Celebrating illegality in Cyprus: Mustafa Akinci, non-‘president’ of a non-entity

Illegal entity. UN resolutions 541 and 550 are clear. The purported ‘UDI’ of the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus is ‘legally invalid’ and must be withdrawn. © Lobby for Cyprus

On 15 November, Ankara’s mouthpiece in occupied Cyprus Mustafa Akinci ‘celebrated’, as he does every year, the purported establishment of Turkey’s illegal subordinate administration in the northern area of the Republic of Cyprus that Turkish forces arbitrarily seized in 1974. 

Despite Akinci’s proclamations, the so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ remains the crude product of illegality and mass inhumanity. While Mr Akinci might purport to be its ‘president’, UN resolutions 541 and 550 are clear. The ‘unilateral declaration of independence’ purportedly made on 15 November 1983 is part of a pattern of ‘secessionist acts’.  Furthermore, it is ‘legally invalid’ and must be withdrawn. In the meantime, all states must ‘respect’ the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of the Republic of Cyprus.

It is noteworthy that in an Advisory Opinion relating to Kosovo, dated 22 July 2010, the International Court of Justice compared the illegal declaration of independence in the Turkish-occupied zone of the Republic of Cyprus with those relating to ‘Southern Rhodesia’ in 1965 and ‘Republika Srpska’ in 1992. According to the International Court of Justice, ‘the illegality’ of each of these of these ‘declarations’, including the one purportedly made in the Turkish-occupied zone, ‘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).’ (Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Respect of Kosovo, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 2010, page 403 at paragraph 81.)

It is a well known fact that in the summer of 1974, the armed forces of Turkey twice invaded the Republic of Cyprus. In the process, as confirmed by a report of the European Commission of Human Rights adopted on 10 July 1976, these forces illegally inflicted various forms of mass inhumanity, including the mass rape of women. And it is clear that Turkey invaded not only in order to forcibly displace the Greeks and Christians who formed the overwhelming majority of the lawful population in what became the occupied areas in the north. Turkey also sought to create a de facto Turkish-populated zone, to colonise it with citizens of Turkey, to eradicate its Hellenic/Christian culture and to manufacture a subordinate local administration fronted by the likes of Mr Akinci.

Thus, the illegal rogue regime in the Turkish-occupied zone is a secessionist, segregationist, supremacist and racist entity. However, it continues to exist on a de facto basis because the world has chosen to appease Ankara rather than implement Resolutions 541 and 550 in practice. As a consequence of this policy of appeasement, the Turkish-occupied zone has become a haven for criminals, fugitives from justice and perpetrators of barbaric practices. For example, the annual US State Department reports on human trafficking, including the 2018 edition, have branded the Turkish-occupied zone as ‘a zone of impunity for human trafficking’, including the trafficking of children exposed to the risk of being subjected to sexual exploitation or forced labour.

President Erdogan and Mr Akinci may choose to ‘celebrate’ illegality and inhumanity. However, the rest of the world must respond by taking concrete steps to terminate, not legalise, the rogue subordinate regime of Ankara and the protracted Turkish occupation which ensures its de facto survival.

Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation that campaigns for a Cyprus free from Turkish occupation and a unitary Cypriot state without segregation along ethnic and religious lines.