Turkish invasion of Cyprus
The Turkish invasion of Cyprus (Turkish: Operation Peace), launched on July 20, 1974, was the Turkish military response against a coup which had been staged by the Cypriot National Guard against president Makarios III with the intention of annexing the island to Greece. The invasion came after more than a decade of sporadic inter-communal violence between the islands Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots resulting from the constitutional breakdown of 1963. Turkey invoked its role as a guarantor under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee in justification for occupying Northern Cyprus. Turkish forces invaded the island in two waves, occupying 37 percent of the island's territory in the north-east. The operation led to the widespread displacement of Cyprus's ethnic communities, dividing the island between a Turkish Cypriot north and Greek Cypriot south. In the aftermath of the invasion, Turkish Cypriots declared a separate political entity in the form of the Turkish Federative State of Cyprus and by 1983 made a unilateral declaration of independence as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which was recognized only by Turkey. The United Nations recognizes the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus according to the terms of its independence in 1960. UN peace-keepers maintain a buffer-zone between the two entities.
- 1 Events leading up to the Turkish Invasion
- 2 Turkish Cypriot opinion
- 3 Greek Cypriot opinion
- 4 Greek military coup and Turkish invasion
- 5 Negotiations and other developments
- 6 Legacy: lessons for peacemaking
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
- 10 Credits
The conflict overshadows Turkish relations with Greece and with the European Union. Unwillingness by the two sides to negotiate a just settlement hampers international intervention. Lack of contact between the two communities fuels suspicion, while civil society is too weak to be able to exert bottom-up pressure on the decision-makers to resolve the dispute. Unless partition is to become permanent, a power-sharing arrangement that addresses issues of justice is the most likely option to restore national unity. This will only develop when trust and understanding between the two communities has been nurtured. Only a desire for peace and reconciliation that begins at the bottom and permeates up to the decision making level has a realistic chance of success. Without the contributions of peace-activists at the local level, whose labor often goes unrecognized, elite peace-making lacks a solid foundation. From a values-based perspective, no peace effort that does not begin with individuals can be sustainable, since true peace begins with "me and you."
Events leading up to the Turkish Invasion
The island's prehistory runs as far back as the beginning of the sixth millennium B.C.E.
The character of the island has gone through various changes impacting on its culture, cuisine and music, due to the many conquerors it has known - Persians, Romans, Venetians, Ottomans and the British. The homogeneous population of Cyprus received multiple influences from the conquerors troops. Following the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Empire entered a long period of conquest and expansion, extending its borders deep into Europe and North Africa. In 1571, the island was conquered by the Ottomans. The Island of Cyprus and its overwhelming Greek population were relatively allowed to practice their religion and culture under the regime of Ottoman Turks approximately 307 years until the island was leased to the British in 1878. Cyprus was then subsequently annexed by Britain when the Ottoman Empire entered into the World War I on the side of Germany; subsequently the island became a British Crown colony and came under British rule. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne sealed the end of any notion of a legitimate Turkish claim to the overwhelmingly Greek populated island. Article 21 of the treaty gave the minority Muslims on the island the choice of leaving the island completely and living as Turks in Turkey, or staying there as British nationals.
Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots were proud to identify themselves with their respective greater nations. However, both shared the belief that they were socially more progressive (better educated and less conservative) and therefore distinct from the mainlanders. Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived side by side for many years in a love-hate relationship.
Broadly, three main forces - education, British colonial practices, and secularization accompanying economic development- -can be held responsible for transforming two ethnic communities into two national ones. Education was perhaps the most important, for it affected Cypriots during childhood and youth, the period of greatest susceptibility to outside influences. The two communities adopted the educational policies of Greece and Turkey, respectively, resulting in the nationalist indoctrination of their youth. The schools polarized Cypriots in at least two ways. The segregated school systems of the colonial and post-independence period socialized students into Greek and Turkish ethnicity, teaching mainland speech, culture, folklore, and nationalist myths. The texts used in these schools also included ethnic propaganda, often highly chauvinistic, with each community emphasizing its superiority over the other.
British colonial policies also promoted ethnic polarization. The British applied the principle of "divide and rule," setting the two groups against each other to prevent combined action against colonial rule. For example, when Greek Cypriots rebelled in the 1950s, the colonial administration established an all-Turkish police force, known as the Auxiliary Police, to combat Greek Cypriots. This and similar practices contributed to inter-communal animosity.
Secularization also fostered ethnic nationalism. Although economiceconomic development and increased education reduced the explicitly religious characteristics of the two communities, the growth of nationalism on the two mainlands increased the significance of other differences. Turkish nationalism was at the core of the revolutionary program promoted by the father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938), and affected Turkish Cypriots who followed his principles. President of the Republic of Turkey from 1923 to 1938, Atatürk attempted to build a new nation on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and elaborated a program of six principles (the "Six Arrows") to do so. His principles of secularism laicism) and nationalism reduced Islam's role in the everyday life of individuals and emphasized Turkish identity as the main source of nationalism. Traditional education with a religious foundation was discarded and replaced with one that followed secular principles and, shorn of Arab and Persian influences, was purely Turkish. Turkish Cypriots quickly adopted the secular program of Turkish nationalism. Under Ottoman rule, Turkish Cypriots had been classified as Muslims, a distinction based on religion; Atatürk's program made their Turkishness paramount and further reinforced their division from their Greek Cypriot neighbors.
Many Greek Cypriots have long believed that the NATO powers, notably Britain and America, were opposed to the idea of an independent Cyprus because of fears that it could fall into communist hands and become a "Mediterranean Cuba" - a scenario that would have put at risk British electronic spying bases on the island.
The objective of EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston, or National Organization of Cypriot Fighters) was to drive the British out of the island first and then integrate the island to Greece. As a Greek nationalist organization, some members of EOKA murdered Turkish Cypriots who colluded with the British. EOKA had no policy of targeting Turkish civilians, and tried to primarily target the British. EOKA initiated its activities by planting the first bombs on April 1, 1951 with the directive by Greek Foreign Minister Stefanopoulos.
The first secret talks for EOKA as a nationalist organization established to integrate the island to Greece, were started in the chairmanship of archbishop Makarios III in Athens on July 2, 1952. In the aftermath of these meetings, a "Council of Revolution" was established on March 7, 1953. In early 1954, secret weaponry shipment to Cyprus started to the knowledge of the Greek government. Lt. Georgios Grivas, formerly an officer in the Greek army, covertly disembarked on the island on November 9, 1954. EOKA's campaign of asymmetric resistance to British colonialism was properly under way.
The first Turk to be killed by EOKA on June 21, 1955 was a Turkish policeman in the service of the British. EOKA also targeted Greek collaborators, such as policemen.
Attempts by Greek Cypriots to break free of British colonial rule and unite with Greece, so-called Enosis, triggered an attack against the Greek minority in Istanbul. On September 6 and 7, 1955, wide-scale violence against the Greek community of Istanbul, believed to have been engineered by the Turkish government of then Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, destroyed an estimated 3-4,000 shops and precipitated the exodus of thousands of ethnic Greeks from the city in 1955.
A year later, EOKA revived its attacks. In reply the Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT) (Türk Mukavemet Teşkilatı, a Turkish Resistance Organization) declared war on the Greek Cypriots as well. However, the TMT did not target only Greeks but also some Turkish Cypriots workers who were in favor of peace and independence of the island. After a joint mass demonstration by Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the TMT began murdering Turkish trade union members.
On June 12, 1958, eight innocent unarmed Greek Cypriot civilians from Kondemenos village were murdered by the TMT near the Turkish Cypriot populated village of Geunyeli in a totally unprovoked attack, after being dropped off there by the British authorities. After this the Turkish government ordered the TMT to blow up the offices of the Turkish press office in Nicosia in order to falsely put the blame of the Greek Cypriots and prevent independence negotiations from succeeding. It also began a string of assassinations and murders of prominent Turkish Cypriot supporters of independence. The following year, after the conclusion of the independence agreements on Cyprus, the Turkish Navy sent a ship to Cyprus fully loaded with arms for the TMT which was caught red-handed in the infamous "Deniz" incident. British rule lasted until 1960, when the island was declared an independent state, under the London-Zurich agreements creating a foundation for the Republic of Cyprus by the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.
Continued communal violence in Cyprus after independence in 1960—including massacres of members of the Turkish community in December 1963—led to the Turkish government’s cancellation of residence permits for 12,000 Greek citizens living in Istanbul as well as the confiscation of their property.
When the Cypriot leader who was exiled out of the UK previously in 1956 on the basis of his "support on terrorism and being the greatest obstacle on the path of peace," threatened in November 1963 to amend basic articles of the 1960 constitution guaranteeing the rights of ethnic Turks on the island, communal violence ensued and Turkey, Great Britain and Greece, the guarantors of the agreements which had led to Cyprus' independence, wanted to send a NATO force to the island under the command of General Peter Young.
The reluctant Republic was seen as a necessary compromise between two communities.
The 1960 Constitution of the Cyprus Republic proved unworkable however, lasting only three years. The Greek Cypriots wanted to end the separate Turkish Cypriot municipal councils permitted by the British in 1958, but made subject to review under the 1960 agreements. For many Greek Cypriots these municipalities were the first stage on the way to the partition they feared. The Greek Cypriots following Hellenistic fanaticism wanted enosis, integration with Greece, while Turkish Cypriots following Turkish fanaticism wanted taksim, partition between Greece and Turkey.
Resentment also rose within the Greek Cypriot community because Turkish Cypriots had been given a larger share of governmental posts than the size of their population warranted. The disproportionate number of ministers and legislators assigned to the Turkish Cypriots meant that their representatives could veto budgets or legislation and prevent essential government operations from being carried out. Moreover, they complained that a Turkish Cypriot veto on the budget (in response to alleged failures to meet obligations to the Turkish Cypriots) made government immensely difficult. The Turkish Cypriots had also vetoed the amalgamation of Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot troops into the same units.
In December 1963, after the government was repeatedly forced into deadlock and all major legislation and the budget were repeatedly vetoed by the Turkish Cypriot legislators at the behest of Turkey, the President of the Republic Makarios proposed some constitutional amendments to facilitate the functioning of the state. The Greek Cypriots subsequently said that the Turkish Cypriot Governmental Ministers withdrew from the Cabinet and the Turkish public servants ceased attending their offices. Turkish accusations claim that the Akritas Plan followed as a plan designed to end the new Republic by quickly suppressing Turkish Cypriot reactions to `imposed' constitutional change before outside invasion could be mounted. The Turkish Cypriot community claimed that when they objected to the proposed amendments, they were forced out of their governmental offices by the Greek Cypriots, with the support of Greek forces.
Turkish Cypriot opinion
The Turkish Cypriots stated that after their rejection of the constitutional amendments in 1963, they were not only forced out (at gunpoint) of their positions in the government, but were also forced off their land (which at that time was about 31 percent) and pushed into scattered enclaves (making up only 4 percent) which was then taken over by Greek Cypriots and Greek Settlers from Greece. Greek Cypriot forces - supported by EOKA and Greek junta military 'advisers' - further pushed this policy. Credence to these historically proven acts of ethnic cleansing can be seen by the 1964 Siege at Erenkoy.
Pan-Turkist claims regarding the Turks who were forced to leave or be killed in Crete under the terms of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne after its liberation by Greece in the late nineteenth century, also played a part; the slogan Giriti Hatirla! (Remember Crete!) was published on the front page of the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet.
In 2004, Greek Cypriot filmmaker Antonis Angastiniotis' historical documentary Voice of Blood portrays the mass killing of Turkish Cypriots in the villages of Aloa, Maratha and Sandalari in 1974. In other articles Angastiniotis reports the massacre of Greek Cypriot civilians or POW by Turkish Cypriot irregulars, Turkish military personnel or members of the Turkish Cypriot authorities in such occupied villages as Palaikythro and Achna or in prisoner of war camps scattered throughout the occupied areas of Cyprus. Angastiniotis has announced that he will produce a new documentary portraying these atrocities.
Upon his leaving Cyprus in 1963/1964, (former Royal Navy officer and intelligence advisor) Lt. Commander Martin Packard prepared a report, which he handed to his superiors, in which he accused the Greek Cypriots of slaughtering 27 Turkish Cypriots in the Nicosia General Hospital. Packard's accusations appeared on April 2, 1988 in the British The Guardian newspaper through his friend at the time Chief Editor of the paper Peter Preston, who, in 1964, was also working in Cyprus.
On February 10, 1994 Channel 4 Television showed a documentary called "Secret History – Dead or Alive?" which addressed the drama of the 1,619 missing Greek Cypriots. Martin Packard made an unexpected appearance to say that in 1963/1964 he had prepared a report in which he included that: "The largest single element of these missing people were the Turkish Cypriot patients at the General Hospital. Nothing had been heard of any of them. It was assumed that they were being held in custody somewhere. The outcome of my investigation suggested that they had all of them been killed in the General Hospital. They had been removed at night, the bodies from there had been taken out to outlying farms up in the region of Skilloura and out there they had been dismembered and passed through farm dicing machines and they had then been seeded into the ploughed land."
This account was withdrawn by Packard in 1999 as completely unfounded. 'The scale and manner of any actual killings at the general hospital' wrote Packard in a letter to the Secretary-General 'appear to have had little resemblance to the account I was given.' Turkish authorities knew all along that the story relating to the alleged "massacre" in the Nicosia General Hospital in 1963/1964 was false, and that no such massacre had ever taken place. To this day, however, they continue they repeat these false allegations in an attempt to find support for their policies in Cyprus.
Turkish Cypriot opinion quotes Archbishop Makarios III, who whilst ruling a government they did not approve of, at least did not support immediate enosis. Makarios described the coup which replaced him as "An Invasion of Cyprus by Greece" in his speech to the UN Security Council and stated that there were "no prospects" of success in the talks aimed at resolving the situation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, as long as the leaders of the coup, sponsored and supported by Greece, were in power.
The Council of Europe supported the legality of the invasion by Turkey in its resolution of the July 29, 1974. The Court of Appeal in Athens stated that the invasion was legal and that "The real culprits …are the Greek officers who engineered and staged a coup and prepared the conditions for the invasion."
Greek Cypriot opinion
Following the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Empire entered a long period of conquest and expansion, extending its borders deep into Europe and North Africa. The Island of Cyprus and its overwhelming Greek population stayed approximately 307 years under Turkish rule until the island was leased to the British in 1878.
Throughout the British rule, the islands inhabitants in their overwhelming majority demanded self determination, however the British had no plans of providing that to the people of Cyprus. When in 1955 the overwhelming population fought against British colonialism (Greek Cypriots), created the militant organization Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT) having as its central idea Taksim the annexation of Cyprus by Turkey and Pan-Turkism at large. The British strengthen the Turkish objective by its well-understood policy of "Divide and Rule" so that the island in effect remain under British control.
The Republic of Cyprus established after the militant struggle against the British was a compromise to Turkish minority who wanted to see the island under Turkey's control. That becomes evident through today's occupation of 37 percent of the island having as a "justification" that Turkey's forceful presence is to restore constitutional order, 33 years ago.
Since 1974 Turkey occupies 37 percent of the Republic of Cyprus and claims that her presence is to secure the rights of the Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cypriots argue that all these are diplomatic games to justify Turkey's expansionist objective by ultra nationalist Turkish militants.
Turkey's support for partition through the forced displacement of populations is revealed in the Galo Plaza report of 1965 and in its demands during negotiations with the British over Cyprus independence and the so called Acheson plan which would have divided Cyprus between Turkey and Greece.
Greek military coup and Turkish invasion
Between December 21 and 26, 1963, the conflict centered in the Omorphita suburb of Nicosia, which had been an area of tension previously in 1958. The participants now were Greek Cypriot irregulars and Turkish Cypriot civilians and former TMT members, known as the "fighters" during the Cyprus problem, the Turkish fighters were less powerful, outnumbered and were held down in "ghettos" from the superior Greek Cypriot side who were supplied with stored EOKA guns and eventually guns from foreign powers. Many Greek and Turkish Cypriot civilians who were caught in the crossfire and chaos that ensued over the Christmas week were killed, others were massacred by Greek or Turkish irregulars and had their homes looted and burnt down in small villages as the problem developed. Both President Makarios and Dr. Kucuk issued calls of peace, but they were ignored by the Greek Cypriots. Meanwhile, within a week of the violence flaring up, the Turkish army contingent had moved out of its barracks and seized the most strategic position on the island across the Nicosia to Kyrenia road, the historic jugular vein of the island. So crucial was this road to Turkish strategic thinking that they retained control of that road until 1974, at which time it acted as a crucial link in Turkey’s military invasion. From 1963 up to the point of the Turkish invasion of July 20, 1974, Greek Cypriots who wanted to use the road could only do so if accompanied by a UN convoy.
Kyle notes “there is no doubt that the main victims of the numerous incidents that took place during the next few months were Turks.” 700 Turkish hostages, including women and children, were taken from the northern suburbs of Nicosia. Nikos Sampson led a group of Greek Cypriot irregulars into the mixed suburb of Omorphita and massacred the Turkish Cypriot population indiscriminately. After this, the "center of the capital" was dubbed "Murder Mile." By 1964, 193 Turkish Cypriots and 133 Greek Cypriots were killed, with a further 209 Turks and 41 Greeks missing, presumed dead. The British Daily Telegraph called it the "anti Turkish pogrom."
Thereafter Turkey once again put forward the idea of partition. The intensified fighting especially around areas under the control of Turkish Cypriot militias, which on many occasions were initiated by Turkish gunmen, together with their claims that there had been a violation of the constitution, were used as ground for invasion. And quoting past treaties, Turkey hinted at a possible invasion on the island. US president Lyndon B. Johnson stated, in his famous letter of June 5, 1964, that the US was against a possible invasion on the island, warning Turkey that the international community would react in the strongest terms to unilateral action by Turkey." One month later, within the framework of a plan prepared by the US Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, negotiations with Greece and Turkey began.
Greek military coup of July 1974
In the spring of 1974, Cypriot intelligence discovered that EOKA-B was planning a coup against President Makarios which was sponsored by the military junta of Athens.
The junta had came to power in a military coup in 1967 which was condemned by the whole of Europe but had the support of the United States. In the autumn of 1973 after the November 17 student uprising there had been a further coup in Athens in which the original Greek junta had been replaced by one still more obscurantist headed by the Chief of Military Police, Brigadier Ioannides, though the actual head of state was General Phaedon Gizikis.
On July 2, 1974, Makarios wrote an open letter to President Gizikis complaining bluntly that 'cadres of the Greek military regime support and direct the activities of the 'EOKA-B' terrorist organization'. The Greek Government's immediate reply was to order the go-ahead to the conspiracy. On July 15, 1974 sections of the Cypriot National Guard, led by its Greek officers, overthrew the Government.
Makarios narrowly escaped death in the attack. He fled the presidential palace by catching a taxi after escorting a party of school children out of the building and went to Pafos, where the British managed to retrieve him and flew him out of the country in an Royal Air Force jet fighter.
In the meantime, Nikos Sampson was declared provisional president of the new government.
Turkish invasion of Cyprus of July and August 1974
Turkey intervened in Cyprus on July 20, 1974, after unsuccessfully trying to gain support from one of the other guarantor forces - Britain. Heavily armed troops landed shortly before dawn at Kyrenia (Girne) on the northern coast. Ankara claimed that it was invoking its right under the Treaty of Guarantee to protect the Turkish Cypriots and guarantee the independence of Cyprus. Greeks and Greek Cypriots dispute that Cypriot independence was ever Turkey's intent. The operation, codenamed 'Operation Atilla', is known in the North as 'the 1974 Peace Operation'.
The intervening forces landed off the northern coast of the island around Kyrenia. By the time a ceasefire was agreed three days later, Turkish troops held 3 percent of the territory of Cyprus. Five thousand Greek Cypriots had fled their homes.
By the time the UN Security Council was able to obtain a ceasefire on July 22 the Turkish forces had only secured a narrow corridor between Kyrenia and Nicosia, which they succeeded in widening during the next few days in violation of that ceasefire.
On July 23, 1974 the Greek military junta collapsed mainly because of the events in Cyprus. Greek political leaders in exile started returning in the country. On July 24, 1974 Constantine Karamanlis returned from Paris and was sworn in as Prime Minister.
At a conference on August 14, 1974, Turkey demanded from the Cypriot government to accept its plan for a federal state, and population transfer, with 34 percent of the territory under Turkish Cypriot control. When the Cypriot acting president Clerides asked for 36 to 48 hours in order to consult with Athens and with Greek Cypriot leaders, the Turkish Foreign Minister denied Clerides that opportunity on the grounds that Makarios and others would use it to play for more time.
An hour and a half after the conference broke up, the new Turkish attack began. Britain's then foreign secretary and soon to be prime minister James Callaghan, later disclosed that Kissinger "vetoed" at least one British military action to preempt the Turkish landing. Turkish troops rapidly occupied even more than was asked for at Geneva. Thirty-six-and a-half per cent of the land came under Turkish occupation reaching as far south as the Louroujina salient. In the process, about 200,000 Greek Cypriots who made up 82 percent of the population in the north became refugees; many of them forced out of their homes (violations of Human Rights by the Turkish army have been acknowledged by the European Court of Human Rights as in the case of Loizidou vs Turkey), the rest fleeing at the word of the approaching Turkish army.
The ceasefire line from 1974 today separates the two communities on the island, and is commonly referred to as the Green Line.
By 1975, only 20,000 Greek Cypriots remained in the north, enclaved in the Karpass peninsula.
Facing threats of a renewed Turkish offensive as well as threats to ethnically cleanse the enclaved Greek Cypriots the Cyprus government and the United Nations consented to the transfer of the remainder of the 51,000 Turkish Cypriots that had not left their homes in the south to settle in the north, if they wished to do so.
On February 13, 1975, Turkey declared the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus to be a "Federated Turkish State" to the universal condemnation of the international community
Human rights violations
Turkey has been condemned for preventing the return of Greek Cypriot refugees to their properties. The European Commission of Human Rights reports of 1976 and 1983 state the following:
"Having found violations of a number of Articles of the Convention, the Commission notes that the acts violating the Convention were exclusively directed against members of one of two communities in Cyprus, namely the Greek Cypriot community. It concludes by eleven votes to three that Turkey has thus failed to secure the rights and freedoms set forth in these Articles without discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin, race, religion as required by Article 14 of the Convention."
The 20,000 Greek Cypriots who were enclaved in the occupied Karpass Peninsula in 1975 were subjected by the Turks to violations of their human rights so that by 2001 when the European Court of Human Rights found Turkey guilty of the violation of 14 articles of the European Convention of Human Rights in its judgment of Cyprus v. Turkey (application no. 25781/94) less than 600 still remained. In the same judgment Turkey was found guilty of violating the rights of the Turkish Cypriots by authorizing the trial of civilians by a military court.
The Republic of Cyprus has also been found guilty of violations of the European Convention of Human Rights. In the case of Aziz v. Cyprus, the European Court of Human Rights decided on June 22, 2004 that the Republic of Cyprus violated Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Article 3 of its Protocol No.1 by preventing Aziz, a Turkish Cypriot who is citizen of the Republic of Cyprus from exercising his right to vote in 2001 parliamentary elections. In compliance with the European Court of Human Rights ruling, all Turkish Cypriots living in the areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus were granted a right to vote in all elections.
Since the Turkish invasion, a large number of Turks have been brought to the north from Anatolia in violation of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, to occupy the homes of the Greek Cypriot refugees.
Approximately 70,000 Turkish Cypriots have been forced to emigrate from the north due to economic hardships brought on by the international isolation of Northern Cyprus.
The issue of missing persons in Cyprus took a dramatic new turn in the summer of 2007 when the UN-sponsored Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) began returning remains of identified missing individuals to their families (see end of section).
On October 5, 1994, the US Senate unanimously adopted an Act for the ascertainment of the fate of five U.S. citizens missing since the Turkish invasion. Following this, the US President appointed Ambassador Robert Dillon, who came to Cyprus to carry out investigations. Andreas Kasapis’ grave was discovered in January 1998 in the Turkish occupied area of Northern Cyprus and his remains were sent to the U.S. for DNA testing and identified, yet the Turkish side has still failed to provide reliable information as to the fate of another 1587 Greek Cypriots.
Facts and information on the death and the burial site of 201 out of 500 cases of Turkish Cypriot missing persons were provided by the Cyprus government on May 12, 2003.
On December 6, 2002, excavations at the village of Alaminos, led to the discovery of human remains, which according to existing testimonies, belonged to Turkish Cypriots who lost their lives during a fire exchange with a unit of the National Guard, on July 20, 1974.
The Washington Times reported: “In a Greek raid on a small Turkish village near Limassol, 36 people out of a population of 200 were killed. The Greeks said that they had been given orders to kill the inhabitants of the Turkish villages before the Turkish forces arrived.”
Exhumations carried out by British experts in the occupied village of Trachonas which was a burial site designated by the Turkish side in 1998 were completed on January 11, 2005, but failed to locate any remains belonging to Greek Cypriots listed as missing. After this failure the Cyprus government raised questions over the willingness of the Turkish side to resolve this humanitarian issue.
However, since 2004, the whole issue of missing persons in Cyprus took a dramatic new turn after the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) designed and started to implement (as from August 2006) its project on the Exhumation, Identification and Return of Remains of Missing Persons. The whole project is being implemented by bi-communal teams of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriot scientists (archaeologists, anthropologists and geneticists) under the overall responsibility of the CMP. By the end of 2007, 57 individuals had been identified and their remains returned to their families.
Destruction of cultural heritage
Much looting occurred following the Turkish invasions; there have been mutual accusations of destruction of cultural heritage such as mosques and churches in both sides of the Island. In 1989, the government of Cyprus took an American art dealer to court for the return of four rare sixth century Byzantine mosaics which had survived an edict by the Emperor of Byzantium, imposing the destruction of all images of sacred figures. Cyprus won the case, and the mosaics were eventually returned. In October 1997, Aydın Dikmen, who had sold the mosaics was finally arrested in Germany in a police raid and found to be in possession of a stash consisting of mosaics, frescoes and icons dating back to the sixth, twelfth and fifteenth centuries worth over 50 million dollars. The mosaics, depicting Saints Thaddeus and Thomas, are two more sections from the apse of the Kanakaria Church, while the frescoes, including the Last Judgment and the Tree of Jesse, were taken off the north and south walls of the Monastery of Antiphonitis, built between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries.
As a result of the Turkish invasion, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, stated that the demographic structure of the island has been continuously modified as a result of the deliberate policies of the Turks. Despite the lack of consensus on the exact figures, all parties concerned admit that Turkish nationals have been systematically arriving in the northern part of the island. Some suggest, that over 120,000 settlers were brought into Cyprus from mainland Turkey. This was despite Article 49 of the Geneva Convention stating that "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
UN Resolution 1987/19 (1987) of the "Sub-Commission On Prevention Of Discrimination And Protection Of Minorities" which was adopted on September 2, 1987 demanded "the full restoration of all human rights to the whole population of Cyprus, including the freedom of movement, the freedom of settlement and the right to property" and also expressed "its concern also at the policy and practice of the implantation of settlers in the occupied territories of Cyprus which constitute a form of colonialism and attempt to change illegally the demographic structure of Cyprus."
The Oslo peace center studied the number of Turkish citizens in the north, and after removing transients (i.e. Turkish troops, support staff, migrant workers, students), and Turks with legitimate links to Cyprus (i.e. those with Cypriot family) they estimated 37,000 Turks reside on the island. This was later backed up by the 2006 census in the North of Cyprus.
Negotiations and other developments
The United Nations Security Council decisions for the immediate unconditional withdrawal of all foreign troops from Cyprus soil and the safe return of the refugees to their homes have not been implemented by Turkey and the TRNC. (See UN Security Council resolutions 353(1974), 357(1974), 358(1974), 359(1974), 360(1974), 365(1974) endorsing General Assembly resolution 3212(XXIX)(1974), 367(1975), 541(1983), 550(1984).) Turkey and TRNC defend their position, stating that any such withdrawal would had to a resumption of intercommunal fighting and killing.
Negotiations to find a solution to the Cyprus problem have been taking place on and off since 1964. Between 1974 and 2002, the Turkish Cypriot side was seen by the international community as the side refusing a balanced solution. Since 2002, the situations has been reversed and the Greek Cypriot side has been seen as the side refusing a balanced solution. The latest Annan Plan to reunify the island which was endorsed by the United States, United Kingdom and Turkey was accepted by a referendum by Turkish Cypriots but overwhelmingly rejected in parallel referendum by Greek Cypriots, after Greek Cyriot Leadership and Greek Orthodox Church urging the Greek population to vote No. Greek Cypriots rejected the UN settlement plan in an April 2004 referendum. On April 24, 2004, the Greek Cypriots rejected by a three-to-one margin the plan proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the reunification of Cyprus. The plan, which was approved by a two-to-one margin by the Turkish Cypriots in a separate but simultaneous referendum, would have created a United Cyprus Republic and ensured that the entire island would reap the benefits of Cyprus’ entry into the European Union on May 1. The plan would have created a United Cyprus Republic consisting of a Greek Cypriot constituent state and a Turkish Cypriot constituent state linked by a federal government. More than half of the Greek Cypriots who were displaced in 1974 and their descendants would have had their properties returned back to them and would have lived in them under Greek Cypriot administration within a period of 31/2 to 42 months after the entry into force of the settlement. For those whose property could not be returned, they would have received monetary compensation.
The entire island entered the EU on May 1, 2004 still divided, although the EU acquis communautaire - the body of common rights and obligations - applies only to the areas under direct government control, and is suspended in the areas administered by Turkish Cypriots. However, individual Turkish Cypriots able to document their eligibility for Republic of Cyprus citizenship legally enjoy the same rights accorded to other citizens of European Union states. Nicosia continues to oppose EU efforts to establish direct trade and economic links to north Cyprus as a way of encouraging the Turkish Cypriot community to continue to support reunification.
Cyprus joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM2) in May 2005, and eventually adopted the euro as its national currency on January 1, 2008.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus declared "legally invalid"
In 1983 the subordinate local administration in the north declared independence under the name Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Immediately upon this declaration Britain convened a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to condemn the declaration as "legally invalid."
UN Security Council Resolution 541(1983) considered the "attempt to create the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is invalid, and will contribute to a worsening of the situation in Cyprus." It went on to state that it "Considers the declaration referred to above as legally invalid and calls for its withdrawal."
Return of Varosha
In the following year UN resolution 550 (1984) condemned the "exchange of Ambassadors" between Turkey and the TRNC and went on to add that the Security Council "Considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the United Nations."
To this day, neither Turkey nor the TRNC have complied with the above resolutions and Varosha remains uninhabited.
Legacy: lessons for peacemaking
The dispute in Cyprus represents an example of competing nationalisms. Tirman describes the stand-off between parties:
Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot negotiators, led by Rauf Denktash and Glafkos Clerides, have become stuck in a seemingly irreconcilable set of positions, with Denktash insisting on a two state solution with some Cyprus-wide interlocking institutions, and Clerides holding out for a bizonal federation, with guarantees for Turkish Cypriot safety in the absence of Turkish troops.
There is some similarity with the Northern Ireland context, where some want union with the Republic of Ireland and others want to maintain union with Great Britain in a divided island. In addition to the two communities in Northern Ireland, the governments of Great Britain and of the Republic of Ireland have a stake in resolving the dispute; in Cyprus, the governments of Turkey and of Greece are similarly involved as stakeholders. In the case of Cyprus, the United Nations specifically and the international community generally has found intervention challenging because of lack of willingness by the two-sides to compromise. Muravchik argues, in assessing the effectiveness of UN peace-keeping, that peace-keeping can only be effective in situations when "all parties to a conflict sought to end it and needed the good offices of a neutral force to reinforce mutual trust or verify the fulfillment of obligations."Due to lack of progress towards a negotiated solution, effectively, the UN peace-keepers have merely "controlled a buffer zone between the Greek-controlled and Turkish-controlled regions of the island." Unwillingness by the all parties involved to cooperate with the UN in negotiating a peaceful and viable solution has handicapped the peace process. In the Korean peninsula and in Kashmir, the UN also maintains a "buffer-zone" between entities, while little or no negotiated progress towards a permanent solution takes place.
Applying lessons from other contexts to Cyprus suggests that unless partition remains permanent, a power-sharing arrangement between the two communities (as in the Northern Irish peace process) that addresses the issues of social justice and economic equity will need to be negotiated. In order for this to happen, other initiatives alongside the presence of peace-keeping soldiers are necessary. Burg suggests that what is lacking in Cyprus is "a wide-spread network of common material and other social interests associated with economic integration." "Military-political intervention alone," he observes, "appears to provide insufficient basis for the peaceful resolution of disputes."
Recognizing that civil society in Cyprus requires nurturing so that members of the two communities can begin to establish better understanding, replacing hostility with friendship, many Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are active on the island. Initiatives aim to create personal links and ties between the two communities, which, as in Northern Ireland, is lacking. In Northern Ireland, historically, the Roman Catholic and Protestant communities were "kept deliberately apart in a way that resembles apartheid in South Africa." By creating opportunities for people to meet across the communitarian divide, reconciliation becomes a more likely prospect. The NGOs hope to stimulate a thirst for reconciliation and an equitable solution to inform a groundswell of popular support for a sustainable solution. One overseas facilitator in helping to create a "bicommunal community," Benjamin Broome, offered this advice:
You must reach out your hand in friendship to the other side. You must give the people in the other community a reason to believe in your sincerity and goodwill. You must show a willingness to listen to the pain and suffering that the others have experienced. You must put away symbols of separation and hatred. You must remove from the textbooks and the mouths of your teachers the image of the other as an enemy. You must quit the rhetoric of blame, and accept responsibility for your own community's contribution, both from the past and now, to the Cyprus problem. You must stop the provocative acts that threaten the existence of the others. You must give up the idea of using violence and force. Above all, you must view as legitimate the needs and concerns of the other community. The path to peace is through rough and unexplored territory, full of monsters who appear ready to gobble all of us at any moment.
The lessons for diplomacy, says Tirman, are clear:
No matter how well intended or clever or supportive, outside negotiators like the U.N. cannot impose solutions if there isn't a social agreement, however inchoate, which supports the goal of resolving the conflict. There must be an authentic, native thirst for a settlement, which then can be parlayed by diplomats into a workable plan.
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All links retrieved March 31, 2020.
- Aspects of the Cyprus Problem from The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office.
- The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report on Cyprus.
- Letter by the President of the Republic, Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos, to the U.N. Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, dated 7 June, which circulated as an official document of the U.N. Security Council].
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- European Court of Human Rights Case of Cyprus v. Turkey (Application no. 25781/94).
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