Written evidence submitted by Ayios Amvrosios
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
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
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
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
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 thousandfor 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
(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 10Property)
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
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
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
Ayios Ambrosios Association
15 September 2004