October 23, 2018

Continuing concern for the enclaved Greek Cypriots in the occupied areas

Almost 24 years have passed since the adoption of the Vienna Agreement of August 2 1975 by which certain steps and measures in the humanitarian field ought to have been taken by the Turkish side in order to improve the living conditions of the Greek Cypriots who remained in the occupied part of Cyprus after the 1974 invasion. Unfortunately the agreement was not honoured by the Turkish side which has striven over the years to wipe out the Greek element in the northern part of Cyprus following a policy of ethnic cleansing.

In 1995 the U.N. peace-keeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has prepared a set of recommendations for Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the occupied territory and for Turkish Cypriots living in the free areas. The Cyprus Government has fully implemented the recommendations for the Turkish Cypriots. One of those recommendations was the establishment of a liaison office in the southern coastal town of Limassol. UNFICYP on 1 March announced it has closed this liaison office. It decided to close the office after discussions with all interested parties, as the Turkish Cypriots did not show interest in the services it offered.

According to an UNFICYP press release, the office was set up in December 1996 to provide a constant UNFICYP presence in the town, aiming at providing assistance to the Turkish Cypriot population, and to run services such as Turkish language and culture classes for children.

“Despite widespread advertising both through the media and by word of mouth, only 11 visits have been made to the office in the past two years, and no children have shown interest in following language and culture classes,” UNFICYP says.

The fact that the Turkish Cypriots living in the free areas of the Republic showed no interest in the services offered by the U.N. office bears evidence that the Cyprus Government exercises a policy of equal treatment towards all its citizens without any discrimination and that all Cypriots in the free areas fully and equally enjoy their human rights. On the contrary the Greek Cypriots in the occupied northern part suffer severe restrictions imposed by the occupying regime and their basic human rights are violated on a daily basis. Less than 500 Greek Cypriots have remained in the occupied area of Cyprus. Some 180,000 Greek Cypriots have fled the northern part following the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

Referring to the living conditions of the enclaved people the U.N. Secretary-General in his report on December 1995 stated that Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the occupied area were “the object of very severe restrictions which curtailed the exercise of many basic freedoms and had the effect of ensuring that, inexorably with the passage of time these communities would cease to exist in the northern part of the island.” This situation continues today and it is reflected in the more recent reports of the U.N. Secretary-General as well as in the latest report of the U.S. State Department on human rights practices for 1998.

The U.S. State Department Human Rights Report on Cyprus states that “UNFICYP access to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north remains limited” and indicates that there still are no Greek-language education facilities beyond the elementary level, forcing parents in many instances to choose between keeping their children with them or sending them to the government controlled areas for further education.

Moreover, the U.N. Secretary-General in his report of 8 March 1997, to the Commission of Human Rights states that “travel within the northern part of Cyprus remains restricted for Greek Cypriots and they still cannot bequeath fixed property to their next of kin living outside of the northern part of Cyprus.”

Furthermore, the occupying regime, has, since January 1998 imposed unacceptable “visa and fee requirements” for Greek Cypriots and Greeks who wish to enter or depart from the occupied part. Moreover the telephone lines that were installed in order to facilitate communication between the Greek Cypriots who reside in occupied Karpasia and the government controlled areas do not operate properly since it takes a Greek Cypriot in the northern occupied part more than four hours to connect with the free areas of the Republic.