July 17, 2018

The 27th Anniversary of the Invasion and Occupation of Cyprus

July 20th, 2001 signifies another tragic anniversary for the people of Cyprus as it marks the twenty-seventh year since the Turkish invasion of the Republic of Cyprus and the subsequent occupation of almost 40% of its territory. This assault on the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Cyprus, in contravention of the United Nations Charter and all principles of international law, inflicted great suffering and pain on the people of Cyprus. However, Turkey, despite numerous relevant UN resolutions continues to commit grave violations of the human rights of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The Cypriot people have suffered for far too long, with the refugees, the relatives of the missing and the enclaved Greek Cypriots having endured the most. The refugees have yet to return to their homes, the families of the missing persons have yet to receive answers on the fate of their loved ones and the enclaved are still denied their basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. Disregarding international norms, Turkey’s human rights abuses on the island range from ethnic cleansing inflicted on the Greek-Cypriots and Maronites in the occupied areas, to the deprivation of property and the destruction of the historical, cultural and religious heritage of Cyprus. It is high time the international community demand, as it did in other cases, full restoration of the human rights of the Cypriot people.

In a landmark decision on May 10 2001, the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe found Turkey guilty of mass violations of human rights in Cyprus as a result of the military invasion and occupation of Cyprus. This court decision is historic as it reinforces the struggle of the Cypriot people for justice and holds Turkey responsible for its flagrant violations of human rights in Cyprus.

Regrettably, for over 27 years, the international community’s efforts, despite the Cypriot government’s good will, have failed to achieve progress for the solution of the Cyprus problem due to the intransigence and the negative attitude of the Turkish side during successive efforts in the negotiations. The Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Rauf Denktash, by withdrawing from the process of the proximity talks and putting forth unacceptable preconditions for their resumption, has effectively frustrated and thwarted the latest efforts under UN auspices to bring about a resolution of the Cyprus problem. With this provocative action, Mr. Denktash, with the full backing and support of Turkey, once again challenges the international community by demanding recognition of the so-called ‘realities’ on the island, which are nothing more than the results of aggression and occupation.

Turkey, flagrantly disregarding Security Council resolutions, calls instead for a confederation of two equal sovereign states in Cyprus. This proposal cannot be accepted by the Cyprus Government or by the international community as it creates a very dangerous precedent for division, secession and separatism.

The parameters for a solution were established by Security Council resolution 750 (1992) and the two High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979. These parameters provide for a, “Cyprus settlement based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded, and comprising two politically equal communities as defined in paragraph 11 of the Secretary-General’s report (S/23780) and in a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, and that such a settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession.”

The 27 anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus finds the Turkish Cypriot community in the occupied areas, living in the grip of an economic crisis and immense hardship, resulting in the genuine concern of the Cyprus government. The Turkish Cypriots have had to endure all these years the results of the deliberate Turkish policy of colonization, repression and denial of their basic rights and fundamental freedoms. Forty-five percent of the Turkish-Cypriots have already emigrated while Turkey has imported settlers from mainland Turkey that now constitute the majority. In the meantime, both freedom of speech and expression are being suppressed as demonstrated by the bombing of the Turkish Cypriot newspaper ‘Avrupa’ and the killing of Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adali. Bicommunal contacts and meetings are also prohibited by the illegal regime, as evidenced by the Turkish Cypriot leader’s efforts to prevent the performance of a bicommunal choir and the prevention by the occupation regime of allowing a group of Turkish Cypriot pupils and  teachers from traveling to Greece in order to participate in the ‘International Peace and Friendship Olympic Games’ organized by the ‘International World Affairs Council’.

Turkey and her subordinate local administration in occupied Cyprus have to realize the futility of persisting with their present partitionist policies that are leading them nowhere, making them prisoners of the past and denying a future that is common to every Cypriot. Mr. Denktash and the Turkish Government, can no longer turn a blind eye to the tragic consequences of their policies. Instead, they must listen to the strengthening voices coming from all strata of the Turkish Cypriot community, calling for peace and reunification.

In this modern era, during which reconciliation and the healing of old wounds have ushered many positive developments in numerous countries around the world, Cyprus should not be forgotten and with the assistance of the international community a solution to the country’s long-standing problem, based on UN resolutions, can and should be found. The people of Cyprus will continue their struggle until their homeland finally enjoys peace, prosperity and security in a reunited, bi-zonal, bi-communal Federal Cyprus, member of the European Union.