The island of Cyprus has been attempting to resolve its internal and external political associations for the past 52 years.
The roots of the Cyprus problem can be traced back to the 1950s, when Greek Cypriot and Greek aspirations to achieve enosis (the island’s union with Greece) took the form of a terrorist campaign against Turkish Cypriots as well as British colonial rule. Despite at-tempts by Greece to exploit the issue in the UN, the UN General As-sembly has not upheld Greek demands designed to achieve annexation under the guise of self-determination, but urged negotiations among the parties concerned. So when Britain gave Cyprus independence in 1960, a series of sui generis agreements had to be reached, designed to compromise the conflicting interests of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, as well as Greece and Turkey. *
The “state of affairs” created in Cyprus by the international trea-ties of 1960 was one of political and sovereign equality and the equal constituent status of the two peoples. By virtue of these international treaties, limited sovereignty had been transferred by the two peoples, conjointly and in partnership, in order to establish the 1960 bi-communal Republic of Cyprus. Under the 1960 Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Greece became gua-rantors of the new state of affairs which aimed at preventing either one of the two constituent peoples from imposing its political will over the other as well as establishing a fair balance between the two mother-lands, Turkey and Greece, vis-à-vis Cyprus.
The 1960 agreements that gave birth to the “Republic of Cyprus” were therefore firmly based on the equality of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots in the independence and sovereignty of the island. A bi-communal state mechanism was created with the effective participation of both sides in all organs of the joint state. Annexation and partition were expressly proscribed. The Greek Cypriots and Greece, however, regarded the establishment of a republic based on partnership as a temporary setback in their ultimate aim of uniting the island with Greece, i.e., enosis, and attempted to destroy both the internal and the external balances created by the 1960 state of affairs from the very first day they were established. The Greek Cypriots resorted to violence in December 1963 and expelled their Turkish Cypriot partners from all the government organs by force of arms, usurping the state machinery. The Turkish Cypriot people refused to bow to this illegality. Thus, years of unprecedented cruelty, bloodshed and suffering started for the Turkish Cypriot people.
During the 1963-1974 period, hundreds of Turkish Cypriots were murdered by armed Greek Cypriot paramilitaries, and a quarter of the Turkish Cypriot population (some 30,000 people) were rendered home-less. Hundreds more were abducted or subjected to enforced disap-pearance, never to be seen or heard from again. Those lucky enough to survive Greek Cypriot atrocities withdrew into small enclaves, the total area of which corresponded to a mere 3 percent of the territory of Cy-prus, and led the life of a refugee, surviving only thanks to Turkish Red Crescent aid. The entire world merely watched all this as a passive spectator for a decade. The UN peacekeeping force sent to the island in 1964 was ineffective and helpless. Greece acted in violation of its treaty obligations as a guarantor power. Britain also remained indifferent to its obligations under the same status. Turkish Cypriots were relieved from this ordeal and saved from total extermination by the legitimate and timely intervention of Turkey undertaken in accordance with its treaty rights and obligations in 1974, after the Greeks had made a bloody attempt at the final takeover of Cyprus by Greece through a coup d’état organized by the junta in Athens and its collaborators in Cyprus. *
Divided by a bitter history of communal violence and reliant upon the support of Turkey and Greece for protection against one another, the two Cypriot peoples have coexisted uneasily in this fashion on the same island for nearly four-and-a-half decades.
It was only after the Turkish intervention that, for the first time after 1963, Greek Cypriot violence could be brought to an end and a serious search undertaken for a negotiated settlement. Armed UN troops guard the so-called Green Line between them. Despite decades of talks aimed at reaching a settlement for some kind of federal Cyprus and normalization of relations, internal arrangements remain unfi-nished business.
Internally, the island remains divided into two de facto states, one Turkish Cypriot (KKTC) and one Greek Cypriot (ROC), neither of which recognizes the legitimacy of the other.
With its unilateral and unlawful application for EU membership in 1990, the Greek Cypriot side added a new and crucial dimension to its efforts to frustrate negotiations and do away with parameters which had been developed through hard work over the years. The Greek Cy-priot side never concealed that it was using EU membership as a ploy for doing away with the vested rights of the Turkish Cypriot people and for destroying the balance between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus in favor of Greece. The unilateral and unlawful application of the Greek Cypriot regime for EU membership was void from the beginning and cannot be binding on the Turkish Cypriots or on Cyprus as a whole. The Greek Cypriot administration has no lawful authority or right un-der the 1960 treaties to make such an application on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots or the whole of Cyprus. Consequently, the EU should not have processed it as if it were a valid application.
The two sides on the island have had no institutional links since 1963. They are living under their own respective states and governing themselves separately. These two states should be able to resolve their differences through their own free will. They should arrive at an agreement over core issues such as property, territory and security. They themselves should decide how they wish to live in the future. Attempts to impose settlement models from outside would only bring grave risks. Enforced cohabitation of the two peoples by way of formulas that do not respond to the realities of the island and thereby risk the re-emergence of ethnic strife and violence cannot be labeled as a good solution. The tragedies in the Balkans should have thought the EU and the UN to be absolutely cautious in addressing ethnic conflicts. A confederation within the European Union should now be strongly considered for a long-lasting and sustainable solution on the island.