means, such as the maintenance of segregated schools (under Article 20 of the Constitution) and the preservation of separate ‘Greek’ and ‘Turkish’ electoral lists (under Articles 63 and 94) plus the introduction of separate ‘Greek’ and ‘Turkish’ Communal Chambers (under Articles 86 to 111).  Somewhat bizarrely, yet in keeping with the divisive philosophy of ‘bi-communalism’, the Constitution of 1960 even envisaged (under Article 173) the creation of ‘Separate municipalities … in the five largest towns of the Republic … by the Turkish inhabitants thereof … ’.

The scale and the depth of the constitutional division, separation and segregation introduced in 1960 was recognized in a case decided in 1961 by the erstwhile High Court of the Republic of Cyprus.  To quote Mr Justice Vassiliades, the ‘division’ of citizens into ‘Greek and Turkish’ was ‘a division permeating the whole constitution of the Republic [as introduced on 16 August 1960].’  The judge ­­­proceeded to put his finger on why this was so:

‘The very first article in the Constitution … speaks of the two separate communities.  And article 2 defines the division, and places the citizens of the new State into either one or the other of the two distinct communities.  With very few exceptions, this division runs from the top down to the roots of the structure of the state.’  (Source: Simadhiakos v The Police (1961) CLR 64.)

None of which should come as any great surprise if one appreciates the eagerness of Greece and the United Kingdom to accommodate Turkish demands in February 1959.  As one British minister, Julian Amery, admitted in 1960: ‘The basis of the Zurich Agreement [of 11 February 1959] is that there are only two communities in Cyprus.  The view strongly held, particularly by the Turkish community, was that there are no other communities but only religious groups.’  (Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 14 July 1960, Column 1732.)

Consequently, the Armenians, Latins and Maronites of the Republic of Cyprus were collectively relegated to an emasculated and subordinate constitutional status as members of ‘religious groups’.  The reason is embodied in the concept of ‘bi-communalism’.  As its name suggests, ‘bi-communalism’ cannot countenance one integrated multi-ethnic and multi-faith society.  Nor can ‘bi-communalism’ countenance more than two constitutionally sanctioned ‘communities’.  Hence the post-1960 proliferation of deeply divisive phrases founded on ‘bi-communalism’.  Examples include ‘the two communities’, ‘the two sides’, ‘the two leaders’ and various expressions which, somewhat symbolically, are sub-divided into two by means of a hyphen.  These include ‘bi-communal’, ‘bi-zonal’, ‘co-equal’, ‘co-existence’ and ‘co-operation’.

As for the triangular international relationship, this was crystallized in 1960 by the extraordinary international treaties to which Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, plus the Republic of Cyprus, became parties.  These included the Treaty of Guarantee under which ‘Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, taking note of the undertakings of the Republic of Cyprus set out in Article I of the present Treaty, recognise and guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus, and also the state of affairs established by the Basic Articles of its Constitution.’  For good measure, under Article IV of the Treaty of Guarantee, ‘each the three guaranteeing Powers reserves the right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs created by the present Treaty.’  In common with other provisions in the Constitution and the three treaties brought into force in 1960, Article IV had the effect of adversely affecting the independence and sovereignty of the new Republic of Cyprus.

Communalism and the post-1964 pro-‘federation’ strategy of Turkey

Communalism is the antithesis and the adversary of integration.  Indeed, the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary helpfully explains that communalism fosters ‘a strong sense of belonging to a particular, especially religious, community, which can lead to extreme behaviour or violence towards others’.  (Source:, Oxford University Press.)  With this in mind, it was hardly surprising that in 1963 the Republic of Cyprus became gripped by communalism.  This resulted in a constitutional crisis, inter-communal upheaval and what appear to have been the commission of many crimes to the detriment of many citizens belonging to both ‘communities’ established by the Constitution.  The upshot was a de facto ‘divorce’ between ‘the two communities’, as well as the formation of UNFICYP under United Nations Security Council Resolution 186 of 4 March 1964.

It was against this background that, in 1964, Turkey came to the brink of invading the Republic of Cyprus.  That it failed to do so was thanks to the firm and effective opposition of President Lyndon B. Johnson as expressed in a letter to President Inonu of Turkey, dated 5 June 1964.  (Source: Jacob M. Landau, Johnson’s 1964 Letter to Inonu and Greek Lobbying of the White House (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 1979.)

In the same year, 1964, Turkey and the Turkish Community started to press for the formation of a ‘federation’ in Cyprus.  Nevertheless, as the American Ambassador in Nicosia, Taylor Belcher, detected in a declassified telegram, dated 2 December 1964, the ‘federation of Cyprus’, as proposed by the Turks, ‘really means partition of Cyprus’.  Ambassador Belcher added that any such ‘federation’ would ‘require force to be imposed … with boundaries cutting Famagusta and Nicosia and running west to Kokkina’.  In the telling phrase of this perceptive American diplomat, the proposed ‘federation’ equated to ‘federation à la Turque’.  (Source: James E. Miller (ed.), Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume XVI (US State Department, Washington DC, 2000, Document 167).

As events were to transpire, Turkey implemented its strategy, as outlined above, during two invasions launched on 20 July and 14 August 1974 respectively.  The first invasion was ostensibly launched in response to the pretext offered on 15 July 1974 by an unconstitutional coup staged in Nicosia by Greece, which was at the time governed by a junta.­  Tellingly, the second invasion took place more than two weeks after the downfall of both the junta in Athens on 23 July and the short-lived junta-inspired regime in Nicosia on 24 July 1974.

As a result of its second invasion unleashed on 14 August 1974, Turkey ended up occupying 57% of the coastline plus 36% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.  This unlawful, unethical and neo-imperial outcome was ostensibly accomplished for the purported benefit of the Turkish Community, which constituted 18 per cent of the population.

During as well as after its two invasions, Turkey was responsible for the arbitrary uprooting of 180,000 or so human beings from their homes.  They were uprooted because of their ethnicity or religion.  This act of direct discrimination occurred contrary to international law and the basic tenets of humanity.  In consequence, people were subjected to appalling indignities, human rights violations and what appear to be crimes contrary to inter alia Article 49 (1) of the Fourth Geneva Convention under which: ‘Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.’  Evidence to this effect is to be found in multiple sources.

A prime example is a declassified telegram dated 5 August 1974 by Stephen Olver, the then British High Commissioner in Nicosia, to James Callaghan MP, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary.  To quote High Commissioner Olver:

‘A transfer of the Greek Cypriot population out of the Kyrenia area is going on steadily.  This is undoubtedly considered Turkish policy and people are being told that they will never come back.  This is tragic, and we must obviously do what we can to contest these forced evictions.’

Even though Turkey appeared to be violating Article 49(1) of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, High Commissioner Olver reflected the British policy of appeasing Turkey by going on to endorse the segregationist and illiberal aims of Turkish grand strategy.  To quote from his telegram: ‘In the long run, however, a Kyrenia province largely populated by Turkish Cypriots, with the rest of the island mainly Greek Cypriot, might be communally more stable than the present situation, provided that relations between the two areas were firmly controlled.’  (Source: FCO 9/1920, National Archives of the UK.)

The crude results of the two Turkish invasions of 1974 were plain for all to see.  The most obvious result was the de facto geographical partition of the Republic of Cyprus in accordance with the second limb of the Lennox-Boyd statement of 1956 and the calculated post-1964 pro-‘federation’ strategy of Turkey.  Another result was the unlawful colonization of the ethnically-cleansed Turkish-occupied area with citizens of the Occupying Power, Turkey.  By overseeing the re-population of de-populated areas with its own citizens, Turkey appears to have committed a breach of Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 under which ‘The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’

In a declassified letter, dated 25 March 1975, the British Embassy in Ankara identified the essence of post-1974 Turkish strategy by disclosing the following: ‘the Turks have very largely already attained all they really need in the island.  What they lack is (a) the recovery of Turkish Cypriots still in the south and (b) Greek acquiescence in a weak federal system.  In return for these they would at present still be willing to make some territorial concession. …’.  (Source: FCO 9/2159, National Archives of the UK.)

By 1976, Turkey had achieved objective (a).  Now, 40 years later, is Turkey on the brink of achieving objective (b)?

The ‘leader-led process’

Today, the United Nations is overseeing what it has described as a ‘leader-led process’.  (Source: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as quoted in a UN Press Release dated 21 January 2016 at   In terms of its procedure, the ‘leader-led process’ is being conducted by ‘the two leaders’ of ‘the two communities’ and various elites operating from ‘the top down’.  For that and for other reasons, the ‘process’ is opaque and, arguably, procedurally unfair.  After all, the ‘process’ lacks any meaningful transparency, accountability to the public, consultation exercises, and public participation in decision-making.

In terms of its substance, the ‘leader-led process’ seeks to achieve a ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’.  This is in line with United Nations Security Council Resolutions, such as Resolution 649 of 12 March 1990, the latter of which openly endorses the formation of such a ‘federation’.  This, of course, is also in line with the post-1964 demands of Turkey.

Bearing in mind the ethno-religious constitutional definitions accorded in 1960 to the Greek Community and to the Turkish Community, the proposed ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’ appears to rest on Ottoman or quasi-Ottoman foundations.  If it ever comes into existence, the ‘federation’ is unlikely to be fully secular.  This is the inescapable conclusion one draws from various sources, including the speeches of the current President of the Republic of Cyprus.  He has envisaged the proposed ‘federation’ resting on the principles of ‘peaceful co-existence’ and ‘co-operation’ between separate ‘Christian and Muslim communities’.  (Source: Address by President Nicos Anastasiades at the UN General Assembly of the UN Tuesday, 29 September 2015.)

For these reasons, does ‘the Greek Community’ equate to ‘the Christian Community’?  Does ‘the Turkish Community’ equate to ‘the Muslim Community’?  Does ‘bi-communalism’ equate to ‘bi-faithism’?  Perhaps ‘the two leaders’ could clarify.

In the meantime, the ‘leader-led process’ continues to be associated with misleading references to the search for ‘unification’, ‘re-unification’ and ‘peace’.  In substance, however, what appears to be unfolding in secret is a crude ‘process’ of division, re-division, re-segregation and surrender.  After all, the core objective of this ‘process’ is consistent with all three limbs of the Lennox-Boyd statement of 1956 and the post-1964 pro-‘federation’ strategy of Turkey.

Besides, according to at least one of the two ‘leaders’, any settlement must give rise to legalised segregation.  To quote from a press release issued by the so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ on 9 December 2015, Mr Mustafa Akinci has proclaimed that ‘Turkish Cypriots being the majority in terms of both the population and the property ownership in the North is the base of bi-zonality and this has been the parameter of the UN since 1990.’  Mr Akinci has ‘also emphasized that the majority of the property ownership which is the requirement of the bi-zonality should be in the Turkish Cypriot side,’ whatever that may mean.  (Source: last accessed on 27 December 2016.).  Needless to say, any introduction of a de jure regime of legalised segregation would drive a coach and horses through the post-1945 legal order, the founding values of the European Union and the tenets of liberal democracy, such as the principle of equality.

It follows that the Republic of Cyprus finds itself staring into an abyss partly of its own making.  This is because the prospect of ‘bi-zonality’ is the by-product of a policy of appeasement which has been pursued by successive Presidents of the Republic of Cyprus, particularly since 1990.  The snag is that any policy of appeasement is fraught with risk.  As indicated on 9 November 1938 by Ernest Evans KC MP, a Liberal politician and a veteran of the First World War, there are ‘two inherent dangers’ in a ‘policy of appeasement’, such as the one which was being practised in 1938 by the then British Government for the benefit of Hitler’s Germany: ‘One [danger] is that you may have to pay a very heavy price, and the second is that it may prove only temporary in character and may encourage your opponents to entertain great expectations for the future.’  (Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 9 November 1938, Column 143.)

Less than twelve months after the above words were uttered in Westminster, Germany invaded Poland and the Second World War began.  Appeasement had failed.


In Politics, Aristotle refers to certain thinkers who abhor the idea that merely because a bully has the power to gain supremacy by using raw violence, somebody else must necessarily become his slave as well as his subject.  With Aristotle in mind, the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus should ask some pivotal questions as the security and, possibly, the survival of their sovereign state hang in the balance at the forthcoming ‘Conference on Cyprus’ in Geneva.

Will the enlightened principles embedded in the rule of law, justice, liberal democracy and human dignity prevail over the unenlightened principles of division, separation and segregation?  Or vice versa?

Should the constitutional future of the Republic of Cyprus rest on a variation of the Ottoman millet system and the ‘bi-communalism’ which the millet system gave rise to with the assistance of the British?  Or should that constitutional future rest on democratic principles such as inclusiveness and integration?

Should the segregationist ‘bi-zonal’ consequences of two illegal invasions be legalised in the interests of Turkey?  Or should these consequences be reversed in the interests of de-segregation?

At a precarious moment in history when the fundamental democratic principle of integration is under severe strain across the democracies of the world, should any multi-ethnic and multi-faith sovereign state in the European Union undermine the principle of integration by becoming a ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’?

Could the formation of any ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’ in Cyprus backfire on the very states, such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, which are openly endorsing such an outcome?  Put another way, if legalized ethno-religious ‘communities’ and legalized ethno-religious ‘zones’ are firmly established by law in one part of the European Union, could this lead to calls for the formation of other such ‘communities’ and other such ‘zones’ in other parts of the European Union?

More to the point, in view of the anniversary which is being marked by this article, should the constitutional and legal future of the Republic of Cyprus rest on the three limbs of the Lennox-Boyd statement of 1956?

Above all, perhaps, at a time when Turkey is being transformed into a tyranny, is it rational for the Republic of Cyprus – and, by extension, the European Union – to surrender to the long-standing pro-‘federation’ demands of a bully?

  • Published by Agora Dialogue on 27 December 2016
  • Dr Klearchos A. Kyriakides is an Assistant Professor of Law at the Cyprus Campus of the University of Central Lancashire and the Co-ordinator of its programme dedicated to the Rule of Law and the Lessons of History. 

The author declares an interest as a British citizen with roots in Lysi and Petra, two ethnically-cleansed villages in the Turkish-occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus; on a voluntary unpaid basis, he is also an independent academic consultant of Lobby for Cyprus, a non-party-political NGO based in London which campaigns on behalf of displaced persons from the Turkish-occupied areas. 

This article is a variation of one which was originally published in Greek in Simerini on 18 December 2016.  Any views expressed are personal.

© Klearchos A. Kyriakides, Larnaca, December 2016

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