Unacceptable situation

Turkey’s military aggression against Cyprus tragically continues unabated for thirty-three long years. The military occupation, forcible division, violation of human rights, massive colonization, cultural destruction, property usurpation and ethnic segregation imposed since Turkey’s military invasion remain the main characteristics of the status quo on the island. Today, Turkey, an aspiring member of the European Union, still stands guilty of international aggression against a member-state of the EU and the UN. This is certainly a totally unacceptable state of affairs, an affront to the international legal order and an ongoing threat to regional stability that must be urgently redressed.

In July 1974, Turkey invaded the sovereign Republic of Cyprus, in violation of the UN Charter and fundamental principles of international law. The dire consequences of the invasion and subsequent military action by Turkey, in violation of UN ceasefire agreements, are still felt today by the people of this new EU member-state:

. 36,2% of the sovereign territory of Cyprus is still under illegal military occupation by Turkey.

. More than 160.000 Greek Cypriots – about one quarter of the total population who were forcibly expelled from the occupied northern part of the island (where they constituted about 70% of the population) are still deprived of the
right to return to their homes and properties.

. Some 1.474 persons (among them several hundred civilians) are still missing, while the Turkish side refuses to cooperate in ascertaining their fate.

. Some 500 Greek and Maronite Cypriots, out of 20.000 at the end of August 1974, remain enclaved in their villages which are still occupied. These people are living under conditions of oppression, harassment and deprivation. The rest were forced to abandon their homes and become refugees.

. More than 43.000 troops from Turkey, heavily armed with the latest weapons, supported by air, land and sea power, are illegally stationed in the occupied area, making it one of the most militarized regions in the world.

. More than 160.000 settlers from Turkey have been illegally brought to colonize the occupied area and alter the demographic structure of Cyprus.

. 58.000 out of the 116.000 Turkish Cypriot population have emigrated from the island since Turkey’s invasion, according to Turkish Cypriot sources, because of the economic, social and moral deprivation which prevails in the occupied areas. Turkish Cypriots are now vastly outnumbered by troops and settlers from Turkey.

. Illegal construction on Greek Cypriot land and illegal sale of property owned by Greek Cypriots who were forcibly expelled from their homes by Turkey’s invasion have intensified. This unprecedented usurpation of property is yet another flagrant violation of human rights by the Turkish side.

. Turkey and the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime continue to destroy, deliberately and methodically, the Hellenic and Christian cultural and historical heritage in occupied Cyprus.

A series of UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, as well as resolutions adopted by numerous other international organizations, reflect the universal condemnation of Turkey’s invasion and all subsequent acts of aggression against Cyprus; demand the return of the refugees to their homes in safety and the tracing of the missing persons; and call for respect for the human rights of all Cypriots as well as for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus. Moreover, the European Court of Human Rights has found the government of Turkey responsible for gross and systematic violations of human rights in Cyprus.

Successive rounds of UN-sponsored talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to resolve the Cyprus problem have been undermined by the Turkish side which has sought a settlement that in effect would leave Cyprus permanently divided and hostage to foreign interests. The Greek Cypriots, on the other hand, have been insisting on the genuine reunification of the island, its institutions and its people. The most recent UN effort resulted in the presentation of a plan by the Secretary-General for · settlement to the Cyprus problem. On 24 April 2004 the people of Cyprus were asked to approve or reject, through separate, simultaneous referenda by the two communities, the UN Secretary-General’s proposal (Annan Plan V). A clear majority of 75,8% Greek Cypriots rejected the proposed Annan Plan because they felt that the finalised text, which incorporated arbitrarily many last minute Turkish demands, was not balanced and did not meet their main concerns regarding security, functionality and viability of the solution. By their vote the Greek Cypriots obviously did not reject the solution to the Cyprus problem which remains their primary goal. They only rejected the particular plan which was put before them. The “no” vote in the referendum should be interpreted as a legitimate expression of the real concerns that led to the rejection of a seriously flawed plan which did not provide for:

. The removal of all foreign troops and settlers from Cyprus and the elimination of the right of foreign powers to unilaterally 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 without restrictive quotas; and

. A functional government without deadlocks or voting restrictions based on ethnicity.

The Government of Cyprus and the Greek Cypriots want efforts for a solution to continue until a framework that addresses the concerns of all the people of Cyprus is agreed upon by the parties. For the solution to be viable and to withstand the test of time, it must be perceived as fair by the people who will have to live with it. The solution, therefore, must be democratic, just, workable, financially viable and compatible with the EU principles, laws and democratic norms, the Convention on Human Rights and key UN resolutions; Cyprus must remain a unified state and enjoy full sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence and there should be no foreign intervention or interference in the internal affairs of Cyprus.

Cyprus formally joined the European Union as a full member on 1 May 2004 without achieving the desired goal of acceding as a reunited country. The international community must help the people of Cyprus achieve genuine reunification in the new context created by the accession of Cyprus to the EU. The agreement between the President of Cyprus and the UN Secretary General in Paris on 28 February 2006, “to continue their ongoing dialogue with the expressed aim at accelerating the search for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem”, generated a new momentum for the resumption of the peace process that can contribute towards achieving that goal. The president of Cyprus and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community reached an agreement on a “Set of Principles”, on 8 July 2006, following a joint meeting with the UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs. Implementation of that agreement can prepare the ground for comprehensive negotiations leading to a viable settlement. In the meantime, the government continues to introduce additional measures to promote economic integration between the two communities through further economic support for the Turkish Cypriots.

The status quo of foreign military occupation and division of an independent, sovereign state, member of the EU and the UN, is totally UNACCEPTABLE.