(2) Background and Current Situation
(3) Property: No Headway
(4) Direct Trade Directive: A Ray of Hope
(5) Turkey’s Position
(6) Missing People: Public Broadcasting Breaks a Taboo
(7) Spain’s Efforts to Resolve the Cyprus Problem
during its EU Presidency
Christofias, President of the Republic of Cyprus, and Derviş
Eroğlu, President of the TRNC, to Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary
General, in April 2010
Basic Statistics of the Republic of Cyprus and of the
Representative Offices Abroad of the TRNC
The Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot leaders renewed
negotiations in May for reunifying Cyprus, the only divided country
in the EU. Little progress of substance was made during 19 months of
talks between Demetris Christofias, the Greek-Cypriot President, and
Mehmet Ali Talat, the former President of the internationally
unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), who was
defeated in April by the more hard-line Derviş
Eroğlu. The international community is becoming increasingly
frustrated by the lack of progress on a settlement and the idea of a
negotiated partition is gaining credence.
(2) Background and Current Situation
Some 70 rounds of talks between September 2008 and March 2010 between the Greek-Cypriot President, Demetris
Christofias, and Mehmet Ali Talat, the leader of the TRNC over
reunifying Cyprus, divided since 1974 (see Figure 1) after Turkey’s
military intervention as a result of inter-communal strife and an
attempt to incorporate the island into Greece through a coup, made
some headway on power-sharing, the economy and EU issues but very
little progress on property, territory and settlers from Turkey.
Figure 1. Cyprus
These talks followed the rejection by Greek Cypriots of the reunification
plan of Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, in simultaneous
referenda held in April 2004 on both sides of the UN buffer zone or
‘Green Line’, established following the ceasefire in 1974
and which makes Cyprus today the only divided country in Europe.
Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected the Annan Plan (76% voted
‘no’), while 65% of Turkish Cypriots voted ‘yes.’ Both Tassos Papadopoulos, the then
Greek-Cypriot President from the centrist Democratic Party (DIKO),
and Rauf Denktaş, the veteran and
founding President of the TRNC (first elected in 1976), called for a ‘no’ vote.
Greek Cypriots voted in the referendum knowing that whatever the result
Cyprus would join the EU the following week. It would have been
easier to get an agreement approved on both sides if Cyprus’s
EU entry had not gone ahead until a reunification deal had been
agreed, but that was not possible because Greece made the enlargement
of the EU, through the incorporation of Eastern and Central European
countries, conditional on including Cyprus. This is now commonly
recognised as a mistake by some EU governments.
The whole of Cyprus joined the EU on 1 May, but the acquis
communautaire are technically
‘suspended’, effectively making those Turkish Cypriots
who do not have Republic of Cyprus passports second-class citizens within the Union.
Greek Cypriots had no immediate motivation to vote ‘yes’; they regarded the Annan Plan as
an imposition by the international powers and a zero-sum game for them, particularly as they perceived it as not providing for:
The removal of all Turkish
troops and settlers and the elimination of the treaty allowing the
UK, Greece and Turkey unilaterally to intervene in Cyprus.
Adequate guarantees to ensure
that the commitments undertaken by the parties involved would be carried out.
A property recovery system that
appropriately recognised the rights and interests of displaced Greek
Cypriots who were forced from their homes in 1974, and a property
compensation arrangement that did not require Greek Cypriots to fund
their own restitution.
The right of all Cypriots to
acquire property and to live wherever they chose in the country
without restrictive quotas.
A government that functioned
without deadlocks or voting restrictions based on ethnicity.
In his report to the UN Security Council, a month after the referendums,
Annan called the rejection by the Greek-Cypriot electorate ‘a
major setback’ as ‘what was rejected was the solution
itself rather than a mere blueprint’. The size of the ‘no’ vote raised ‘fundamental questions’ because while Greek Cypriots ‘strongly state
their wish to reunify, many see in a settlement very little gain, and quite a lot of inconvenience and risk’.
Turkish Cypriots, on the other hand, were clearly motivated to vote ‘yes’
and unlike Greek Cypriot voters turned their backs on their leader.
The Council of the EU pledged to reward the Turkish Cypriots for a
‘yes’ vote by reducing their isolation (see the section
on direct trade), but the Republic of Cyprus’s first action as
an EU member was to block this gesture. The Turkish government
reacted by reneging on its promise to implement the Additional
Protocol to the customs union and open up its seaports and airports
to Greek-Cypriot traffic and recognise the Republic of Cyprus.
Although not an EU country, Turkey has been part of the EU’s
Customs Union since 1996. As a result, the EU summit in December 2006
suspended eight of Turkey’s EU accession chapters and Cyprus has since then frozen another six (see the section on Turkey).
The pro-reunification Talat replaced Denktaş as President in 2005 and he and Papadopoulous attempted to re-start
talks but they soon stalled. Christofias, the head of the nominally
communist Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus (Akel), became President in 2008 and talks with Talat moved into a higher
gear, raising expectations, particularly in the international
community, that a deal really would be reached after so many years.
Too much, however, was made of the ideological similarities between
the two leaders and of the ‘chemistry’ between them, both
of which elements were hyped up, and led to the too often repeated
mantra that they represented a ‘unique opportunity’ for
Akel had also urged its supporters to vote ‘no’
in the 2004 referendum, claiming that it could get a better deal if
Christofias won the 2008 presidential election. Talat and Christofias agreed to conduct negotiations under the overriding principle of ‘nothing is agreed unless everything is
agreed’ and to use the UN solely as a facilitator –more
like a silent observer that does not officially table any proposals–
and without timetables and any possibility of a new arbitration. The
negotiating framework was set out in two joint statements on 23 May
2008 and 1 July 2008 when the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment
to a ‘bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality as defined by relevant UN Security Council
resolutions. This system would have a federal government with a
single international personality, as well as a Turkish-Cypriot
Constituent State and a Greek-Cypriot Constituent State, which will be of equal status’.
The two sides, however, have conflicting views on what
constitutes bi-zonality. For the Turkish Cypriots it means preserving
as much as possible the post-1974 de facto situation, particularly regarding ‘residency’ and
‘property’, thus ensuring a substantial majority of both
population and property ownership in their constituent states. The
Greek-Cypriot side, on the other hand, regards it as a painful
compromise which should be compensated by restoring as much as
possible the pre-1974 situation, also regarding ‘residency’ and ‘property’.
Talat and Christofias devoted most of their time to governance and power-sharing (20 of the 71 meetings). The previous
power-sharing system established by the 1960 Constitution broke down.
Between 1963, when Turkish Cypriots withdrew from or were scared out of government following inter-communal
strife, and 1974, when Turkey occupied the northern part, Turkish
Cypriots were reduced to something much less than a ‘protected
minority’. Many took refuge in enclaves. The Greek-Cypriot
administration of Archbishop Makarios, during this period, was viewed
by the international community at large and by two of the guarantors
(the UK and Greece) as the de facto Cyprus government and as the years passed as the de
jure Cyprus government. Turkish Cypriots understandably question the legitimacy of the Greek-Cypriot administration as the government for the whole of
Cyprus. For them, the Republic of Cyprus, as established by the 1960 Accords, ceased to exist in 1964 and there are now two de
facto Cypriot administrations/states on the island.
Convergences were reached by Christofias and Talat on a
rotating presidency, vice-presidency and cross-voting, though not the
details on how they would be elected. The Annan Plan provided for a
rotational presidential council on a 2:1 ratio, despite the
population ratio being 4:1. The Turkish Cypriots sought a 3:2 ratio.
The Annan Plan provided for a 6:3 ratio for the Council of Ministers. The Turkish-Cypriot side pushed for a 7:5 ratio.
The Greek-Cypriot proposal includes the election of the President and Vice-President directly by the people, through
cross-voting. The official Turkish-Cypriot position is for the
President and Vice-President to be elected by and come from the
Senate, where each community has an equal number of seats. However,
it has been prepared to discuss cross-voting. Under cross-voting,
Greek Cypriots would have a small say in the election of the
Turkish-Cypriot President/Vice-President and Turkish Cypriots would
have a small say in the election of the Greek-Cypriot President/Vice-President. The vote of Greek Cypriots for the election
of the Turkish-Cypriot President/Vice-President would be weighted and
be equal to the proportion of Turkish Cypriots registered in the
joint electoral list. The Greek Cypriots see cross-voting as
promoting unity and weighted voting is an inevitable consequence of
cross-voting. The President and Vice-President would not have the
right of veto, while decisions would be taken by Ministers appointed
by the President and Vice-President, respectively, for each community.
Christofias told the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK in May that ‘if we wish –and we do– to
overcome the separatist element of separate voting, which is provided
in the 1960 Constitution and perpetuates the division, then there is
no other way but to weight the vote of the largest community of the
population. The real choice is either to return to the provision of
the 1960 Constitution for the election of a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot through separate voting, or for them to be elected
through a common ballot and each community to have a say for both.
The first choice maintains the division. The second promotes unity
and consensus, compels by necessity, the candidates to appeal not only to their community but also to the other community because
without the votes from both communities they would not be elected’.
The rotating presidency is not a new idea; it has a long
history and started appearing in UN documents in the 1980s. Many
Greek Cypriots, however, are not happy with it. They question why
there should be power sharing with an ethnic community that only
represents around 18% of the total 1 million population of Cyprus,
and the Greek-Cypriot administration is universally recognised except by Turkey.
A recent opinion poll, commissioned by the socialist party EDEK, found that 72% of Greek Cypriots were opposed to a
rotating presidency and 56% of respondents believed that weighted
voting for the presidential elections was a violation of the ‘one
man, one vote’ principle. Even if all other Greek Cypriot proposals for a settlement were accepted by the Turkish-Cypriot side,
the poll found that 52% would still be opposed to a rotating presidency.
Greek Cypriots’ unease is compounded by the considerable lack of understanding of the functions of a President in
a United Cyprus Republic (in turn, the result of a poor public-relations exercise on both sides) –whose powers would be
considerably less than those of the current and powerful Greek-Cypriot presidency– and the lack of trust and confidence
on both sides. Some prominent Greek Cypriots even believe the rotational system would mean a Turkish-Cypriot President could
legally strive for Cyprus’s union with Turkey.
On the issue of settlers (from Turkey), Christofias placed on the negotiating table with Talat a ceiling of 50,000 for
the number that could stay in Cyprus. He also demanded a population
census prior to a reunification settlement in order to clarify who
are settlers and who are not, so that the United Cyprus Republic
would be in a position to know who will acquire Cypriot citizenship.
The figure of 50,000 is around the actual number of settlers of Turkish origin who have been granted TRNC citizenship out of a total
Turkish-origin population of around 115,000.
Turkish Cypriots, on the other hand, insist that all the
TRNC citizens (estimated to be 195,000 in 2010) should be allowed to
have the United Republic Citizenship after a solution. According to
the 2006 Turkish-Cypriot census, 42,572 (out of 178,000) of the TRNC
citizens have their mother and father born in Turkey (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Turkish-Cypriot Census, April 2006
according to the Census
‘TRNC citizens’ with both parents born in Cyprus
‘TRNC citizens’ with one parent born in Cyprus
Turkish-Cypriot population with ‘TRNC citizenship’
citizens’ with both parents born in Turkey
citizens’ with one parent born in Turkey, other neither in
Turkey nor Cyprus
settler population with ‘TRNC citizenship’
parent born in Turkey or Cyprus
At least one parent born neither in Turkey nor Cyprus or not indicated
Total ‘TRNC citizens’
‘Non-TRNC citizens’ with Turkish citizenship only
Subtotal:implied settler population without ‘TRNC citizenship’
jure population excluding Turkish army
While the Annan Plan provided the constituent states
with a right to conclude international agreements on commercial and
cultural matters, the Turkish-Cypriot side under Talat demanded this
right for all the competences of the federated units which would
contravene the agreed principle of a single international
personality. The Annan Plan recommended a single Flight Information
Region (FIR), as at present, while the official Turkish-Cypriot position is to have two.
Positive developments during the Talat-Chrisofias negotiations were the opening of another crossing point between the
two communal zones and work on opening another; top Turkish leaders
met Greek-Cypriot civil-society groups for the first time in Ankara
and the Greek-Cypriot Church broke taboos and initiated contacts with
the Turkish government. On the very sensitive issue of property
compensation, a judgement in the European Court of Human Rights
(Demopoulos v. Turkey) favoured Turkish-Cypriot arguments and a
ruling by the British Court of Appeal (Apostolides v.Orams) favoured Greek-Cypriot arguments.
Talat worked hard for a reunification deal, but he lost
the April 2010 election to the more nationalistic Derviş
Eroğlu, the former Prime Minister who, on the basis, at least,
of his stance during his long political career, is less enthusiastic
about a settlement and more inclined towards a two-state solution. Eroğlu won a decisive victory in the first round, capturing
50.4% of the vote (22.7% in the 2005 election) compared with Talat’s
42.8% (see Figure 3). The writing was on the wall for Talat when
Eroğlu won the parliamentary elections in 2009 (see Figure 4).
Figure 3. TRNC Presidential Election Results, 2010 and 2005 (1)
% of total votes
Eroğlu (National Unity Party)
Ali Talat (2)
(1) 2005 results in brackets.
(2) Talat ran in 2010 as an independent and in 2005 for the Republican Turkish Party.
(3) Five in 2010 and seven in 2005.
Source:Turkish-Cypriot Electoral Commission.
Figure 4. TRNC General Election Results, 2009 and 2005 (1)
of total votes
Turkish Party (2)
and Reform Party
for the People Party
(1) 2005 results in brackets.
(2) In 2005, the RTP was joined by United Forces.
Source:Turkish-Cypriot Electoral Commission.
Voters punished Talat for, among other things, his failure to reach a settlement,
about which he had been overconfident. Although the primary function
of the TRNC President is to negotiate a deal, it was felt that Talat
concentrated too much on the power-sharing issue which does not
resonate with citizens as much as property, the issue of greatest popular concern.
The votes of settlers from Turkey played an important part in Eroğlu’s
election, though not as decisive a one as Greek-Cypriot propaganda
would have one believe. Talat won the urban vote (including that of
public-sector workers) and Eroğlu the rural one, but many of the
rural voters were Turkish Cypriots and not just immigrants from
Turkey who gained TRNC citizenship and thus the right to vote.
According to Mete Hatay, a respected political analyst, Eroğlu
won 56% of the settlers’ votes compared with 29% in the 2005
election, while Talat gained 30% of the settlers’ vote (35% in
2005). The settler’s votes constitute almost 24% of the electorate.
Eroğlu played on settlers’ fear that a deal by Talat would result in them
having to return to Turkey. Talat’s decision to carry on
negotiating while he was campaigning worked against him as it looked
as if he was making concessions to the Greek Cypriots. Settlers who
acquired citizenship also felt excluded from the patronage system of Talat’s party.
Christofias, despite the ideological affinity with Talat and his apparent
commitment to reach a settlement, did nothing to enhance Talat’s
chances at the polls (for example, he
refused to issue a substantive statement on the progress made),
either because he was fearful of being accused of interfering in the
internal politics of the TRNC, was not prepared to face down his
opponents in his coalition government over a settlement or because he
found the prospect of Eroğlu’s victory politically convenient as it might lessen the chances of a
settlement and the Turkish Cypriots would then be blamed for the
collapse of negotiations. The blame game is very much part of the
negotiating process on both sides; more, however, by the Greek
Cypriots. Every time that Talat had something positive to say about the negotiations,
Christofias would come out with something negative, adding to the
general negative atmosphere in the TRNC. The Turkish government also
did nothing to favour Talat as it could have done.
Despite his hawkish reputation, Eroğlu quickly agreed to resume the negotiations
where Talat had left off, and he kept Kudret Özersay, who had
been heavily involved in both the governance and property chapters,
in the negotiating team, promoting him to the top position of
representative. He also established an Advisory Board which reflects
a wide spectrum of views, not all of them in favour of reunification.
Eroğlu confirmed his readiness in a letter five days after
becoming President to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (see
Appendix B). However, he was criticised by Nicos Anastasiades, the leader of the right-wing DISY party, at a lunch
with EU ambassadors on 6 May for specifying in this letter ‘only
a selection’ of the negotiating framework agreed by Talat and
Christofias in their joint statement of 23 May 2008. Eroğlu
referred to ‘bi-zonality’, ‘political equality’
and ‘equal status of the two constituent states’ but, said Anastasiades,
‘refrains from even using that very basic word of Federation. And a Federation also implies a single sovereignty, a single
international identity and a single citizenship. These are the two sides of the coin. Choosing a-la-carte will only lead us to a dead-end’. The Greek Cypriots were also upset that Eroğlu failed to refer to the 1 July 2008
sovereignty-related statement in his letter to Ban Ki-Moon.
Despite its very different ideology, DISY, the main opposition party, had initially
been more supportive of Christofias’s settlement efforts than
the centre-right party DEKO, which is part of the coalition
government. The third party in the government, EDEK (socialist) quit
the coalition in February over its ‘total disagreement’
regarding the reunification strategy. Some political analysts say
Christofias should ditch DEKO and form a government with DISY. The
constant sniping by DEKO weakens Christofias’ position, but
also it can be conveniently used to justify not making proposals more
to the liking of the Turkish Cypriots.
Christofias also sent a letter to Ban Ki-Moon and EU leaders (see Appendix B), saying
Eroğlu had been ‘supported by the vote of illegal Turkish
settlers’. The letter so annoyed the Turkish-Cypriot
negotiating team –by starting the ‘blame game’ even
before the two leaders resumed negotiations– that at least one
member of Eroğlu’s Advisory Board recommended he call off
the talks. Other elements that angered the Turkish-Cypriot side were
that: (a) the letter repeated the arguments of ‘invasion and occupation’ without mentioning
the Greek military coup that preceded and necessitated the Turkish
intervention and the 11-year-long ordeal of the Turkish Cypriots; (b)
ignored the existence of the Treaty of Guarantee; painted an
intransigent picture of Eroğlu based on his past record, overlooking the fact that it was under his
governments that fundamental parameters for a solution, such as
bi-zonality, bi-communality and political equality had been agreed;
and (c) attempted to discriminate between and among Turkish-Cypriot
citizens and selectively mentioned ‘single sovereignty, single
international personality and single citizenship’ while
ignoring ‘two Constituent States of equal status’ as mentioned in the Joint Statement of 23 May 2008.
Nevertheless, negotiations began again on 26 May and were then almost postponed at the second meeting on 3 June after
remarks by Eroğlu regarding the framework for negotiations were interpreted by
Christofias as questioning the basis for a settlement. Christofias
had planned to boycott the meeting, but by the time Alexander Downer,
the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Cyprus, was informed 10
minutes before the meeting was scheduled to take place the Turkish-Cypriot team was already en route. When Christofias realise
that Eroğlu would not turn back, he announced he was coming to
the meeting, and he arrived 50 minutes late. When Eroğlu learned
that Christofias was coming to the meeting after all and was on his way, he was persuaded by Downer to stay and not leave as he had
The property issue is now at the top of the agenda, after making almost no progress when
Talat was negotiating. The Greek Cypriots are seeking to link it to the issues of territory and settlers –the three matters are
closely entwined– but the Turkish Cypriots are not happy with this because of its potential impact on the regions and people
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on 16 June renewing the
mandate of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus for a further six months.
The resolution ‘emphasises the importance attached by the
international community of all parties engaging fully, flexibly and
constructively in the negotiations, echoes the Secretary General’s
view that a solution is well within reach, and looks forward to
decisive progress in the near future building on the progress made to
date consistent with the hope expressed by the two sides on 21
December 2009 that, if possible, 2010 would be the year of solution’.
The words ‘if possible’ were added after the Greek-Cypriot side, supported by Russia (always
a close ally) and France, said the original text effectively placed
‘suffocating deadlines’ on the talks. The watering down
of the resolution means there is much less pressure in that document to reach a deal.
Downer, a former Australian Foreign Minister, has become increasingly
critical and frustrated at the lack of progress since September 2008
and the time spent on semantics, making himself not very popular,
particularly with Greek Cypriots for his outspokenness. In a revealing and frank interview in early June with the Cyprus
Observer, a weekly newspaper in the TRNC, he said: ‘A lot of people love the verbal minefield, for
many of them it’s an excuse never to reach an agreement; they have different definitions of the same words, they’re mainly
English words, they define them differently, they debate them differently… If you want Cyprus to be the global capital of
semantic debate that’s one option for Cyprus, if you want to solve the Cyprus Problem that’s another’. He went on to
say ‘it’s easy to sound in favour of a solution… you can train a parrot in a pet shop to say that’.
The two sides, during the preparatory phase before the Talat-Christofias
negotiations started in September 2008, agreed 22 confidence building
measures, such as quick passage over the ‘Green Line’ for
emergency cases of Turkish Cypriots going to a hospital on the other
side and actions regarding cultural heritage, but implementation has
been very slow. To date, only four have been publicly announced: the
crossing of ambulances, the appointment of an Advisory Board for cultural heritage, the distribution of a jointly prepared road safety
leaflet and the Joint Contact Room for cooperation on crime and criminal matters. ‘Some of them are really good’, said
Downer in the interview, ‘but some of them have just got bogged
down in politics. They’re not confidence building measures if
they get bogged down in politics – they can be confidence
destroying measures, so it’s important to be wide eyed about them’.
The Greek-Cypriot government’s relentless efforts to isolate the
TRNC as much as possible have also undermined confidence-building
measures and the general climate of trust between the two communities. Earlier this year the Turkish-Cypriot development agency
YAGA was expelled from the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies under pressure from the Greek Cypriots.
Downer has let it be known that the UN does not want the talks to go on for years. When he briefed EU ambassadors in Cyprus in June he reportedly told them it had taken him two years to learn that when
Greek and Turkish Cypriots said they supported negotiations for
reunification the words were meaningless as neither side was really committed.
The UNFICYP, set up in 1964, is one of the longest-running peacekeeping
missions in the world. There are currently 1,100 personnel (around
850 troops, 60 police officers and the civil affairs branch and
administration), a large part of whose costs are paid for by the
Greek-Cypriot government, compared with a peak of 4,440 for a period
after the 1974 fighting. There has been a debate among UN officials
that the peacekeeping force should be reduced, something the Greek-Cypriot side would be deeply unhappy about as there are an
estimated 30,000 Turkish troops in the TRNC, which feeds into their
fears of insecurity. Any of the permanent members of the UN Security
Council could veto its continuation, but none has ever done so.
Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General, was not very enthusiastic about
re-starting negotiations after Talat and Christofias failed to reach
a settlement. The Turkish-Cypriot side would like to see a solution
by the end of the year, but for the Greek Cypriots the word deadline
is taboo. Greek Cypriots are also less keen to meet as often as the Turkish Cypriots.
Christofias has said he will not run for the presidency in 2013 if he does not
reach a settlement, and he would not give his blessing to one if he
did not believe it stood a good chance of being approved in a
referendum. A deal, as in 2004, has to be approved by referendums
on both sides. Greek Cypriots show little enthusiasm for a settlement, but were he to recommend a ‘yes’ vote –as
his predecessor Tassos Papadopoulos pressed for a ‘no’ vote in 2004– he would probably carry
‘It’s not a negotiating process if there are just constant meetings but
nothing ever happens at them, that’s not a negotiation’,
said Downer. ‘We don’t apply a specific time line to
these talks, but time is not on their side. They’ve had many
years to sort this problem out in the past, they’ve had many attempts, but none of them have succeeded’.
In an unusual step, the UN will produce an important report in November –just five months after its last
one– which will detail the progress of Christofias and Eroğlu
until then. ‘We’ll just call it as it is in that report.
If we see that one side is more responsible for the problems than the
other well we wouldn’t hesitate but to say it’, said
Downer. This has made both sides nervous; the name of the game on
both sides until the report is released seems to be to ensure that
the other side has the finger pointed at it for being more intransigent than the other. In the event of the UN being convinced
there is no likelihood of a settlement, it would not be surprising if
it withdrew its good offices mission. This would then raise the prospect of a negotiated partition.
Only one joint paper (on categories of properties) was produced by Christofias and Talat during the 18 meetings in which
this very sensitive issue was discussed. Despite this, Christofias and Eroğlu
agreed to tackle the issue in their first meetings rather than seek further progress in the power-sharing chapter. They were
encouraged by Downer to do so in order to avoid back-tracking on chapters where there had been progress. Talat believes this is a
tactical error and it should be the priority, as everything would then flow from it. The new Turkish-Cypriot
negotiating team believes Talat concentrated too much on this issue, very important though it is. The Greek Cypriots insist on linking
property to the related issues of territory and settlers which the Turkish-Cypriot side opposes.
The property question stems from the large numbers
of people displaced as a result of the inter-communal strife in
1963-64 (around 23,000 Turkish Cypriots were confined in enclaves)
and Turkey’s military occupation in 1974. Some 162,000 Greek
Cypriots in the north fled or moved south where the original Greek
Cypriots numbered 344,000 and 48,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the
south went to the north, where around 70,000 Turkish Cypriots lived.
Until the lifting in 2003 by Rauf Denktaş, the TRNC President, of the 29-year ban on travel to and from the
north of the island, Cypriots could not visit their respective properties.
The Interior Ministry is the ‘custodian’ of
Turkish-Cypriot properties in the south and as such is responsible
for looking after them. The actual practice in the south generally
prevents Turkish Cypriots from reclaiming their properties –including
receiving compensation or any payment due to them– until a
comprehensive reunification settlement is reached. In essence, the
Turkish-Cypriot owners remain the title holders of their properties
although some homes have been used to house needy Greek-Cypriot
refugees. Some non-resident Turkish Cypriots have sold properties
transferred to them by resident Turkish Cypriots. The majority of
Greek-Cypriot properties in the north are inhabited by Turkish Cypriots.
There are considerable differences over the amount of
land that is respectively owned by the two communities. While the
Greek-Cypriot side estimates the 1974 figure for Greek-Cypriot-owned
land in the TRNC at 78% of all privately-owned land, the Turkish-Cypriot side outs it at 64%. Similarly the Turkish-Cypriot
figures for Turkish-Cypriot-owned land in 1974 in both sides of the
island (33% of all private land in the north and 22% in the south) are at variance with the Greek-Cypriot side.
The Greek-Cypriot position is that, since international case law has established that
all Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot property belongs to the
pre-1974 dispossessed owners, they should be entitled to decide
freely the preferred remedy based on reinstatement, compensation or
exchange. If the owner wants reinstatement but wishes to sell or rent
the property the current user would have the first priority. If the
owner opts for reinstatement, the relocation of the user would be
carried out in a manner compatible with international law and the
relevant international principles. It is widely believed that very
few dispossessed owners in either community would actually return to
live in their original homes, although up to 90,000 Greek Cypriots
reportedly say that property and land belonging to them should be
The Turkish-Cypriot side opposes the original owners having the final say because this
would undermine bi-zonality, create uncertainty and ignore the rights
of the current users (who have accumulated rights to a home under the
European Convention of Human Rights). Depending on how many
properties were repossessed, it might not guarantee Turkish Cypriots
the majority of land ownership and property in their respective
constituent state, and could make them a minority in terms of population and ownership.
The property issue has been the subject of many cases at the European
Commission and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), many of
them by the Greek-Cypriot state or by individuals, and in all of
those in which Turkey was the plaintiff (the Republic of Cyprus has
had cases brought by Turkish Cypriots), Turkey has been found to be
in breach of the European Convention as regards rights to property. The standard line on the Turkish-Cypriot side until fairly recently
was that the decisions were political ones dressed up as principles
of law and that the property issue should be resolved through
inter-communal negotiations and not through the courts. In response to ECHR cases, the TRNC established in 2006 an Immovable
Property Commission (IPC) as a local remedy for property claims, and
in March 2010 the ECHR, in a landmark ruling, upheld the IPC as an
accessible and effective redress for Greek-Cypriots’ complains about deprivation of property in northern Cyprus. The decision
quashed the view argued by the Greek-Cypriot authorities and
applicants that the IPC was not valid as it was in the ‘illegally
occupied territories’. Greek Cypriots are not at all happy with
the decision, regarding it in a poignant irony, like the Turkish-Cypriot side in cases that went against its interests, as
The ECHR stated in its decision on Demopoulous v. Turkey and seven other cases that ‘pending
resolution of the illegal occupation of northern Cyprus it was
crucial that individuals nonetheless continued to receive protection
of their rights on a daily basis’ and ‘if there was an
effective remedy available for their complaints the rule of
exhaustion applied. In the light of the many changes some 35 years
after the properties were left, it would risk being arbitrary and
injudicious for the Court to impose an obligation to effect
restitution in all cases –which would result in the forcible
eviction and re-housing of many men, women and children– even
with the aim of vindicating the rights of victims of violations of the Convention’.
The IPC decides on restitution, exchange of the property or payment of compensation. As of 25 June 2010,
569 applications had been lodged and 113 of them concluded through
friendly settlements and four through formal hearing. The IPC with
the help of the Turkish government has so far paid ₤43.4
million to the applicants as compensation. It has also ruled for
exchange and compensation in two cases, for restitution in one case and for restitution and compensation in five cases.
Parties who are not satisfied with the IPC’s decision have the right to
apply to the TRNC’s Administrative Court and if the applicant
is still not satisfied with the judgment an application can be lodged
before the ECHR but this can be a long and expensive process and the
Court may uphold the decision of the IPC. The hope, at least on the
Turkish-Cypriot side, is that the IPC will be increasingly seen as
the best solution in the absence of a comprehensive reunification
settlement. Applications to the IPC have to be made by the end of
2011 unless the ECHR grants an extension. The Greek-Cypriot
government is far from encouraging citizens dispossessed of their
properties to use the IPC: George Iacovou, a close aide of
Christofias and his representative in the negotiations, complained in
June that the IPC was only paying one-tenth of the value of the
properties, although he was probably referring to prevailing market
prices in the south, rather than the price that affected property can
currently fetch in the north. Moreover, in June the ECHR granted
financial damages to Greek Cypriots that were rather closer to that
paid by the IPC than that claimed by the plaintiffs, thus suggesting
that any appeals to the IPC complaining about low damages will not be successful.
There has been a notable increase in the number of applications since the
ECHR ruling in March, although applicants who work in the public
sector are particularly anxious to maintain confidentiality for fear
of being criticised for their ‘disloyal’ action.
While the ECHR ruling favoured the Turkish-Cypriot side, a judgment by the
British Court of Appeal in January 2010 in the Apostolides v. Orams
case said the Greek-Cypriot court judgements ordering the Orams, a
British couple, to destroy a villa built on land in the TRNC
belonging to Mr Apostolides, a Greek Cypriot, be executed in the UK. Mr
Apostolides sued in a British court to compel enforcement of
the judgement as it was not recognised by the Turkish-Cypriot side. He argued that
EU law requires the UK to recognise court judgments in fellow member states. The Orams were represented by Cherie Booth, the
wife of Tony Blair, who at the time was Britain’s Prime
Minister. He lost and appealed. The British appellate court asked the
European Court of Justice (ECJ) to determine whether a court in
England and Wales can recognise and enforce a judgment issued in
Cyprus concerning land in the north over which the Cyprus government
has no effective control. The ECJ, the final authority on EU law,
said that the suspension of the acquis in the north and the lack of control over the north did not matter as
the court that issued the judgement against the Orams sits in the
Greek-Cypriot side so EU law –which compels EU countries to
recognise each others’ court judgments– applies to it.
As a result, Linda and David Orams were ordered to cease trespassing on the land
belonging to Mr Apostolides, deliver possession of the land, pay
‘mesne profits’ (effectively, rent) in respect of the
period of their occupation and knock down the villa they had built on
the land. The Greek-Cypriot side was cockahoop, while the Turkish
Foreign Ministry said the judgement had arrived ‘at a very
inopportune time’ and could have ‘very negative implications for the negotiations’.
The UK decision sent shock waves through the foreign community in the TRNC who have holiday homes, and is one factor
behind the slump in the territory’s construction boom, which
had seen the building of thousands of homes ahead of the 2004 referendums on the Annan Plan when many assumed it would be approved
on both sides and boost property prices.
In another case (Petrakidou v. Turkey), the ECHR ruled that the Greek-Cypriot applicant had not been the victim of a
violation of article 8 of the European Convention after leaving her home in northern Cyprus in 1974 at the age of 10. The Court said it was not enough to claim
that a particular place or property is a ‘home’ and nor
can the term ‘home be interpreted as synonymous with the notion
of ‘family roots’: ‘he or she must show that they
enjoy concrete and persisting links with the property concerned’.
The largest single property issue is that of the abandoned resort of Varosha, a suburb of Famagusta on
the east coast which has been occupied by the Turkish army since
1974. Until then it was the main tourist resort in Cyprus, with a
population of more than 40,000. Its Greek-Cypriot inhabitants, the
majority of the town’s population, fled to the south or were
forced out. Today the sealed-off part of the town is still under the
jurisdiction of the Turkish army and out of bounds to everyone.
Turkish Cypriots continue to live in the original, mediaeval part of
the town. Dozens of empty and crumbling hotels, high-rise apartments,
shops, restaurants and homes line the spectacular coastline. The only
way Greek Cypriots can see this ghost town is through powerful
binoculars from the Occupied Famagusta Cultural Centre, built at
Deryneia roadblock, on the site where all the anti-occupation
demonstrations for Famagusta and other occupied parts have been taking place since 1974.
Alexis Galanos, the Greek-Cypriot Mayor of the ghost town and Chairman of refugee municipalities, is
pressing President Christofias to pursue the property issue more
vigorously, having spent, he believes, too much time on power-sharing
issues. Famagusta is expected to be a major bargaining card on the
Turkish-Cypriot side when and if there is horse-trading for a
comprehensive settlement. Unlike the Greek-Cypriot properties
occupied in the north by Turkish Cypriots, Varosha, as it is empty,
has the potential to be re-occupied without creating friction between the two communities.
Progress in the negotiations on the property issue will
be a good pointer to the chances of reaching a settlement. Diplomats
in Cyprus believe that if there is no breakthrough by the end of July, the prospects for a deal this year are very slim.
(4) Direct Trade Directive: A Ray of Hope
The TRNC cannot trade directly with an EU country, their natural markets.
Over the past 16 years this isolation has made the tiny economy of
northern Cyprus much more underdeveloped than the Greek-Cypriot part
in the south and heavily dependent on Turkey for imports, roughly
half its exports and substantial financial support. Loans and aid rose from $74 million in 2002 to $558 million in 2008.
Up until 1994 Turkish Cypriots had benefited from the preferential
treatment given to direct shipments originating in the north under
the 1972 Association Agreement between Cyprus and the European
Economic Community. This came to an end because of a ruling by the
European Court of Justice. The EU’s share of Turkish-Cypriot
exports fell from 77% in 1980 to 20% in 2008 when total exports amounted to US$83.7 million.
In 2003, the Green Line (GL) regulations were adopted, opening trade between the two
parts of Cyprus as well as providing for the free movement of people.
Around 4,000 Turkish Cypriots work in the south and their remittances
make a significant contribution to the TRNC economy. The regulations
also opened EU markets to the exports of goods originating in the
northern part (with exemptions from customs duties) provided they
transit through the southern part. Intra-island trade has benefited,
but TRNC exports to the EU countries via the south very little. As
the Turkish-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce points out, trade which is
restricted to products wholly originating in an economy with a very
limited manufacturing capacity can only be expected to have a small
volume (GL trade averages around €348,000 a month). However,
GL trade has increased its share of overall Turkish-Cypriot trade, from around 2% to 10%.
In the case of potatoes, one of the TRNC’s main exports, the GL regulations state that
they have to be grown ‘directly from the seed potatoes certified in one of the member states’ in order to be eligible
for GL trade. Because of the word ‘directly’, Turkish-Cypriot growers are obliged to import seed potatoes twice a
year instead of importing once and using the small potatoes left over
from the previous crop as seeds for the next crop. This used to be
the ordinary practice as Cyprus’ favourable climate makes it
possible to get two harvests a year. While Greek-Cypriot farmers can
continue this practice, Turkish-Cypriot ones have to buy seeds from
them as they cannot be obtained from other EU member states at that
time of the year because of their different climate conditions. And
even to change just one word in the GL regulations –in this
case ‘directly’– requires the consent of all 27 EU countries.
Though the GL regulations provide for preferential access of Turkish-Cypriot
exports to the EU as long as they are shipped through the southern
ports, politically-induced impediments and extra costs undermine
their implementation. First, considerable bureaucratic discretion is left to the authorities in the southern part to determine whether products meet
the criteria of being ‘wholly obtained’ in the north or
have ‘undergone their last substantial, economically justified
processing or working in an undertaking equipped for that purpose’.
Secondly, the constraints on the use of Turkish-Cypriot trucks and
ports in the northern part raise transport costs for Turkish-Cypriot
exporters and adversely affect the transport providers in the north.
Goods have to be reloaded on Greek-Cypriot trucks at the Green Line
unless the Turkish-Cypriot driver has all the relevant documents from
the Greek-Cypriot authorities as the crossing of commercial vehicles,
unlike that of private cars, is restricted. A World Bank report said this ‘undercuts the services sector in the northern part
while offering southern service providers rents at the expense of the
former’. Third, the development of the tourism sector is
hampered by restrictions on the movement of persons and the use of
airports in the northern part. As the GL framework does not open up
the use of airports in the northern part to foreign airlines, few
foreign tourists (with the exception of Turkish visitors) enter the
island from there. And the regulations are ambiguous about the
legality of movement of persons across the Green Line and into the
Greek-Cypriot part, particularly non-EU citizens who have entered the
island through the northern part. Furthermore, advertisements of
Turkish-Cypriot products are not accepted by the Greek-Cypriot media,
and not a single Turkish-Cypriot labelled product is on the shelves of Greek-Cypriot supermarkets.
A direct trade regulation was first suggested by the European Council
in April 2004 as a sweetener for Turkish Cypriots voting ‘yes’
in the referendum that month on the Annan Plan for reunification. Although two-thirds of Turkish Cypriots voted in favour, the
Greek-Cypriot government blocked implementation as soon as the whole
of Cyprus joined the EU on 1 May 2004 (the acquis do not apply in the northern part of the island). As a result, the
government of Turkey, which began to negotiate EU membership in October 2005, refused to implement the Ankara Protocol and open up
its ports and airports to Greek-Cypriot traffic and thereby recognise
the Republic of Cyprus. This led the European Council in December
2006 to freeze eight of the EU accession chapters (Cyprus has frozen
another six). Turkey is not budging until something is done about
fulfilling the promise of direct trade between the TRNC and the EU.
Direct trade now has a chance of moving forward as the Lisbon Treaty gives
the European Parliament a co-decision role in trade agreements. The
measure was re-introduced to the European Parliament on 1 March and
immediately came up against stiff Greek-Cypriot resistance. The
proposal is so controversial that the Parliament’s international trade committee referred it to the conference of
Presidents in order to ‘consider the political implications of
this dossier’. The Greek-Cypriot government questions the legality of the directive and
is trying to move it into the Parliament’s legal committee.
Even if it is approved, and this is far from certain, the directive
would still require a qualified majority vote by the 27 EU countries.
France and Germany, whose governments are against Turkey’s full
EU membership (it has been part of the Customs Union since 1996) and
want it to have a second-class ‘privileged partnership’,
are unlikely to do anything to smooth Ankara’s path. The
Greek-Cypriot government views adoption of the directive as recognition of the TRNC and has vowed to challenge it in the European
Court of Justice if approved.
Direct trade would have a beneficial effect on the TRNC economy, albeit
probably not a very large one given the economy’s structure and
the lack of manufacturing capacity. The psychological effect,
however, could be high as it would turn around Turkish-Cypriot
opinion, increasingly disillusioned about reunification ever
happening and feeling let down by the international community. It
would also help to foster an entrepreneurial climate, which is sorely
needed. Many of the most educated and talented young Turkish Cypriots
seek employment in the already bloated public sector where salaries
are higher than in the private sector, job security is guaranteed and
the retirement age to qualify for a pension is 55. Employees in the
public administration accounted for 16.3% of total jobs in 2008
(including education and health services the figure is well above 20%).
Greater development of the TRNC economy would narrow its gap with the much
more developed Greek-Cypriot side and diminish Greek-Cypriot concerns
about the cost of a settlement, which can only be to the advantage of
both communities in the event of a reunification settlement.
(5) Turkey’s Position
The Cyprus problem is the main, but not the only significant stumbling block to Turkey’s aspiration to join the
EU. As a result of Ankara’s failure to implement a protocol and
open its ports and airports to Greek-Cypriot traffic, in response to
the EU breaking a promise to lift the economic isolation of the TRNC
after Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly in 2004 in favour of the
Annan plan for reunification, a total of 14 of the 35 EU accession
chapters are frozen (eight by the EU and six by Cyprus). The mildly
Islamist government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is keen to join the EU, but not at any cost. The
public discourse, at least, is that Cyprus will not be sacrificed on the altar of EU membership. Turkey is playing hard to get.
Ankara is playing many cards, and not just the one that could eventually lead to joining the EU, support for which is
declining in Turkey, even among the country’s Europhiles, because of the hostility to its membership by the French and German
governments, both of which favour an ill-defined privileged partnership, a rise in ultra nationalism among the so-called
secularist establishment in Turkey and the very slow pace at which the negotiations have proceeded. The ruling Justice and Development
(AK) Party, first elected in 2002 and again in 2007 by a larger majority, faces a general election in 2012 amid declining support and
is in no mood to make concessions over Cyprus that would be seen as selling out, particularly by the army’s top brass.
Emboldened by an increasingly strong economy, its strategic location as a transit country on the
Eurasia energy axis and its current position as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (for the first time since 1961), a
much more self-confident Turkey is becoming increasingly assertive in international politics, particularly in its immediate area of
influence. The latter was most dramatically seen at the end of May when the Turkish-registered ship leading the flotilla carrying
humanitarian aid to Gaza was raided by Israeli commandos with the
loss of nine Turkish lives, making Erdogan a hero on Arab streets and
plunging its tense relations with Israel further into crisis. Turkey
also flexed its muscle when it defied Washington and voted in the UN
Security Council against further sanctions on Iran, shortly after
brokering with Brazil a nuclear fuel swap agreement with Iran that
was ignored in the west. Both these moves have been widely and
mistakenly interpreted as a sign that Turkey, the most democratic
Muslim country in the region, is turning its back on Europe. This is not so; they are part of a bolder foreign policy that is less subservient to Washington.
Turkey’s ‘zero problems with neighbours’
foreign policy is easing tensions with those countries with whom it
shares a border such as Syria. The risk of war with that country in
the 1998 for harbouring PKK terrorists fighting for an independent
Kurdish state has given way to visa-free travel. However, tiny Cyprus
–at its nearest coastal point the island is only 60kms from
Turkey– remains the ‘neighbour’ which is giving Ankara the largest headache.
Erdogan told the UN General Assembly last September that ‘if a
solution cannot be found due to Greek-Cypriot intransigence, as was the case in 2004, the normalisation of the status of the Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus will become a necessity which can no longer be delayed’. He did not spell out what he meant by this,
but it would seem to indicate that Turkey could take steps to get the
TRNC recognised as an independent state or strive for partition. So
far 15 countries host the territory’s representative offices,
the latest being Sweden (see Appendix D). No EU country would go so
far as to recognise the TRNC, but some Islamic states might. Since
the AKP came to power, Turkey has played a more active role in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference which groups 57 nations.
(6) Missing People: Public Broadcasting Breaks a Taboo
Christofias and Eroğlu do not see eye to eye on many issues, but they do share a common
tragedy: both of them have brother-in-laws who are among the estimated 1,900 missing people (1,400 Greek Cypriots and 500 Turkish
Cypriots) as a result of the inter-communal violence during the 1960s
and particularly after Turkey’s military intervention in 1974.
Many Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriots who were killed in fighting were
hurriedly buried in mass graves where they fell. For years their
relatives could not visit these unmarked sites, lying as they did on
the side of the communal divide (the Green Line). The ban
on travel by Cypriots to and from the north was not lifted until
2003. Raising the issue of the ‘missing’ was a taboo
subject and brave journalists like the Turkish-Cypriot Sevgul
Ulutag received death threats for their pioneering investigations (in her case by Turkish nationalists).
In 2006 a Committee on Missing Persons, in a rare display of
cooperation between Turkish and Greek Cypriots, started to exhume,
identify and return the remains of missing persons. Mass graves have
been opened up, bones matched against the DNA of relatives and the remains reburied on ‘their’ side of the divide.
In June 2010, the Greek-Cypriot journalist Soula Hadjikyriacoum, Chief Editor of the Cyprus
Broadcasting Corporation, did both communities a great service with
four programmes and a studio discussion on the missing people issue
which, for the first time, brought the issue to a much wider audience through many personal interviews.
Particularly revealing were her disclosures about the mass killings by Greek
Cypriots of Turkish Cypriots at the villages of Maratha, Sandalari,
Aloa and Tochni (around 200 people including women and children) and
the cold-blooded murder of 38 Greek-Cypriot women and children by Turkish Cypriots at Palaikythro.
(7) Spain’s Efforts to Resolve the Cyprus Problem during its EU Presidency
During its six-month Presidency of the EU, which ended on 30 June, Spain did
its best to bring the two sides together. Miguel Ángel
Moratinos, Spain’s Foreign Minister, who knows Cyprus well as
he was based there while he was the EU’s
Special Representative for the Middle East peace process between 1996
and 2003, and has friends in both communities, acted as an honest broker. But he was not able to achieve anything.
Madrid actively supports Turkey’s bid to become a
full member of the EU and relations between the two governments are
very good. Moratinos very optimistically believed Spain could open four more EU accession chapters for Turkey, but only
one –food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy– was opened and then on the very last day of its EU Presidency.
As well as sponsoring the UN-backed ‘Alliance of Civilisations’
initiative, since last year Turkey has joined the small group of
countries (France, Germany Italy, Morocco, Poland and Portugal) with
whom Madrid has an annual summit. This year’s summit was held
in March during Spain’s busy EU Presidency, a gesture that
raised the visibility of Spain’s support for Turkey. Hard
on the heels of the Spain-Turkey summit was a visit to Madrid by the
Mehmet Ali Talat, the then President of the TRNC, who was defeated in the April
presidential election. This was the first time a TRNC leader had been
invited to an EU country while it held the EU Presidency. And in
order to be fair to the Greek-Cypriot side, Moratinos took advantage
of a visit to Madrid by Alexis Galanos, the Mayor of the ghost town
of Famagusta (its tourist resort of Varosha has been occupied by Turkish troops since 1974), and met with him.
During the Spanish Presidency the idea of an international conference on the Cyprus problem was raised, but did
not get anywhere. One reason for this was that Christofias, the Greek-Cypriot President, demanded that if one went ahead it should be
attended by representatives of the Turkish- and Greek-Cypriot communities and the Republic of Cyprus, because if he went on behalf
of the Greek-Cypriot community it would be seen as according the TRNC
leader the same status as the President of the Republic of Cyprus.
This, however, is unacceptable to the Turkish-Cypriot and Turkish side.
The Greek Cypriots would want such a conference to only
discuss the international aspects of Cyprus after internal matters
between the two communities were agreed. An important matter for
Turkey at such a conference, should one ever be held, would be to
keep the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee (the other two countries are the UK
and Greece) in force mutatis mutandis as an indispensable element of a lasting settlement. The Greek Cypriots see no need for this in an EU country.
The Republic of Cyprus will celebrate its 50th anniversary this October as the only divided country in the EU,
following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Thirty-six years
after Turkey’s military intervention, the gulf separating
Turkish- and Greek-Cypriot communities over a reunification
settlement remains wide. The rhetoric on both sides is in favour of a solution, but the political will is still not there.
Exaggerated hopes of a deal, particularly among the international community, were dashed when Talat lost the presidency
in April to Eroğlu, whose victory is seen by the Greek-Cypriot side as a step backwards,
though prominent figures point out that at the end of the day it is Turkey that will call the shots.
The more time that passes without a settlement, the more entrenched positions become and
the more both communities get used to their modus vivendi,
which is guaranteed by the UN presence along the Green Line that is effectively a border. The UN peacekeeping troops could, in theory,
stay there as long as there is no settlement, but the separately administered good-offices mission is by no means a permanent fixture
in a climate when significant progress is still not being made after so many years and there is no likelihood that it will happen.
A key crunch point could well come when the UN produces a progress report in November.
If the UN concludes that there is no end in sight, that it has been
unable to facilitate compromises on both sides and that the two sides
are ultimately unwilling to share power, it would not surprising if
the UN withdrew its good offices mission. Downer would leave and no
new envoy would be appointed, especially if it was felt that the idea
of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, first tabled in the late 1970s, was no longer a viable option for Cyprus.
The possibility of easing the TRNC’s economic isolation, through enacting a direct
trade initiative or something along these lines, offers a glint of
light in an otherwise pitch-black tunnel. If the UN good-offices
mission does pack its bags and the direct trade initiative does not
prosper, Turkish Cypriots (ie, Turkey) may well feel they have no
other option but to seek partition, on a negotiated basis or unilaterally, although resolution 541 of the UN Security Council does
not allow any country to recognise the TRNC. Partition, however, could spell the end of Turkey’s EU membership bid.
An opinion poll conducted by the socialist EDEK showed that 30% of respondents were happy for things to stay as they are and 22% were in favour of partition as long as there were some
territorial re-adjustments. When the figures are added, there is a
majority in favour of separation. Six years after joining the EU,
Greek Cypriots view a reunification settlement even more as a zero sum game, with them as the losers.
The word partition is increasingly creeping into the public’s discourse. Greek Cypriots, however, are very nervous
about the long-term impact of partition as they believe this would
result in a massive inflow of immigrants from Turkey into the TNRC
and one day Greek Cypriots would wake up to find that they are in a minority in the island.
Cyprus has long had de facto partition, and as it stands at the moment the TRNC would never get
recognised. If after so many years the two sides cannot agree a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation then the time is approaching when
a real partition should be negotiated, with, perhaps, a land for recognition swap (Varosha, for example, could be easily returned to
If the two sides do not want to live together or either
side’s goals are unattainable, then, instead of being forced
into a new and unworkable marriage, they should agree a divorce on friendly terms.
Journalist and writer, author of one Working Paper on Cyprus and five on Turkey for the Elcano Royal Institute
Appendix (a) Timeline
under Ottoman rule.
leased by the Ottoman Empire to the UK.
annexed by Britain following Turkey’s alignment with Germany
in World War I.
the Treaty of Lausanne Turkey relinquishes all rights to Cyprus.
declared a British crown colony.
Greek-Cypriot uprising against British rule.
III elected Archbishop of Cyprus. Plebiscite organised by him
shows 96% support in favour of union with Greece.
brings the issue of self-determination for Cyprus to the UN
armed struggle against colonial rule and for union with Greece led
by EOKA (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters).
Resistance Organisation (TMT) kills left-wing Turkish Cypriots.
granted independence from the UK, guaranteed by the UK, Greece and
Turkey. Archbishop Makarios takes office as President.
order breaks down and Turkish Cypriots withdraw from or are scared
out of government, never to return. Greek-Cypriot attacks on
Turkish Cypriots trigger inter-communal violence. Makarios submits
proposals for amendments to the constitution which are rejected by
the Turkish side.
deploys peacekeepers to head off the threat of a Turkish invasion
after Dr Fazil Kuchguk, the Vice-President, says he is in favour
of partition. Turkish air attacks on Cyprus.
Plaza, the UN mediator, publishes a report recommending ways of
safeguarding Turkish-Cypriot minority rights and rejecting the
idea of separation between ethnic groups. The Turkish government
coup in Greece.
Makarios (re-elected President in 1968 and 1973) demands
withdrawal of Greek officers from Cyprus.
July: coup against Makarios organised by the Greek junta.
July: Turkish troops invade and occupy the northern third of the
island. More than 200,000 Greek Cypriots flee south; about 80,000
Turkish Cypriots later move north. Europe and the US impose
political and military sanctions against Turkey.
Federated State of Cyprus declared in the area occupied by Turkish
troops. Declaration condemned by the UN Security Council.
High-Level Agreement between Makarios and Turkish leader Rauf Denktaş lays out basis for bi-communal, bi-zonal and federal solution.
collapse of peace effort by UN Secretary General Pérez de
Turkish Cypriots unilaterally declare independence as Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognised only by Turkey.
and fall of UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s
‘set of ideas’.
negotiations between Cyprus and the EU begin.
Turkey threatens to annex the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus if
the EU admits the Republic of Cyprus as a full member before a
settlement is reached.
Denktaş lifts a 29-year ban on travel by Cypriots to and from the north.
Tassos Papadopoulos elected Greek-Cypriot President.
after advances by pro-solution Turkish-Cypriot parties in
election, Mehmet Ali Talat’s Republican Turkish Party forms
a new government and, with support of a pro-solution government in
Turkey, becomes negotiator for a settlement.
April: six years in the making, settlement plan sponsored by UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan submitted to twin referendums.
Accepted by 65% of Turkish Cypriots, rejected by 76% of Greek
May: the Republic of Cyprus enters EU as a divided island. The
TRNC is excluded from the benefits of EU membership as theacquis
the body of legislation guiding EU policy, do not apply there.
April: Talat elected Turkish-Cypriot President.
and Talat begin new UN-facilitated contacts on a settlement, which
EU summit in December suspended eight of the chapters Turkey was
negotiating for its accession to the EU because of Ankara’s
failure to implement the2005
Additional Protocol to the Customs Union committing it to open its
ports and airports to Greek-Cypriot shipping and aviation.
February: candidates promising compromise lead Greek-Cypriot
presidential elections, won by Demetris Christofias of the
nominally communist Akel party.
March: first meeting between Christofias and Talat inaugurates new
reunification of Ledra Street, divided since 1964, in Nicosia as
part of a package of UN-backed confidence-building measures,
allowing people to cross from one side to the other.
May: Christofias and Talat announce agreement that the reunified
federation will have two constituent states and a single
September: Christofias and Talat start first round of
negotiations, meet 40 times over 11 months.
April: the more hard-line National Unity Party (UBP) of Derviş
Eroğlu defeats the pro-reunification Republican Turkish Party (CTP) in
parliamentary elections, winning 26 seats against the CTP’s
September: second round of UN-facilitated negotiations starts.
EU heads of state and government (European Council) to review
Turkey’s failure to open its ports and airports to
Greek-Cypriot shipping and aviation.
April: presidential election in the TRNC. Talat loses to Derviş
Eroğlu, the Prime Minister and leader of the UBP, after almost two years
of negotiations with Christofias.
May: reunification talks resume between Christofias and Eroğlu.
Contemporary Problem in Historical Perspective,
by Van Coufoudakis, the International Crisis Group and publications
of the Republic of Cyprus.
(b): Letters by Demetris
Christofias, President of the Republic of Cyprus, and Derviş
Eroğlu, President of the TRNC, to Ban Ki-Moon, the UN
Secretary-General, in April 2010
Excellency, Dear Mr Secretary General,
Following completion of the voting process among the Turkish Cypriot community
in which Mr Mehmet Ali Talat (whom initial analysis suggests was the
preference of indigenous Turkish Cypriots) lost to Mr Dervis Eroglu
(who was supported by the vote of illegal Turkish settlers), I take
the opportunity to write to you in order to express my determination
to continue the negotiation process on the existing basis and to
share with you certain worries and concerns. The basis of the
negotiations can be no other than a bizonal, bicommunal federation
with political equality as this is defined in relevant Security
Council Resolutions and with a single sovereignty, single
international personality and single citizenship.
My worries stem from the fact that the new leader of the Turkish Cypriot
community and new negotiator has been, not only pre-electorally but
also long-term, advocating positions which caused concerns to the
United Nations, to the European Commission but also to us. My own
personal concerns are on the following two issues: Firstly, that the
flexibility showed concerning the international contacts of Mr Talat,
at times excessive, meant to assist him to win again the leadership
of the Turkish Cypriot community, should in no way now become an
excuse for undermining the internationally recognized sovereignty of
the Republic of Cyprus, a matter on which we have to be particularly
vigilant. Secondly, it is important that there is no regression in
the negotiations and that hard-won common ground has to be
safeguarded. My political will to continue the negotiation process
until we reach a successful outcome is strong and deeply rooted.
I take this opportunity, also, to clarify my position on the question
of an International Conference that is currently occupying the minds
of certain diplomats, journalists and politicians.
Such an International Conference should comprise the Secretary-General of
the United Nations, the Permanent members of the Security Council,
the European Union, Greece and Turkey as Guarantor Powers and the
Republic of Cyprus, member states of the UN and a signatory of the
International Treaties under discussion. The subject of the Agenda of
such a conference should be the international aspects of the Cyprus
problem, namely, the illegal military occupation of part of the
Republic of Cyprus by Turkey, the illegal colonization of occupied
territories and the future security of the reunified federal
The idea that such an International Conference is presumed to occupy
itself with all aspects of the Cyprus problem contradicts the content
of UN Security Council Resolutions since 1974. Questions about the
future structure of the federal Cyprus state must be dealt with in
the negotiations which are of Cypriot ownership. The International
Conference “at an appropriate time” should deal with the
international aspects of the Cyprus problem such as Security and
Guarantees, settlers, etc.
I would like to reconfirm my dedication to continuing the
inter-communal negotiations and to pursuing a successful outcome
which will reunite Cyprus and its people on the basis of UN
Resolutions and in accordance with International Law. I take this
opportunity to express my gratitude to you for your continuing
interest and for your efforts and those of the UN in general, to make
the negotiating process successful.
Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
President of the Republic of Cyprus
TURKISH REPUBLIC OF NORTHERN CYPRUS
OFFICEOF THE PRESIDENT
23 April, 2010
Having assumed the Presidency as a result of the elections that have
recently been held in Northern Cyprus, I am writing to your
Excellency to underline our commitment for a just and lasting
comprehensive settlement through the ongoing negotiations, under the
auspices of Your mission of good offices and preparedness for the
resumption of the process. I take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts in this regard.
First of all I deem it necessary to share with you a genuine concern of the
Turkish Cypriot people. Despite the overwhelming ‘yes’
vote of my people to the UN Comprehensive Settlement Plan in 2004,
owing to the overwhelming Greek Cypriot ‘no vote’, the
Turkish Cypriot people were prevented from taking their rightful
place in the international community. The Turkish Cypriot people
voted in favour of the comprehensive settlement notwithstanding the
great sacrifices it entailed for them in order to put an end to this
enduring problem in the island. Your predecessor, in his report
(S/437/2004) dated 28 May 2004 to the Security Council following the
separate simultaneous referenda in Cyprus called upon the
international community and particularly the members of the Security
Council to give a strong lead to all States to cooperate both
bilaterally and in international bodies to ‘eliminate the
unnecessary restrictions and barriers that have the effect of
isolating the Turkish Cypriots and impeding their development’.
In the same report he stated that ‘the Turkish Cypriot vote has
undone any rationale for pressuring and isolating them’.
Unfortunately, the promises made and decisions taken for lifting the
unjust isolations on the Turkish Cypriot people have not yet produced
any tangible result, mainly because of Greek Cypriot obstructions. We
still expect this injustice to be corrected. My people do not deserve to live under isolations.
As for the way ahead, the resumption of the negotiations between the two
sides under Your Good Offices from where it was previously left, as
well as its conduct in a result-oriented manner for an early
settlement, is our sincere wish. The main UN parameters, namely
bi-zonality, political equality of the two people, the equal status
of the two constituent states, and the fact that the settlement will
bring about a new partnership should continue to the cornerstones of
any settlement effort in Cyprus. With this understanding, I would
like to clearly express that the actual framework of the ongoing UN
process in line with the 23 May 2008 Joint Statement enjoys our full
support. Moreover, the continuation of the 1960 system of guarantees
and the principle of equal sovereignty of the two peoples are
likewise vital for the Turkish Cypriot side. In our view, the
settlement provisions must take into consideration the existing
democracies and institutions in both sides of the island. The
external balance of the new state of affairs concerning Cyprus should
also be preserved through the balance between the two guarantor motherlands.
The two sides in the island have, at their disposal, a solid UN acquis
through decades of negotiations in the form of established parameters
and body of work on the Cyprus problem that could make a just,
lasting and early settlement possible, if there is mutual genuine
political will. For us, the substance of the settlement and its
viability are more important than how it is named. It is my
considered view that the way the framework of UN parameters will be
finned in and the components of any future partnership should address
the legitimate concerns of the two peoples in Cyprus. As a matter of
fact, this has been the object and purpose of the ongoing negotiations until today.
I deem it necessary to underline that engaging in a new round of the
ongoing negotiations should not be used as a pretext to further delay
the efforts to lift the unjust isolations on the Turkish Cypriot
people. On the contrary, lifting the isolations is among the few
leverages that could, and indeed should, help encouraging the Greek
Cypriot side for a time-frame set for the full-fledged negotiations
that would encourage a swift settlement in Cyprus. Otherwise, we may
run the risk of wasting invaluable time given the procrastination efforts displayed by the Greek Cypriot side so far.
Before concluding, I would like to reiterate our commitment to the
resumption of negotiations under Your Excellency’s mission of
good offices, in line with the 23 May 2008 Joint Statement of the two
leaders and as an integrated whole in order to find a just and viable settlement to the Cyprus problem.
I have had the honour of meeting Your Excellency on the 1st of February 2010 during your visit to the island. I would like to visit you soon, and discuss the perspective and conduct of the
negotiating process for an early settlement in Cyprus. As you rightly
stated during your visit, a settlement is possible, reachable and we should increase our efforts to achieve it.
I am ready to fulfil my responsibilities towards my people and towards
the international community, and participate positively, dynamically
and constructively in the negotiations once they resume. I am looking
forward to working with Your Excellency with a view to achieving a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Dr Derviş Eroğlu
Appendix (c): Basic Statistics of the Republic of Cyprus and of the TRNC
Table 2. Basic Statistics of the Republic of Cyprus (1)
rate, seasonally adjusted (%)
(current market prices, € bn)
capita GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) (€)
capita GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, EU-27 = 100)
of goods and services (% of GDP)
of goods and services (% of GDP)
of tourists (million)
account (% of GDP)
(annual % change in CPI)
government balance (% of GDP)
government debt (% of GDP)
tax revenue (% of GDP)
human development index score (2)
in UN human development index (out of 182 countries)
expectancy at birth (years)
Gender Gap Index rank (out of 134 countries)
International Corruption Perceptions Index (rank out of 180
International Corruption Perceptions Index (score) (3)
empowerment (ranking in UN Development Programme’s measure
out of 182 countries)
ranking out of 175 countries (Reporters without Borders)
(1) 2009 unless otherwise stated. (P): provisional.
(2) The maximum value is one.
(3) The closer to 10 the cleaner the country.
Source: Eurostat, OECD, UNCTAD, International Monetary Fund, UN Human
Development Report, World Development Indicators and the Finance Ministry of the Republic of Cyprus.
Basic Statistics of the TRNC (1)
capita GDP (US$)
of tourists (mn)
deficit (% of GDP)
tax revenue (% of GDP)
expectancy at birth (years)
(1) 2008. TRNC figures are never as up-to-date as those of the Republic of Cyprus.
(2) Including import duties.
Source: State Planning Organisation.
Appendix (d): Representative Offices of the TRNC Abroad
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