With the start of 2015 we are heading into the 41st year since the Turkish intervention in Cyprus to stop the communal bloodshed which was followed by the division of the island by the insertion of the UN green line buffer zone between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities.
Since then there have been stop/go attempts to reach a solution which seem to have stopped yet again and the prospect of a settlement seems to be at a standstill despite concern and encouragement being expressed by Ban ki Moon in his recent report to the UN.
So what is the current situation and what are the options to finally settle the Cyprus issue. The following article by Dr Christian Heinze, who was the Assistant to the late President of the Constitutional Court of the “Republic of Cyprus” in Nicosia in 1962/63, brings the issue into sharp focus.
Cyprus Conflict in a Nutshell
By Dr Christian Heinze – 10. January 2015
The Cyprus Conflict consists in the claim raised by the Greek Cypriots to reign over the whole island and the claim held by the Turkish Cypriots to govern themselves within a part of the island’s territory. The Conflict gains weight by the respective “motherlands” Greece and Turkey supporting the conflicting parties. It is further aggravated by the UN, the EU and most governments denying communication with the Turks of the island as is usually extended to States, instead referring them to an agreed establishment of a common Cypriot State with the Greek Cypriots. They have thus assumed the role of additional partners to the Conflict. An agreement on conditions for the formation of a Greek-and-Turkish State of Cyprus has not been reached in 50 years of negotiations. Instead, at the latest since 1955, the Greek Cypriots have employed every means to harm the Turkish Cypriots in order to enforce their submission.
For ending the Conflict, four alternatives exist:
1. Subjugation of the Turkish Cypriots by military or quasi-military force to the Greek-Cypriot claims.
2. Greek agreement with Turkish self-government in part of the island’s territory.
3. Voluntary submission of the Turkish Cypriots to Greek-Cypriot claims under conditions accepted by the Greek Cypriots.
4. The UN, the EU and/or a number of relevant governments recognize the Turkish Cypriot State existing in part of the island’s territory without consent of the Greek conflicting party.
Alternative 1. can be left out of consideration because no power exists able or willing to break the prospective Turkish resistance. Moreover, the UN, the EU and relevant governments have called upon each other not to violate the defacto-border delimitating the territories inhabited by Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Alternative 2. has no chance of realization as long as the UN, the EU and relevant governments deny recognition of Statehood to the Turkish Cypriot community. For as long as this stance prevails, the Greek conflicting party is able to derive advantages from upholding its claim of much greater weight than that of disadvantages resulting from Turkish reactions.
Alternative 3. is hampered by the interest of the Greek Cypriots in unlimited rule over the major part of Cyprus prevailing over the formation of a Cypriot state implying Turkish self-government and sovereignty over part of the territory of the island. As long as the possibility exists of the Turkish Cypriots being forced, by the disadvantages connected with non-recognition of their state, to renounce to self government or its durable protection, Alternative 3. is also hampered by the Greek interest in the chance of gaining sovereignty over the whole island with the Turkish Cypriots in it.
Alternative 4. would end the Conflict, because it would discontinue the chance for the Greek conflicting party of gaining supremacy over the whole island and would thus dissolve the substance of the Conflict.
The question which one of the four Alternative merits priority should be considered from the aspect of durable peace, which is linked with the relationship between the interests involved. This implies also the question of the meaning of International Public Law for the Cyprus Conflict.
As peace requires the absence of violence, such alternatives must be excluded as are connected with a relevant potential for future violence.
Under the conditions prevailing in Cyprus, this applies to alternatives involving subjugation of the Turkish Cypriots, be it by means of military force or other forms of compulsive pressure. This is due to prospects of successful durable assertion of the claim for self government with the help of Anatolian and Cypriot Turks prepared for a high degree of sacrifice. This prospect can probably be reduced by international pressure so that activities are postponed, but only at the price of more vigilant reappearance as circumstances change. This is not paralleled by any similar prospect of durable enforcement of the Greek claims. Because the ethically highly esteemed ideal of self government, enhanced by the interest in common welfare and relying on national support from the neighbourhood affords higher political weight than interests of the Greek Cypriots (whose enjoyment of self government is secured and unchallenged and accompanied by every chance of prosperity) in subjugating the Turkish Cypriots and possessing a greater part of the island’s territory.
This argues against solutions of a pattern like that of the Annan-Plan. An attempt at a voluminous and vast regulation of a great number of conceivable individual conflicts as forms the substance of this plan creates additional food for dispute without deciding the underlying basic conflict. It puts the Greek party in a position enabling it to pursue further their claim for supremacy by diligently utilizing powers and plan-positions. It is therefore bound to increase instead of terminating the Conflict. Even if the Turkish Cypriots or their leadership are successfully deceived about this consequence, their concurrence serves only to postpone the renewed outbreak of dispute into the future. Moreover, the real conditions prevailing in Cyprus struggle against any “solution” that misses an effective, power-based assurance of Turkish Cypriot territorial self government. Permanent peace requires at the least autonomous Turkish executive power and court jurisdiction not subject to any Greek influence. Given the present stage of negotiations the position of the Greek conflicting party is far remote from such an option.
Therefore, Alternative 4. alone appears compatible with permanent peace. Given the latent policy of the UN, the EU and relevant governments, no durable agreement can be expected from the conflicting parties. Even if an agreement were brought about by means of pressure, it would not promise permanent pacification. Whether the Conflict continues or is brought to a definite end lies therefore in the hands of the powers and governments mentioned.
It is true that absence of violence does not suffice for peace deserving that name. Peace in a meaning corresponding with the essential substance of man requires a certain measure of order and adequate solution of conflicts by enforcement or equalization of interests. The policy applied to Cyprus by the United Nations, by Europe and by relevant governments since 1960 is guided by certain formalities. It relies in particular on the assumption that legitimacy or illegitimacy of statehood in Cyprus and its territorial scope is based solely on recognition by the UN and/or relevant governments and that the creation of the Turkish State of North Cyprus must be punished with non-recognition and all its grave consequences for the population purely because of the application of force involved. Peace in the meaning mentioned depends however on many factors of cohabitation like for instance factors pertaining to ethics, religion, civilization, tradition, economy, supply of goods and services, relationships of military and other powers or to property. It also depends on aggressive or tolerant inclinations of the population of a relevant environment. The exclusion of all these factors from the foundation of the international policy towards Cyprus adds decisively to the fact that it was impossible to end the Conflict in spite of decades long efforts.
The development of substantial parameters for peace around Cyprus and their application to the Conflict results in Alternative 4. as described above and consisting in a termination of the Conflict by recognizing the quality of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus as a State not only to be recommended in order to prevent violence but also to be preferred in the interest of permanent pacification.
By international comparison, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities are more strongly than others characterized as different in many respects and consolidated by their ethnicity, religion, culture and tradition. On the Greek side, this consolidation and characterization is reinforced by particularities of the Orthodox Church and by its alliance with the national movement of the 19th century. In the second half of the 20th century, this alliance led (in a way typical for Diaspora conditions) to a combination of the political power accumulated within the Greek community with the religious authority of the clergy which forms, together with its clientele, a stringently organized Greek-Cypriot hierarchy. This development culminated (since 1950) in a claim for supremacy entertained by the whole Greek community under Archbishop Makarios and based on a historicising hybrid Hellenic ideology. This intensified the contrast of the Greek against the Turkish community much more effectively than the loose organization and religious or ideological orientation of the Turkish side.
Not this difference between the communities as such but the claim of the Greek community for supremacy constitutes the decisive factor preventing peace in Cyprus because such supremacy amounts to foreign rule entailing the probability of negative effects on and discrimination of the Turkish community. Regardless of whether such foreign rule or discrimination emanates from a monarch or from a larger community (a “majority”) or another stronger power, this probability justifies a claim for self government. The superior interest in securely providing peace with the help of government power may, under certain conditions, demand renunciation to self government if the probability of discrimination is slight, particularly if it is reduced through the safeguard of basic or special rights for the inferior group and – in cases where a community is composed of members of different religions – of a separation of government and religion. The Greek conflicting party considered the violent pursuit of its claim for self government since 1955 as justified by the foreign nature of and the probability of discrimination connected with British rule. The Greeks would not be satisfied with special rights.
When discrimination of the Turkish community, which had resisted the Greek recent violent fight for union with Greece and had become victim of pogroms in return, became imminent at the withdrawal of British sovereignty over the island (1960), the Turkish Cypriots were prepared to accept the probability on condition of guarantees for enumerated special rights. Treaties and a constitution to this effect were written down and signed, albeit, on the part of the Greek side, with the reservation to continue pursuing their claim for unlimited sovereignty which was published almost at the same time. In 1963 and 1964 the Greek leadership acted in breach of the special Turkish rights and formally declared their abolition. In the Cyprus Conflict, the probability of discrimination and foreign rule became certainty. It was realized by the Greek Cypriots attempting since 1955 (organized murderous campaign under Grivas and Makarios) to violently subjugate the Turkish Cypriots, particularly in 1963/64 by means of Turkish pogroms conducted by irregular armed fighters that were instructed by the Greek part of the designated government of “Cyprus”, and in 1974 by military intervention of Greece. The certainty of imminent discrimination continues unto the presence due to explicit maintenance of the Greek aim for supremacy and due to the Greek policy of harming the Turkish Cypriots as intensely as possible on every occasion offering itself in order to compel their submission. The Cyprus Conflict is thus characterized by Greek attacks against the requirements for peace in Cyprus and by Turkish defence against these attacks. Greek aggression constitutes the decisive obstacle for peace around Cyprus
Surrendering the island to Greek rule would amount to a much more severe reduction of the position of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea than the surrender of a smaller part of the island would mean for the Greek position. In this context, realistic political evaluation cannot leave aside the nearness of the island to the Anatolian main and its distance from Greece in relation to its size as well as its limited economic and greater military importance. It is true that by the partition brought about by Greek policy, both communities lose part of their area of settlement, but gain unlimited self government. It is precisely this interest in self government which was used by the Greek conflicting party in reasoning their own aggressive terrorist and military violence and their claim for supremacy from 1950 onwards, while they denied the same right to the Turkish community. The Greek demand for supremacy upheld in negotiations about unification since 1964 endangers the security of the Turkish community which raises no similar claim. Its quest for security gains weight through the greater number of Greek population of the island, through their ideological efforts, through violent Greek aggression between 1955 and 1974 and through the Greek policy demonstrating since 1964 their resolution of harming Turkish Cypriots according to opportunity. By arranging the pogroms against the Turkish Cypriots in 1963/64 instead of rendering the government protection they owed to the Turkish community, the Greek leadership, then forming part of the “government of Cyprus” gave evidence of the need of the Turkish community of a State of their own as a basic requirement for peace. Accordingly, adequate participation of the Turkish Cypriots in advantages deriving from unification under Greek rule cannot be expected. It is true that partition of the island results in a considerably larger personal loss of home and property on the part of Greek than on the part of Turkish Cypriots. However, viewed from the aspect of interest in peace this attribution of loss constitutes a compensation justified by the responsibility of the Greek community for its violent aggression and breach of confidence in the course of the attempt at founding a Republic of Cyprus in 1960 and for its failure. Moreover, the loss has lost considerable weight due to the economic development of South Cyprus, and there remains the possibility of compensation not only within the Greek but also between the Greek and Turkish communities.
For the same reasons for which it grants peace to Cyprus, partitioning the island will, in spite of being unpopular in Greece, serves peace between Turkey and Greece as well. The same applies to other substantial international interests or conflicts as may be connected – albeit hardly visible – with Cyprus. In particular, an interest in an expansion of the EU cannot be regarded as serving in itself the interest in peace. In the case of Cyprus it contributes to the contrary to the aggravation and continuation of the Conflict.
To be discussed under aspects of interest in peace remain the reasons on which the international policy towards the Cyprus Conflict (UN, EU, relevant governments) is based. This meets with the difficulty that such reasons are only vaguely documented. Numerous private or scientific opinions exist but they lack authority as they are subject to dispute. Official evaluation of subject matters of the kind dealt with in sections 4.2.1 and 4.2.2 of this article are almost completely missing. Sources for binding evaluations are restricted to the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations, because positions held by the EU or relevant governments restrict themselves to adopting the contents of such resolutions and do not go beyond their meaning. They all amount to the assumption that in 1960 a Republic of Cyprus was created which continues to exist and enjoys the protection extended to States by international public law (1)and that the violent creation of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus is incompatible with this protection (2). There from derives an obligation not to recognize this Turkish Republic (3). As concerns the Cyprus Conflict, these considerations prove incompatible with the interest in permanent peace.
(1) A notion of the State designed to support the interest in peace must be defined by an in fact and permanently existing supreme power governing a defined territory. Towards this definition, the meaning of international recognition or non-recognition is confined to its reasoning concerning the fulfilment of requirements of the notion of the State in an individual case. Instrumentalising the notion of State for the pursuit of particular interests is bound to damage the interest in peace. Since 1960 or, at the latest, since 1963, the formation of such a power of State covering the whole territory of Cyprus was hampered by the Greek Cypriot powers detaching themselves from the co-government of the Turkish Cypriot powers (which the Greek leadership had merely pretended to concede) without which the establishment of a supreme power over all Cyprus proved impossible. This is why the Greek Cypriot community is entitled to the protection accorded to States by international law only insofar as it has established a supreme power over a defined part of the territory of the island since 1974.
(2) As no “Republic of Cyprus” existed during the steps taken between 1964 and 1984 towards the establishment of a Turkish Republic of North Cyprus and as boundaries of the Greek State of Cyprus in being from 1964 onwards were not established before its delimitation in 1974, the powerful help rendered by Turkey to the establishment of the Turkish Cypriot State could not contradict any right of a Cypriot State. But even if Turkish force had encroached upon Greek rights, this would have been necessary in order to counteract the breach of the Cyprus peace treaties of 1959/60 by Greek violence directed at subjugating the Turkish Cypriots. Moreover, the Turkish exercise of power was based on a treaty right of intervention.
(3) Eventually no international law can prevent the foundation of States or the changing of State territory even if violently performed if this performance constitutes the only remedy for the preservation of durable peace, because international law enjoys no other legitimacy than the service it renders to peace. The concept of any and all instances of violence forming a legal obstacle for the creation of a State or for a change of State territory or forming the basis for non-recognition or for an obligation of non-recognition is incompatible with the notion of State deriving from the task of establishing peace. Therefore, contrary to the opinion probably held by a majority of authors, a rule containing such obligation cannot gain validity in any of the forms in which international law can originate, and particularly not by observance which is the only form claimed as a source for the obligation of non-recognition of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. This rule is verified by attempts at realizing the rights in question having repeatedly resulted, without attaining their objective, in massive strife of greater scale, and by violently enforced changes creating permanent peace. Violent changes in the world of States cannot be prevented and are once and again needed in the interest of peace. They are present all through the order of the day of history and gain by permanence the quality of customary law.
It cannot however be excluded but must be recognized as a basic rule, that the foundation of a State in connection with an encroachment on an existing State contravenes the interest in peace. Therefore, non-recognition as a means of repairing the encroachment can prove necessary in the interest of peace. The correct evaluation as a condition or as an obstacle for peace cannot be derived from mere formalities but can only be ascertained by applying criteria of the kind discussed in sections 4.2.1 and 4.2.2 of this article. In any case non-recognition as a sanction against violence serves peace only if a chance exists for the attainment of the result pursued and if the peace-providing effects clearly outweigh the disturbance of peace connected with it.
To the Cyprus Conflict, none of the requirements for the sanction of non-recognition applies. Non-recognition prevents pacification of the island. The call by the UN Security Council for non-recognition contrasts with its call to respect the borders of the Turkish Cypriot Republic, thus preventing the realization of purported rights of the Greek community. As has become evident after 50 years having passed since its proclamation, the sanction cannot enforce its objective. Most importantly, the detriment inflicted on the Turkish Republic and first of all on its population and on a peaceful situation (damages caused in its creation having been widely overcome) by means of the embargo connected with non-recognition preventing international communication including the exchange of goods and services and in particular of transport services is out of proportion with the objective of supporting the Greek interest in supremacy by prohibiting Turkish self government.
In this context it should be noted that even the United Nations have not enacted or proclaimed a legal obligation of relevant governments not to recognize the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. As the recommendation of non-recognition contained in resolutions of the Security Council is not expressly based on Chapter VII (Art. 41) of the UN-Charter, they have no legally binding effect.
Other arguments used in favour of the Greek claims, the validity of which could be assumed as deriving from the support given to the claims by the prevailing Cyprus policy (while these arguments are not used officially in the context of the policy of the United Nations) call for the following remarks:
(1) Partition as advocated in the present homepage results in the destruction of rights of residence and property of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. These rights are required to step back behind the interest in peace. This result is caused by the violent unpeaceful treaty-despising policy of the Greek leadership of the majority of those affected and must be compensated within their community. As concerns damages suffered by the Turkish community, their behaviour proves sufficiently their preference of security and self government to their surrendered rights. They are entitled to reparations payments by the Greek Republic of Cyprus.
It is true that, while the loss of settling territory for Greek Cypriots is less than one third and that for the Turkish Cypriots more than two thirds of the territory of the island, the number of the affected Greek Cypriots and the extent of property taken from them is several times as large as the loss suffered on the Turkish Cypriots. This is the consequence of the distribution of settlement of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots over the whole island before the violent changes caused by the Greek community that culminated in enforced migration of more than 100.000 Greek and more than 20.000 Turkish Cypriots to the south and the north of the island respectively. It also reflects the overwhelming power employed and threatening to be employed by the Greeks of Cyprus in the violent pursuit of their aspirations and the inferiority of the Turkish Cypriots. Arguably, however, the interest in permanent peace may require a certain adjustment of this relationship through intercommunial restitution or compensation. Justified mutual claims can be raised pursuant to the recognition of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.
(2) The Greek party claims that Greek rule over Cyprus derives from the majority principle of democracy as the type of government best serving the interest in peace. This politically powerful argument ignores that the majority principle relies on the compensation of interests provided by a constantly changing formation of majorities within the limits of certain common basic interests of a homogeneous “demos”. This requirement cannot materialize in a relationship like that of the communities of Cyprus between a closed majority and a closed minority that pursue permanently opposed ideals in basic matters of political cohabitation.
(3) Another argument close to the prevailing policy holds that State borders should define a territory large enough to enable the existence of a community and that they should coincide with geographical unities. The island of Cyprus should therefore belong to one single State and not be divided. The economic uprise of the Greek Republic of South Cyprus since 1964 proves however that it does not depend on unification. Independent prosperity of the Turkish Republic is prevented primarily as a result of non-recognition. Any and all advantages to be expected from cooperation can be realized through recognition, for example on a federal basis.
(4) It is occasionally concluded from peaceful coexistence of the two communities of Cyprus during long periods of history that the allegation of impossibility of the cohabitation of the Cypriot communities goes back to their preoccupation with facile and superficial or imposed sentiments or interests, which can be overcome with the help of the sanction of non-recognition. This view overlooks that the violent pursuit of the Greek claim for supremacy was and is being prevented since its origin by the Osman and at least until 1955 by the British rule and since 1974 by the presence of Turkish troops.
As a result, peace around Cyprus can most probably be secured by recognizing the Greek Republic of South Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. Preference would be owed to an agreement of the conflicting parties to this effect that could comprise conditions equalizing bilateral interests. Subject matters of agreement could be the delimitation of the territories of the two States, diverse claims and compensations, the deployment of military forces, cooperation for example in the framework of the European Union, or the management of residual rights deriving from the Cyprus Treaties of 1959/60. Such agreements can (only) be expected as soon as the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus has been recognized or as its recognition becomes imminent without any doubt. Therefore, ending the Conflict lies not in the hands of the Greek and Turkish conflicting parties but in the hands of relevant governments or their organisations endowed with the competence for such recognition.
To read further articles about the Cyprus issue by Dr Christian Heinze please visit his website by clicking here