Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Written evidence submitted by Union of Refugees and Displaced Persons of Cyprus


  Mr Chairman, Honourable members of the Committee,

  We, on behalf of the Union of Refugees and Displaced Persons of Cyprus submit to the Foreign Affairs Committee our position, views and proposals regarding the Cyprus issue.

  Our Movement, herewith welcomes the recent decision of the Committee on Foreign Affairs to consider the likelihood of revising the stance it has adopted in the past concerning the question of Cyprus. To this extent, we hope that the Committee will successfully complete the difficult task it has undertaken and anticipate that it will be able to generate findings and conclusions which will be based on the values and principles that the United Kingdom has so often declared to respect and preserve, principles such as justice, equality, democracy and human rights.

  We are hereby contacting the Committee so as to give a clear indication of what the people of Cyprus deem essential so as to agree with any proposal made by the UN or any other international body or organ. The latest attempt to resolve the problem, known as the Annan plan, as the Committee is well aware, has been rejected by approximately 76% of the Greek Cypriot community while the Turkish Cypriot Community has accepted it for understandable reasons, which will be described below.

  The plan itself, as well as repeated official statements by the Secretary General of the United Nations Mr K Annan and his representative Mr Alvaro de Soto before the referendum underlined the fact that if the plan were rejected from one of the two sides it would be immediately void and non-existent. Therefore and since it has been rejected by one of the two sides by a majority of 76% this plan should be regarded dead and buried. In our opinion the United Kingdom has the obligation to respect the democratic wishes of the vast majority of the people of Cyprus in exactly the same way it would respect any decision of the British public in any referendum.

  Taking the above into consideration, we believe it is more constructive to attempt to explain to the respectable Committee why the Greek Cypriot side had decided to disagree with the proposed plan as well as to proceed to suggestions as to what prerequisites any further proposal should include. In summary, the main reasons, which have lead, the people of Cyprus to reject the plan was the inherent unworkability and unfairness which was present throughout the plan. In addition to these reasons, which will be elaborated below, the people of Cyprus maintain and are adamant on this issue, that since the Republic of Cyprus has joined the EU, any future proposal for a solution may not deviate from the acquis communautaire and other principles such as equality, non-discrimination and protection of human rights.

  We hope that the United Kingdom, a country which protects the rights of its citizens and a country which fights powers and entities that oppose international rights and norms will be able to re-assess correctly its up to now misguided stance regarding Cyprus. We hope that the economic and political interests that the United Kingdom may have invested in Turkey will not result in allowing Turkey to violate and breach continuously and on a mass scale the most fundamental rights of the people of Cyprus, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. We hope that in this new era, this Committee and the government of the United Kingdom will be able to abide by principles it has so openly supported, principles like justice, democracy and rights.

  The United Kingdom has proved frequently that whatever the sacrifices and consequences, it shall pursue action in order to maintain peace and stability, in order to protect the weak and those who are suffering. We believe that it is time for this Committee to examine the Cyprus question more correctly and openly. It is a matter of an aggression and a continuing occupation; a fact that in 1991 in Kuwait triggered armed intervention. It would be futile for us to expect this kind of response as we do not have petrol oil but only olive oil, however we do expect and hope that the United Kingdom will eventually understand and realise that by supporting, aiding and abetting Turkey to continue its violations against the people of Cyprus it is not promoting the true principles that the United Kingdom was founded upon and has so dearly fought to preserve.

  Following the above, we have prepared a brief commentary, which explains why the Greek Cypriot community correctly rejected the plan but simultaneously explains the ambition of the Greek Cypriots to reach a just solution as quickly as possible.

  The Republic of Cyprus is a sovereign state, which is a full member of the United Nations since its independence in 1960. The Republic of Cyprus is an island with 802.500 inhabitants of whom approximately 80% are Greek Cypriot, 11% are Turkish Cypriot and 9% are foreign residents and workers[3].

  The Republic of Cyprus, in 1963, during its first years of independence, witnessed an internal strife between the two major communities. In July 1974, there was an unsuccessful attempt by the military junta in Greece to overthrow the legitimate President of the Republic. As a pretext, after the failed coup d' etait, the Republic of Turkey, decided unlawfully and arbitrarily, to invade and continuously occupy and divide, approximately 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, for 30 years[4].

  As a result of this unlawful, yet continuing, invasion and occupation, in direct contravention to Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, approximately 200,000 persons ie two fifths of the population, have been through the use of force, both physical and other, internally displaced and prevented from returning[5]. During the invasion, Turkey adopted the practice of enforced disappearances of Greek Cypriots[6] and has, since then, on a continuous basis, omitted or refused to co-operate with the Republic of Cyprus and the International Red Cross as to the determination of their whereabouts[7]. The internally displaced persons have been evicted forcefully from their homes and properties in direct violation of Articles 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Article 1 of Protocol No.1 of the same Convention[8] and Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention.

  They have been victims of continuous inhumane, degrading treatment, which amounts to torture[9]. These persons have had their individual and collective rights continuously violated, based on discriminatory and racial grounds[10]. The Republic of Turkey has been engaged in the perpetration of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and has to this extent carried out mass forcible transfers and illegal settlement of the occupied territories with parts of its own civilian and military population[11]. Moreover the cultural heritage of the island has been ever since the invasion, on a continuous basis destroyed and plundered.

  Unfortunately, key players of the international community, due to political expediencies and interests, have continuously undermined the abovementioned unquestionable facts and have addressed the problem as if it were an inter-communal strife rather than an ongoing invasion and occupation. As a result, the UN Secretary General proposed a plan, known as the Annan plan[12], which was put, on 24 April 2004 before the two communities, in the form of two simultaneous separate referenda. It suffices to mention that in the referenda, in the occupied part, the settlers, who apparently exceed the actual number of the indigenous Turkish Cypriots[13], had a right to vote and they voted knowing the pre-meditated and illegal crime of settlement was arbitrarily and retrospectively "legalized" in the plan, contrary to provisions of Customary and Treaty based International Law. The results of the referenda were approximately 76% of the Greek Cypriots to reject the proposed plan, while approximately 65% of the Turkish Cypriots and settlers approved it.

  It is important to examine the real reasons why the Greek Cypriots rejected the plan, as under no circumstance can the unsupported assertion that Greek Cypriots did not want re-unification have any merit. They disapproved of the plan as they disagreed with a large number of core provisions such as the selected few mentioned below:

    (1)  The fact that the human rights of all the Cypriots were not safeguarded in accordance with international standards. On the contrary, fundamental rights such as the right to return to one's home[14], respect to private and family life, the right to enjoy one's property[15], freedom of establishment[16], participation in Government[17], the right to be elected or to participate in elections[18], to name but a few, were all limited or totally negated according to one's ethnic or racial background. This created an unacceptable new form of apartheid and continuous discrimination based on criteria, which have been internationally condemned[19], criteria that would in the near future increase the differences and friction between the two communities rather than bridging and unifying the people of Cyprus.

    (2)  Turkey preserved her right to intervene militarily at any time, if she deemed it was necessary23, a right, which she claims, she had in the past and has invoked so as to carry out the 1974 invasion. This fact was further exacerbated by the provision that only a part of the Turkish occupying army would be removed24. These provisions suppressed the feelings of safety and dignity of the local population.

    [20][21] (3)  According to the plan, at least 85,000 illegal settlers were "legalized" and acquired a right to stay[22]. This fact is in direct conflict with international humanitarian law creating a dangerous precedent, which could be invoked in the future in other long-term conflicts. Knowledge of this precedent would motivate occupying powers to attempt to prolong their occupation so as to successfully change the demographic structure of the occupied territory, with the a priori knowledge that the settlers would be allowed to stay when the occupation came to an end.

    (4)  The plan demanded the striking out of all pending individual applications of displaced persons against Turkey, before the European Court of Human Rights[23]. Moreover, the plan provided that any compensation, regarding the ongoing violation of the right of enjoyment and loss of use of property[24] would be provided by the "constituent state" from which the applicant derived from. In this way, Turkey, who is the sole perpetrator of crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as violations of human rights, and thus directly responsible for restitution in integrum and compensation[25], was directly absolved from its international obligations. This resulted in leaving the people of Cyprus with the burden to revive the economy[26], pay compensation to displaced persons and bridging the differences between the two communities, while having to deal and work with an unworkable and unjust plan.

  We maintain, that the philosophy whereby this plan is based upon, should and must be revised and reassessed, as it distinguishes/discriminates the inhabitants of the island according to their "component state" identity which in reality is nothing more than dividing the inhabitants of the island on the basis of their ethnic, racial and religious origin, creating a European state with an apartheid constitution. This philosophy which is the cornerstone of the Annan plan and also the 1960 Constitution of Cyprus, rather than bringing both Communities together, uniting them, merely increases the gap and friction which already exists in Cyprus due to the struggle of powers in the specific area, which derives mostly from the three directly involved countries, Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom.

  This plan, instead of adopting and reaffirming principles such as democracy, rule of law, equality, non-discrimination, protection of rights such as freedom of establishment and movement, protection of minority rights but not to the detriment or to an unequal manner of other people or communities in the island, does exactly the opposite.

  The United Nations has totally distorted reality. The Cyprus problem is not one of an intercommunal strife it is one of a violation of the cornerstone of the UN charter, it is a violation of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, it is a clear case of one Country invading another.

  Furthermore, this plan is unworkable and unbalanced. It creates not a situation of political equality but a direct oppression of the majority by the minority in direct contravention of principles such as democracy and individual equality, one-person one vote. The plan is condemned ab initio to fail, as it is not workable.

  From the above mentioned facts one can clearly understand why the Greek Cypriots had every reason and obligation towards the future generations of all Cypriots to disagree with the plan. However, we, as persons residing in a semi-occupied country, do not merely reject unfair and unworkable plans.

  We put forward counter-proposals. We reaffirm our commitment to promote and seek a solution that is based on and is in accordance with international law, the resolutions of the Security Council[27] and the General Assembly of the United Nations[28] as well as other specific and general Recommendations and Reports from Committees such as the Human Rights Commission[29] and the Economic and Social Council[30]. We also request that any future solution is based on the acquis communautaire of the European Union and the principles of democracy, rule of law and protection of human rights as well as the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

  We maintain, that for a solution to be viable and long lasting it should take into consideration the following historic and unquestionable facts argued and decided in the European Court and Commission in Strasbourg:

    During 1974 a number of civilians were killed, tortured, and raped. Their right to liberty, security, and prohibition from forced labour and enforced disappearances was violated. Their right to respect for private and family life, freedom of thought, conscience, religion expression, discrimination, of protection of property and education were all violated. These violations are well documented from various sources, especially in the three Interstate cases of Cyprus v Turkey brought forward before the European Commission of Human Rights in Strasbourg. These decisions were applied and reaffirmed in the case of a Greek Cypriot Refugee Mrs Loizidou who won the first case of this kind in the European Court of Human Rights on 18 December 1996. The last case which adjudicates this matter to a final judgment stage is the fourth interstate case brought forward by Cyprus against Turkey, which was decided on 10 May 2001, in the European Court of Human Rights, rather than in the Commission which was the previous practice, whereby the Court found a violation of Articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14 of the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol 1. Currently there are over 3,000 applicants in the European Court of Human rights complaining for similar violations, which resulted from the unlawful and continuous acts of Turkey since 1974. Moreover, a number of historical and educational buildings archaeological sites and monuments were destroyed especially Churches of unique kind and character. Sacred icons have been disposed of in the international markets along with many artefacts, but at this stage the violation of rights is the most important issue that should be addressed.

  The rejected plan completely disregarded the above findings of the European Court, and numerous Security Council and UN General Assembly Resolutions. The UN itself, completely disregarded its Charter, a Charter made to bring peace and stability in the international community, based on certain values, and proposed a plan which was clearly outside its mandate.

  The United Nations plan, disregards customary international law, the notion of obligations erga omnes, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. It disregards crimes against humanity and war crimes that occurred in Cyprus and are ongoing since 1974. In addition to this, the Annan plan further proposes that the Cypriots, notwithstanding the fact that they are Citizens of the European Union should accept that the values and principles that exist in the European Union should not form a part of the new state that is being proposed. The plan both directly and indirectly suggests that the principles of Democracy, rule of law, protection and enforcement of basic Human rights such as free movement and establishment should be trumped, forgotten and waived and that the Cypriots with the full agreement of the European Union should accept a so called divergence, deviation of the acquis communautaire. The plan suggests that the Cypriots should accept and acknowledge the problem as an intercommunal problem and not one of an invasion, it suggests that the Cypriots should indirectly recognise the regime which has been created in the north and which has not been recognised by any state in the world except Turkey, the perpetrator of these crimes who has been condemned and convicted both in the European Court of Human Rights and in a number of other international fora.

  Moreover, we would like to highlight the point that if such a plan is brought before the people of Cyprus for a second time, it will mean that the United Nations and other countries supporting it, have not taken into consideration the free will of the people of Cyprus. Moreover it shall prove its lack of objectivity, as it will disregard the fact that Cyprus is a member state of the European Union and therefore any solution must be in accordance with the acquis. It will also ignore the fact that Turkey is currently occupying European Union territory.

  Furthermore, we wish to remind the Committee of the legal responsibilities of the United Kingdom which arise from the treaty of Guarantee in the 1960 Constitution and the positive conventional duty of the United Kingdom to adopt all necessary measures so as to guarantee the protection of the constitution, territorial integrity and status quo as was determined in the Cyprus Act of 1960 and the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus.

  Concluding, for a solution based on the universal values of fairness and human rights we hereby urge the Committee to exert its influence in every direction so as to aid the people of Cyprus to succeed in this just quest for long lasting peace, freedom and reunification.

  Lastly, the Greek Cypriot community looks forward to the time that genuine re-unification of the island will be succeeded. If such an opportunity presents itself when all Cypriots will have the same obligations and equal rights between one another as individuals and as Cypriots vis a vis the rest of the world, then the Greek Cypriot Community will be the first who will support such a long-lasting, viable, fair and workable solution. The people of Cyprus want to have the same obligations and the same RIGHTS as the rest of the European Citizens. We want to become 100% Europeans.

  We would be grateful if this memorandum is forwarded to the other members of the Committee.

Kyriacos Kalattas

Secretary General, Union of Refugees & Displaced Persons of Cyprus

12 September 2004

3 Back

4 Back

5   Interstate Applications Cyprus v. Turkey 6780/74, 6950/77, 8007/77, 25781/94. Back

6 , Back

7 Back

8   See for example Loizidou v. Turkey (Merits) Application No. 15318/89 18 December 1996. Back

9   See E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/17*, E/CN.4/1996/52/Add.2, E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2 Back

10   See E/CN.4/Sub.2/1994/18, E/CN.4/1995/49, E/CN.4/Sub.2/1997/23 Back

11   UNGA Res 3395 (XXX) 25.11.1975, UNGA Res 34/30 20.11.1979, UNGA Res 37/253 13.5.1983$file/2%20may%202003.pdf?OpenElement Back

12 Back

13   Recommendation 1608 (2003), Recommendation 1197 (1992), Recommendation 1056 (1987), Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe Back

14   See for example Article 3(7) of the Main Articles of the Plan, see also Article 2(1) of Draft Act of Adaptation to the Terms of Accession of the United Cyprus Republic to the European Union Back

15   See for example Article 10 of the Main Articles, see also Annex VII Article 21, see also Annex VII Part II articles 5-18, Annex VI attachment 1, Back

16   See for example Article 3(6) of the Main Articles of the Plan, see also Article 2(2) of Draft Act of Adaptation to the Terms of Accession of the United Cyprus Republic to the European Union Back

17   See for example Article 5 of the Main Articles of the Plan, see also Article 26 of the Constitution Back

18   See for example Article 3 (3) of the Main Articles of the Plan Back

19   Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, General Recommendation XXII on article 5 and refugees and displaced persons (forty­ninth session), A/51/18 (1996), annex VIII.C, para. 2 (d). Back

20   See Part C Annex III, Additional protocol to the Treaty of Guarantee Back

21   See Part C Annex IV Article 3, Additional protocol to the Treaty of Guarantee Back

22   Annex II Attachment 3, see also Annex III Attachments 4&5 Back

23   Annex VIII Attachment III, Back

24   See Annex VII Attachments 3 & 4 Back

25   Loizidou v. Turkey (Just Satisfaction) Application No. 15318/89 28 July 1998, Back

26 Back

27   UN SC Res 355 (1974), UN SC Res 360 (1974), Back

28   UNGA Res 33/15 (1978), UNGA Res 37/253 (1983)UNGA Res 3212 (XXXIX), UNGA Res 3395(XXX), Back

29   Recommendation 1987/50 11 March 1987 Back

30   E/CN.4/Sub.2/ 2002/17 Back

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