Tuesday, February 20, 2018

MR. ANASTASIADES WON THE PRESIDENCY FOR A SECOND TERM


The first round of Presidential elections in the Republic of Cyprus was held on 28 January 2018 with the participation of nine candidates. The incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades received 35.50 percent of the votes, while AKEL backed independent Stavros Malas got 30.25 percent. DİKO leader and candidate Nicolas Papadopoulos was the third candidate, who garnered 25.74 per cent and lost the chance to be in the second round. The voter turnout in the first round was 71.88%, which was the lowest for a presidential election and abstention reached 28.1%.
            Since no candidate secured 50 plus one vote, the run-off election was held one week later on 4 February 2018 between President Nicos Anastasiades and independent Stavros Malas. The winner was Nicos Anastasiades (71 years old), who received 55.99 per cent of the votes (215.281) and will stay in his post on a second five-year term.  Independent Stavros Malas (51 years old) lost the election to his rival with 44.01 per cent (169.243). The turnout in the second round was a little bit higher than the first one, 73.97%. Abstention votes reached 26.03%, invalid votes 2.65%, blank votes 2.99%.
            President Anastasiades told his followers after the results were announced that he was willing to reactivate the inter-communal peace talks, which collapsed in Switzerland last July. The AKEL criticized the President’s handling of the Cyprus problem especially during the election campaign that he bears the responsibility for the failure of talks.  Mr. Anastasiades said: “The biggest challenge we face is reunifying our country. I will continue to work with the same determination in a bid to achieve our common goal – ending foreign occupation and reunifying our state. There are no winners or losers, just Cyprus.”
            Now that Mr. Anastasiades gained more of the centrist voters, he assured his supporters that he was willing to cooperate with everyone in order to achieve the common goal – ending the Turkish occupation and reunifying the island. Mr. Anastasiades repeated that he would seek a peace deal that doesn't include Turkey's demands for a permanent troop presence and the right to intervene militarily in a federated Cyprus.
            The inter-communal talks have been going on since June 1968. The two communities living on the island, Turkish Cypriots (18%) and Greek Cypriots (80%), were trying to reach an agreement on a new constitution for the island republic, first on a unitary basis until 1974 and then on a federal basis since 1974, when the island was occupied by Turkish troops after a failed coup d’Etat against President Makarios.
            Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told in an interview with the Greek Cypriot Kathimerini newspaper on 4 February 2018 that the new Cyprus negotiations under UN parameters could only begin, when Greek Cypriots change their mentality and are willing to share power with their counterparts in the North of the island.
After the United Nations Security Council renewed the mandate of the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a period of six months on 30 January 2018, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News reported that Turkish Foreign Ministry underlined in a written statement that any process in the coming period for the resolution of the decades-old Cyprus problem should be based on “current realities” and on the fact that Turkish and Greek Cypriots have differing conceptions of a new federal state.
            Actually, here is the crux of the matter: “Current realities” are the partition of the island since 1974 with the proclamation of a breakaway state on the Turkish occupied northern part, which is ethnically cleansed from the indigenous Greek Cypriots and has more than 300,000 Anatolian settlers. Instead of a garrison of 650 Turkish soldiers, which was a part of the Treaty of Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, there are at present more than 35,000 Turkish troops stationed in the occupied area. What else Turkey wants now for the so-called security needs of the Turkish Cypriots, who are afraid of possible future attacks by the Greek Cypriot nationalists, to have a permanent sovereign base in the Northern part, similar to the one, proposed originally in the Acheson Plan of 1964. This has been a part of the Natoization plans of the island!    
            The Turkish Cypriot side went further in the inter-communal talks and asked the four freedoms for the Turkish nationals, who would remain in a re-united Cyprus. If this is accepted, it will open the way for an uncontrolled migration from Turkey to Cyprus or to the other EU member states. This possibility was already dealt in an article by Christoph B. Schiltz in German daily “Die Welt”, dated January 9, 2017, which stated that many bureaucrats in Brussels started to ask questions like "Will Erdogan step into the EU through Cyprus? Will Cyprus be Erdogan's Trojan Horse?"
            Since most of the constitutional issues are agreed upon, the issues of security and guarantee of the new Federal Republic is the most important aspect of the next phase of the inter-communal talks, which could be resolved with an international conference, with the participation of the five permanent members of the United Nations.
            In the new five-year term of President Nicos Anastasiades, I hope that a compromise can open the way to a genuine federal solution. The longer the partition lasts, the more the division solidifies.   
            Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been trying to influence the secular Turkish Cypriot community through religious and nationalist activities in the occupied area. The Turkish Cypriots have increased their complaints against the cultural and demographic changes, the alienation and islamization, designed by the occupying power, Turkey. (*)  

            (*)Erdogan expressed his anger to the criticism of the Turkish Cypriot “Afrika” newspaper, which published an article on 21 January 2018 saying that Turkey’s operation in Syria was like Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus. When Erdogan was informed about this, he called “on my brothers in North Cyprus to give necessary response”. The result was an attack by a group of local and Anatolian fascists against the office of the newspaper and against the “Parliament”.
This extreme nationalism and culture of intolerance is foreign to the secular Turkish Cypriots. That’s why around 5,000 Turkish Cypriots attended a march defending peace and democracy. The march was organised by the Trade Union Platform, which represented more than 20 Turkish Cypriot trade unions and associations. It was also backed by the New Cyprus Party, the United Cyprus Party and the Socialist Liberation Party, which are not represented in the “Parliament”. The demonstrators marched towards the ‘parliament’ building and chanted ‘shoulder to shoulder against fascism’, and for solidarity, democracy and peace.   

(published in In Depth – Special Issue – Bimonthly Electronic Newsletter, Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs, University of Nicosia, Volume 15, Issue 1 – February 2018)       

Monday, January 15, 2018

EARLY GENERAL ELECTION DID NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF COALITIONS


      The 14th general election in the northern part of Cyprus, which has been under Turkish military occupation since 1974, took place on 7 January 2018. Since 1974, this area has been ethnically cleansed from the Greek Cypriot population and the demographic structure has been changed through the settlers brought from Anatolia. A breakaway state was declared in 1983 on this territory occupied by the Turkish troops and this illegal state is recognized only by Turkey.
      In 42 years since 1976, 39 governments have been formed in this occupied area and the National Unity Party (UBP) took place in 24 of them. The UBP, supported by the separatist Turkish Cypriot leadership and its underground organization TMT, has been in power for 29 years. In the last elections, the majority of the votes went to the UBP.
       In the table below, you can see the names of the political parties that participated in the last three general elections, the percentage of votes they received and the number of seats they won in the 50-seat-parliament, shown in parentheses. The increasing number of the voters and the decreasing number of participation are also significant:

19.4.2009                   28.7.2013                    7.1.2018
UBP                                       43.97 (26)                   27.30 (14)                   35.57 (21)
CTP                                        29.34 (15)                   38.37 (21)                   20.97 (12)
DP                                          10.6 (5)                       23.11 (12)                     7.83 (3)
TDP                                                -                                  -                            8.61 (3)
  HP                                                 -                                  -                         17.10 (9)
YDP                                                -                                  -                           6.96 (2)
Number of voters                   161.373                      172.803                    190.553
Actually voted                       131.349                      120.287                    125.900
Participation (%)                     81.70                          69.61                        66.07

       As you can see from the table above, the National Unity Party (UBP) raised the number of seats from 14 to 21. The second party is the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), which used to be in opposition to the traditional Turkish Cypriot leadership and was on the left, lost 9 parliamentarians and won only 12 seats. The Head of the Democratic Party (DP) is Serdar Denktaş, the son of Rauf Denktaş, who was the founding President of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”). The number of the seats of his party has fallen from 12 to 3, despite he was in the coalition government with the UBP before the election. Only three seats went to the Communal Democracy Party (TDP), which is close to the President of the “TRNC”, Mustafa Akıncı, who represents the Turkish Cypriot community in the present inter-communal negotiations.
         There are two newly formed parties that could gain seats in their first endeavour. The People’s Party (HP), founded by Kudret Özersay, an academician, who took part in the previous negotiation team, gained 9 seats with a significant success. Prior to the formation of his party, Özersay had a stance that supports the traditional Turkish politics in the Cyprus problem and he was leading the “Clean Community Association”, bringing forward demands such as fighting corruption, transparency and good governance. 2 seats are won by the Revival Party (YDP) that represents mainly the settlers brought from Anatolia.
      It was the first time that a new electoral system was implemented and it was adopted in the parliament that allowed all settlements to be identified as a single constituency, with a mix of party lists and independent persons, as well ticking a mixed cross-party list.
        As you can see from the table above, the number of those, who went to the ballot-boxes in the last general election was the lowest. Meanwhile, the rate of invalid votes has reached the highest level with 11.7%. 67,653 voters (33.8%) did not go to the ballot-box. Besides the fact that the new electoral system has not been adopted by a significant portion of the voters, the people are not satisfied with the policies of the existing political parties and this may have increased the proportion of those who abstained from voting. There were already 379 candidates from 8 parties and 9 independents. We have to consider also that 17,000 new citizenships were granted to the Anatolian settlers before the elections, which was strongly criticised by the oppositional parties.
       The illegal state, which was created by the occupying power Turkey and was defined by the ECHR as “a subordinate local administration of Turkey”, violated the Article 49(6) of the “Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. According to this article, “The occupying power will not transfer a part of its civilian population to the region it occupies, nor will it send through exile.” Unfortunately, Turkey, have sent since 1974 more than 300 thousand civilian population as settlers to the occupied northern Cyprus and this practice continues until today.
         In the booklet of “The Basic Economic and Social Indicators”, the “State Planning Organization of the TRNC” gives the population as 326,158 in 2015, whereas the “High Electoral Council” declared before the recent elections that the population of the “TRNC” was 230,747, out of which 190,553 are eligible to vote. De facto population was supposed to be 299,514 in 2016.  
        The local government granted the settlers the citizenship of the “TRNC” and distributed them the homes and the agricultural land that had been abandoned by the Greek Cypriots in 1974. They were given the right to vote together with the indigenous Turkish Cypriots for the general and local elections so that the collaborationist governments could maintain their power. Furthermore, they took part also in the voting of the Annan Plan.
        When we evaluate the results obtained in this early general election, we can see that the right-wing and non-solution political parties have won the majority of the votes. The positive outcome of 60:40 on the Annan Plan is now reversed and the parties that are in favour of a non-solution have a superiority with 70:30. In the campaigns run by the political parties before the last early election, which was held six months after the failure of the last round of the inter-communal talks in Switzerland, there was no debate whatsoever about the solution of the Cyprus problem. Although mainly the internal issues have been raised, no political party has presented a convincing project for their concrete solution.
       The new distribution of seats in the parliament indicates that a coalition government will be formed, rather than a stable government. The authorities in Ankara have already begun to work in order to transform the existing parliamentary regime in the occupied area into a presidential regime, similar to the one in Turkey.
      AK Party Istanbul deputy Burhan Kuzu shared the following statement in his twitter account related to the elections held in the “TRNC”: “Today, there was an election in the TRNC. A majority government did not emerge. Three governments were formed in the last four years. Obviously, this system doesn’t work in the TRNC. My recommendation is that they should go to the Presidential System. As a scholar who has studied 40 years the architecture of bringing this system to Turkey, I’m ready to give them my service.”  
       Already the Directorate of the Aid Mission of the Turkish Embassy in Northern Nicosia and the “Prime Ministry of the TRNC” commissioned the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey to look into the existing electoral system in the “TRNC” and a report was published in April 2013. Under the title “The State of the TRNC Functional-Institutional Review Study”, the report reads as follows: “In case of a revision of the electoral system, it is recommended that the election districts in accordance with the district boundaries should be abandoned and that a single constituency be formed to cover the entire territory of the TRNC.” (pp. 23-24)
      Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu gave a statement after the election results were announced and asked the Turkish Cypriot politicians to stop saying that they will not participate in a certain coalition government, which was regarded as a clear order and a message sent to the public. A group of Turkish Cypriot Trade Unions issued a protest declaration and condemned Çavuşoğlu’s interference with the internal affairs of the Turkish Cypriot community. 
      In the coming days, Turkey’s socio-political engineering plans, which will be applied in the occupied part of Cyprus, will become clearer. 

UPDATE:
     On 19 January 2018, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his anger against Afrika newspaper, which wrote that Turkey’s military operation in Syria was similar to Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus. Erdogan reacted to Afrika’s main title with this call:  “What is necessary must be done by our friends in North Cyprus!” One day later, on 20 January 2018, an angry mob of ultra-nationalist Turkish settlers from the AKP’s youth organization, which had the support of some civilian organizations and ‘municipalities’, gathered outside the building of the Afrika newspaper and threw stones and eggs against its windows. Two protesters climbed on the balcony and removed the paper’s signboards from the wall in front of police’s eyes. The protesters attempted also to enter into the building, but the police prevented them.  The demonstration was turned into a lynching operation with slogans such as “Allah is most great.” Protests were made as well against the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who came to attend the first session of the ‘parliament’ on the opposite corner of the Afrika’s office.  He was jeered by the mob outside Afrika, when he approached to calm down the situation, but he was forced to get in his car and leave the scene with the help of his bodyguards. 
     The crowds were dispersed by riot police, but they then made their way to the ‘parliament’ where ‘deputies’ were being sworn-in after the elections on 7 January 2018. Two men managed to climb on top of the building from which they waved Turkish flags and a flag frequently waved at rallies by supporters of Turkey’s nationalist Good Party.
     CTP’s ‘deputy’ Dogus Derya was booed during her swearing-in by Nationalist Unity Party lawmakers and the protesters in the ‘parliament’. She reacted shouting “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism”. This caused the reaction of Bertan Zaroglu, ‘deputy’ with the settlers’ Revival Party (YDP), who threw a paper to Derya, something which caused tension in the room.  All these incidents were watched through a live broadcasting on television and shocked the ordinary Turkish Cypriots.
       A “Peace and Democracy March” was held on the evening of 26 January 2018 under the pouring rain in Nicosia in order to protest against the violent attacks by the ultra-nationalists. Around 5,000 Turkish Cypriots took part at this march, which was organized by the Trade Union Platform that represented 21 organizations. It ended up in front of the ‘parliament’ and Afrika newspaper, where a declaration of the Platform was read.
      On 2 February 2018, the prime minister-designate Tufan Erhurman presented his cabinet to the President Akinci. The cabinet, which was approved by Akinci is made up of following members: Tufan Erhurman (CTP), Prime Minister; Kudret Ozersay (HP), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Aysegul Baybars Kadri (HP), Minister of Interior; Serdar Denktas (DP), Minister of Finance; Cemal Ozyigit (TDP), Minister of National Education and Culture; Zeki Celer (TDP), Minister of Labour and Social Security; Filiz Besim (CTP), Minister of Health; Tolga Atakan (HP) , Minister of Public Works and Communications; Fikri Ataoglu (DP), Minister of Tourism and Environment; Ozdil Nami (CTP), Minister of Economy and Energy; Erkut Sahali (CTP), Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
       In the meantime, CTP Famagusta ‘deputy’ Teberruken Ulucay has been elected as the speaker of the parliament, while Zorlu Tore from the main opposition UBP has been elected as the deputy speaker. The government received the vote of confidence on 15 February. While 27 deputies voted in favour of the new government, 22 deputies voted against it. One MP did not attend the session. According to the constitution, no party or group of deputies can table a motion of no confidence for the first three months after a vote of confidence is secured.
      The six men, charged for the attacks against Afrika newspaper and the ‘parliament’ building, have been sentenced on 21 February 2018 to between two and six months in prison. Judge Tacan Reynar, who was presiding over the case, found all of the six accused guilty of the charges of unlawful assembly, rioting, causing damage to property and inflicting intentional harm.
     On 7 March 2018, contacts were held in Ankara by ‘prime minister’ Tufan Erhurman (CTP) and ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay (HP) with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
    Havadis newspaper reported on 9 March 2018 that “everything was discussed” during these meetings and described as “interesting at first sight” the fact that the ‘finance minister’ Serdar Denktas (DP) was not included in the Turkish Cypriot delegation. A full harmony was exhibited on the Cyprus problem. The privatization of the “telecommunications authority”, the decrease of the number of “municipalities” and the “citizenship” were issues to which the government in Ankara attached importance. 
   Dogan News Agency reported on 13 March 2018 that President Erdogan asked for more “citizenship” to be given up to one million so that the population of the occupied area would be able to compete economically with the same population of the Greek Cypriots!

(published in In Depth, Bimonthly Electronic Newsletter, Volume 15, Issue 2 - March 2018, Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs,  University of Nicosia) 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

EXTERNAL ASPECT OF THE CYPRUS PROBLEM


In the “Special Issue: The Cyprus Problem” of the “In Depth” bimonthly Electronic Newsletter, published in February 2017, I dealt with the internal aspect of the Cyprus problem under the title “Uncertainties at the Cyprus negotiations.” In this issue, I shall point out the uncertainties about the external aspect, mainly the security and the guarantee issues in a possible agreement.

INTERNAL SECURITY
According to the new guarantee formula that the Greek Cypriot side has brought to the table, first 75% of Turkish troops will be withdrawn and the remaining 25% will be withdrawn within a predetermined time (e.g. 18 months) under UNFICYP supervision. (The Turkish Cypriot side did not accept this. They insist that the Turkish Cypriot constituent state, whenever it is needed, should have always the unilateral right of calling Turkey for intervention.)

Internal security was organized in three stages: First, there will be a police force at the constituent state level, comprising 60% Greek Cypriot and 40% Turkish Cypriot policemen, who will serve at their desks, i.e. 5,000 in the south and 3,100 in the north.

The second phase is at the federal level, with 500 police officers at a proportion of 50: 50%, units with the authority of using weapons would serve in emergency response and in federal criminal investigation bureau. The local police of the Turkish Cypriot state will ask for help from the federal government if it is difficult.

In the third stage, the UN Security Council will have an international police force of 2,500 people. This police force will provide personnel from the EU countries outside Greece and the UK and from third countries outside Turkey. This multinational police force to be formed immediately after the settlement will not interfere in any way with the internal arrangement of the United Cyprus and it will function for five years and will be placed on the border between the two constituent states, after the Turkish troops have withdrawn completely from the island. According to Article 6 of the UN Constitution, there will be only light weapons and no authority to interfere with conflicts.

The international police force will only be activated if there is a threat and international peace is in danger. This is a comment by the Security Council based on political criteria and interests and it requires a number of other measures, such as implementing the 7th Article, the economic embargo before the military measures and/or the sea and air bombings.

EXTERNAL SECURITY AND GUARANTEES
Great Britain and Greece, three of the NATO countries that guaranteed the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, seem eager to give up their rights in the new era.

Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias made a proposal to sign a Treaty of Friendship and Stabilization between Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. Through this treaty, it was announced that safety valves could be added to various subjects.

Turkey, on the other hand, requires a structure, as in 1960, not only for the United Cyprus Republic, but also for the constituent states, in which the territorial integrity, security and constitutional order are guaranteed. Three Turkish formulas have been put forward regarding the guarantees:

1. A formula, in which NATO is involved,
2. The guarantee of a Turkish base within the Turkish Cypriot province and commanded by the Turkish commander,
3. The Turkish guarantor will remain for only the Turkish Cypriots after the settlement. In this regard, no agreement has yet been reached.

SOVEREIGN MILITARY BASE
It is understood that Turkey's proposal is not to assure the physical security of the Turkish Cypriots or the implementation of the resolution, but rather to raise the geo-strategic demands of her own country. Although Turkey had leaked to the press that she wanted to limit her right to interfere with island’s internal affairs, only to the Turkish Cypriot province, but later Turkey wanted to keep a sovereign military base within the Turkish state to be formed in the northern part of the island. This would be commanded by a Turkish commander and its duration would not be fixed.

Turkish President Erdogan wanted to give the message that Turkey will always stay in Cyprus with guarantees and her troops, in a statement he gave immediately after the end of the five-party conference in Geneva in the middle of January 2017. Erdogan demanded that the closed territory of Famagusta be given to the Greek Cypriot side, while the territory of Kokkina and Morphou would be combined and given to the Turkish Cypriot side. "Do not wait for Karpasia and the shoreline" he added. This meant that the Pirgo-Dilliria regions would be given to the control of the constituent Turkish Cypriot state.

According to the Greek Cypriot press, the occupation army has recently developed facilities in the Kokkina region and the Republic of Cyprus also was asked for some facilities, but these requests were rejected. After this rejection, 250 concrete and other materials were transported by sea to this region. According to the evaluations made, this development of the region is related to the military base the Turkish side wants to establish in Cyprus in case of a solution. According to the Turkish proposal, this base will be sovereign and 2,500 troops will settle here.


RECOGNIZING THE RIGHT OF FOUR FREEDOMS TO THE CITIZENS OF TURKEY, THE CITIZENS OF A NON-EU MEMBER
It was described as "very serious", when Turkey demanded, especially during the discussions on the Cyprus issue, that the EU's 4 freedoms (free movement of people, goods, services and capital) should be granted to Turkish citizens and the Greek Cypriot side stated that it did not consider this demand to deal with Cyprus negotiations.

President Nicos Anastasiades sent a letter to the European Commission on January 30, 2017, saying that "Ankara made a blackmail with her demand for 4 freedoms" and, if recognized, "this will have very serious and unprecedented effects not only on Cyprus, but also on the EU and its member states".

The newspaper wrote that Anastasiades received positive responses from the European countries, saying that so far some EU member states were against to the granting of 4 freedoms to Turkish citizens and Bulgaria responded in the same way the day before.

The Fileleftheros newspaper, dated 4 April 2017, informed that a joint procedure of Washington, London, Brussels and the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide was being followed that the demand for the recognition of 4 freedoms would be recognized for the Turkish citizens after the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Under the title of "The US has 4 freedoms in the background", the Fileleftheros newspaper, based on the information it received, reported that the United States was included in the "game" of support for the request of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, through Jonathan Cohen, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The newspaper claims that Cohen gave the EU the opinion that the Turkish request should be fulfilled and that Brussels does not oppose this view and that, based on the same information, he also claimed that the issue of equal treatment for the Turkish citizens was also on the agenda, whereas they are not aware of the rights the Greek citizens in Cyprus have acquired from the EU membership.

The newspaper also said that in case the EU demands, Cohen would be able to provide equal treatment for Turkish and Greek Citizens in Cyprus by "simulating exercises" through the combination of previously applied models, including "Kaliningrad" or "Portugal". He was also informed that preparations could be made for that. It has also been suggested that Brussels will act in a way that Cyprus will have a special status in the EU, in accordance with "previous models".

Regarding the free movement of goods, the newspaper claimed that Turkey is working on the combination of "Customs Union with the EU" and "Providing mutual facilities" between the Federal Republic of Cyprus and Ankara.

In its news comment on 5 March 2017, the Fileleftheros newspaper wrote under the title "EU: Four Freedom with the Portuguese-Brazilian Model" that there are hopes for the creation of a perspective for the resumption of the negotiations on the Cyprus issue, if the influential circles in Brussels examine the “similar examples” for the realization of the Turkish demands for 4 freedoms for her citizens in Cyprus.

The newspaper wrote that the influential circles worked on the example of Portugal, which provided the privileged treatment of the EU, before allowing it to join the EU, by granting work permits to workers from Brazil depending on the special relationship between the two countries.

The newspaper reported that there is a significant difference between the Portuguese example and the situation in Cyprus and that Portugal was not an EU member, when it demanded this privilege, whereas Cyprus has been an EU member state since 13 years.

After a blockage of the inter-communal negotiations, the Greek Cypriot press wrote that the UN has prepared some important bridging proposals between the external security aspect of the Cyprus problem and the internal constitutional aspect, like the rotating presidency. We shall be seeing the results, when the two leaders meet in New York.


(published in In Depth, Bimonthly Electronic Newsletter, Volume 14, Issue 3- June 2017, Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs,  University of Nicosia)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

AN OVERVIEW OF THE CYPRUS PROBLEM



The Cyprus problem has been the legacy of the British colonial “divide and rule” policy. When the British occupied the island in 1878, ending a 300-year period of Ottoman rule that had begun in 1571, the British preferred to keep the existing structures of education in Cyprus. The Christian Greek Cypriot and the Moslem Turkish Cypriot schools were kept separate from one another. There were two Boards of Education, which ensured that the curriculums of the two communities mirrored those in Greece and Turkey respectively. Thus the nationalism of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots did not originate from the local historical circumstances, but the nationalist ideas were imported to the island through the teachers, books and newspapers that came from Greece and Turkey. This nationalism was encouraged by the British colonial administration and the British tried to disseminate it among the unconscious masses of people in accordance to their traditional policy of ‘divide and rule’.
           Following the annexation of Cyprus by the British Empire in 1914, the new Republic of Turkey gave up all of her rights on Cyprus, when the Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923. This was confirmed in 1925, when Britain declared Cyprus as a Crown Colony – a status it retained until 1960.
The Communist Party of Cyprus, which was established in 1926, had a political programme of acquiring independence of the island and it was envisaged to become a part of the Socialist Balkan Federation. But after the nationalist rebellion of the Greek Cypriots in 1931, the British banned all the political activities and abolished the Legislative Council, where a Turkish Cypriot member voted together with the Greek Cypriot members some months ago.
             During the Second World War, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots fought and served together, on the side of Great Britain, on various fronts and at home, they organised  themselves in the same trade unions against the difficult economic conditions. In 1941, the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus (AKEL) was established and it adopted a policy for the union (enosis) of the island with Greece. This was the biggest obstacle for the cooperation with the Turkish Cypriots, who saw it as a danger to their existence.
            In 1955, the Greek Cypriots started a terror campaign against the British colonial administration with the final aim of union of the island with Greece. It was in 1955 that Turkey was made again a party to the Cyprus problem with the London Conference and in 1956 Turkey and the collaborationist Turkish Cypriot leadership adopted the British plans, which aimed at the partition of the island (taksim) as a political solution.
The Turkish Cypriot youth became auxiliary police and commandoes in order to fight against the Greek Cypriot fighters. When the Greek Cypriot underground organization, the EOKA, killed the Turkish Cypriot members of the security forces, the Turkish Cypriot underground organization, the TMT, began to kill the Greek Cypriots in retaliation.
Both organizations were anti-communist oriented and they killed also progressive Cypriots. The TMT killed in 1958 some members of the progressive Turkish Cypriot trade unions and forced the others to resign from the common trade unions, thus destroying the foundations of the common political struggle.
            At the end of the conflict, neither the Greek Cypriots’ aim for enosis, nor the Turkish Cypriots’ aim for taksim were materialized, but a limited independence was given to a new partnership Republic of Cyprus, which was established in 1960. The British maintained their sovereignty over the two military bases. Both enosis and taksim policies were banned in the constitution. The guarantors of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the new state were members of the NATO, i.e. Britain, Greece and Turkey and they did not want to see a Cypriot state, free of their influences.
            The Turkish Cypriots, having 18% of the island’s population, were given 30% share in the administration of the new Republic of Cyprus. This was not digested by the Greek Cypriots. Archbishop Makarios, the President of the Republic, did not believe in the idea of creating a new Cypriot nation. He told to an Italian newspaper that the London Agreements created a new state, but not a new nation. On the other hand, the Turkish Cypriot leadership did not believe in the new partnership Republic and continued its separatist policies.
Two Turkish Cypriot advocates, Ahmet Gurkan and Ayhan Hikmet, started to publish on the day of independence a weekly newspaper, called “Cumhuriyet” (The Republic), where they waged with other progressive Turkish Cypriots a struggle for the cooperation of the two main communities in Cyprus in the new state. For the first time, the ideas of Cypriotism were being propagated through an oppositional newspaper and later they established a political party. The writers of the “Cumhuriyet” newspaper were supporting the independence of Cyprus, condemning the aim of union of the island with another nation or state and they wanted that Cyprus should belong to its own people, the Cypriots. Unfortunately these staunch supporters of the Republic of Cyprus were killed by the TMT on 23 April 1962, on the pretext that they served the interests of the Greek Cypriots. In 1965, Dervish Ali Kavazoglu, who was a Turkish Cypriot member of the Central Committee of the AKEL, was murdered together with his Greek Cypriot trade-unionist friend. He was against the partitionist policies of the Turkish Cypriot leadership and for the friendship and cooperation of the two communities in Cyprus. These actions of intimidation silenced the democratic opposition within the Turkish Cypriot community.
In the 1960’s, contrary to the processes in Europe, many African and Asian states were formed before the consolidation of a nation. In the case of Cyprus, this fragile partnership lasted only three years. In December 1963, the President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios tried to change the 13 points of the constitution by abolishing the veto power of the Turkish Cypriot Vice-President Dr. Kuchuk. The inter-communal clashes started and at the beginning of 1964, the Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the state apparatus. This conflict of nationalisms between the pro-union Greek Cypriot leadership and the pro-partition Turkish Cypriot leadership complicated the solution of the ethnic-national question in Cyprus. The unity of action and aim of the Cypriots could not be developed under a common shared aim and this was exploited by the imperialist powers.
            On 21 December 1963, inter-communal clashes started and the underground organizations, which had their connections with the foreign powers, became influential again in both communities. The Greek Cypriot leadership was aiming the union of the island with Greece and the Turkish Cypriot leadership was planning to create the conditions for the partition of the island. Now Cyprus problem was once again on the international arena.
            We read in a working paper, prepared by Donald A. Wehmeyer, a US legal adviser, on 11 December 1963 that a Treaty of Joint Sovereignty between Greece and Turkey was proposed. Wehmeyer added to his memorandum “Outline of Possible Cyprus Settlement” an important ingredient for a solution, which would be more attractive to Turkey: Cyprus should be divided into provinces. Certain provinces would be administered mainly by Turkish Cypriots and this would create an illusion of partition or federation. (Claude Nicolet, United States Policy Towards Cyprus, 1954-1974: Removing the Greek-Turkish Bone of Contention”, Germany, 2001, p.226 and 229)
Salahi R. Sonyel writes that the British government hit upon an interesting solution, which was the reconstruction of Cyprus as a federal solution:
“Thus on 3 January (1964), Sir Francis Vallat asked H.G.Darwin, a constitutional expert, to produce a paper examining the possibility of dividing Cyprus into a Turkish and a Greek area, which might be formed into a federal state. Even if such a plan was feasible a number of problems were foreseen in its application. Darwin composed a memorandum, in which he suggested a federation of two states, one predominantly of Greek, and the other of Turkish populations. He also suggested an exchange of population in order to realise the Turkish state. The capital of the Turkish state would be Kyrenia.” (Cyprus, The Destruction of a Republic and its Aftermath, British Document 1960-1974, Extended second edition, Ankara 2003, pp.78-78)
In the summer of 1964, Makarios rejected the Acheson Plan, which was discussed in Geneva and which envisaged the union of Cyprus with Greece on the condition that a military base would be given to Turkey in Karpas peninsula. President Makarios was re-elected in 1968 with his new policy of “feasible solution”, instead of enosis.
We read again from Nicolet’s book: “Acheson was fully indulging himself in studying the different proposals that had emerged in Washington throughout spring of 1964. In Brands’ words, “he was ready to devise a plan that would eliminate the Cyprus problem by eliminating Cyprus.” A suggestion he was particularly intrigued with was Don Wehmeyer’s scheme of 24 April, providing enosis with an illusion of partition or federation to the Turks by the establishment of certain provinces to be administered by Turkish Cypriot eparchs, as he cabled to Ball on 8 July. (Nicolet, ibid, p.257)
And this was finally realized with a so-called “controlled intervention” (Nicolet, ibid, p.213)  in the summer of 1974, which was decided by the Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, Christos Ksantopoulos-Palamas and the Turkish Foreign Minister, Osman Olcay. The two ministers met on 3-4 June 1971 during the NATO ministerial meeting in Lisbon and discussed how to get rid of Makarios and put an end to the independence of the Republic of Cyprus by partitioning the island through “double enosis”.
            As the imperialist foreign powers and their tools on the island were against the independent development of the Republic of Cyprus, which followed a non-aligned foreign policy, they were continuously inciting nationalistic and anti-communist feelings among the island’s population. We observe again in this period that a Cypriot consciousness could not be developed to a sufficient degree.
From 1968 until 1974, various rounds of inter-communal negotiations were carried out without signing a final agreement.  A de facto situation was created by an aborted coup d’Etat against President Makarios, organized by the fascist Greek junta and its military forces in Cyprus on 15 July 1974. This created an opportunity for Turkey to intervene five days later to the internal affairs of Cyprus. Turkey occupied the 37% of the northern part of the island and on 16 August 1974, on the 16th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Cyprus, the island’s territory was partitioned into two regions, one in the North for the Turkish Cypriots and the other in the South for the Greek Cypriots.
In a declassified Secret Memorandum sent from Helmut Sonnenfeld, Counselor of the US State Department to Secretary Henry Kissinger on 14 August 1974, the directive was the following:
“Assuming the Turks quickly take Famagusta, privately assure Turks, we will get them a solution involving one third of the island, within some kind of federal arrangement.” (Cyprus Weekly, 10 August 2007)
            The Greek Cypriots were forced to leave the occupied areas and the Turkish Cypriots living in south of the cease-fire line were transported to the northern part. A bi-regional, ethnically cleansed geographical division was attained de facto. It remained to form a de jure central government for the “federation”, which was the aim of the Turkish government since 1964. The new state of affairs forced the Turkish Cypriots to have closer relationship with Turkey. The Turkish Cypriots became under the direct influence of the mainland Turkish economy, politics and culture.
            The Autonomous Turkish Cypriot Administration declared first on 13 February 1975 the “Cyprus Turkish Federated State” and then announced a unilateral declaration of independence on 15 November 1985, under the name “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, on the Turkish occupied territory of the island. This was condemned immediately by a resolution of the Security Council of the UN. Several rounds of inter-communal talks could not bring the two communities together under a bi-communal federal umbrella and the island remains since 1974 partitioned, occupied and colonized. Besides the Turkish Occupation Army of 40,000 troops, there are more than 250,000 Anatolian settlers, living in the northern part of the island and most of them are given the citizenship of the “TRNC”. Northern Cyprus has become a colony of Turkey, where the number of the indigenous Turkish Cypriots are estimated to be around 120,000.
            We observed that especially after 1974, two different identities have emerged: One in the north of the divide, possessing the separatist “TRNC” as an expression of Turkish Cypriots’ nationalist identity and another one in the south of the divide, as the sole owner of the Cypriot state, which has distinctively a Greek Cypriot character.
            In order to reach at a common goal, there should be common political parties of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, seeking common political aims. The full equality of all the communities living on the island in the fields of politics, economy and culture could only be achieved through common political parties, which will fight for a democratic federal state and against all kinds of separatism and discrimination.
            A correct policy for the solution of the problem of nationalities is indispensable and this is the responsibility of the party of the working class, the AKEL. Unless the AKEL review its policy for the Turkish Cypriots and turn to them, no step forwards could be achieved with the existing nationalist policies and this would consolidate the partition of the island.  
            Another point of view, which should not be overlooked is that the solution of the problem in the concrete conditions of Cyprus depends on one hand on the elimination of the influences of imperialism and neo-colonialism and the military bases and on the other hand to decide how to solve the internal question of nationalities, which I see as the main issue. But the determining factor here is not the difference between the two communities. On the contrary, it has to be stressed that the class struggle in the whole country and in the international arena will be decisive.
It seems that the following fear of the imperialists is still valid, first mentioned in the 1989 International Yearbook of Communist Affairs: “If the north and the south of Cyprus will be united in a future “Federal Cyprus”, the electoral power of the Greek and Turkish communists can win the majority of the votes in any Presidential elections of such an unusual government. But here the crucial problem is not, as the bourgeois circles suggest, “which   community will govern the other one”, but “which class will have the power in his hand on the whole of the island.

(Paper read at the Emergency 4th Euro-Mediterranean Workers’ Conference, organized by Balkan Socialist Center “Christian Rakovsky” and the RedMed web network, in Athens-Greece, on 26-28 May 2017)


Thursday, March 2, 2017

UNCERTAINTIES AT THE CYPRUS NEGOTIATIONS


In Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 as a result of the occupation of the northern part of the island by Turkey, a new set of the intercommunal negotiations have been going on since mid-May 2015 between President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Akıncı, in order to reunite the island under a federal umbrella, but there are some uncertainties, which draw attention as follows:  

1. The two sides have agreed that the constituent federal states shall have the right to enter into agreements with foreign governments and international organizations on matters falling within their jurisdiction. These areas cover culture (including arts, education and sports), tourism and economic investment (including financial support).

According to the information given to the Turkish Cypriot press, the constituent states may only want the Federal Foreign Office to be in operation, if they need it! But the Greek Cypriot side said the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs will not need to ratify, as the agreements will involve the entire state in a cooperative effort with the constituent state.
Since the education is left to the powers of the constituent states, it is a matter of debate how federal state citizens will be educated in a federalist and unifying manner, whereas the nationalistic prejudices have been strong for many years. This issue is important in the context of the dependencies of the Turkish Cypriot statelet on Turkey in all aspects since 1974.

2. The Turkish Cypriot side has accepted in the past that the proportion of the territory of the constituent federal state in the north could fall from today’s 36% to 29% +. The Greek Cypriot side has prepared two maps, which envisage that 28.5% of the territory will be left to the Turkish Cypriot side, but the talks on territory have not yet ended.

The Greek Cypriot side suggested that if the establishment of cantons in the areas of Karpasia and Maronite villages were accepted, Morfou could also be a special administrative area for the central government.

The Turkish Cypriot does not accept the creation of special territories, mass population migrations and the reduction of the coastline. (According to official data of the Central Command of the British Sovereign Base Areas, 316.19 km of the coastline of Cyprus is controlled today by Southern Cyprus and 420.55 km by Northern Cyprus.) Moreover, it insists that the borderline between the two constituent states must be flat!

3. According to the agreement reached on the population, there will be 800,000 Greek Cypriots in the south and 220,000 Turkish Cypriots in the north. However, the Turkish side wants to add 30,000 Turkish Cypriots living abroad to this 220,000.

An interesting point is that Mr. Anastasiadis, in response to the question put by the Chairman of the Citizens’ Alliance, Georgos Lillikas, about the source of the number of accepted 220,000 Turkish Cypriot citizens, answered that the number of Greek Cypriots registered in the Statistical Office of the Republic of Cyprus was deliberately increased from 667,000 (2011 Census) to 800,000 in order to provide legitimacy to the 100,000, who are Turkish citizens!

According to the latest official census, conducted in 2011 in the occupied territory, the number of permanent residents is 286,257. The number of those born in Cyprus (“TRNC” and Southern Cyprus) was 160,207 (56.0%) and 104,641 (36.6%) were born in Turkey. As it is known, after 1974, Turkey moved population to the occupied territory in order to change the demographic structure of the island and this is contrary to the 1949 Geneva Convention. It is a fact that these settlers, who were granted citizenship of the “TRNC”, also voted for the Annan Plan, but this does not mean that they are legally located in the island.

On the other hand, President Anastasiades said that the number of Turkish Cypriots registered as Cypriot or have a passport or ID card is 117,544 and that there are at least 12,500 Turkish Cypriots, who did not apply or did not sign up, and thus the number of Turkish Cypriots reached 130,000.

Anastasiades said that the total number of Turkish nationals, formed by mixed marriages and their born children, did not exceed 90,000, but later he said that this figure was “a wrong number spelled out” and led to reactions. Anastasiades told that about 40,000 Turkish settlers will stay in the island and that this figure is much less than the Greek Cypriots had accepted in the past.

,In addition, Anastasiades noted that 25,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the United Kingdom have not applied to the Republic of Cyprus and that the number of Turkish Cypriots, included in the figure of 220,000, has increased to 155,000. It was estimated that the total number of mixed marriages and their children was 25,000 this time, making a total of 180,000 Turkish Cypriot population. Thus, he reduced the number of Turkish settlers, who would gain legitimacy, to 40,000.

Akıncı stated that the number of Turkish Cypriot citizens is taken as 220,000 persons, instead of 286,257 as mentioned above and he explained that all the “TRNC” citizens will be citizens of the new federal state and the EU in the future without difference of origin. Underlining that the work permits of the non-citizens will be renewed and they will continue to work, Akıncı emphasized that the work-force required by the economy will continue to be in Cyprus. He stated that the wish of the Turkish Cypriots is that the needed workforce should remain in the island.

The New Birth Party, formed by the settlers from Turkey, directed the following questions to Akıncı: "Anastasiades said 90,000 people will stay. Who are meant by the words, those who originate from Turkey? How are they determined? What is the status of the spouses in mixed marriages and what will happen to the children born in “TRNC”?

According to the Greek Cypriot press reports, it is estimated that between 90 and 120 thousand citizens of the Republic of Turkey will remain in the island. If it is the case, the Turkish Cypriots will be a minority in their own constituent state. In order to find out the real composition of the population, it is necessary to have a census, monitored by UN or another reliable organization.

This issue is important also for the EU. Because, if the composition of the population in the northern federal state is dominated by the settlers of Turkish descent, the impact of Turkey, which is not a member of the EU, may be decisive in Cyprus's foreign policy issues and this will cause dispute within the EU. Already, many bureaucrats in Brussels have asked "Will Erdogan step on to the territory of the EU through Cyprus? Will Cyprus be Erdogan's Trojan Horse?" Moreover, Turkey has demanded that four freedoms should be valid for its citizens in Cyprus that will remain to be a EU country after the solution.

4. The number of Greek Cypriots, who will live in the federal state in the north, has been constrained in terms of four freedoms and the ethnic cleansing after the 1974 war has also become permanent. The Turkish Cypriot side explained that there is difference between the legal domicile and the right of abode, which has no political or other right. Moreover, for any person, who would apply for "internal citizenship", s/he should be able to know and to use the native language in the North perfectly. Apart from the right to stay, for example, there will be no political right to vote. "Domestic citizenship", i.e. legal residence will be entitled maximum up to 20% of the population of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state. It is thought that thus, the majority of the Turkish Cypriot population in its own state will not be threatened in any way.

MORE DISPUTES
There are 183 topics, which have not yet been agreed upon, as reflected in the minutes of the negotiations. Among these are some of the demands of the Turkish Cypriot side:

1. Although there has already been a rapprochement in the idea of a “single ticket” for the election of the President and the Vice-President, the Turkish Cypriot side has clearly indicated during the process of negotiating the subject of “Governance” that "Cross voting" is a package with the subjects of “Rotating Presidency” and the choice of the ministers to be preferred by both communities. Thus a cleavage was formed.

2. The Turkish Cypriot side believes that the subject of Primary Law is not yet closed. However, Peter van Nuffel, EU Commissioner in Charge of the Negotiations, said that the Final Agreement must be approved in the national parliaments of the EU member countries, which is a very difficult argument.

3. The Turkish Cypriot side insisted on the FIR for having two separate air traffic control centres. The Greek Cypriot side did not discuss this and suggested that there should be two control towers for approaching 20 km to the airport.

4. It was agreed that the casinos would be under federal juristiction. However, according to the convergence reached, the operating conditions and rules will not be applied to the existing casino facilities in the occupied area.

5. The Turkish Cypriot side has not yet provided the required data for organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank that are examining the economic aspect of the solution.

FINAL UNDERTAKINGS
After the political agreement is reached there are technical issues that need to be discussed and resolved. Some of them are: The writing of the constitutions of the constituent states and the federal state, which should be in harmony with each other, the list of international agreements, the federal laws and even the detailed writing of the coordinates of the territory. Besides the ones mentioned above, it has been reported that the UN provided a list of 103 items, including flag, anthem, civil servants, demining, etc., which should be realized before the agreement. Of course, once the internal aspects of the Cyprus dispute are resolved in this way, securing the newly established order, if necessary, by the UN or the EU, will be discussed at an international meeting. 

(Published in "In Depth", Bimonthly Electronic Newsletter, Special Issue: The Cyprus Problem, Volume 14, Issue 1- February 2017, © 2016 Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs • University of Nicosia)