The deplorable living conditions of the Cypriot enclaved can be demonstrated by the simple recounting of their numbers following the Turkish invasion of 1974. In July of that year the Greek Cypriot population of the area presently occupied by the Turkish army was 162,000. By the time the second phase of the Turkish invasion had been completed, in August 1974, 142,000 Cypriots were expelled or forced to flee, leaving 20,000, mostly in the Karpas peninsula (Report S/11488 of the UNSG to the Security Council dated 4 September 1974). During the next four months, another 5,000 were forced to leave, resulting in a reduction of the Greek Cypriot population of the occupied area by 91% (Report S/11568, 6 December 1974, para. 43). According to the report of the Secretary General to the Security Council this number has diminished to 427 Greek Cypriots and 165 Maronites (S/1122, 30 November 2001, para. 8).Consequently, the total number of Cypriots expelled from their hmes rises to over 160 000, that is one third of the total population of Cyprus in 1974.
The diminution is all the more striking considering the fact of the agreement reached in Vienna on 2 August, 1975, by which the Turkish side undertook to give the enclaved population "every help to lead a normal life, including facilities for education and for the practice of their religion, as well as medical care by their own doctors and freedom of movement in the north". In practice the Cypriots were subjected to constant harassment, including physical assaults, restrictions to their movement, denial of access to adequate medical care, denial of adequate educational facilities, especially beyond the elementary school level, curtailment of their right to use and bequeath their immovable property and curtailment of freedom of worship in their churches and monasteries. This was therefore a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing, forcing the enclaved to abandon their home, so that all traces of Greek Cypriot presence in northern Cyprus would be eradicated.
The United Nations Peace Keeping Force, mindful of the plight of the enclaved, reviewed the situation and made several recommendations for the amelioration of their situation, as reported by the Secretary General to the Security Council (Report of 10 December, 1995, S/1995/1020, para. 24). Some of the most important recommendations are as follows:
"That all restrictions on land travel should be lifted, that access to the Apostolos Andreas Monastery should be unrestricted, that Greek Cypriots should be allowed to travel in their own cars, that they should be allowed to receive visitors from outside the occupied area, that children of the enclaved forced by the Turkish side to live in the government-controlled area for educational reasons should be allowed to visit their parents without hindrance, that they should be allowed to bequeath their property to their next of kin that they should be allowed to have secondary schools, that the constant presence of "police" in their lives should end, that they should have unrestricted access to telephones, that they should be allowed visits by Greek Cypriot doctors, that UNFICYP should be allowed unrestricted freedom of movement in the Karpas peninsula and liaison posts should be established".
Similarly, with regard to Maronites, UNFICYP recommended the lifting of all restrictions on their freedom of movement, the establishment of a medical centre for their needs, the provision of private telephone services, free and unescorted access to UNFICYP, improvement of water supply to their villages and improved access to their places of worship (Report S/1995/1020, par. 25). Though following UNFICYP's concern the Turkish side allowed certain minor improvements in the lives of the enclaved their living conditions remain deplorable and unchanged. This conclusion is fully in accord with the findings of the European Commission of Human Rights and the judgement of 10 May 2001 of the European Court of Human Rights, which examined the plight of the enclaved as part of the Fourth Interstate Application of Cyprus against Turkey. The Commission's Report, published on 4th September 1999, noted inter alia:
"Taken as a whole, the daily life of the Greek Cypriots in northern Cyprus is characterized by a multitude of adverse circumstances. The absence of normal means of communication, the unavailability in practice of the Greek Cypriot press, the insufficient number of priests, the difficult choice before which parents and schoolchildren are put regarding secondary education, the restrictions and formalities applied to freedom of movement, the impossibility to preserve property rights upon departure or death and the various other restrictions create a feeling among the persons concerned of being compelled to live in a hostile environment in which it is hardly possible to lead a normal private and family life. As these adverse circumstances in the living conditions are to a large extent the direct result of the official policy conducted by the respondent Government and its subordinate local administration, they constitute factors by which the above interference with the rights of the enclaved Greek Cypriots under Article 8 of the Convention are aggravated (para. 489)".
Furthermore the Commission found that this multitude of adversities, constituting aggravated interference with the enclaved persons' right to respect for their private and family life and for their home, were discriminatory practices specifically directed against Greek Cypriots and, to almost the same degree, against Maronites, because of their ethnic origin, race and religion. This discrimination, the Commission concluded, "amount(s) to degrading treatment" (para. 499). These interferences with the normal life of the enclaved, coupled with the severity with which they are applied, justifies the conclusion of the Report that they amount to "an affront to their human dignity" (para. 498).
The Commission also found interference with their freedom of religion, violation of their right to free expression arising out of the fact that schoolbooks for elementary schools are subject to excessive censorship, violation of Article 2 of Protocol 1 because of the denial of secondary school education for their children and a continuing violation of their right to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions arising out of the practice of the Turkish Cypriot "authorities" to take over possession of the property of all enclaved who leave from the occupied area or die.
The European Court of Human Rights has, in its judgement of 10 May 2001, on the case of Cyprus v. Turkey, Application no 257 (81/94), for the first time, pronounced itself on the overall legal consequences of Turkey's invasion and continued military presence in Cyprus. The Court's findings about the treatment of the few Greek Cypriots and Maronites still resident in the occupied area are quite significant. The Court notes that the right to respect for family life of the enclaved Greek Cypriots was seriously impeded by measures imposed by the "TRNC" to limit family reunification denying the possibility of leading a normal family life (para. 292-293). The Court noted that Greek Cypriots community were monitored in respect of their contacts and movements and that surveillance extended to the presence of State agents inside the homes of Greek Cypriots on the occasion of social or other visits (para.294). The Court held that such highly intrusive and invasive acts violated the right of the Greek Cypriot population in the Karpas region to respect to their private and family life" (para.295). The Court endorsed the Commission's conclusion that
"The restrictions which beset the daily lives of the enclaved Greek Cypriots create a feeling among them "of being compelled to live in a hostile environment in which it is hardly possible to lead a normal private and family life". The Commission noted in support of this conclusion that the adverse circumstances to which the population concerned was subjected included: the absence of normal means of communication (…); the unavailability in practice of the Greek Cypriot press (...); the insufficient number of priests (…); the difficult choice with which parents and schoolchildren were faced regarding secondary education (…); the restrictions and formalities applied to freedom of movement, including, the Court would add, for the purposes of seeking medical treatment and participation in bi- or inter-communal events; the impossibility of preserving property rights upon departure or on death."
The Court added that such restrictions were factors aggravating the violations (para. 301). What is more the Court noted the view of the UN Secretary-General that the severe restrictions entailing the exercise of basic freedoms had the effect of ensuring that inexorably, with the passage of time, the Karpas community would cease to exist. This would be the consequence of the prohibition on bequeathing property to relatives outside the north and to the denial of the right of ultimate return of children who left in order to obtain secondary education (para. 307). The prevailing situation led, according to the Court, to the inescapable conclusion "that the interferences at issue were directed at the Karpas Greek-Cypriot community for the very reason that they belonged to this class of persons. The treatment to which they were subjected during the period distinguish them from the Turkish-Cypriot population, namely their ethnic origin, race and religion. The Court would further note that it must be the policy of the respondent State to pursue discussions within the framework of the inter-communal talks on the basis of bi-zonal and bi-communal principles (…). The respondent State's attachment to these principles must be considered to be reflected in the situation in which the Karpas Greek Cypriots live and are compelled to live: isolated, restricted in their movements, controlled and with no prospect of renewing or developing their community. The conditions under which that population is condemned to live are debasing and violate the very notion of respect for the human dignity of its members".
In the Court's opinion and with reference to the period under consideration, the discriminatory treatment attained a level of severity which amounted to degrading treatment" (para. 309 and 310). The Court also found that the Greek Cypriots of the Karpas had had their rights to freedom of religion under Article 9 violated by restrictions which prevented organisation of Greek Orthodox religious ceremonies in a normal and regular manner (refusal to approve appointment of priests and restrictions to access to Apostolos Andreas Monastery, as well as restrictions on to access to places of worship outside their villages) (para. 243-346). The Court also found that Article 10 (freedom of expression) was violated, because of excessive censorship applied to primary school-books, large numbers of which, no matter how innocuous their contents, were unilaterally censored or rejected by the "TRNC" authorities (para. 252 and 254)".
The Court noted the fact that the immovable property of Greek Cypriots in the Karpas who left the "TRNC" permanently was deemed as "abandoned" and therefore liable to allocation to third parties. This was a continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol 1. Refusal to recognise the inheritance rights of persons living in southern Cyprus to property of their deceased relatives in northern Cyprus was also a violation of Article 1, because peaceful enjoyment of such personal possessions is not secured (para. 269 and 270).
A particularly serious violation, having regard to its impact of family life, is the denial of appropriate secondary-school facilities to Greek Cypriots residing in the occupied northern Cyprus (para. 278 and 280).
In conclusion, the plight of the enclaved Cypriots, both Greeks and Maronites, continues unabated despite the protestations and calls of the Cyprus government for the need to implement the 1975 Vienna III Agreement. The evidence, provided by the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which presents unassailable proof of Turkey's culpability, should lead to further action for the amelioration of the unacceptable living conditions of the Cypriots enclaved in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. The continuing affront to human dignity of the enclaved, as the Commission found, is an affront on the human dignity of all people.
© 2011 - 2021 Republic of Cyprus,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Stockholm