The first two extracts, from the Turkish best-selling daily Hürriyet and the pro-unification Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika both dated 27 November 2004, discuss from different perspectives Turkey's difficulties as she faces a veto from South Cyprus if she fails to recognise the Republic of Cyprus. In the third extract from the Turkish Cypriot mainstream daily Kýbrýs dated 26 November 2004, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Presidential Undersecretary Ergun Olgun argues from a moral and legal perspective that Turkey should not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.EXTRACT ONE
A retrospective look at the Cyprus questionÝLTER TÜRKMEN
MINISTER of Foreign affairs Abdullah Gül uses some rather straightforward language with reference to the most complex foreign policy matters.
Prior to the 24 April referendum he said that, should Turks say ‘yes’ and Greeks ‘no’ to the Annan Plan, he would request the international community to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Of course these words, far removed from reality, were forgotten after the referendum.
Recently he told Sedat Ergin: ‘The Annan plan is finished. Now the ball is in the Greek Cypriots’ court.’ All well and good, but once EU accession negotiations have begun, we shouldn’t forget that the Greek Cypriots are going to be awarded frequent penalties as the negotiations proceed.
Of course this relaxed approach is not peculiar to the present government. How many pearls we have heard from previous governments on the subject of Cyprus. If nothing else, the AK Party Government, having passed up on great opportunities in December 2002 and March 2003, came to its senses and supported the Annan Plan and thus succeeded in removing the main obstacle to EU accession talks.
In fact, there has been a mental block in Turkey’s Cyprus policy since 1974. We didn’t perceive the necessity of converting the 1974 military success into a political solution within the shortest possible timeframe. We failed in the nineties to comprehend that Cyprus and the EU process were interconnected. We remained under the influence of the TRNC administration’s maximalist views. After the 1999 Helsinki summit, although we were unable to demonstrate that South Cyprus was clearly responsible for the impasse, we did not wish to understand that in the absence of a solution South Cyprus would nevertheless be accepted as an EU member.
In April 2004, when we finally proved South Cyprus’s recalcitrance, it was too late. South Cyprus had a year earlier signed its accession agreement with the EU and the agreement was ratified by all parliaments.
In reality Cyprus’s EU membership was already a done deal back in 1995 when the customs union between Turkey and the EU was created. We have asserted that at that time we tabled the necessary reservations. This was certainly the case, but the objections did not alter political reality.
This was confirmed at a meeting organised in London on 2 November by the House of Commons. Among those invited were Özdem Sanberk, who was a very successful ambassador to London, and Lord David Hannay, British Special Representative in Cyprus from 1996 to 2003 whose book on Cyprus appears this week. In the course of the discussion, Hannay referred to his first talks with Foreign Secretary Michael Rifkind in 1996.
It seems Rifkind told Hannay back then that Britain was henceforth obliged to support South Cyprus’s EU membership. The other EU members obviously shared Britain’s view of what was likely. Were we unaware of this?
Hannay underscored two more important points in the House of Commons: A solution is virtually impossible as long as Papadopoulos remains President. Turkey cannot accede to the EU as long as the Cyprus problem remains unsolved. This is not the sticking point.
Papadopoulos will do his utmost for the length of the EU accession talks to force Turkey to recognise South Cyprus as the ‘Republic of Cyprus’. Subsequently, the only solution will be a return to a watered-down 1960 Constitution. There will be no choice but to forget a federation, two separate founding states and bi-zonality.
In my last column I referred to Arafat’s missed opportunities. Like it or not, are there not striking similarities? I hope certain ears are ringing in the TRNC.
HITTING A KNIFE WITH YOUR FIST
What is the Cyprus question?
There have been plenty of diagnoses by now.
A Turkish-Greek fight…
The Enosis affair…
The partition cause…
An imperialistic intrigue…
The Middle Eastern question….
Now all of these have been wiped from the slate.
What are they saying?
A problem between Turkey and the EU…
This is the spin the EU authorities are now putting on it...
The meaning of this is as follows:
The divided island as a whole is an EU member. The main factor preventing the two halves from uniting is Turkey…
The EU does not consider this to be a problem between itself and the Greek Cypriots…
It considers it to be a problem with Turkey…
The Italian Foreign Minister Fini said in the presence of Abdullah Gül..
‘Cyprus is no longer a two-sided problem, it is a problem affecting Turkish-EU relations.’
It appears impossible for Turkey to accede to the EU without withdrawing her troops from Cyprus.
Turkey cannot solve this affair and justify the presence of her troops here by saying ‘The Turks of Cyprus said yes in the referendum’
If Turkey does not want to let go of Cyprus, she will have to let go of the EU.
If she doesn’t want to let go of the EU, she will have to let go of Cyprus.
Turkey cannot both be an EU member and maintain her presence in Cyprus.
She is faced with the inevitability of choosing one of them…
Sooner or later Turkey will be confronted with these conditions.
They will say: ‘If you want to be a member withdraw from Cyprus.’…
Turkey will want a guarantee.
She will say: ‘If I withdraw, do I have a green light for EU membership?’
But nobody will guarantee her this.
They will say: ‘You just withdraw then we’ll see.’…
Just as they are doing now…
They say: ‘Recognise the Republic of Cyprus’ but they don’t say anything for certain about membership. .
Turkey, on the other hand, wants guaranteed accession in return for giving up Cyprus.
The expression ‘open-ended negotiations’ makes Turkey queasy…
What does Abdullah Gül say?
‘The summit should issue a decision aimed at full membership; it should be worded so as to leave no doubt. If some things are left unclear this will create problems ahead.’
In fact if Turkey were certain of being given absolute guarantees in the EU, she would write off Cyprus now…
She would begin withdrawing troops…
She would return Varosha to its owners…
She would approve the clearing of mines.
She would enable missing mass graves to be opened…
Or she would even halt construction on Greek Cypriot land.
She would give consideration to Greek Cypriot requests regarding changes to the Annan plan and open the way towards a solution on the island on this basis.
But she isn’t sure…
She doesn’t know what will happen…
The EU hasn’t given her any guarantee that if she does all these things her membership will be certain.
In any case, this just goes to show that Turkey will not at any time be admitted to the EU as a full member…
The EU prefers to maintain the present state of affairs in Cyprus for a longer period than admit Turkey as a member.
The EU wants to rescue Cyprus from Turkey’s sovereignty without admitting Turkey as a member.
It knows that even if the Greek Cypriot side does not use that veto now, one day the opportunity will arise for it to be used.
If negotiations with Turkey commence and are concluded twenty years later, and if Turkey succeeds in keeping its troops on the island for that time …
And the only remaining matter is to ratify her membership…
Do you think that the Greek Cypriot side will ratify Turkey under these conditions?
That they will make her a full EU member without withdrawing her troops from Cyprus?
If the Greek Cypriot side does not use its veto now, it will do this to force Turkey into a corner in the EU.
Otherwise neither the Greek Cypriot side nor anybody else in the EU will ratify Turkey without her withdrawing from Cyprus.
Because it doesn’t take virility to hit a knife with your fist.
It takes skill!
Olgun: Turkey cannot recognise the Republic of CyprusTurkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Presidential Undersecretary Ergun Olgun appraises the controversial issue of the past few days for KIBRIS readers.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Undersecretary Ergun Olgun states that the idea ‘Turkey should recognise the Republic of Cyprus’ breaches the 1960 Treaties of Guarantee and Alliance as well as international agreements.
Undersecretary Ergun Olgun, in his appraisal for KIBRIS readers, expressed the view that ‘The joint state was overthrown using armed force by the Greek Cypriot side and was turned into a Greek Cypriot state. There can be no question of Turkey recognising the Greek Cypriot state.’
Why should Turkey not recognise the ‘Republic of Cyprus’ that has become a Greek Cypriot republic?
Ergun OLGUN (TRNC Presidential Undersecretary)
The ‘Republic of Cyprus’ which was turned into a Greek government in breach of international treaties and the 1960 Constitution, exploiting the unfair advantage it has gained in Brussels, is threatening to block the commencement and continuation of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations if the latter does not recognise the so-called ‘Republic of Cyprus’ as the legitimate state for the whole island.
This threat is courting disaster and will serve to make the Cyprus question even more insoluble. The reasons for this are as follow:
The 1959 Zurich and London agreements envisaged for Cyprus in matters clearly defined as ‘community matters’ a bi-national independence based on the political equality and executive partnership of two communities possessing the right of full autonomy. These guiding principles found expression in the 1960 Constitution and the ‘arrangement of legal and political relations’ created were guaranteed by Turkey, Greece and Britain under the treaties of guarantee and alliance.
When in 1963 the 1960 joint state was overthrown by the Greek side using armed force and the constitution was robbed of its identity with the unilateral amending of unalterable articles, the Cyprus Republic was turned into a Greek Cypriot state, but the land controlled by the Turkish Cypriots (and the Turks of Cyprus living here never acquiesced to Greek Cypriot authority, ceaselessly opposing the illegal occupation of the offices of the joint government, and did not at any time recognise this authority as the island’s sole legitimate authority) remained on the outside.
The following finding is reported in the British House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Cyprus Report published in 1987: "There can remain no doubt that the Greek Cypriot violence which the Turks claim caused the complete or partial destruction of 103 villages and led to the relocation of approximately one quarter of the Cypriot Turkish population was perpetrated by means of direct provocation or secret cooperation on the part of the Greek Cypriot leadership."
In the Geneva Declaration published on 30 June 1974, the foreign ministers of the guarantor states Turkey, Greece and Britain declared that it was necessary to re-establish a constitutional government in Cyprus (which in itself was confirmation that the situation in place since 1963 was unconstitutional) and noted, "In the Republic of Cyprus the existence in practice of two autonomous administrations, that of the Greek Cypriot community and that of the Turkish Cypriot community."
The Greek Cypriot government now claims that ‘they changed the 1960 Constitution with the aim of making it work and that the changes that they were forced to make were proportional to the prevailing conditions’, but this claim ignores the fact that the Greek Cypriot leadership, before and after the events of 1963, was constantly striving to achieve union with Greece (Enosis), secretly admitted 20,000 Greek troops to the island and with this aim in mind attempted to change the constitution and relevant agreements.
Following the result of the referendums held concurrently on 24 April 2004 showing that a large majority of the Greek Cypriot people had rejected the comprehensive plan for a solution presented by the UN General Secretary, the above-mentioned Greek Cypriot claim which they attempt to justify with the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ has anyhow lost all validity. The Greek Cypriot side voted in the referendum for a continuation of the abnormal state of affairs that was created using violence in 1963.
The 1959 Zurich and London Agreements, the 1960 Constitution, the 1977 and 1979 Summit Agreements and all the plans for Cyprus submitted by the UN (including the latest Annan Plan) prohibit either of the two sides from claiming authority or legitimacy over the other. This prohibition is in fact a statement of historical truth in Cyprus.
General Secretary Kofi Annan, while he was trying to convert these truths and legal requirements into a process leading to the creation of a possible new partnership, concluded that a new arrangement of legal and political relations that would create a solution would have to contain elements of permanence for each side and that the solution itself would have to be the source of legitimacy for the future. The Annan Plan was based on these foundations.
All these truths eliminate a ‘Republic of Cyprus’ consisting 100% of Greek Cypriots from serving as the source of legitimacy and permanence of a possible new partnership.
The reasons examined above and the truth that neither the Greek Cypriot nor the Turkish Cypriot side can claim sole legislative, executive or judicial authority over the whole of Cyprus in the absence of a legitimate common authority constitute the grounds under which the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey cannot recognise the ‘Republic of Cyprus’ that was hijacked by the Greek Cypriots as a Cyprus-wide authority.
The Greek Cypriot game is now to use the position of advantage that they have unfairly gained in Brussels and Turkey’s EU aspirations to achieve those goals that they were unable to attain in 1963 and 1974.
However, as we have seen in 1963 and 1974, this game will not open the way to a solution in Cyprus that will ensure permanent peace, stability and balance, because this game like the ones that went before is once again based on the forcible denial of the right of the Turkish Cypriot people to political equality and in the words of the UN General Secretary their ‘innate founding authority’.
To sum up, for the Greek Cypriots to insist on the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey recognising as the sole legal authority the ‘Republic of Cyprus’ that has become a Greek Cypriot republic is to challenge the basis of the 1959 agreements, the 1960 Constitution, the 1977-1979 Summit Agreements, all of the UN solution plans for Cyprus (the latest of these being the Annan Plan) and most importantly of all historical truths and the aim of creating a new partnership based on equality in Cyprus. From the day that the Republic of Cyprus was hijacked in 1963, there has been no legal development based on the consent of both sides that would justify recognition by Turkey of the so-called ‘Republic of Cyprus’.
In any case, Turkey cannot recognise the ‘Republic of Cyprus’ consisting 100% of Greek Cypriots as the legitimate administration for the whole island, because her obligations under the 1960 Guarantee Treaty providing for the protection of equal political rights and the ‘innate founding authority’ of the Turks of Cyprus are still in force.
On the other hand, when an overwhelming majority of Greek Cypriots reject a comprehensive UN solution plan supported by the EU, to require Turkey as a directly involved party to ignore her obligations on a matter of national importance that were unanimously ratified by the Turkish National Assembly and her responsibilities under the 1960 agreements, and recognise the Greek Cypriot Republic is as immoral as it is devoid of legitimacy.
To pressurise Turkey into recognising the Greek Cypriot Republic as the legitimate government of the whole island is to reward the deceptions (this terminology was used by EU enlargement commissioner Günter Verheugen) and challenges of Tassos Papadopoulos and those like him against the international community, and their blocking of the UN plan that envisaged a unified Cyprus acceding to the EU. Such pressure would at the same time amount to making concessions to the Greek Cypriot side that in breach of the constitution overthrew the joint state using armed force and permitting the use of its EU membership status that it illegally acquired as a means to settle its scores with a candidate EU member country like Turkey.
The Cyprus question is a question that is on the UN’s agenda and that should be solved by bilateral negotiations. To attempt to force the question in one direction by means of such external interference aimed at benefiting one of the sides does not serve the interests of sustainable peace and stability in Cyprus.Without doubt, in the interests of peace and stability in the region, the Cyprus question should be solved as quickly as possible. This is also made necessary by the EU’s increasing post-enlargement role in the eastern Mediterranean and the need to avoid hindering Turkey’s EU accession process. However, for this to be a just solution in the interests of peace and permanence it must not be an imbalanced and imposed solution.
There is clearly a need for a new game plan capable of creating the right combination of pressures to encourage the Greek Cypriot side to be more realistic and balanced in possible future negotiations in order to achieve a result in which both sides are the winners, bearing in mind that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side have demonstrated their commitment to a new partnership agreement based on political equality.
The lifting of needless restrictions and obstacles that hinder the political strengthening and economic growth of the Turkish Cypriots (such as the restrictions in force on Turkish Cypriot ports and airports), just as it will help to close the economic and political gap between the two sides, will make the playing field more even for ‘fair’ negotiations and will encourage the Greek Cypriot side to work towards power sharing and a partnership based on political equality and bi-communality.
Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton