43 years have passed since the two Turkish invasions and subsequent occupation of our beloved island. Yet, we are no closer to any settlement. As a matter of fact, we are far away from a settlement as a result of Turkey’s regional policy and grand strategy dating back to 1956, both of which adversely affect Cyprus.
In addition, 25 years have passed since the inception of Lobby for Cyprus in 1992. Since then, we have stood very firm to our principles. We have embraced the democratic demands of our members and the justice they expect to receive from the government of Cyprus, the government of the United Kingdom, the UN the EU, the wider international community and, of course Turkey, the illegal occupier in Cyprus.
In 1992, Lobby for Cyprus was formed by refugee associations to represent forcibly displaced persons from the Turkish-occupied area, that is to say people who were forcibly, unlawfully and unethically uprooted from their homes.
Today, Lobby for Cyprus continues to have the support of these associations.
Tonight we have with us a number of our refugee associations which include founding members Ayios Amvrosios and Lapithos & Karavas as well as Famagusta, Eptagomi, Morphou and Perichora amongst many others.
Let me go back to the founding principles of Lobby for Cyprus which remain more important than ever, especially in view of misleading information in the media and the focus on what is on going on at the negotiating table behind closed doors.
Lobby for Cyprus remains committed to supporting a settlement resulting in the existence of a free, democratic and truly unitary Cypriot state which is based on the rule of law together with the 3Rs upon which Lobby for Cyprus was founded.
Let me remind you. The 3Rs call for:
- The removal of all Turkish troops, be they occupation forces or otherwise;
- The end to Turkey’s continuing policy of colonisation and the humane repatriation of illegal Turkish colonists, who were transferred to occupied Cyprus to alter the demography of the island;
- The right to return of all refugees, without restriction or preconditions.
Since 1992, Lobby for Cyprus has campaigned for other objectives which intertwine with the 3Rs:
- Any ‘settlement’ must terminate the Turkish occupation and colonisation via a lawful, ethical, transparent and procedurally fair process;
- Any ‘settlement’ must ensure that the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus is fully respected, that the Republic is officially represented at any ‘conference’ relating to it and that the Republic is neither dissolved nor undermined;
- Any ‘settlement’ must refrain from legalising the de facto segregation imposed in Cyprus by Turkey;
- Any ‘settlement’ must not be based on the proposed ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’, an entity that would perpetuate the ‘bi-communal’ division of Cypriot citizens along ethno-religious lines and legalise the de facto
‘bi-zonal’ geographical segregation of those same citizens;
- Any ‘settlement’ must not perpetuate the purported rights of the so-called ‘guarantor powers’, including their purported right ‘to take action’;
- Any ‘settlement’ must be expressly founded on the enlightened founding values of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe and the European Union; and
- Any ‘settlement’ must ensure that it respects the rule of law, justice, democracy, human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all legitimate Cypriot citizens and all lawful residents of the Republic of Cyprus.
It is abundantly clear that Turkey has no interest in a free, democratic and united Cyprus. Turkey does not care about the citizens and lawful residents of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey does not want the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus to enjoy all of the freedoms that European Union citizens are entitled to, including freedom of movement and freedom of establishment.
What does Turkey really want? It is our view, that in substance, Turkey wants Cyprus to be the 82nd province of Turkey.
For 25 years, Lobby for Cyprus has been warning the world about the actions and intentions of Turkey. Lobby for Cyprus has shone a spotlight onto the human rights violations and crimes committed by Turkey in the occupied north of Cyprus.
To take one example, Lobby for Cyprus has warned the world about the enclaved in the Karpas Peninsula, whose plight has become even worse over the past few months.
To take a second example, as illustrated by our 2017 Icon Hunter seminar at Theatro Technis during Cyprus week, Lobby for Cyprus has been highlighting Turkey’s destruction of churches and cemeteries in the occupied area as part of a de facto programme designed to eradicate the Greek and Christian cultural heritage of that area.
In spite of its efforts, Lobby for Cyprus has not been properly listened to by those in power, especially in New York, Washington, London, Athens, Brussels and Nicosia. Instead, many of those in power have chosen to appease the aggressor, Turkey. Yet, instead of transforming Turkey into a democracy, appeasement has helped to turn Turkey into a what many international commentators are describing as a tyranny.
For 43 years, Turkey sustained an ongoing humanitarian crisis to the detriment of the refugees from the occupied north of Cyprus and the families of the missing persons.
We are living through an epoch when Europeans are becoming increasingly concerned about the division of people along religious lines and the lack of integration.
With this in mind, is it really wise for the UK, the EU and the rest of the democratic world to support the maintenance of ‘two communities’, the legalisation of ‘two zones’ and the creation of two ‘constituent states’ in Cyprus, in the south-east corner of Europe?
What sort of message is such support for segregation sending to the enemies of democracy who want to divide Europeans into separate ‘communities’ and to divide territory into ‘zones’?
In hindsight, if the UK and Europe had clamped down on ‘bi-communalism’ and ‘bi-zonality’ when they had the chance to do so, perhaps Europe would not be in the mess that it is currently in. However, they resorted to appeasement and, as history shows time and again, appeasement never pays.
If, after 43 years, the refugees do not have the right return to their homes in the occupied north and if they do not recover possession of their properties because of ‘bi-zonality’ and the creation of two ‘zones’ and two ‘constituent states’, the undemocratic values of Turkey will override the democratic values of Europe.
Looking to the future, the democracies of the world must change direction before it is too late. If they do, Cyprus can be free, democratic, unitary and blessed with the rule of law together with something else – the 3Rs.
Lobby for Cyprus
19 November 2017