The Cyprus peace process and the way
forward or not?
By Chris Elliott
Many Cyprus observers will have been watching carefully the twists and turns of the current Cyprus peace process and wondering will this ever come to a conclusion that leads to a solution and not, so it seems, whilst the Greek Cypriots are allowed to change the agenda for discussion by introducing fresh demands at every turn.
This week a group of Association of Turkish Cypriots Abroad (ATCA) supporters led by Kerem Hassan the ATCA TRNC Representative went to meet UN representatives to hand over a letter addressed to His Excellency, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to make a protest and request that justice be seen to be done and ensure the peace negotiations are steered in a correct manner so that an orderly and timely settlement is reached by both parties.
At the request of Kerem Hassan, we are sharing below to the outreach of our worldwide readership through our media sharing partners the facts as presented in this letter:
ASSOCIATION OF TURKISH CYPRIOTS ABROAD
YURTDIŞINDA YAŞAYAN KIBRISLI TÜRKLER BIRLIĞI
To His Excellency, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon 11 November 2014
Re: Cyprus peace process and the way forward
Firstly, we would like to thank you, His Excellency, and your newly appointed Special Envoy, Mr Espen Barth Eide, for your persistent efforts in trying to help both sides in Cyprus reach a comprehensive settlement. However, recent developments and the increase of tensions politically and between the two peoples on the island, have compelled us to write to you in order to express our dismay and outrage at the Greek Cypriot side on numerous issues, not least on the ‘suspension’ of the negotiations process, which was continuing under your Good Offices Mission.
His Excellency, we find it unacceptable that the Greek Cypriot side can persistently boycott, suspend, pull out of or walk away from the talks and set pre-conditions to return to the negotiating table whilst the inhumane isolation on the Turkish Cypriot people continue. Greek Cypriot claims of ‘provocation’ over the hydrocarbon issue regarding seismic research are not the fault of the Turkish Cypriot side. As co-founders and joint sovereign equals of Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots have a say on the issue of natural resources in the seas around Cyprus, and we find the position of the Turkish Cypriot negotiators appropriate on this issue.
Unfortunately, the Greek Cypriot side are once again attempting to usurp the rights of Turkish Cypriots through unilateral provocative acts – on this occasion regarding hydrocarbons. They are demonstrating a lack of intent in sharing natural resources around the island with the Turkish Cypriots, and are refusing to discuss the issue at the negotiating table, and in doing so they are undermining the entire solutions process. If the Turkish Cypriot negotiators had adopted the same intransigent stance, they would not have come to the negotiating table in 2010, when Greek Cypriots ignored the equitable rights of the Turkish Cypriots and started actively planning seismic surveys. Furthermore, as a people who voted in favour of a solution in 2004, we never objected to our leaders continuing the negotiations, even though we have always been aware that South Cyprus continue to campaign for the deepening of isolations upon the North which in effect is detrimental to the Turkish Cypriots’ right to life, trade and participation in international events.
Your Excellency, the Cyprus problem has been continuing for 50 years. Despite the fact that it was the Turkish Cypriots who were forced out of the state organs in 1963 and endured many years of suffering, they supported the Annan Plan blueprint for a comprehensive solution in 2004. However, the Greek Cypriot Administration is still trying to benefit and take advantage of the status-quo which is why we believe it is imperative that the negotiations process is not open ended.
Your Excellency, we regret to observe the continuing racist and discriminatory news reports in South Cyprus and the failure of the Greek Cypriot Administration to take any steps to combat this. For instance, the recent events when a Greek Cypriot footballer was transferred to a club in North Cyprus in September this year.
The current dispute over the Exclusive Economic Zone has touched upon the very essence of the Cyprus issue. ‘Cyprus’ does not only belong to the Greek Cypriot side, but also to the Turkish Cypriot side, and neither side can claim jurisdiction over the other. Cyprus has two equal co-founders. In the February 11, 2014 Joint Statement of the two leaders it is stipulated that sovereignty emanates equally from the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots.
Rather than coming to the negotiating table to discuss how to resolve the entire issue, and to enter into the third and critical phase of the process, the Greek Cypriot side, who see themselves as superior to their Turkish Cypriot equals, have started a worldwide propaganda campaign against the Turkish side whilst concealing their true intention of not wanting a comprehensive settlement.
Your Excellency, Turkish Cypriots are disappointed to observe, yet again, the Greek Cypriot side making extreme demands in the negotiations. Their philosophy seems to be centred on gaining advantages and acquiring concessions outside a comprehensive settlement. Amongst other things they have demanded that Maraş (Varosha) be ‘handed over’ prior to a comprehensive settlement which is totally unacceptable. Extreme demands in regards to the amount of territory they want in a settlement are also being made. This is contrary to the internationally recognised legal principles and judgements, including those of the European Court of Human Rights. It is accepted that current residents of formerly Greek Cypriot properties have more of a say because of emotional attachments to their properties. According to news reports, the Greek Cypriot side is also demanding that they have the first say over property left in North Cyprus. This has the potential of making tens of thousands of people in the North homeless once again, causing chaos on the island and risking the possibility of a new war. Such proposals also undermine a bi-zonal solution.
Credible international bodies, such as the International Crisis Group stated in May this year, with subsequent calls following the hydrocarbon crisis in newspaper reports, that the only way for a comprehensive settlement is through the acceptance of two states, for the opening of membership negotiations between the TRNC and the EU, and for Greek Cypriots to be compensated accordingly. We ask the international community to review and freshly examine the recent developments in Cyprus and to allow discussion to take place for a new framework based on a two-state scenario.
Even if the negotiations do somehow resume, with such extremist demands made by the Greek Cypriot side, we have serious concerns as to the process ending in success. We therefore ask His Excellency not to leave the Turkish Cypriots out in the cold, as we are very much a part of this world, and do not deserve to be isolated. It is in the interests of regional stability and the prosperity for the whole of Cyprus, that people living in the North are not restricted from the enjoyments of fundamental human rights laws including the right to life, trade, travel and sport.
Your Excellency, further to our letter to His Excellency dated 17 April, 2012, signed globally by 200 Turkish Cypriot civil society groups worldwide and in light of the above, we are writing to repeat our calls for the international community to consider a Plan B for the settlement of the Cyprus issue, within the framework of a two state solution.
ATCA TRNC Representative