Unilateral declaration of illegality: Turkey’s rogue regime in Cyprus

Turkey and occupation regime flags in Cyprus
“Legally invalid”. Flags of illegal occupier Turkey and its subordinate regime. UN Security Council Resolution 541: “Calls upon all States not to recognise any Cypriot state other than the Republic of Cyprus” © Lobby for Cyprus

Today marks the passage of 34 years since the start of a sinister new development in the Turkish-occupied north of the Republic of Cyprus. On 15 November 1983, an entity described as the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (‘TRNC’) purported to come into existence pursuant to a unilateral ‘declaration of independence’In truth, Turkey was the puppet master behind this illegal move by an illegal entity which promptly took its place among the rogue regimes on the world stage.

All these years later, nothing, in substance, has changed. Turkey continues to occupy, colonise and exploit 36 per cent of the territory (and 57 per cent of the coastline) of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey continues to inflict misery on the victims of the Turkish invasions of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974. The so-called ‘TRNC’ is still illegal. Turkey remains its puppet master. And Turkey continues to enjoy impunity, having been unpunished for invading, ethno-religiously cleansing, colonising and committing multiple human rights violations and crimes in the occupied area.

Since its establishment 25 years ago in 1992, Lobby for Cyprus has been consistently campaigning for the 3Rs, namely: (i) the removal of all Turkish troops from the Republic of Cyprus; (ii) subject to the due process of law, the humane repatriation of all illegal colonists; and (iii) the right to return of all refugees to the homes from which they were forcibly removed in 1974. However, one state after another has preferred to appease Turkey rather than to stand up to Turkey. For this and for other reasons, Turkey has been transformed into a tyranny which endangers the whole of Europe and, indeed, the whole of the democratic world of which Europe forms part.

Now that Turkey has become a rogue state, the time has surely come for Europe to stop appeasing Turkey and to join Lobby for Cyprus in calling for the application of the 3Rs together with the proper application of a fourth ‘R’: the rule of law.

In the meantime, Lobby for Cyprus reminds the world that, in 2010, the International Court of Justice had this to say on the illegality of three purported unilateral declarations of independence, including the one relating to the so-called ‘TRNC’ on 15 November 1983:

‘[The] illegality [of these three purported unilateral declarations of independence] stemmed not from the unilateral character of these declarations as such, but from the fact that they were, or would have been, connected with the unlawful use of force or other egregious violations of norms of general international law, in particular those of a peremptory character (jus cogens).’

(Source: Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Respect of Kosovo, Advisory Opinion, ICJ. Reports 2010, page 403 at paragraph 81)