Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Written evidence submitted by Ayios Amvrosios Assocation

  We are grateful for the opportunity to submit the following contribution to the Committee of Foreign Affairs Inquiry About Cyprus.


  Ayios Amvrosios Association UK is a refugee organisation based in London. All of its members are former inhabitants of the town of Ayios Amvrosios (Saint Ambrose), 20 miles east of Kyrenia, on the northern coast of Cyprus, which is currently under Turkish military occupation. The members of Ayios Amvrosios Association now live in London and other major UK towns. Many of them arrived in the UK immediately after the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey in 1974 and some came earlier in the 1950s and 1960s.

  The town of Ayios Amvrosios is situated at the foot of the Pentadactylos (five finger) mountain range, reaching as far as the coastline. Ayios Amvrosios is surrounded by green valleys, apricot orchards and olive groves. The inhabitants, all of Greek Cypriot origin numbered approximately 3,000. They were mainly employed locally in agriculture and small businesses, with some commuting to Kyrenia, or to the capital Nicosia. The land owned by the people of Ayios Amvrosios was extensive, covering an area of almost 20 miles radius around it. The town was bustling with life, tourism was beginning to reach the area and the future seemed very promising. However all this came to an abrupt end when Turkey began its brutal invasion in 1974.

  For those of us who were unlucky to be there at the time of the two invasions, this was a traumatic experience. The Turkish military machine was mercilessly pounding the area from land, sea and air. We evacuated Ayios Amvrosios on 14 August after the commencement of Turkey's second and most brutal and devastating invasion. All the inhabitants of Ayios Amvrosios were ethnically cleansed by the Turkish invaders. They became refugees and were scattered around the free part of Cyprus. Many of them, like our members, emigrated to various countries around the world.

  Ayios Amvrosios is a founding member of Lobby for Cyprus and having read its submission to the Committee we would like to declare that we wholeheartedly agree with it and endorse it.

  However we, as a refugee organisation would like to add our own observations and concerns about the Cyprus issue and the Annan plan.


  We would like to urge the members of the Committee to refresh their memories about the origins of the Cyprus issue and to have in mind during their decision making process the following brief but important facts.

    Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 under the most conspicuous circumstances, following the Dr Kissinger inspired coup which was executed by the then Athens junta (see Christopher Hitchens—"The trial of Henry Kissinger"). The western media often attempts to justify Turkey's invasion by claiming that the coup was organised in order to unite Cyprus with Greece. The fact that Turkey was ready to invade Cyprus immediately after the coup confirms that the whole issue was orchestrated in order to bring about the downfall of president Makarios and to open the way for Turkey to invade, using as a pretext its alleged right to interveue under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee.

  Following Turkeys double invasions on 20 July and 14 August 1974, the following devastating events took place:

    —  200,000 Greek Cypriots were forcibly removed from their homes in the occupied area and made refugees.

    —  6,000 Greek Cypriots including many civillians lost their lives.

    —  1,000 Greek Cypriot women and young girls were raped. Such was the magnitude of the problem that the government of the Republic Cyprus passed a law to legalise abortion.

    —  Over 1,500 people including civilians are missing. The youngest was three years of age, the eldest in their nineties. They are still unaccounted for, yet Turkey and its puppet regime refuse to provide any information on their fate. Twelve of the missing are young men from Ayios Amvrosios, the youngest was 16 years of age and the eldest 27.

    —  502 churches, chapels and monasteries were vandalised, converted to stables and mosques with priceles icons, wall paintings and artefacts sold to the highest bidder around the world. Our own church of Saint Amvrosios has been stripped bare and converted to a mosque. The unique 12th century church of the monastery of Antifonitis, one of only two of its kind in the world, situated on the mountainside just outside the town, was totally destroyed frescoes were removed and illegally exported to Holland.

    —  The enclaved Greek Cypriots in the Karpass peninsula numbering 20,000 in 1974 after the invasion, are now less than 500, mainly elderly. Following years of torture, intimidation and violation of their human rights and dignity. It is worth informing the Committee that the enclaved children were for 30 years denied secondary education in the occupied area, and were forced to go to the free areas for further education and were then denied entry back in to the occupied areas to rejoin their families. This deliberate policy was successful for the Turks as the dwindling number of the enclaved shows.

  More than 120 United Nations and Security Council resolutions, deplore Turkey's military action against Cyprus, call for the withdrawal of Turkish troops and for the respect of the territorial integrity, and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and urge that no country recognises the illigal regime in the north.

  Needless to say, no action has ever been taken by the UN to ensure the implementation of its own resolutions, unlike the decisive action shown by the international community in dealing with other issues around the globe.

  We hope that the Committee can now understand the pain, frustration and total helplessness of the Greek Cypriots who justifiably feel abandoned by the international community.

  Since 1974, many attempts were made to bring about a negotiated settlement but all failed due to Turkey's and Mr Denktashh's intransigence. On six occasions the Turks walked out of high-level negotiations, citing excuses such as ill health, Turkish elections, so called elections in the occupied north and Ramadan.

  Each time a new round of negotiations commenced, the Greek Cypriots were forced to make further concessions with the Turkish side making absolutely none.

  Finally in November 2002 the United Nations presented to the two sides the first of five drafts of the Secretary Generals' Kofi Annan plan in an attempt to reach a settlement prior to the ratification of Cyprus's accession to the EU which would have taken place in December of the same year at the summit of EU heads of states.


  There is absolutely no doubt that this Plan was ambiguous and virtually impossible for the ordinary voter to understand. The Cypriot voters had no access to the plan in its entirety until a few hours before the referenda. It was designed to meet the maximum demands of Turkey and was justifiably seen by the Greek Cypriots as a devious attempt to legalise the current status quo, appease Turkey as a reward for its alliance with the US and open the way for its accession to the EU.

  No attempt whatsoever was made by those instrumental in drafting the plan (in particular the UK government's representative Lord Hannay) to take into consideration the facts stated above, or to make an attempt to restore some justice to the victims, the Greek Cypriots. Instead, they added insult to injury, believing that the Greek Cypriots would accept whatever plan was put in front of them.

  In this submission we will not attempt to analyse the many deficiencies of the main provisions of the plan, This has been covered in Lobby for Cyprus's submission and no doubt by others with more expertise than us. But we would concentrate on the issue of the return of the refugees, which is very close to the hearts and minds of everyone of our members and indeed of all Greek Cypriot refugees.

  Please note that under the Annan plan Ayios Amvrosios is not in the area that would be subject to territorial adjustment and will fall under Turkish Cypriot control.

  If the Annan plan was implemented, would the former inhabitants of Ayios Amvrosios, have the right to return to their beloved town? After all they have been waiting and longing for this, for 30 years.

  This is what the relevant paragraph of the final Annan plan says

    Article 3 Paragraph 7

    In addition, for a transitional period a constituent state may, pursuant to constitutional Law, limit the establishment of residence by persons hailing from the other constituent state. To this effect, it may establish a moratorium until the end of the fifth year, after which limitations are permissible if the number of residents hailing from the other constituent state has reached six% of the population of a village or a municipality between the sixth and ninth years and 12% between the 10th and 14th years and 18% of the population of the relevant constituent state thereafter until the 19th year or Turkey accession to the European Union, whichever is earlier. After the second year no such limitations shall apply to former inhabitants over the age of 65 accompanied by a spouse or sibling, nor to former inhabitants of specified villages.

  Here is what we perceive the above to mean in the case of the legitimate inhabitants of Ayios Amvrosios. We estimate that the Turks currently living in our homes are around one thousand—for the record, almost all of them are colonists (settlers) from Turkey.

    (a)  Ayios Amvrosios is not a "specified village" so all restrictions apply;

    (b)  inhabitants such as our members who were forced to emigrate after the invasion are not allowed to return as they are not "persons hailing from the other constituent state";

    (c)  from 0 to five years after accepting the Plan nobody returns;

    (d)  from six to nine years, 60 are permitted to return (6%);

    (e)  from 10 to 14 years 120 are permitted to return (12%); and

    (f)  from 15 to 19 years 180 are permitted to return (18%); and

    (g)  anybody over the age of 65 can return after the second year.

  The above make a mockery of the human and legal rights of the refugees. It is contrary to the United Nations charter and UN's own resolutions on the Cyprus issue and totally against European laws, principles and values.

  How many 65 year olds would have the heart to go back and engage into lengthy litigation battles to have their homes, currently inhabited by Turks (See Article 10—Property) returned to them, rebuilding them and resume whatever is left of their lives, away from their families?

  What happens if the number of the Turks in Ayios amvrosios decreases? According to the above, the numbers of the Greek Cypriots would have to reduce accordingly.

  Would anybody expect the legitimate inhabitants of Ayios amvrosios to vote yes to the Annan or any other such Plan? It is no wonder that 76% of the Greek Cypriots rejected it.

  Would any other European citizen accept such as settlement in his or her own country?

  Doesn't the UK government feel ashamed to champion such a settlement that totally contradicts its ethical foreign policy?

  We urge the Committee to take the above concerns and anxieties into consideration when they are making their valued decision and to recommend to the UK government to rethink its strategy on Cyprus.

  To seek a settlement that restores credibility to this country and fulfils its legal obligations to the Republic of Cyprus. A settlement that is in line with international law and the European aqui communautaire; that ensures all refugees return to their homes without restrictions and discrimination; that all colonists and Turkish troops return to Turkey; and that the Cypriots are allowed to rebuild their lives in peace and harmony without foreign interference in their internal affairs. A settlement that would be acceptable to any other European state and any other European citizens.

 Ayios Ambrosios Association

15 September 2004

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