Cyprus gained her sovereign independence by virtue of a consti-tution and three treaties — the Treaty of Guarantee, the Treaty of Al-liance and the Treaty of Establishment, all of which came into force on the same day — Aug. 16, 1960.
They were interrelated so that, for example, the 48 “basic articles” of the Constitution were incorporated into the Treaty of Guarantee while the two Treaties of Guarantee and Alliance were in turn men-tioned to “have constitutional force” in Article 181 of the constitution.
The third treaty, the Treaty of Establishment, makes it clear that the boundaries of the Republic of Cyprus do not coincide with those of the island, in that Britain retains absolute sovereignty over two en-claves, totaling 99 square miles which contain the military bases of Ağrotur (Akrotiri) and Dikelya (Dhekelia). Britain is also given certain military rights (such as exclusive control of the Nicosia airport in the event of an emergency) on the territory of the republic.
The constitution was drawn up explicitly in terms of the two people — and was referred to subsequently by the Turkish Cypriots as a functional federation, though that expression does not actually appear.
The official languages were Greek and Turkish. The Greek and Turkish flags could be flown without any restrictions, though there was also to be a national flag.
The Greek and Turkish national holidays were to be observed.
The country was defined as “an independent and sovereign re-public with a presidential regime, the president being Greek and the vice president being Turkish elected by the Greek and Turkish com-munities of Cyprus respectively.” There were 10 ministers, seven cho-sen by the president and three by the vice president (in practice a Tur-kish Cypriot was appointed to defense). Decisions in the Council of Ministers were to be taken by absolute majority, except that either the president or the vice president had an absolute veto over decisions relating to foreign affairs, defense or internal security and a delaying one on other matters.
The legislative system was unicameral. The House of Representa-tives had 50 members: 35 Greek and 15 Turkish. This ratio was unila-terally changed to 56 Greek and 24 Turkish by Greek Cypriots without the consent of Turkish Cypriots during the “Dark Era,” namely between the years 1963-1974.
According to Article 78(2), “any law imposing duties or taxes shall require a simple majority of the representatives elected by the Greek and Turkish communities respectively taking part in the vote.” This provision also applied to any change in the electoral law and the adop-tion of any law relating to the municipalities. This last question baffled the constitution makers. In five of the towns, separate Greek and Tur-kish municipalities had emerged as a consequence of the communal confrontations of 1958 and had been recognized by the British. They would now be officially established, thereby becoming the only organ of the constitution based on the idea of territorial separation, but for only four years during which the president and the vice president were supposed to decide between them whether they were to continue.
Legislation on other subjects was to take place by simple majority but again the president and the vice president had the same right of veto — absolute on foreign affairs, defense and internal security, delay-ing on other matters — as in the Council of Ministers. Outside the House of Representatives there were to be elected two communal chambers, one Greek, the other Turkish, which were given separate functions not entrusted to the House. These included education, reli-gious matters, personal status, sport, culture, producer and consumer cooperatives and credit establishments. For these purposes they were entitled to impose taxes, set up courts and conduct their own relations with the Greek and Turkish governments over help with funds or with personnel.
The judicial system was headed both by the Supreme Constitu-tional Court and by the High Court of Justice, each consisting of Greek and Turkish Cypriot judges, each with a neutral president (who should not be Cypriot, Greek, Turkish or British). The High Court had mainly appellate jurisdiction but could also deal with “offences against the constitution and the constitutional order.” The Supreme Constitutional Court had exclusive jurisdiction over the allocation of functions and powers between the various institutions. Either president or vice pres-ident might appeal to this court whenever he thought that a law in-cluding, specifically, the budget, would have the effect of discriminating against one of the communities. Moreover human rights were strongly protected.
A long series of guarantees against discrimination and in support of fundamental rights and liberties (Articles 6 to 35) were closely based on the appropriate European conventions. Finally, the constitution recognized the bi-communal nature of Cyprus in its arrangements for administration. The public service should approximate in all grades of its hierarchy to a 70:30 ratio. The Public Service Commission was to consist of 10 members, seven of them Greek, but a number of decisions were made dependent on the approval of at least two of the Turkish members.
There was to be a Cypriot army, 2,000 strong, of which 1,200 should be Greeks and 800 Turks, together with security forces, com-prising police and gendarmerie, also totaling 2,000, but this time with 1,400 Greeks to 600 Turks; forces stationed in parts of the republic inhabited almost totally by one community should have policemen drawn entirely from that community.