- We hear a lot about the Cyprus problem. What exactly is the problem?
In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus. 34 years later is still under occupation: The issue remains one of foreign invasion and occupation. These are some of the results:
- Almost 36% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus - i.e. the northern part of the island- is still under Turkish occupation.
- 70% of the natural resources of Cyprus are concentrated in the occupied area.
- 28 % of the Greek Cypriot population was displaced from the occupied part where they constituted a majority of 80% of the inhabitants of that area.
- The two communities, who for 300 years have lived together intermingled throughout the island, were artificially separated.
- The fate of 1493 missing persons remains still to be ascertained.
- 43.000 Turkish soldiers, heavily armed, are stationed in the occupied area, according to the UN Secretary-General, “one of the most militarized regions of the world”.
- Over 160.000 settlers have been brought over from Turkey to colonize the occupied area, in order to change the demography of the island, complicate the solution of the problem and dominate the political situation.
- In an effort to consolidate the de facto situation, the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" was unilaterally declared in 1983 in the occupied area, an illegal secessionist entity recognized only by Turkey. This was condemned by Security Council that “considered the said declaration as legally invalid and called for its withdrawal; and called upon all states not to recognize any Cypriot state other than the Republic of Cyprus”.
- In 2004 the Greek Cypriots rejected the Anan Plan for solving the Cyprus Problem. What are the key concerns?
Greek Cypriots rejected the specific Plan and NOT the solution of the Cyprus Problem.
Concerns: Security (according to the plan Turkish troops remain in Cyprus in perpetuity, Turkey retains right of intervention); most illegal Settlers stay behind; limited Functionality of the State; very limited Return of Refugees; Properties do not return to lawful owners; ineffective Safeguards for implementation.
- Cyprus is one of the 25 Members of the European Union. What is the position of the Union towards the Cyprus problem and the Turkish Cypriots?
- The European Union, as the rest of the international community, recognizes the Government of the Republic of Cyprus as the only legitimate government representing the Republic of Cyprus. It maintains no relations whatsoever with the illegal so-called authorities in the occupied area.
- The Republic of Cyprus as a whole became a member of the EU on 1st of May 2004. Nevertheless, the Acquis Communautaire is suspended in the northern occupied part until a solution is achieved of the division of the island.
- The Turkish Cypriots as citizens of the Republic of Cyprus are entitled to Cyprus Republic passports and other certificates of the Republic of Cyprus. Holding such certificates enables them to enjoy the benefits of EU membership, despite the fact that the Acquis is suspended in the northern part of Cyprus. Thus, they can inter alia move, work and settle freely within the Union, they can study and send their children to schools of the European Union member states and they can have diplomatic and consular protection in third countries.
- Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots complain a lot about the “Embargo”? Does Cyprus have an embargo against Turkish Cypriots?
- The plain answer is NO. The ports and airports situated in the northern occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus have been declared as closed and illegal ports of entry to and exit from the Republic of Cyprus since 1974. Any disadvantage faced by Turkish Cypriots is due to the form of participation or the benefits they seek in their activities and legitimate restrictions by international organizations. Most of the restrictions are the result of the effective Turkish military control of the occupied area. Furthermore there is willful refusal by the Turkish Cypriots to use the proper administrative machinery of the Republic of Cyprus for export of goods and licensing facilities.
- Proposal on Famagusta port/ Varosha/ Larnaka port:
- The Government of Cyprus cannot accept the adoption of measures which threaten the legal order of Cyprus and divides the two communities. Nevertheless, it remains committed to the economic development of the T/C community through measures that will further the economic integration of the island and bring G/C and T/C together. For that purpose the Government has submitted the following proposal:
- The return of the closed city of Varosha to its lawful inhabitants under the Government's control.
- Following such return the Government would be in a position to grant its authorization for the operation of Famagusta port for purposes of “direct trade”. The operation of the port would take place under the supervision of the European Commission. The commercial aspect of the Port's operation shall be entrusted to an organization which will be managed by a Board of Directors containing both GCs and TCs.
- The port should open to both GC and TC economic operators under equal terms.
- Does the Cypriot Government assist in any way the Turkish Cypriots?
Measures by the Republic of Cyprus in favor of the TCs:
- This package includes a wide range of political, social, humanitarian, educational, and economic measures aimed at providing our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, with the opportunity to acquire, have access to, and make full use of their rights as citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the benefits arising from the accession of Cyprus to the European Union.
- Since April 2003, more than 9 million crossings have been registered.
- More than 7,000 Turkish Cypriots cross over to work in the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus every day, (a figure representing more than 6% of the population of Turkish Cypriots living in the occupied areas), earning about €185 million up to May 2005.
- The Republic of Cyprus has paid social insurance pensions of Euros 59.01 million to Turkish Cypriots for the years 2003-2005.
- Turkish Cypriots have been provided with free medical care at the public hospitals and medical centers of the Republic since April 2003 at the cost of Euros 12.05 million. The number of Turkish Cypriot visiting the medical centers in the area under the control of the Government is currently at about 1350 per month.
- 57,309 Turkish Cypriots are holders of Cyprus Republic Identity Cards.
- 32,185 Turkish Cypriots are holders of Cyprus Republic passports.
- 63,592 Turkish Cypriots are holders of Cyprus Republic birth certificates.
- A lot of property in affordable prices is available in the north of Cyprus? Should I be interested?
Do not to fell into the trap of purchasing property in the occupied part of Cyprus. It is true that some foreign nationals were lured with the promise of low prices. What is not advertised in these prospectuses is that more than eighty per cent of that land belongs to displaced Greek Cypriots who remain the lawful owners of their property.
Illegal Exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties by Turkey in occupied areas is a criminal offence
- Regarding international law it should be recalled that the Judgments of the ECHR in the Loizidou v. Turkey, Demades v. Turkey, Evgenia Michaelidou Developments Ltd and Michael Tymvios v. Turkey as well as in the Cyprus v. Turkey cases, confirmed that owners title to immovable properties of which they were dispossessed as a result of the Turkish invasion in 1974 and continuing occupation, remain valid and that Turkey is held responsible for the continuing violation of the home/property rights of the said persons.
- Another case is the Meletis Apostolides v. David Charles Orams and Linda Elizabeth Orams, where a Cypriot court ordered the British defendants to demolish a villa constructed on Apostolides’ land in the occupied area. The Court also ordered compensation to be paid for interference thus far on his property. The plaintiff has appealed the decision of a British court that refused to enforce the judgment against the defendants’ assets in the UK. Even so the UK court ruled that (1) the land in the so called “TRNC” is within the Republic of Cyprus, (2) the Cyprus Courts have jurisdiction over all land situated in the Republic’s territory, (3) Greek Cypriot owners of property in the Turkish-occupied area remain owners of their land, (4) laws of the “TRNC” cannot deprive owners of the title to the land and (5) persons who purport to buy or occupy land belonging to displaced Greek Cypriot owners (the true title-holders) are trespassers and must be treated as trespassers.
- On 20 October 2006 a criminal code amendment relating to property came into effect. Under the amendment, buying, selling, renting, promoting or mortgaging a property without the permission of the owner (the person whose ownership is registered with the Republic of Cyprus Land Registry, including Greek Cypriots displaced from the occupied part of Cyprus in 1974), is a criminal offence. This also applies to agreeing to sell, buy or rent a property without the owner's permission. The maximum prison sentence is 7 years. Furthermore, the amendment to the law states that any attempt to undertake such a transaction is a criminal offence and could result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years. This law is not retrospective, so will not criminalise transactions that took place before 20 October 2006. Documents relating to the purchase of property in the occupied Cyprus will be presumed by the Cypriot authorities to relate to the illegal transfer of Greek Cypriot property and may be subject to confiscation when crossing the Green Line. Anyone in possession of these documents may be asked to make a statement to the Cypriot authorities and may face criminal proceedings under the 20 October 2006 amendment.
- How do you perceive the solution of the Cyprus problem?
As pointed out in many occasions by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, our steadfast aim is a permanent, functional and viable solution for Cyprus on the agreed basis of bizonal, bicommunal federation, a political settlement to allow Cyprus to prosper without foreign interference. This is why we invested so much in the latest initiative of the United Nations to return to the negotiating table with bi-communal working groups on issues of substance and technical matters. Regrettably the Turkish side is stalling and delaying in every step and does not allow the process to commence as agreed in the common meeting of the two leaders in June 2006. It is unfortunate when given a good opportunity to heal the wounds of the past and to improve the climate in the relations of the two communities to use it just for propaganda purposes and to further promote the secessionist designs of Turkey.
In July 1974, Turkey, using as a pretext the criminal coup against President Makarios, invaded Cyprus in violation of the UN Charter and all principles governing international relations. As a result 36,7% of the island was occupied, 162.000 Greek Cypriots - about a quarter of the population - who were forcibly expelled from this area, became refugees in their own country and are still deprived of the right to return to their homes and properties. In addition about 1.493 Greek Cypriots are still missing. The blow was heavy. Byzantine churches, monuments and antiquities were destroyed or looted and many items were smuggled abroad. Sadly, the island's cultural heritage that reaches back to the 7th millennium B.C. and is part of the common heritage of mankind continues to this day to be systematically and deliberately destroyed in the occupied areas.
Moreover, about 160.000 (2005) settlers from Turkey have been transplanted illegally to the occupied part of Cyprus and given properties usurped from the expelled Greek Cypriots. At the same time Turkish Cypriots have been emigrating in large numbers, resulting in diminishing the size of the Turkish Cypriot community in the occupied part. All this, coupled with a strong military presence in the occupied areas (estimated at 43 000 Turkish troops) and an attempt to change the place names of villages and towns into Turkish ones, is clear evidence that Turkey is turning the occupied part of Cyprus into a Turkish province. A series of UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions condemned the invasion of Cyprus and occupation, demanded the return of the refugees to their homes in safety and the tracing of the missing persons and called for respect of the human rights of all Cypriots. Moreover, the European Commission of Human Rights found the Government of Turkey guilty of gross violations of human rights in Cyprus during and after the invasion.
In November 1983 Turkey instigated the announcement by the Turkish Cypriot leadership of "an independent state" in occupied Cyprus. The international community through UN Security Council Resolutions 541 of 1983 and 550 of 1984 condemned this unilateral declaration by the Turkish side, declared it both illegal and invalid, and called for the immediate withdrawal of the declaration. The opinion of the international community was ignored by Turkey but no other country has recognized the illegal regime.
Efforts to reach a solution:
Negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem have been going on intermittently since 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations. Progress in the talks has invariably been obstructed by Turkish intransigence. In December 1999 the UN embarked on yet another effort to secure a settlement on Cyprus through proximity talks, which would take full consideration of relevant UN resolutions and treaties. After an interruption of over one year, direct talks were launched on 16 January, 2002 between the then President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides, as the representative of the Greek Cypriot community, and the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. In an effort to move the process forward the UN Secretary-General presented, on 11 November, a detailed plan for a comprehensive settlement. The plan was re-submitted twice in revised form on 10 December and on 26 February, 2003. The leaders of the two communities were asked to meet the UN Secretary-General in The Hague on 10 March, 2003 for talks and to agree to put the plan to separate referenda. The Turkish Cypriot leader, however, with the support, once again, of the Government of Turkey, rejected the plan outright, leading the talks in The Hague to collapse.
On 4 February, 2004 the UN Secretary-General called for the resumption of negotiations in New York and on 13 February it was agreed that the two sides would begin negotiating in good faith on the basis of the Secretary-General's plan, seeking to agree on changes that fell within the parameters of the plan.
On 24 April, 2004 the people of Cyprus were asked to approve or reject, through separate, simultaneous referenda held by the two communities, the UN Secretary-General's revised proposal for the Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem. By a vote of 64,9% the Turkish Cypriots approved the plan, but a clear majority of 75,8% of Greek Cypriots rejected it. The Greek Cypriots felt the finalised text was not balanced and did not meet their main concerns regarding security and the functionality and viability of the solution. By their vote the Greek Cypriots did not reject the solution to the Cyprus problem which remains their primary goal. They only rejected the particular plan (Annan V) which was put before them. Greek Cypriot concerns largely centre around some serious shortcomings of the Annan Plan which did not provide for:
* The removal of foreign troops from Cyprus and the elimination of the right of foreign powers to unilaterally intervene in Cyprus;
* Adequate guarantees to ensure that the commitments undertaken by the parties involved would be
* A property recovery system that appropriately recognised the rights and interests of displaced Greek Cypriots who were forced from their homes in 1974, and a property compensation arrangement that did not require Greek Cypriots to fund their own
* The right of all Cypriots to acquire property and to live wherever they chose without restrictive
* A functional government without deadlocks or voting restrictions based on ethnicity.
On May 1, 2004 the Republic of Cyprus became a full member of the EU completing a long journey that lasted more than three decades. The President of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, along with the other EU leaders signed in Rome, on October 29, 2004, the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.
The Government of Cyprus is committed to seeking a solution of the Cyprus problem which will allow Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike, to fully enjoy the benefits and advantages of European Union membership. A settlement must allow Cyprus to function effectively within the EU and must ensure respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots as well as a peaceful, prosperous and secure future for all the citizens of the island. In view of this, the government has been working systematically towards creating the necessary conditions for substantial and constructive negotiations which will in turn lead to an agreed solution to the Cyprus problem, within the new context created by the accession of Cyprus to the European Union.