Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Cyprus and the Rights of Guarantor Powers

  1.  The Treaty of Guarantee concluded by the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom on 16 August 1960 provides that:


  The Republic of Cyprus undertakes to ensure the maintenance of its independence, territorial integrity and security, as well as respect for its Constitution.

  It undertakes not to participate, in whole or in part, in any political or economic union with any State whatsoever. It accordingly declares prohibited any activity likely to promote, directly or indirectly, either union with any other State or partition of the Island.


  Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, taking note of the undertakings of the Republic of Cyprus set out in Article I of the present Treaty, recognise and guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus, and also the State of Affairs established by the Basic Articles of its Constitution.

  Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, likewise undertake to prohibit, so far as concerns them, any activity aimed at promoting directly or indirectly, either union of Cyprus with any other State or partition of the Island."

  2.  It has been argued by the Turkish Government that these provisions of the Treaty of Guarantee, in particular the prohibition on participation by the Republic of Cyprus "in political or economic union with any State whatsoever", preclude accession by the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union. The legal arguments put forward by the Turkish Government in support of this view are set out in an opinion written by Professor Maurice Mendelson QC, which was circulated, at the request of Turkey, within the UN in 1997[1]. The arguments in the Medelson opinion were subsequently rebutted in a joint opinion commissioned by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus from Professors James Crawford, Gerhard Hafner and Alain Pellet[2]. Then, towards the end of last year, two further opinions by the same authors were circulated by the Turkish and Cypriot Governments respectively[3]. These additional opinions amplify some of the points raised in 1997, but do not contain any new substantive arguments.

  3.  The British Government does not accept the Turkish Government's assertion that Cyprus's application to join the European Union is illegal. In the Government's view there is no legal obstacle to Cypriot membership of the EU, since EU membership does not constitute "union with another State" and is therefore not ruled out by the Treaty of Guarantee. The Government subscribes to the legal analysis in the joint Crawford/Hafner/Pellet opinions on this point. The Government's view of the legal position is also supported by the actions and statements of other EU member States, the European Commission and the UN Security Council.

  4.  Since, in the Government's view, Cypriot membership of the EU does not constitute a breach of the Treaty of Guarantee, the question of the need to obtain Turkey's consent, as a guarantor power, does not arise.

  5.  The Government has made clear on a number of occasions that it does not accept the legal analysis contained in the two Mendelson opinions, most recently in a letter from Sir Jeremy Greenstock, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, to the Secretary General of the UN dated 12 November 2001[4]."

Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Department

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

February 2002

1   UN document A/51/951-S/1997/585. Back

2   UN document A/52/481-S/1997/805. Back

3   Second Mendelson opinion: UN document A/56/451-S/2001/953. Second Crawford/Hafner/Pellet opinion: UN document A/56/723-S/2001/1222. Back

4   UN document A/56/612-S/2001/1059. Back

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