December 10, 2016

The Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in Cyprus – Contrary to the Rule of Law and European Principles

The 15th of November 2004 marks the 21st anniversary of the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) by the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied northern part of Cyprus . This act was condemned by UN Security Council resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984) which called it legally invalid and asked for its immediate withdrawal. Resolution 550, also called upon all States not to recognize the purported state of the “ Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus ” set up by secessionist acts nor to facilitate or in any way assist that secessionist entity.

Not only have the Turkish Government and the Turkish Cypriot leadership refused to comply with the aforementioned resolutions instead they have insisted on pursuing their secessionist policies. It is even more unfortunate that during all these years, they have done so, with impunity. The people of Cyprus have seen, too many times, their hopes for a just solution of the problem of Cyprus , dashed. Faced for over 30 years with Turkish intransigence, the Greek Cypriot community had also to face a policy of double standards with regard to application of the rule of law and human rights principles around the world. The international community acted collectively to revoke the invasion of Iraq in Kuwait , but has not done the same in the case of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus .

Regrettably, after the April 24 referenda on the Annan Plan, using as a pretext the democratic decision of the Greek Cypriot majority to reject the proposed plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem, some have began exerting efforts to circumvent established principles of international law and decisions of European Courts, to bypass Resolutions 541 and 550 and to assist the secessionist entity by ending the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community. But it is neither the Cyprus Government nor the international community that isolate the Turkish Cypriots. It is the continuing Turkish occupation of part of a sovereign member state of the UN and the persistence of the Turkish Cypriot leadership and the Turkish Government in promoting their secessionist policies as well as their own refusal to recognize the Republic of Cyprus, that have the effect of isolating the Turkish Cypriot community. While Turkey is knocking at the door of Europe, expecting it to open on December 17, it refuses to recognize the Republic of Cyprus , one of the twenty five EU members with an equal say on Turkey ’s European future.

The Cyprus problem is not an internal conflict. It is an international problem created by the use of force contrary to international law and the UN Charter. It is the result of aggression committed by Turkey, which by its occupation and gross violations of the rule of law and human rights has gradually ethnically-cleansed the Greek Cypriot population of the occupied north, replacing it with tens of thousands of illegal settlers from the Turkish mainland, refusing to abide by Security Council resolutions and the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

Despite the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union and Turkey’s European aspirations to also become an EU member, the Turkish policy of gaining international recognition of the part of the Republic that Turkey seized by invasion and occupation in 1974, continues unchallenged. The rejection by the Greek Cypriots of a specific solution of the Cyprus problem does not justify the continuation of the Turkish occupation in Cyprus and the gross violations by Turkey of the human rights of the people of Cyprus .

The international community should stand by UN Security Council Resolutions. We all advocate that legality and international law must prevail. As the United Nations Secretary General said in his speech before the UN General Assembly “the victims of violence and injustice are waiting for the international community to keep its word and restore and extend the rule of law throughout the world”. The people of Cyprus should not be the exception. They too are waiting for the international community to keep its word and facilitate a solution of the Cyprus problem without occupation troops and settlers, refugees and missing persons, one that would reunite the island into one country and one people and not cultivate with its actions division or secession. For, as the UN Secretary General has said “It is the law, including Security Council resolutions, which offers the best foundation for resolving prolonged conflicts around the world.”

The Republic of Cyprus on May 1 2004 joined the European Union as a full member. It is our earnest hope that the Turkish side which also claims a place in the EU will soon realize that its European ambition and perspective imply ideas and policies based on unity, more integration and cooperation and not separation and division. One united Cyprus in the European Union, free of occupation troops and settlers is a guarantee for a prosperous future of both communities in Cyprus , Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots alike.