Any settlement to the Cyprus issue must be just, sustainable and above all, in line with the rule of law. It must be for the benefit of all citizens and lawful residents of the Republic of Cyprus, which encompasses the entire island.
It should not be overlooked that the so-called ‘Cyprus problem’ has been caused by Turkish-inspired constitutional segregation, which has been aggravated by Turkey’s invasion, occupation, ethnic cleansing and colonisation of 37 per cent of the territory and 57 per cent of the coastline of the Republic of Cyprus.
- Turkish occupation troops should be removed from occupied Cyprus. Removal should commence on day one of the implementation of a settlement. Turkish troops are currently in Cyprus for neo-imperial reasons: to maintain Turkey’s illegal occupation; to project Turkish military power; and to prevent refugees from returning to their homes, properties and lands.
- Cyprus does not require any so-called ‘guarantor powers’, least of all a former imperial ruler, Turkey, which has a track record of invading Cyprus. No self-respecting independent country requires ‘guarantors’. Greece and Britain seem willing to give up their guarantor status. Turkey should do the same.
- The Republic of Cyprus should not be dismantled and Turkey must recognise it forthwith. While some aspects of the Cyprus constitution clearly need to be reformed, the Republic should not be dissolved.
- The term ‘re-unification’ in the context of the proposed ‘bi-communal bi-zonal federation’ (BBF) is a misnomer. A BBF would perpetuate ‘bi-communal’ segregation and legitimise the de facto partition imposed in 1974. A BBF would be akin to apartheid as it would divide the people of Cyprus into zones according to ethnicity and religion. A segregated Cyprus would conflict with the principles of the European Union, of which Cyprus is a member and would violate the fundamental human rights of all Cypriots. It would legitimise Turkey’s illegal occupation of an EU member state. (In this context, one wonders why neither the Republic of Cyprus nor any of its three ‘guarantor powers’, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom have never become State Parties to the Crime of Apartheid Convention of 1973.)
- Another misconception is that Cyprus consists of “two peoples” and so should be divided on that basis. In reality, Cyprus is a rich mosaic of various ethnic and cultural groups that include Armenians, Maronites, Latins and many others. More than 20 per cent of the population of the Republic of Cyprus is neither Greek nor Turkish Cypriot, so it is nonsensical that Cyprus is permanently divided into two separate ‘communities’ and two separate ‘consituent states’.
- As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres recently stated, “we are not looking for a quick fix” to the Cyprus issue. We agree with the Secretary General that a settlement should be solid and sustainable. A settlement that sets out primarily to appease Turkey and its supporters and deliver partition, would not be for the benefit of Cypriots, but for the perceived interests of outside powers.
- The notion of a rotating presidency on the basis of one of two ethno-religious ‘communities’ is incompatible with the concept of a modern state that is based on equality, integration and democratic norms. It is a concept founded on institutional discrimination.
- ‘Territorial adjustments’ would award Turkey and its occupation regime the spoils of war and would legitimise Turkey’s illegal invasion, occupation and acts of ethnic cleansing against Greek, Armenian and Maronite Cypriots. It should not be forgotten that prior to Turkey’s invasion of 1974, Greek Cypriots made up the overwhelming majority of the population in what is now the occupied north of the country.
- All refugees should be allowed their right to return to their homes, lands and properties, as called for by UN resolutions. The number of refugees who will be permitted to return should not be based on arbitrary figures that are agreed at the negotiating table for political expediency.
- All norms of society, fundamental human rights, rule of law and democracy should not be jettisoned for the sake of a solution. The fundamental rights of Cypriots as European Union citizens should be protected by the EU and not diluted in order to satisfy Turkey, which does not even come close to meeting the values and standards required for EU membership.
- The colonists, ie the Turkish nationals transferred to the occupied north of Cyprus en masse, should be humanely repatriated to Turkey, subject to the due process of law. It is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 for an occupying country to settle territory with its own citizens. Rather than giving Greek Cypriots compensation for the confiscation of their homes and properties, Turkey should compensate its own citizens and finance their repatriation to Turkey. Turkey colonised the occupied north with its own citizens in order to transform the demography of the island and to complicate efforts for a settlement.
- The EU recently stated it would contribute to a Cyprus settlement financially. The cost of a settlement should be financed by Turkey and not Cypriots. The victims (Cypriots) should not be expected to pay reparations to the aggressor (Turkey).
- The return of Varosi (Famagusta) to its legitimate inhabitants is called for by UN resolutions as a confidence building measure. Turkey should not use Varosi as a bargaining chip to gain further concessions from the Cyprus government.
It should not be ignored that for decades, all major concessions on the Cyprus issue, have been made by the Cyprus government. These include the concept of ‘political equality’ and a ‘BBF’. Turkish Cypriots, who constitute 18 per cent of the population, would have political equality with 80 per cent of Cypriots who are Greek. A ‘BBF’ would require the confiscation of occupied Greek Cypriot lands in order to form a fragile ‘federal’ umbrella of two separate ‘constituent states’.
Turkey and its occupation regime, fronted by Mr Akinci, still maintain that a settlement should be on the basis of the absurd concept of ‘taksim’ (apartheid) which Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership have demanded since the 1950s. Once again, President Erdogan recently displayed Turkey’s intransigence with his comments that all Turkish troops will remain in Cyprus “forever”.
Lobby for Cyprus calls for a common future for all Cypriots in a truly unitary and integrated Cypriot state, which rests on the rule of law and the principles of liberal democracy. It would be a backward step for Cypriots to be divided on the basis of their ethnicity or religion into two largely homogenous zones. The Cyprus government, UN and EU should not consent to the segregation of the people of Cyprus. Turkey and its occupation regime should not be allowed to found a state within a state at the expense of Cypriots who were forced out of their homes and lands by Turkey. Any such settlement will not be viable or sustainable and would fly in the face of modern and inclusive democratic values, upon which all states should be founded on.