Written evidence submitted by British
Residents' Society of North Cyprus
The British Residents Society is a voluntary
organisation set up in North Cyprus in 1975. Its aims and objectives
are to foster friendly and harmonious relations with the people
of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, (TRNC) and to advise
and assist its members and make representations on their behalf
to the TRNC Government. Membership is voluntary and open to all
holders of a valid British passport. Its affairs are managed by
a committee of volunteers elected annually at its Annual General
Currently there are upwards of 6,000 expatriates
living, either full or part time, in North Cyprus. The vast majority
of these (in excess of 90%) are British Citizens. They are settled
principally in the area of Girne (Kyrenia) and its satellite villages
with smaller settlements in and around Gazimagusa (Famagusta),
in the Karpaz and Guzelyurt area.
It is not the intention of this memorandum to
deal in detail with the history of the Cyprus problem on which,
by now, the Committee is hopefully well briefed. Rather it is
to highlight the main problems that this history has left behind
and which now need to be addressed in formulating any future policy.
These are seen as being:
a) Although Turks and Greeks have shared
settlement in Cyprus for upwards of 400 years they have seldom
if ever actually lived together. Both have lived, often in geographical
proximity, within their own separate and distinct communities
and have largely been responsible for their own affairs. Since
1974, this separation has been complete. The only period of time
when they were required to work together, but still not live together,
was during the short lived era of the newly independent Republic
of Cyprus. (1960-63). This separation is further magnified by
the obvious differences in language, culture and religion which
exist between them.
b) The Turks have been a minority in Cyprus
since the late 19th century. Despite arriving as conquerors in
1571 their status has subsequently seriously declined and there
is now a significant imbalance between them and the Greeks. Moreover,
this imbalance does not only relate to numbers (some 200,000 to
the Greeks 850,000) but also, very importantly to economic strength.
They are acutely conscious of this disparity and the dangers it
holds for them as amply demonstrated by their past experience
particularly during 1963-74.
c) There is now a definite and growing perception
on the Turkish side that they have been unfairly treated by the
western world in its dealings with the Cyprus problem. In their
view the West, and Britain in particular (because of its concern
for its military bases) have favoured the Greek side. There is
undoubtedly some evidence to support this, most notably in the
UN Security Council Resolution of 1964 and the EU decision to
admit South Cyprus as representative of the whole island. Both
actions have made the Turkish Cypriot position much more difficult
in the negotiations for a settlement. This feeling is currently
much intensified by the absence of any real progress and reward,
as so fulsomely promised by, among other world leaders, the British
Prime Minister, following the Turkish Cypriot "Yes"
vote in the referendum of April 2004. (See addendum for these
d) There is a widespread belief in the north
of the island (and not just by the Turkish Cypriots) that much
of the policy formulated on Cyprus is handicapped by a lack of
direct knowledge. No doubt as a consequence of its non recognition,
visits by foreign diplomats and/or politicians are relatively
rare. Those that do take place are generally short lived whistle
stop tours where few real facts can be learned. The British do
have a High Commission here of course, but it is located in the
south. This problem is further compounded by the undeniable success
of the Greek side in the propaganda battle on the issue
To those of us who live in North Cyprus it seems
clear that British foreign policy on Cyprus has been less than
even handed in the last 30 years or so. Despite this, rather surprisingly,
there remains a considerable respect and regard for the British
by the Turkish Cypriotsa situation that appears less prevalent
among the Greeks. There is therefore, still an opportunity for
Britain to play an important role in solving the Cyprus problem.
To achieve this however, it is felt that the following issues
must be addressed, and addressed with some degree of urgency.
(a) Britain must take an active and determined
lead in ensuring that the promises made to the Turkish Cypriots
following the referendum of April 2004 are actually and speedily
converted to concrete benefits. This is essential if faith is
to be maintained (and it is now being rapidly eroded) in the good
offices and intentions of any foreign power. Removal of the economic
embargoes is their first and absolute priority and this has been
promised to them by the British Prime Minister himself in a speech
given during his visit to the Turkish Prime Minister in May 2004.
I quote "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".
The Turkish Cypriots have fulfilled their part
of the bargain in the referendum of April 2004 and they expect
Britain and the West to now honour their commitments. Anything
less would be a gross denial of their human rights and would sit
ill with a Government whose previous Foreign Secretary began his
term of office with a much publicised declaration of the need
to pursue an ethical foreign policy throughout the world.
(b) In all future negotiations/actions Britain's
foreign policy should be carefully directed to firmly ensuring
that there is equality for all the parties concerned. There should
be no repeat of the more onerous mistakes in the past such as
support for the UN Security Council Resolution of 1964 and acquiescence
in admitting a divided island into the EU.
(c) Whatever form of settlement may eventually
emerge it must be firmly based on the principle of self determination.
Only the Cypriots can have the right to decide what form of settlement
they wish to live with and under.
Turning now to the main specific questions the
Select Committee has been asked to examine, the Society would
wish to offer the following observations:
(a) Should Britain continue to back the
It has been clearly stated by the Secretary
General of the UN that his plan would become null and void if
any of the parties to the plan did not approve it in the referendum
of April 2004. The Greek Cypriot side overwhelmingly rejected
the plan. It would seem perverse therefore for the British Government
to continue any support of it.
There is a deep and abiding distrust between
both communities on the island which is so well entrenched as
to make any solution based on political reunification extremely
difficult. The present division may seem undesirable but the result
has kept the peace for 30 years.
It may well be therefore that a less ambitious
approach could be adopted whereby the status quo was accepted
and an incremental approach towards a rapprochement was adopted.
The outlines of such a policy are already in evidence with a series
of confidence building measures being proposed/introduced to establish
a cooperative relationship between the two peoples (eg The Turkish
Cypriot initiatives to open the border and the suggested return
of Varosha to Greek Cypriot control.)
(b) The Implications for the EU of the admission
of a divided country
There is no doubt that the EU has got itself
into a difficult predicament by its ill judged action of accepting
Greek Cyprus into the Union, the more so since their problem has
been created by the Greek Cypriots refusal to accept the Annan
Plan in the April 2004 referendum.
To untie this Gordian knot a two staged operation
could be proposed. The first stage is for the EU to establish
direct contact with North Cyprus. This need not be at the political
level which would give rise to problems over recognition of the
North Cyprus Government. It could be done at the administrative
level to provide direct economic contact without reference to
Greek Cyprus. It is believed that a precedent for such action
exists in the case of Taiwan. Thereafter North Cyprus, given that
the political situation allowed it, could enter into full membership
of the EU at a later date, possibly alongside the entry of Turkey.
(c) What role should Britain play in any
negotiations between the two communities on the island?
This question has largely been answered in paragraphs
a, b, and c, Possible Future Options. Here it is merely re-emphasised
that any role should be by direct invitation and should be clearly
seen to be that of an even handed honest broker.
(d) Implications of the rejection of the
Annan Plan for North Cyprus
The implications for North Cyprus will be both
injurious and grossly unjust unless some swift action is taken
to counteract its effects.
It cannot be stressed too strongly that it was
the Greek side that rejected the Annan Plan. The Turkish side
voted overwhelmingly for it. If, as a result, the Turkish Cypriots
are now to be penalised by the continuance of the embargoes which
seriously hinder their economy, greatly restrict their freedom
of travel and prevent them from participating in international
events of all sorts, a gross denial of basic political and human
rights will continue to be endured by an entirely innocent people.
This is a situation which no honourable country
should possibly contemplate. It will be inimical to Britain's
standing and prestige not just in North Cyprus but in Turkey and
in other countries in the region where Britain needs to have amity
Surely ways can be found to prevent this situation.
It need not be difficult. All that is required is the political
will and some degree of political honesty and courage by the leadership
(d) Should the British Government alter
its relationship with the North?
The obvious answer to this question must be
The British Government should work towards honouring
the pledges, made by the Prime Minister and other political leaders
after the April 2004 referendum, to end the isolation of the TRNC
by lifting economic, social and political embargoes.
Finally, the British government should recognise
that the government of South Cyprus does not, and never has, represented
North Cyprus and therefore should endeavour to free the North
Cyprus Government from the subordination the South Cyprus Government
continues to seek to impose.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, 24 April 2004
"I applaud the Turkish Cypriots who approved
the plan notwithstanding the significant sacrifices that it entailed
for many of them
(I) hope that ways will be found to ease
the plight in which the people find themselves through no fault
of their own"
US Secretary of State Colin Powell, interview
with the press, 26 April 2004
"The Turkish Government displayed great
courage. The Turkish Cypriots did, as well, on voting for it (UN
Plan). And so, I think, there should be some benefits to the Turkish
Cypriots for having voted `yes' for this plan."
Gunther Verheugen, EU Enlargement Commissioner,
26 April 2004-10-13
"Turkish Cypriots must not be punished
for this result . . . Now we have to end the isolation of the
North. The (EU) Commission is ready to take various measures for
Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the UK, during his
visit to Turkey, 18 May 2004
"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
The European Parliamentary Assembly Resolution
no 1376 (2004)
The international community and in particular
the Council of Europe and the European Union cannot ignore or
betray the expressed desire of the majority of Turkish Cypriots
for greater openness and should take rapid and appropriate steps
to encourage it. The Turkish Cypriots' international isolation
British Residents' Society of North Cyprus
18 October 2004