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The Cyprus Issue
The Cyprus Issue
The Cyprus issue has deep historical roots and various internal and international dimensions. However, since the illegal Turkish invasion (July-August 1974) and the occupation, since then, of some 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, it is first and foremost an international problem of invasion and occupation in direct violation of the UN Charter and a plethora of UN resolutions.
For 42 years now, Turkey has refused to withdraw its illegal occupation troops, which have rendered Cyprus the most militarized area in the world. The Cyprus issue is also a characteristic case of ongoing, flagrant and mass violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms by Turkey. Specifically, Turkey is violating the rights of Greek Cypriot refugees, missing persons and their relatives, as well as those who are enclaved in the occupied part of the island, while continuing systematically with illegal settlement and the destruction of cultural heritage in the occupied section of Cyprus.
The international community has repeatedly expressed itself with regard to the Cyprus issue, condemning the invasion and demanding the withdrawal of the occupation forces in a long series of Decisions and Resolutions in international fora, including the UN General Assembly and Security Council, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Commonwealth countries.
In November 1983, the Turkish side proceeded to the unilateral declaration of independence of the pseudo-state in the occupied part of Cyprus. UN Security Council resolutions 541/1983 and 550/1984 condemned this illegal unilateral action, calling for its withdrawal and calling upon all states not to recognize the illegal entity or help it in any way.
The UN resolutions call on the two communities to find an agreed solution to the internal political problem of Cyprus through negotiations within the framework of respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, the speedy withdrawal of foreign troops, the ceasing of any foreign intervention in the affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, and the taking of immediate measures for the return of all refugees to their hearths.
The United Nations resolutions also stipulate the basis of an agreed solution, which, moreover, given Cyprus’s capacity as a member state of the European Union, will have to be fully compatible with the institutional and legal EU framework and ensure the continuation of Cyprus’ effective participation in the decision-making processes of the European Union.
The ongoing cooperation and coordination between Greece and Cyprus constitute a decisive factor in achieving a comprehensive, mutually acceptable, just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem.
From Turkey, we expect to see concrete initiatives that demonstrate in practice its will to terminate its illegal occupation and facilitate a mutually acceptable and comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem. To date, however, in spite of Turkish government declarations of support for the currently ongoing negotiation process for resolving the problem within the framework of the UN, Ankara persists with policies aimed at the consolidation, international upgrading and, at the same time, a total internal Turkification of the illegal secessionist entity in the occupied area. Moreover, in blatant violation of its obligations to the European Union (Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement, EU Declaration of 21 September 2005), Turkey persists in its refusal to normalize its relations with and recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
2. Current phase of the negotiations
The current bicommunal talks began anew on the basis of the Joint Declaration of 11 February 2014. Among other things, this declaration provides for negotiation of all of the various aspects of the Cyprus problem, including the chapters on governance and power sharing, the property issue, European Union and economy issues, territory, and the international aspect of security. The Declaration also stipulates that only an agreed settlement can subsequently be put to separate and simultaneous referenda in the two communities, and that “Any kind of arbitration is excluded.”
The talks were suspended in October 2014, due to renewed Turkish provocations and violations of the Cypriot EEZ that lasted for nearly seven months.
The resumption of the talks was made possible in May 2015.
On 1 December 2016, President Anastasiades and Mr. Akıncı agreed on the continuation of the talks in Geneva, Switzerland, with an exchange of maps and the subsequent opening of the International Conference on Cyprus.
The "open-ended" international conference began in Geneva on 12 January, and the United Nations had announced in writing that the negotiations would last two days. However, while the Greek side was prepared to remain in Geneva for discussion at a political level, the Turkish side left the negotiations, and Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu returned to Ankara, saying he had "more important things" to do.
The above make it clear that the Turkish side left Geneva because it didn't want to or couldn't discuss the elimination of guarantees and any potential for intervention, and the withdrawal of the occupation army, which is, from an international perspective, the core of the Cyprus problem.
Following the above developments, it was agreed that the talks would continue on a technical level, and officials met at Mont Pèlerin on January 18-19. Subsequently, the bicommunal talks resumed in Cyprus on 26 January. During their meeting on 1 February, President Anastasiades and Mr. Akıncı agreed to ask the UN to prepare, in consultation with the guarantor powers, the reconvening of the Conference on Cyprus at a political level. In statements he made following his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Akıncı on 9 February, President Anastasiades said, among other things, that the two negotiators had moved ahead and prepared a list of "the convergences, the small divergences, the large divergences," and based on this preparation the two leaders started a dialogue to change the divergences into convergences.
However, the Turkish Cypriot side maintained an intransigent stance in the discussion of major internal issues, and in mid-February – on the pretext of a resolution passed by the Cypriot House of Representatives regarding historical reference, in schools of the Republic of Cyprus, to the referendum of 1950 – Mr. Akıncı suddenly suspended the talks.
However, additional concern over the true intentions of the Turkish side was raised by the fact that, in the bicommunal talks, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side insisted on new unacceptable demands for the extension to Turkish nationals, on the territory of Cyprus, of the "4 freedoms" of the European Union.
These demands certainly cannot be accepted, as, on the one hand, they are not in accordance with European Law, and, on the other hand, they are a matter concerning EU-Turkish relations and, consequently, are not a subject of the bicommunal talks.
GREECE'S POSITIONS ON THE CYPRUS ISSUE
- The termination of the Turkish occupation and settlement, and the finding of a comprehensive, mutually acceptable, just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem are a top national priority of Greek foreign policy, with obvious significance for Greek-Turkish relations and for peace and stability in the wider region.
- Despite past disappointments and ongoing difficulties, the bicommunal talks – with the contribution of the UN Secretary General’s Good Offices, which are facilitative in nature – remain the only method accepted by all interested parties for achieving an agreed settlement of the Cyprus problem.
- Greece firmly supports the efforts towards a just, balanced and viable solution of the Cyprus problem. An agreed solution should restore international legality, which is blatantly violated by the Turkish invasion and ongoing occupation of territory of the Republic of Cyprus, a sovereign and independent state that is a member of the United Nations and the European Union.
- The relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council are the sole basis for an agreed solution, which must also be fully compatible with Cyprus's capacity as a member state of the EU.
- Greece does not intervene in the negotiation of internal aspects of the Cyprus problem, for which the Cypriot government has exclusive competence.
- The full withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces and the termination of the anachronistic system of guarantees of 1960 are an integral part of an agreed, viable and comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem.
- Greece's position is that the duration of the withdrawal of the occupation forces must be short, with a steady flow of the army's withdrawal and with a specific deadline for full withdrawal.
- Turkey's demand regarding the securing of the EU's "four freedoms" in Cyprus is unrealistic and legally groundless.
- The Turkish Cypriot entity that has been self-declared in occupied Cyprus and that is recognized only by Turkey is illegal and has been condemned by the UN Security Council in Resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984), which call on all states not to recognise it, not to facilitate it and not to help it in any way. In this context we note the need for full and timely compliance with the aforementioned Security Council resolutions.
- The exercise by the Republic of Cyprus of its sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone are in no way linked to the process for the resolution of the Cyprus problem.