Written evidence submitted by Professor
Clement Dodd, School of Oriental and African Studies, University
I must apologise that, having been away, and
also unwell, I had not noticed that the Foreign Affairs Committee
has decided to examine UK policy towards Cyprus. If my comments
could be added to those of others, even at this late hour, I should
be most grateful. I shall concentrate on each of the Committee's
queries, as follows.
1. There would seem to be little profit
in persisting with the Annan Plan. Although it was supported by
65% of the North's voters, it is clear, as the UN Secretary-General
has admitted, that it was largely a vote for EU membership. It
was opposed by the right-of-centre nationalist National Unity
Party mainly on the grounds that (a) it exposed the North to economic
domination by the Greek Cypriots, (b) it allowed Greek Cypriot
control of the proposed Federal Government, and that (c) one-third
of the population of the much smaller Turkish Cypriot state could
become Greek Cypriot, and the new small Turkish Cypriot state
would have too dense a population.
In the South the more moderate elements represented
by Clerides and Vassiliou, well aware of the advantages that would
accrue to the South, supported the Plan. But Papadopoulos, and
his surprisngly large number of supporters, were not prepared
to compromise on their essential position, which is that they
are legally the Government of Cyprus and within that Government
the Turkish Cypriots must be a minority. They are at present trying
to bring the Turkish Cypriots under their umbrella, even threatening
that they could veto Turkey's EU accession negotiations if Turkey
did not comply with certain conditions that would help further
this process. The Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, has
described this process as "meltdown".
This is, of course, one solution to the Cyprus
problem, but subject to strong nationalist opposition in the North,
with support from nationalist elements in Turkey, it could lead
to instability, and even violence. There have been calls in the
North for a fight to the death.
In the light of Greek Cypriot attitudes represented
by their "no" vote, their subsequent hardline policies,
and the recuperation of the National Unity Party in the North,
the Turkish Cypriots could hardly be expected to vote again for
the Annan Plan. For the South to do so would require a complete
change of government, which does not seem to be in the offing.
2. It seems now to be generally realised
that the admission of Cyprus to the EU as a divided island was
bound to create problems. Immediately, it relieved the Greek Cypriots
of any need to make concessions. For the EU, Eastern Enlargement
was more important than settling the Cyprus issue.
The problem essentially is that Cyprus claims
legal sovereignty over the whole island. This came about fortuitously
in March 1964 when the UN Security Council, anxious to introduce
a UN Force, treated with the rump Greek Cypriot Government that
was left after the Turkish Cypriot participants had fled their
posts. Unfortunately the UN Security Council did not specify that
it was dealing with the government as constitutionally established
in 1960, despite verbal assurance given to Turkey that this was
the case. Consequently, the UN, and national governments, began
to treat the Greek Cypriot Government as if it were the Government
of Cyprus, thus establishing its "legality". Even after
the Turkish Cypriot members of the House of Representatives were
told they could not return unless they voted for legislation that
would have effectively turned them into a minority, the Greek
Cypriot Government continued to be recognised. In brief, the Greek
Cypriot Government has no legitimacy for its claim to have sovereignty
over the Turkish Cypriots. This is the basis of the Turkish Cypriot
claim to independence on legal grounds. If the lawyers could find
some way to review the legal situation with more respect for reality,
thus according some status to the TRNC, it would be a significant
move forward towards bringing about a settlement. It is really
only by chance that the Greek Cypriots have been recognised as
having authority to establish the Government of Cyprus.
3. If Britain is to play a role it would
seem first to be necesssary to accept that the TRNC deserves some
degree of recognition. The Report of the UN Secretary General
calling on no state to recgonise the TRNC was not appropriate.
The Greek Cypriots know that the dice are now heavily loaded in
their favour. Whether Britain could take the lead in following
a course of action completely repugnant to the Greek Cypriots
is very doubtful, however. They are always inclined to bring up
sensitivity of the bases and listening posts to interference.
Of course, any trouble would deter British tourists (two-thirds
of the total), and this would seriously affect the Cypriot tourist
industry, but the British Government no doubt has to feel responsible
for the (reported) 20,000 British residents in the South. The
initiative for some degree of recognition of the TRNC would perhaps
have to come from elsewhere.
4. The rejection of the Annan Plan has meant
that the TRNC still cannot use its ports and airport freely and
thus develop the economy. If efforts in the EU on their behalf
are successful in these issues, they will be able to stand up
very much better against Greek Cypriot pressures. They could become
quite independent on the proceeds of their tourist industry.
Interestingly, the proposed property settlement
in the Annan Plan has been taken as a marker by number of entrepreneurs
to buy up and develop former Greek Cypriot land. This is making
quite a large impact on the economy, but is having some unforeseen
social consequences. The building boom will probably not now last
5. Yes, the British Government should seek
to alter its, and the international community's, relationship
with the North. As argued above, it must be made clear to the
Greek Cypriots that they have to get into negotiation with the
Turkish Cypriots on the basis that they constitute two independent
entities. Their attempts to use their EU leverage to absorb the
Turkish Cypriots should be resisted. This argues a confederal
type of solution, though with such a solution, the Turkish Cypriots
would surely have to give up the large tracts of territory which,
under the Annan Plan, were to be returned to the Greek Cypriots.
There would also have to be some sort of amicable property settlement.
In the course of time, with developing confidence, the two states
would probably enter into a more federal relationship.
6. International recognition of the existence
of the TRNC would remove the difficulties between Turkey and the
EU with regard to the Cyprus problem. Cyprus would drop out of
the equation. Turkey could recognise both the TRNC and the Republic
Essentially this is to propose a two-state solution
to the problem. The other way it could be brought about would
be by the recognition of the TRNC (now to be known as the Turkish
Cypriot State) by Islamic and Arab states. Of this the Greek Cypriots
are very afraid: it would be recognition of the Turkish Cypriot
State within its present borders. The chances of their being able
to recover territory to which they clearly have a right could
become very slim. It is not a development that would open up the
TRNC to Europe, but it could start a process of creeping recognition.
Not being very religious, most Turkish Cypriots would not necessarily
welcome this Islamic and Arab recognition for what it might bring
with it, but it would be preferable to isolation or absorption
by the Greek Cypriots. Nor might Arab and Islamic intrusion into
Cyprus be acceptable to the West for strategic reasons.
Finally, since it is now difficult to see an
alternative to a two-state solution, it is interesting that a
little while ago, a poll of under 28 year olds in the South revealed
significant support for such a solution.
Professor Clement Dodd
Professorial Research Associate, School of Oriental
and African Studies, University of London
21 September 2004