Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Written evidence submitted by TRNC Human Rights Association

  I have the honour to submit my views and comments herewith on the Cyprus Question in connection with the inquiry on Cyprus. I am sure that our submission shall duly be taken into account by your esteemed Committee.

  Please accept the assurances of our highest consideration.

Hasan Y-lmaz Is-k



  1.  The Cyprus conflict which has been continuing for 41 years is once again on the agenda. Another negotiation process failed because of the intransigent stance of the Greek Cypriot side. However, the Greek Cypriots were allowed to join the European Union on behalf of the whole island. Turkish Cypriots are still prevented from freely integrating with the rest of the world in spite of saying "yes" to the Plan. As the Turkish Cypriot people we are very disappointed by the circumstances we are subjected to.

  2.  The Turkish Cypriot people wish to integrate with the world and expect the lifting of all restrictions on transport, overseas trade, direct flights to Ercan Airport etc as promised by the international community. As the reunification of Cyprus was prevented by Greek Cypriots which lead to our being kept out of the EU, our goodwill should receive concrete openings from the international community. We deserve to freely travel, trade, enter into social, cultural and sporting activities with other nations and exercise our right to speak and act on our own behalf. Depriving us from our basic human rights because of political considerations runs contrary to human rights and freedoms and the democratic principles of the EU.

  3.  It should now be acknowledged that; Cyprus is the common home of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots who have equal rights over the island; there exist two democratic entities; each side represents its own people and no one else; neither of the parties can claim authority or jurisdiction over the other and there is no basis whatsoever for the unjust embargoes inflicted upon the Turkish Cypriot people. The fact that the Greek Cypriot administration is recognized as the "Republic of Cyprus" does not change these realities.

  4.  The separate simultaneous referenda proved that the Turkish Cypriot side is for a bi-zonal settlement based on political equality. The world applauded Turkish Cypriot stance and declared that the decades old injustice should be undone. Unfortunately, more than six months have passed since the referenda and there is no developments in the status of Turkish Cypriots. We wish to bring the following views and considerations to your kind attention and hope that they will duly be taken into account during your deliberations on Cyprus.

  5.  Greek Cypriot administration does not represent the Turkish Cypriot people. It entered the EU on behalf of the whole island but this is not the reality. EU has a divided island as a member not because of us or Turkey but because of Greek Cypriot referendum result. No one should expect us to give up our equality and accept Greek Cypriot domination to become part of EU. We want to join the EU and desire a lasting settlement. We strongly believe that holding back our full integration with the EU until after a negotiated settlement runs contrary to all the norms and principles of the Union itself.

  6.  The isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people must end. Turkish Cypriot people have done what was expected of them and voted for reunification. The fact that this did not happen is not their fault. However, they are still being punished. The UN Secretary-General asked for our unnecessary isolation to end. We call upon the EU to act on this call and establish direct relations with the North. It is against human rights and principles to stop Turkish Cypriots from having direct trade and contact with the rest of the world simply because their state is not recognized. We urge EU member countries to decide on and implement concrete measures to end this unjust situation.

  7.  Greek Cypriot isolation policies became stronger with its EU membership. The Free Trade Regulation and Financial Assistance Regulation prepared by the EU as an opening for the Turkish Cypriots are being prevented by the Greek Cypriot administration. Greek Cypriot leadership is using all means to ensure that the Turkish Cypriot people have no choice but to accept all its demands to be rid of the unjust embargoes imposed at its instigation. The EU should not allow Greek Cypriot blackmail to prevail.

  8.  The solution of the Cyprus question can only come about with a negotiated settlement. Turkish Cypriot people are ready for a lasting settlement based on bi-zonality and complete equality. However, we shall not bow to Greek Cypriot pressure and give up our rights and freedoms in the name of a solution. It is the responsibility of the EU to stand in the way of Greek Cypriot efforts to use their EU member status to impose their unjust demands on certain aspects of the Cyprus question, most of which involve complex human rights questions.

  9.  The issues of property and displaced are very crucial and complex. The property issue has to be evaluated on a realistic and logical basis. In the case of Cyprus, it is simply not possible to settle this problem by globally applying the right to property on the basis of return. This reality was once again proven with the Arif Mustafa's case. A Turkish Cypriot named Arif Mustafa has recently applied to Greek Cypriot courts to get his properties in the South. The court decided in favour of Mustafa and ordered the immediate evacuation of his house in Limassol. However, the family living in his house turned out to be ex-refugees themselves and a serious debate started in South Cyprus. Some supported the Court decision saying that the property issue was political and the decision was in line with the Greek Cypriot policy on this subject. Others opposed the decision arguing that it was against human rights to make the family loose their house once again.

  10.  This ongoing debate projects the dilemma surrounding the property issue. It is very easy to demand that all Greek Cypriot property in the North and all Turkish Cypriot property in the South are returned to their original owners. However, it is not easy to implement this demand regardless of the suffering that shall be inflicted upon the people who had been living in or making use of that property for over 30 years. It is for this reason that the Turkish Cypriot side insisted on solving this issue through compensation and/or global exchange.

  11.  Greek Cypriot insistence that all displaced should have the right to return to their original places of residence is also an unrealistic demand. The principle of bi-zonality has been mutually accepted since 1977 and has been one of the main principles of the UN negotiating process. It is a vital security need for the Turkish Cypriots that bi-zonality is protected in a future solution. It is impossible to preserve bi-zonality and provide for the return of all refugees at the same time.

  12.  The Annan Plan offered a compromise solution on property based on return and/or compensation. The plan also involved the return of a considerable amount of land to Greek Cypriots in order to provide for the return of thousands of Greek Cypriot refugees. This meant that hundreds of Turkish Cypriots would have to give up their houses and workplaces once again and thousands more would become refugees for the third or fourth time. Turkish Cypriot people agreed to sacrifice in the name of a durable solution but the Greek Cypriot side refused the Annan Plan.

  13.  Greek Cypriot leadership is still insisting on the solution of the property issue on the basis of return despite the fact that only the case of Arif Mustafa is still to be finalized in South Cyprus. It is high time the Greek Cypriot side agrees to a realistic solution of the property issue so that thousands of complex cases do not come before the local and European courts making the overall solution of the Cyprus question impossible. Moreover, Greek Cypriot side is saying that it is committed to a bi-zonal solution but also promises its people that all displaced shall return to their former residences. Greek Cypriot leadership should reveal the fact that bi-zonality which is a mutually accepted principle of a future solution does not provide for the return of all refugees. Only then the Greek Cypriot people shall be ready for a realistic solution in Cyprus.

  14.  Another humanitarian issue is the situation of the so called settlers. It is a fact that thousands of Turkish citizens migrated to North Cyprus over the years due to the need for work force. It is also a fact that thousands of Greek citizens and Pontian Greeks migrated to South Cyprus under similar circumstances. Most of these people naturally acquired the right to permanent stay and /or citizenship after they completed the necessary period of residence. Greek Cypriot leadership argues that the Turkish mainlanders should return as they have been implanted to change the demographic structure of Cyprus. If this mentality was accepted, then mainland Greeks and Pontian Greeks were also intentionally implanted to alter the demographic structure.

  15.  It is simply against human rights to exploit the situation of migrants for political gain. We call for a fair and just solution of this humanitarian issue on the basis of equal treatment. The status of the so-called settlers on both parts of the island needs to be solved through applying the same international norms and principles for all "settlers" in Cyprus regardless of their origin or place of residence. Turkish people from Turkey, Greeks from Greece and Pontian Greeks from different countries all have equal human rights and freedoms which should be respected within the framework of an overall solution in Cyprus.

  16.  The Turkish Cypriot people have been suffering from the missing persons issue since 1958. There are hundreds of Turkish Cypriot missing and this humanitarian problem is not particular to Greek Cypriots. Families of the missing on both sides expect and deserve a fast solution of this painful subject. Greek Cypriot leadership has been utilizing this humanitarian subject and refusing to accept the fact that hundreds of Greek Cypriots listed as missing were in fact known to have been killed in action. It is the responsibility of the Greek Cypriot side to come clean and acknowledge this reality as well as the fact that all Turkish Cypriot missing are civilians. We only hope that the new initiative which started at the instigation of the Turkish Cypriot side shall finally lead to the permanent solution of this humanitarian subject.

  17.  It is high time the Greek Cypriot side acknowledges the fact that human rights and freedoms, in general, are not there as a political tool but to protect people from discrimination and unfair treatment. It is the responsibility of the international community to end the most damaging human rights violation in Cyprus and lift the embargoes and restrictions on the Turkish Cypriot people. A political solution in Cyprus also depends on this crucial step which is the only way to bring overall Turkish Cypriot development to the same level as Greek Cypriots and open the way for reunification.

Hasan Y Is-k

President of the Association

10 November 2004

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