Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Written evidence submitted by the Deputy Prime Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

  On behalf of Deputy Prime Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, I have the honour to convey the attached Memorandum on the Cyprus issue in the hope of assisting the Committee in its inquiry into the UK policy towards Cyprus.


  1.  The Cyprus issue has been on the agenda of the UN Security Council for over 40 years, and since 1968 the two sides have been negotiating, on and off, in order to reach a settlement. Consequently for over four decades the Turkish Cypriots awaited a just and viable solution which would put an end to their unjust and inhuman isolation on their economic, social, cultural and political life and looked forward to the day their ex-partners would finally realize that the island of Cyprus was the common home of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots alike who should share and have an equal say over its destiny.

  2.  Well aware of the fact that a peaceful future for the younger generations could not be held prisoner to the tragic experiences of the past, the Turkish Cypriots never lost their will or determination for a durable solution which would ensure that history would not repeat itself. It was upon the initiative of the Turkish side that the UN Secretary-General invited parties to New York on 10 February 2004 to resume the negotiations on the basis of a draft comprehensive settlement plan, and that an agreement could be reached on 13 February to resume negotiations to achieve a comprehensive settlement through separate and simultaneous referenda before 1 May 2004. It was in the same spirit that the Turkish Cypriot side participated at the UN sponsored negotiations aimed at the establishment of a new partnership based on the sovereign equality of the two ex-partners.

  3.  The determination of the international community for a solution yielded its result and the last four and a half years efforts' of the parties under the auspices of the UN, produced the "Annan Plan", which was submitted to the approval of the two sides by separate referenda, leaving no room for any political or tactical maneuvers.

  4.  The first phase of negotiations between the parties leading to the Annan Plan was conducted on the Island, where only small progress achieved, due to the Greek Cypriot attitude. The second and third phases were conducted in Bürgenstock, Switzerland. During the final round, on 31 March 2004, the UN Secretary-General, in accordance with the agreed procedure, finalized the plan on the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem in close consultation with the two parties in Cyprus and with Greece and Turkey.

  5.  The EU Commission was also present at the final stage of negotiations in Switzerland and the EU commitment with regard to comprehensive settlement were agreed upon between the parties and the EU Commission. The European Union had repeatedly expressed its strong preference for the accession of a reunited Cyprus and its support to the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-General and had made specific commitments to encourage and promote such an outcome.

  6.  At the closing of the Cyprus talks in Bürgenstock on 31 March 2004, the UN Secretary-General submitted the final version of the Annan Plan to the approval of the two parties with these remarks: "The choice is not between a settlement plan and some other magical or mythical solution. In reality, at this stage, the choice is between this settlement and no settlement. There have been too many missed opportunities in the past. For the sake of all of you and your people, I urge you not to make the same mistake again."

  7.  Separate simultaneous referenda were held on 24 April 2004 in the island. The plan was approved in the Turkish Cypriot referendum by 65% of the votes, whereas 76% of the Greek Cypriot people overwhelmingly rejected the plan as called for by the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, in an address on 7 April 2004, where he demanded a "resounding no" to the Annan Plan from the Greek Cypriots. The rejectionist approach by the G/C leadership caused wide-spread reaction from the international community, including the UN Secretary-General and EU officials. The tactics used by the Greek Cypriot regime to solicit a "No" vote were also critized as they amounted to undemocratic methods.

  8.  The Greek Cypriot leadership launched a campaign following the referenda in order to explain why the Greek Cypriots voted against the Plan. The rationale and arguments used in that explanation were regarded as being baseless by the international community. In fact the UN Secretary General Mr Annan, in his letter of 15 June 2004, addressed to Greek Cypriot leader, took a different view from the latter and emphasized that he did not share the Greek Cypriot leader's characterization of the conduct of the effort by the UN.

  9.  Following the referendum on 24 April 2004, the Cyprus issue has taken a new turn and a new state of affairs has emerged.

  10.  It is true that the Annan Plan did not satisfy all the demands and needs of the Turkish Cypriot people. A very long list of why the plan should have been rejected exists in the minds of each and every Turkish Cypriot, let alone the leadership. However, having paid a dear price for protecting their vested rights and vital interests, the Turkish Cypriot people are well aware of the fact that a durable solution also has its price and requires a good deal of compromise. Moreover, the Plan was considered to be carefully balanced, and a product of a compromise.

  11.  The results of the referendum have clearly demonstrated, once again, that the island has two owners and it is the Turkish Cypriot side which sincerely wants a settlement of the Cyprus issue based on the principles of partnership, bi-zonality and the political equality of the two peoples. These are the main parameters for a solution of the Cyprus issue, reaffirmed by various Security Council resolutions and developed over the years through the decades-long negotiation process, under the auspices of the UN.

  12.  The separate simultaneous referenda also confirmed the fact that there exist two separate peoples on the island, neither of which represents the other. Consequently it would be an untenable claim that there is a single authority to represent the whole island, disregarding the reality that any solution in Cyprus requires the consent of both sides and both peoples.

  13.  Such a strong "no" in the Greek Cypriot side, on the other hand, proved, beyond any doubt, that the Greek Cypriot side shall not be ready to enter into a power-sharing arrangement with the Turkish Cypriots, but instead continue to enjoy the benefits of the title of the "Republic of Cyprus" which they had usurped through force of arms in December 1963. In fact, the UN Secretary-General also underlined this fact in his report to the Security Council (S/2004/437) with the following words: "If the Greek Cypriots are ready to share power and prosperity with the Turkish Cypriots in a federal structure based on political equality, this needs to be demonstrated, not just by word, but by action" (para 86).

  14.  The Greek Cypriot side, over the years, based its arguments on the principle of the doctrine of necessity. However, the doctrine of necessity could not be relied upon to justify the laws of a government which had itself dismantled the Constitution, violated international agreements, and wrecked the bi-communal set-up, as a result of which an exclusively Greek Cypriot administration came into being.

  15.  The April 2004 referenda have shown which side is for a solution that encompasses reunification and peace, and which side is not. The Greek Cypriot side can no longer use the doctrine of necessity against the Turkish Cypriots since it was the Greek Cypriot leadership and ultimately the Greek Cypriot people which blocked a comprehensive settlement on the island, thus returning to "normal conditions". It is pertinent to recall that the comprehensive settlement plan that was rejected by the Greek Cypriots, was in fact a product of the Greek Cypriots[64]

  16.  Since it was approved in the Turkish Cypriot referendum but not in the Greek Cypriot referendum, the Foundation Agreement did not enter into force and the Annan Plan became "null and void" as stipulated by its provisions.

  17.  The Turkish Cypriot people had their final word by saying "yes" to the Annan Plan. The Annan Plan is no longer subject to further negotiation for any amendment. For this reason, any initiative by the Greek Cypriot side or any other third party to make amendments to the Annan Plan is not acceptable on the part of Turkish Cypriots.

  18.  Throughout the period of negotiation of the Annan Plan and all its predecessors, and for a period of more than forty years, the Turkish Cypriots have been subjected to physical and economic deprivation and debilitating uncertainty and it is time to put on end to this.

  19.  The question now is whether the world shall close a blind eye to the striking reality and allow the Greek Cypriots who opted for no solution to continue pretending that they represent the whole island or honour the Turkish Cypriots with their vested rights to speak and act for themselves through their separate will which they used towards the unification of the island.

  20.  The UN Secretary-General's answer was amply clear in his statement of 24 April 2004. Applauding the Turkish Cypriots who approved the plan notwithstanding the significant sacrifices that it entailed for many of them, the Secretary-General regretted that "the Turkish Cypriots will not equally enjoy the benefits of EU membership as of 1 May 2004" but he hoped that "way will be found to ease the plight in which the people find themselves through no fault of their own."

  21.  Mr Annan's disappointment was reflected in his Report on his Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus, dated 2 June 2004, where he stated "the rejection of such a plan by the Greek Cypriot electorate is a major setback. What was rejected was the solution itself rather than a mere blueprint."

  22.  The UN Secretary General also praised the Government of Turkey, which enabled this new effort, for demonstrating its readiness and determination to abide by its commitments under the plan and fully implement a settlement. In Paragraph 78 of his Report he stated: "I appreciated the strong support of the Turkish Government, from the top down, for my efforts."

  23.  Besides the UN Secretary General[65], numerous international organizations, as well as dignitaries applauded the Turkish Cypriot people's affirmative vote and, in the light of the understanding that ways and means should be found to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, they called for the immediate restoration of their direct political, economic, trade and cultural activities internationally without any restriction. The injustice towards the Turkish Cypriots should now come to an end. The Turkish Cypriots can no longer be left in the cold[66]

  24.  The rejection by the Greek Cypriots of the UN plan was deeply regretted by the international community, since a unique opportunity has been missed and only the Greek Cypriot side of the Island was able to join the EU. This caused an anomaly, since the Turkish Cypriots, who said "yes" to reunification of the Island and the EU membership stayed outside the EU, whilst the Greek Cypriot side, which rejected both, joined the EU.

  25.  Since the EU confirmed at the Helsinki European Council in 1999 that a settlement to the Cyprus issue is not a pre-condition for accession, the Cyprus issue should not be put as an obstacle in front of Turkey in her bid for EU accession and members of the EU have a responsibility to make sure that Turkey's EU membership is not held hostage by the Greek Cypriot side.

  26.  The Turkish Cypriot people only ask for their decades-old unfair punishment to come to an end. The time has come for the international community, in general, and the UK, in particular, as one of the guarantor powers, to take measures to redress the unjust situation arising from the fact that the Greek Cypriot side which rejected the UN plan has become a member of the EU, while the Turkish Cypriot side which has approved the plan not only has remained outside the EU but continues to be subjected to unfair restrictions and isolation. As the UN Secretary-General concluded in his report to the Security-Council, elimination of restrictions and barriers that have the effect of isolating the Turkish Cypriots and impeding their development would be consistent with Security Council resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984).

  27.  The EU has to play a pivotal role in bringing-up concrete measures to alleviate the sufferings of the Turkish Cypriots. However, despite the call made by the Council of Foreign Ministers on 26 April 2004[67], and all the promises given to the Turkish Cypriots, this could not yet been realized. The United Kingdom as one of the guarantors in Cyprus and a prominent member of the EU has a special responsibility in to play a leading role completing as soon as possible the package of measures towards putting an end to the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.

  28.  The Greek Cypriot side, which astonishingly managed to convince the world of its political will for a solution and portrayed the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey as intransigent through the long process of negotiations, has in fact impeded a solution. As the Greek Cypriot leader publicly admitted[68], the Greek Cypriot side's main focus was not to negotiate a solution, but rather to protect its advantageous position. The Greek Cypriot side's policy of imposing embargoes on much of the Turkish Cypriot's trade and communications with the outside world cannot contribute to a settlement. Therefore there is a need for more imaginative and constructive policies.

  29.  Consequently, it is an undisputable fact that after the referenda the parameters have drastically changed. Therefore, if the international community truly desires to see a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, it has to re-diagnose the Cyprus problem and adopt a fresh approach.

  30.  As one of the guarantor powers, the UK should not hesitate to be at the forefront of those taking the lead in the international efforts directed towards putting an end to the unjust circumstances in which the Turkish Cypriot people have been living through no fault of their own. Everything possible should be done to facilitate contacts between northern Cyprus and the outside world. Establishing direct flights and sea links with northern part of Cyprus would be a good start to ease the plight of the Turkish Cypriots.

  31.  The United Kingdom should also firmly oppose the Greek Cypriot claims to be the single authority on the Island, and reject its attempts to take decision on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot people and to perceive the Turkish Cypriots as their subordinate minority. Any claim and attempt by either side to control the whole Island and dominate the other people in its own exclusive interests would be likely to perpetuate the conflict.

Deputy Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

13 September 2004

It is vital to note that similar statements to that effect have also been made by the US Secretary of State, HE Mr Colin Powell, and the Prime Minister of the UK, HE Mr Tony Blair.

HE Mr Tony Blair during his visit to Turkey on 18 May 2004 stated that "I think it is important, as I indicated to the Prime Minister, that we end the isolation of Northern Cyprus. We made it clear we must act now to end the isolation of Northern Cyprus. That means lifting the embargoes in respect to trade, in respect to air travel. There was a very clear commitment given to people if they supported the Annan Plan. They have supported it and we must see that commitments through."

The British Foreign Secretary HE Mr Jack Straw stated during his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister HE Mr Mehmet Ali Talat on 1 July 2004 that he welcomed Talat's commitment to the goal of reunification which was affirmed "so unequivocally" by the Turkish Cypriots' embrace of the Annan Plan in the April 24 referendum.

He also expressed the hope that further steps would be taken by both communities on the island to promote reconciliation and pledged London's support for EU policies geared towards ending the Turkish Cypriots' economic isolation.

"The Turkish Cypriot community have expressed their clear desire for a future within the EU. The Council is determined to put an end to the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot Community and to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community. The Council invited the Commission to bring forward comprehensive proposals to this end, with particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island. The Council recommended that the 259 million euro already earmarked for the northern part of Cyprus in the event of a settlement now be used for this purpose."

"If the sovereign people reject the Plan by their vote, the Republic of Cyprus will become a full and equal member of the European Union. We would have achieved the strategic goal we have jointly set, ie to upgrade and shield politically the Republic of Cyprus.

The view that this would be the final initiative for the solution of the Cyprus problem constitutes dogmatism and ignorance of the rules of international policy.

Turkey's accession course will also continue and therefore Ankara would continue to be under continuous monitoring concerning the adoption of the European acquis. International interest for normalisation and peace in our region will continue to exist.

Shall we do away with our internationally recognised state exactly at the very moment it strengthens its political weight with its accession to the European Union?

I call upon you to reject the Annan Plan. I call upon you to say a resounding "NO" on 24 April."

64   "Parts of the plan were put together by the UN. But all of its key concepts emerged out of four years of negotiations among your leaders. And most of its 9,000 pages were drafted by hundreds of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots." (Secretary-General's video message, 21 April 2004). Back

65   The UN Secretary General, HE Mr Kofi Annan's call to the member states in his report on his Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus, dated 2 June 2004, to the effect that "the Turkish Cypriot vote has undone any rationale for pressuring and isolating them. I would hope that the members of the Council can give a strong lead to all states to cooperate both bilaterally and in international bodies, to eliminate unnecessary restrictions and barriers that have the effect of isolating the Turkish Cypriots and impeding their development." Back

66   The EU Enlargement Commissioner, Mr Gunter Verhaugen, on 25 April 2004, stated that "what we will seriously consider now is finding a way to end the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots." Mr Verheugen further stressed that "Turkish Cypriots must not be punished because of this result now we have to end the isolation of the North. The commission is ready to take various measures for that aim." Back

67   European Council of Foreign Ministers Conclusion Statement of 26 April 2004: Back

68   As explained by Mr Papadopoulos, Greek Cypriot leader, in his televised address to Greek Cypriot voters before the referenda, on 7 April 2004: Back

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