AsiaCyprus IssueDemocracyDiplomacyEuropeFeaturesHistoricalMiddle EastPoliticsSocietyWorld

One viable settlement: one Cyprus

On 27-29 April the long anticipated UN-sponsored informal ‘five-party’ summit is set to commence in Geneva.

The aim, according to the UN, is to forge a path towards kickstarting a new round of ‘talks’ to settle the Cyprus issue, ie the ongoing occupation by Turkey of the northern area of the Republic of Cyprus.

The UN controlled ‘Buffer Zone’ in Nicosia, Cyprus. Beyond is the area illegally occupied by Turkish forces. © Lobby for Cyprus

In a typical display of intransigence and belligerence, Turkey and its subordinate regime in the occupied territories of Cyprus have attempted to up the ante and further poison the political climate by once again promoting the maximalist notion of a ‘two-state’ settlement that would once and for all carve up the Republic of Cyprus into two states.

Such an outcome would not only reward Turkey for its brutal invasions of 1974, it would legitimise its illegal occupation of 36 per cent of the territory and 57 percent of the coastline of the Republic of Cyprus. The government of the Republic of Cyprus, with good reason would refuse to consider such an outlandish demand.

But in calling for a ‘two-state’ settlement, President Erdogan of Turkey and his mouthpiece Ersin Tatar in the Turkish-occupied zone of the Republic of Cyprus are being disingenuous. Turkey does not seek to create two entirely independent states but a confederation in which Ankara is master of one ‘state’ in the north; has a say in the affairs of another ‘state’ in the south; and in addition exerts control over a central government. Via such a confederation (or indeed federation) Ankara’s occupation would not end, it would in effect be extended.

Lobby for Cyprus, an organisation founded by refugees who were forced to flee their homes and lands by Turkey’s invasion forces, reiterates that any settlement that denies forcibly displaced Cypriot citizens their inalienable right to return is unacceptable.

Regrettably, the UN-sponsored ‘peace process’ has for too long been exploited by Turkey to make increasingly maximalist demands that would not be entertained anywhere else in the world, let alone in the European Union. Successive governments of the Republic of Cyprus have been intimidated into making concessions after concessions that embolden the government of Turkey to seek further capitulation.

One such concession is Turkey’s long-standing insistence on ‘political equality’ which subverts the most basic principles of democracy of one-person-one-vote and equates an 18 per cent minority with the 82 per cent majority.

Lobby for Cyprus is alarmed by the fact that the Republic of Cyprus will not be officially represented at the ‘five-party’ summit where its destiny may be determined and it is unfortunate that the president of the Republic of Cyprus is relegated to participating as a ‘community leader’.

The refusal of Turkey, its subordinate occupation regime, and the United Kingdom to permit the EU to participate in the ‘five-party’ summit is telling. It is clear that the settlement structures which have been on the table for decades, namely a bi-communal bi-zonal federation, are not and cannot be in compliance with the fundamental principles and values of the EU – or for that matter of the UN itself.

As Turkey descends into tyranny under president Erdogan, who was recently described by Italian Premier Mario Draghi as a ‘dictator’, it would be foolhardy for the government of the Republic of Cyprus to submit to any settlement that would grant Erdogan’s Turkey a stake in the governance of Cyprus, let alone any ‘guarantor rights’. To do so would pave the way for future catastrophes with grave consequences such as Turkey’s brutal invasions and occupation of Cyprus in 1974.

The Republic of Cyprus is enshrined in law and it must not subvert it’s own sovereign existence and allow its legitimate citizens to be integrated into any neo-Ottoman space under Turkey’s dominion, in the form of a dysfunctional institution masquerading as a ‘confederation’ or ‘federation’.

Until the Cyprus issue is dealt with on the basis of invasion and occupation, there can be little hope of justice and long-lasting peace and stability, not only in Cyprus but in the entire region. It is unproductive to continue to present the Cyprus issue as an internal affair that exclusively concerns the relations of the majority population on the island and one minority population.

It is time that Turkey’s privileged status granted to it by the international community as invader, occupier, human rights abuser, and perpetrator of international crimes came to an end.

If ‘everything is on the table’ as has been suggested, then the primary aim of the ‘five-party’ summit and any future ‘talks’ should be a unitary Republic of Cyprus that does not segregate Cypriot citizens on the basis of ethnicity, language or religion and that is devoid of the ‘zones’ that Cypriot citizens have been violently forced into by Turkey’s occupation forces. Not only should the refugees and internally displaced persons be able to return, all legitimate citizens of the Republic of Cyprus should be free to live wherever they wish in their own nation state, as do other EU citizens in their own countries.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on participants at the ‘five-party’ summit to be ‘creative’. How the Republic of Cyprus, a small, virtually defenceless nation can be creative in fighting for its existence against the might of Turkey, a powerful and provocative NATO member that occupies large swathes of its territory with 40,000-plus troops, remains to be seen. Perhaps the UN Secretary-General can employ some creativity in upholding the values of the organisation he represents and for once, in the case of Cyprus, stand up for the weak against the powerful.

Lobby for Cyprus calls upon the United Nations and all parties to:

  • end the Turkish occupation and colonisation of the north of the Republic of Cyprus via a lawful, ethical, transparent and procedurally fair process;
  • ensure that the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus is fully respected, that the Republic is officially represented at any ‘talks’ relating to it and that the Republic is neither dissolved nor undermined;
  • oppose any so-called ‘guarantor’ or ‘intevention rights’ of foreign powers;
  • refrain from legalising the de facto segregation imposed in Cyprus by Turkey;
  • oppose a settlement that would legitimise the segregation of Cypriots along ethno-religious lines;
  • build a settlement on the enlightened founding values of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe and the European Union; and
  • ensure that any settlement respects the rule of law, justice, democracy, human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all legitimate Cypriot citizens.

Lobby for Cyprus remains committed to supporting a settlement for a unitary Republic of Cyprus that is based on the 3Rs:

  • removal of all Turkish occupation troops;
  • humane repatriation of Turkish colonists, who were transferred to occupied Cyprus to alter the demography of the island;
  • right to return of all refugees and internally displaced persons, without restriction or preconditions, as called for by UN resolutions.

Lobby for Cyprus reiterates that the only viable Cyprus settlement is one based on a truly unitary Republic of Cyprus.

Not partition, not segregation, not apartheid and not on the basis of legitimising Turkey’s criminal acts as Ankara and its apologists continue to insist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button