Papadopoulos faces summons
Greek Cypriot president Tassos
Papadopoulos may be called as a witness in a libel case in Cyprus. The case
concerns allegations in the FT that his former law firm was linked to the
illegal transfer of billions of dollars from Belgrade to Cyprus during UN
embargoes against Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The president, the law firm Tassos
Papadopoulos & Co and another partner in the firm are suing the FT for libel
Mr Papadopoulos, who in 2002 was
leader of the Democratic party and a presidential candidate, was named by
the FT as a member of “Cyprus’ close-knit elite”, which “instead of taking
measures against Yugoslav sanctions busting facilitated the transactions”. Sanctions-busting
is thought to have bankrolled at least two Balkan wars in the 1990s.
According to the articles, Mr
Papadopoulos’ law firm registered on the island Yugoslav offshore companies
subsequently identified in a UN war crimes report as fronts for
money-laundering operations orchestrated by the regime of Slobodan
Milosevic. The articles quoted from an interview by Mr Papadopoulos with a
Cypriot newspaper in 2002, where he admitted his law office set up the
companies but denied money laundering. He further denies any wrongdoing.
The law firm dismisses the FT’s
reports as malicious, because of the imputation that the plaintiffs were
involved in unlawful activities or were professionals of “questionable
Since becoming president, Mr
Papadopoulos has left the law firm. But Pavlos Angelides, chief lawyer for
the FT, aims to put the head of state on the stand.
The trial has focused on the
testimony of Pambos Ioannides, a one-time associate of Mr Papadopoulos.
Mr Ioannides read a deposition,
saying one of the law firm’s clients, a Cyprus unit of a Serbian bank,
Beogradska, did get cash flown in from its main office in Serbia to help it
continue its operations after sanctions began. The Central Bank of Cyprus
had verified the cash transfers were legally sound.
“The plaintiffs are not aware that
any of their clients...violated any sanctions against Yugoslavia or broke
any laws,” he said.
The trial was adjourned.
'considers impact of reunified Cyprus'
The implications of eventual
reunification of Cyprus have been raised as a factor in its suitability for
joining the eurozone, according to the Greek finance minister.
The move by the European Central
Bank is unusual because of its political implications.
The ECB will next week publish its
assessment of Cyprus's bid to join the 13-member currency union on January 1
next year. The European Commission is due to issue a separate report: both
are expected to give a green light for membership
But George Alogoskoufis, the Greek
finance minister, says he expects the ECB to raise concerns about the
implications for Cyprus if the richer, Greek part of the island reunites
with the poorer Turkish north.
"The question of what would be the
fiscal implications of the reunification of the island was raised by the ECB,"
said Mr Alogoskoufis, an ally of the Greek Cypriot government in Nicosia.
Such issues are seen as highly
political by the Greek Cypriot authorities, who do not recognise the
legitimacy of the Turkish-speaking northern administration.
Cypriot officials say the impact of
reunification on the island's economy would be minimal because of the
relatively small size of the Turkish statelet.
But economists warn that inflation
could accelerate because of a "catch-up" effect in wages and prices in the
north, while the cost of setting up a federal administration for the
reunified island would drive public spending to record levels.
Some Greek Cypriot officials are
concerned that if reunification is delayed, the euro may be unofficially
adopted in the north, where Cyprus pounds are widely used although the
Turkish lira is the official currency.
Cypriot bankers say this would be a
risky move by authorities in the north. The benefits to tourism of using the
euro would be offset by increased currency risk, as the Turkish Cypriot
budget is underpinned by large subsidies from Ankara.
Concerns in Cyprus were raised last
month when Peer Steinbrück, German finance minister, said there would be
"political implications" if Cyprus joined the euro.
Some in Nicosia feared the European
Union intended to make adoption of the euro into a political bargaining
chip, with an implied threat to Cyprus that its membership on January 1
could be in danger if it continued to obstruct EU membership with Turkey.
"There would be no legal base for
this and it would be a very bad precedent for the eurozone," Mr Alogoskoufis
said. However, German officials have told Nicosia Mr Steinbrück's remarks
were misunderstood and that it was essential all future applications to join
the euro should be taken only on econ-omic grounds.
Cyprus and Malta, both Mediterranean
islands, hope to join the euro next year, following Slovenia's accession to
the single currency area. The ECB refused to comment on the contents of next
rejects Turkish Cypriot request for direct flights
Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali
Talat has announced that the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has
rejected an application by Turkish Cypriot officials for launching direct
flights between Britain and northern Cyprus.
In an interview with Turkish Cypriot
daily Kıbrıs Gazetesi that was published yesterday, Talat said the CAA in
their response to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) officials
argued that launching direct flights between Britain and Turkish Cyprus --
which is recognized only by Ankara -- was legally impossible.
Yet the KKTC authorities, based on earlier consultations with experts in
international law, believe that the CAA's argument is not valid. Therefore
they are preparing to start legal process before British justice via a
leading law office based in Britain, Talat explained, noting that he was
"hopeful" of the outcome of this legal process.
Turkish Foreign Ministry officials last year prepared a file on the issue
and informed not only London but also other European Union capitals that
there was no legal handicap standing in the way of launching direct flights
between EU countries and the TRNC.
"Britain should consider the outcome from the steps it is thinking about
taking," Foreign Minister George Lillikas was quoted as saying at the time,
when he cautioned that any British steps to start direct flights between
London and Ercan Airport in Turkish Cyprus would have a negative impact on
bilateral ties between Britain and Greek Cyprus. "We hope Britain and other
countries will not take any official initiative that will legitimize that [Ercan]
airport operating against international law. The opening of Ercan Airport
will harm not only bilateral relations but also all of Cyprus," he said,
claiming that such a move would lead to a permanent division on the
island. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said his
country was working on direct flights with northern Cyprus. Blair, a staunch
backer of Turkey's EU membership bid, said British officials were consulting
international aviation rules to see if direct flights were possible.
At the time, the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government openly
opposed the British move while warning of the consequences of such a step in
a veiled threat to London.
ECHR gives historic ruling on
TRNC property commision
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)
has ruled a decision highly important for Turkey and Turkish Cypriots,
disposing the case of Xenides-Arestis vs Turkey in favor of the plaintiff.
The ECHR on Thursday concluded the
case of Greek Cypriot Xenides-Arestis versus Turkey and recognized the
Immovable Properties Compensation Commission established in Turkish Cyprus
as an "effective domestic remedy" for Greek Cypriots to apply for property
The court thus gave the green light
to the North's property commission yesterday - despite saying it was not in
a position to deliver justice on the case that sparked its existence.
The court ruled for €850, 000 to be
paid to Arestis by Turkey and directed the 1.400 of Greek plaintiffs to the
Turkish Cyprus property commission.
The Greek Cypriots maintained their
claim that the commission is illegal.
Council of Europe sources speaking
on the condition of unanimity labeled the ruling as "Turkey's legal
In the verdict, it was claimed that
Greek Cypriot national Xenides-Arestis had been prevented from living in her
home and having access to, using and enjoying her property since August 1974
following the conduct of military operations in northern Cyprus by Turkey in
July and August 1974.
In addition to €850,000 in respect
of pecuniary damage, under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the European
Convention on Human Rights, the Court also awarded the applicant €50,000 in
respect of non-pecuniary damage, and €35,000 for other costs and expenses.
The Court welcomed the steps taken
by the Turkish Government in an effort to provide redress for the violations
of the applicant’s Convention rights as well as in respect of all similar
applications pending before it, a statement from the court said on Thursday.
Architect of 1974 dies
Bulent Ecevit, a resilient leader
who served four terms as Turkey’s prime minister in a turbulent era, died
yesterday in a hospital in Ankara, the Turkish capital. He was 81.
Mr. Ecevit, who suffered a stroke in
May from which he never completely recovered, died of circulatory and
respiratory failure, the Gulhane military hospital said.
For much of his political career —
almost half a century — Mr. Ecevit was a leftist and a nationalist. An
opponent of religious fundamentalism, he helped maintain Turkey’s position
as the world’s most secular Muslim country.
During his final years in power, Mr.
Ecevit turned away from the leftist that had shaped his career. He abandoned
much of his hostility to private enterprise, and, after helping to keep
Turkey out of the European Union in the 1970s, he came to believe that
integration with the West was a good idea.
In his last term, beginning in 1999,
Mr. Ecevit governed in a coalition with a right-wing party. He pursued
pro-business policies and maintained Turkey’s status as a faithful NATO
member and ally of the United States despite his lifelong scepticism about
the sincerity of American commitments to democracy and human rights.
The hardships encountered when he
finally embraced market economics to win the European Union’s confidence
helped end his political career. With his health failing, his Democratic
Left Party lost badly in the country’s 2002 elections, forcing him from
Mr. Ecevit was unusual among Turkish
politicians in the simplicity of his lifestyle. He was never accused of
participating in the corruption that plagues his country’s political and
economic life. He was popularly known by the nickname Karaoglan, or Dark
Boy, a reference to his black hair and moustache, which he continued to dye
despite his advancing age.
After leaving office, he devoted
himself to writing.
Bulent Ecevit (pronounced buh-LEHNT
EH-jeh-vicht) was born in Istanbul on May 28, 1925. His father was a
professor of medicine and his mother one of the first women in Turkey to
become a professional painter. He was their only child. He graduated from
Robert College in Istanbul, where much of the country’s English-speaking
elite has been trained. He later took courses at foreign universities,
Interested in journalism, Mr. Ecevit
worked as a press attaché at the Turkish Embassy in London. In the
mid-1950s, on a State Department fellowship, he worked at The Winston-Salem
Journal and Sentinel in North Carolina. The racism he saw in the South
deeply disturbed him.
In a front-page article on Jan. 9,
1955, his last day with the newspaper, he wrote that he had found it strange
that the United States should fight oppression in the world while white
Americans were “guilty of refusing to drink from the same fountain as the
man who has fought on the same front for the same cause; guilty of refusing
to travel on the same coach or seat as the man who has been working with
equal ardour for a common community; guilty of refusing to pray to God side
by side with the man who believes in the same prophet’s teaching.”
After returning to Turkey, he joined
the Republican People’s Party, founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder
of the Turkish Republic. He was elected to Parliament in 1957.
While establishing a reputation as a
rising star on the non-Marxist left, he also worked as an art critic,
columnist and newspaper editor. He published several volumes of poetry and
translated the works of T. S. Eliot and Rabindranath Tagore.
Mr. Ecevit always considered himself
a champion of the underdog, a view that linked his support for American
blacks, Palestinians, Turkish workers and the Turkish minority on Cyprus.
His government maintained close ties
with Israel, but he denounced Israel’s attacks on refugee camps in 2002 as
“genocide.” Criticized for the remark, he said he had meant to accuse both
He allowed American planes to use
Turkish bases for their patrols over northern Iraq, but he sympathized with
Iraqi civilians, who he said were suffering because of economic sanctions
imposed by the United States.
Mr. Ecevit had no such sympathy for
Kurds in Turkey, however. He insisted that they were not a minority and for
most of his career opposed proposals to legalize education or television
broadcasting in the Kurdish language, arguing that such steps would lead to
separatism and strife. But in his final term, pressed by the European Union,
he became less categorical.
From 1961 to 1965, Mr. Ecevit served
as minister of labor, and in 1972 he deposed his mentor, Ismet Inonu, who
had been Ataturk’s closest comrade, to take over leadership of the party.
The next year he was elected prime minister.
In 1974, Mr. Ecevit ordered Turkish
troops to land on Cyprus after the government there was overthrown by
militants aligned with the Greek military dictatorship. The island has been
divided between ethnically Greek and Turkish sectors ever since.
With the support of labour unions
and some leftist groups, Mr. Ecevit served as prime minister twice more
during the 1970s. He favored generous social programs, a large government
role in the economy and protective tariffs to keep low-priced foreign goods
out of Turkey.
Mr. Ecevit’s insular policies and
those of his long-time rival, the more conservative Suleyman Demirel, had
the effect of sealing Turkey off from many of the intellectual, political
and economic trends surging elsewhere. Turkey remained stagnant while
underdeveloped countries from Spain to South Korea became more democratic
During Mr. Ecevit’s term as prime
minister that began in 1978, hardly a day passed without political
assassinations and bombings. After he and other political leaders proved
unable to control the violence, military officers staged a coup on Sept. 12,
1980, and remained in power for nearly three years.
Mr. Ecevit and other political
leaders were jailed after the coup. They were released after a few weeks but
banned from politics. In 1981, he was imprisoned again for three months
after publishing an article criticizing military rule.
During this period Mr. Ecevit’s wife
of Jewish origin, Rahsan Aral, his political partner and fierce defender
over many decades, formed the Democratic Left Party on behalf of her
husband. She survives him. They had no children.
After Mr. Ecevit was allowed to
return to political life in 1987, he and his wife exercised total control
over the party. No one could run for office on its ticket or even join it
without their approval.
In 1995, he asked his supporters to
“make me prime minister once more before I die,” but few believed he would
realize that ambition. Scandals tarnished many of the country’s political
leaders, however, and Mr. Ecevit emerged unexpectedly as prime minister in
He had the good fortune to be in
office when Abdullah Ocalan, leader of a Kurdish rebellion that devastated
south-eastern provinces, was captured in February 1999, just before Mr.
Ecevit’s interim government was to face the voters.
The prestige he gained from that
arrest led him to victory in the April 1999 election. In his final term, he
embraced many ideas he had once abhorred, like the value of free enterprise
and close ties to the West. Many of his former supporters were alienated.
He also acknowledged that his
earlier opposition to Turkey’s joining the European Union had been a
historic error. “It is now understood,” he said, “that there can be no
Europe without Turkey and no Turkey without Europe.”
2003, Christofias had trumpeted a
big drive for the “propping up of the institutions” of this country, but in
practice he has been carrying out a demolition job on them.
The depressing conclusion is that nothing can change in this country, which
the European Union now admits was a mistake to allow into its ranks. If
there was a union of banana republics, I doubt it would have agreed to grant
us membership. Because if the test was political culture and behaviour, we
would be living in a pseudo-state rather than the Turkish Cypriots, who are
proving to be much more European in their political thinking than us.
Northern Cyprus Property
Prices set to Skyrocket following Court Verdict
North Cyprus property prices have been kept under the
shadow of the courts. A British Court refused to enforce a judgment which
would have forced a British couple to leave their villa in Northern Cyprus.
The Government of Cyprus estimates that there may be
100,000 foreigners living in North Cyprus. Many of these are from Great
Britain. The Orams couple has a typical story with an unusual twist.
The Orams spent their life savings building a villa and swimming pool. They
bought their property according to the law of the Turkish Republic of
Northern Cyprus. Northern Cyprus was created in 1974 when Turkish troops
landed in response to a Greek backed coup attempt.
They heard that someone in Cyprus was planning to sue but they never dreamed
that they would be the target. After investing 160,000 British pounds in
their dream house they were brought to court by Meletios Apostolides. The
British court ruled that a judgment obtained against a British couple which
built a villa in North Cyprus could not be enforced in the British courts.
Apostiledes was ordered to pay most of the court costs to Linda and David
In the past few years Northern Cyprus has reaped the rewards of improved
relations with the outside world; building projects have sprouted all over
with a championship level golf course now nearing completion and a 500+
berth Marina complex commencing building work this year. Properties are
especially popular with people from the UK for investment, retirement or
holidays. One developer is building a new village.
In addition to traditional villas, one developer has introduced a new
concept to Northern Cyprus. Luxury apartments with swimming pools, mini
market, exercise room, maintained gardens and club with restaurant and bar.
Now with this court verdict North Cyprus property prices are expected to
start to increase rapidly.
case ends in High Court victory for British couple
The Orams couple who have been fighting a legal battle
to keep their holiday home here in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
have won their British High Court battle.
The Court ruled that protocol -10 of the EU Treaty of
Accession of the Greek Cypriot Side to the EU meant that the enforcement of
the Greek Cypriot Administration judgment could not occur in England.
The reasoning provided by the Learned Judge was that
the Protocol was hierarchically superior to any enforcement regulations and
that the jurisdiction of the Greek Cypriot Courts did not extend to property
located in the Turkish Republic of Cyprus.
The consequences of the judgment is that Mr. and Mrs.
Orams having brought property in the TRNC have been protected by the English
Courts and EU law from having any compensation ordered by the Greek Cypriot
Courts being enforced against them.
The Court also concluded that Mrs. Orams was to be
believed when she said that she had insufficient opportunity to prepare a
defense before a default judgment was entered against her in the Greek
The Court said that the papers were in Greek, a
language that Mrs Orams did not understand and that the judgment of the
Greek Cypriot Court should not be
The judgment of the British High Court is seen as a
total vindication of the Orams’ position and is a substantial victory in a
battle by them to maintain and retain their home in the TRNC and England.
The judgment also allows others in the same position to
invest in the TRNC without the threat of enforcement of judgments rendered
in South Cyprus.
The judge gave Mr Apostolides, who was not in court,
permission to appeal.
He also ordered that he should pay 75% of the Orams'
£863,000 costs, with an interim payment of £150,000 - although £75,000 of
that will be stayed, pending appeal.
The remaining £75,000 has to be paid within 28 days.
Speaking to the press after today’s verdict, Mrs. Linda
Orams said she was very happy with the court’s decision but added that this
not mean that they had reached the end and that this was the beginning of a
Explaining that she and her husband had complete faith
in the British justice system and the European Union, Mrs. Oram expressed
confidence that they will win the second appeal as well.
She also thanked the Turkish Cypriot and British people
for their overwhelming support throughout the hearing. Answering a
question on whether or not Cherie Blair had used her influence as wife of
Tony Blair-the British Prime Minister to win the case, Mrs. Orams expressed
the belief that Mrs. Blair had applied to no such tactics to win the case.
“She just used her deep knowledge and experience on
human rights law” she added.
The British couple was defended by a group of
six-lawyers with the participation of Cherie Blair.
Meanwhile, Lawyers defending the property rights of the
Orams family will arrive in the Republic tomorrow and hold a press
conference to explain their point of view on the verdict.
Linda and David Orams were taken to the Court in South
Cyprus by the Greek Cypriot Administration with the pretext that the couple
built a house on the land in the TRNC formerly owned by Greek Cypriot
refugee Meletis Apostolides.
President Talat Meets With
Pakıstanı President Musharraf
President Mehmet Ali Talat met with Pakistani President
Perzev Musharraf at his Presidential Palace, Aiwan-e Sadr. President Talat
was in Islamabad on an official invitation by President Musharraf.
During the meeting, which lasted for about an hour,
President Talat and Pakistani President Musharraf discussed relations and
cooperation between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Pakistan.
The two leaders also discussed possible joint ventures mainly in the fields
of tourism, education and industry.
President Talat told Musharraf about the latest
developments in Cyprus and then thanked him for his invitation, and the
support given to the Turkish Cypriots by Pakistan.
Pakistani President Musharraf said Pakistan is
supporting the policy of lifting the isolations of Turkish Cypriots. He
added that Pakistan is ready to help efforts to find a permanent solution to
the Cyprus problem and reiterated that Pakistan will be supporting Turkish
Cypriots under every condition.
TRNC President Presents
President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
(TRNC), Mehmet Ali Talat presented first-time winner Felipe Massa of Ferrari
with the first-place trophy at the Istanbul Grand Prix.
For the first time in the history of Formula 1, the
winner’s trophy was presented by representative of a country other than the
This was reportedly the idea of Turkish Union of
Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu.
After discussing the subject with the Turkish Foreign
Ministry, Hisarciklioglu spoke to Formula 1 Boss Bernie Ecclestone by phone
and managed to persuade him.
The idea was also supported by chairman of the Istanbul
Chamber of Trade, Murat Yalcintas.
Concerned that certain parties might attempt to block
the move, Hisarciklioglu said the authorities chose not to announce it
sooner, adding “This is an important opportunity for the recognition of TRNC
among 203 countries in diplomatic terms.”
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone asked Hisarciklioglu who was
to present the award and the TOBB Chairman responded by saying “The
presenter of the trophy for first place is not certain, but I will present
the award for second place and the third place trophy will be given by Murat
Ecclestone reportedly objected to Hisarcklioglu’s
announcement that “TRNC leader Talat will present the award” on race day.
In the Formula 1 races, the winning pilot’s award is
traditionally presented by an official of the host country.
Ecclestone also opposed to the idea on grounds that
TRNC is not internationally recognized.
The F1 boss was convinced thanks to Hisarciklioglu, and
the award was eventually presented by Talat.
Talat appeared on television screens across 203
countries that broadcast the race with the subtitle “TRNC President”
appearing on the TV screen.
The nearly 2 billion people watching the race tuned in
to watch the award ceremony.
TOBB Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu revealed that
Talat’s presenting Massa’s award was his own idea, which he did not disclose
to Talat nor Formula 1 authorities until the day of the race in order to
prevent any conflict or attempts to block it.
Elaborating on the issue, the TOBB chairman had
reportedly invited Talat to attend the race as Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan had announced on Tuesday that he would not be able to attend as
official state business coincided with the event.
“I planned for Talat to present the award but I did not
reveal my plan. I did not even tell him. If I had revealed this, politics
would interfere and cause conflict. We concealed the plan until the race was
underway,” Hisarciklioglu said, and added that he proposed the idea to Talat
at the start of the race.
“It is possible if you wish, but I don’t wish to
inconvenience you or cause trouble,” Talat replied.
Citing that Formula 1 authorities wanted them to
determine the presenter one night prior to the race, Hisarciklioglu said “it
is not certain who will join the ceremony from the protocol.”
Hisarciklioglu said they informed Formula 1 authorities
that Talat would present the award at the start of the race.
The rate of inflation for last month rose by 1.6
The figure was announced by the State Planning
Organisation which said that the inflation for the year ending July, has
reached to 13.5 percent. The Organization also noted that the highest rise
was recorded in the price of lemon which increased by 156.4 %, while the
biggest drop was recorded in the prices of vegetables and fruits during the
Meanwhile, the main opposition National Unity Party (UBP)
has criticized the government for last week’s sharp rise in fuel prices. The
Public Sector Workers’ Union – KAMU SEN has joined other trade unions in
protesting the increase. In a written statement today, the UBP Leader
Huseyin Ozgurgun said that the latest increase in the price of fuel and
liquid petroleum gas will lead to a rise in the price of other goods and
services, lowering the consumers’ purchasing-power.
Reminding that there was a drop of about 30 percent in
the value of the Turkish Lira against hard currencies recently, the UBP
leader accused the Republican Turkish Party-Democrat Party coalition
government of doing nothing to reduce the impact of this situation on the
people. He called on the government to engage in dialogue with trade unions
towards that end. The Public Sector Workers’ Union - Kamu-Sen held a protest
in front of the Prime Minister’s Office today to protest the rise in fuel
Union members left a black wreath in front of the
building in protest.
Oram's Trial gets hearing in
In the final day of the high court
hearing Lord Justice Jack decided to deliberate a decision for September of
this year after being able to fully review the case. A source claimed that
the decision will depend on if the judge sees fit whether under EU law a
decision passed by a Greek Cypriot court in the TRNC can be then used in a
UK court in the absence of being able to exercise its rule. In defence of
the Oram’s, Cherie Blair QC and top human rights lawyer said that the
realities of the island meant that by de facto now the island had two
separate entities and that a ruling against the Oram’s would put 200 000
Turkish Cypriots and 80 000 in the UK at risk of losing their homes. It was
impossible to implement this ruling and that the EU had no jurisprudence in
an area outside its territory. The case will be reviewed and a decision
announced sometime in September of this year.
Mrs Cherie Booth argued that according to the EU law,
the court judgement of an EU country (in this case RC) cannot be carried out
in a country where the aquis communiqué is suspended (in this case TRNC) by
the EU and the enforcement of the judgement would in fact conflict with EU
Regulations and the Independence of the UK Court and therefore asked the
judge to decline the enforcement of the judgement.
She explained that TRNC is not a recognised country but
it is not a lawless state either, giving the recent tfl case in London as an
She reminded the court again that the land in dispute
is situated in a country where the RC has no effective control and
emphasised that according to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the
enforcement of the judgement requires the state to have an effective
She reminded the court also that the enforcement of the
judgement would be contrary to the EU law and the UK would be breaching the
“Treaty of Accession” and the protocol of the section 1 of the Community
Mrs Booth also argued that the Court in Cyprus adopted
Default Proceedings and obtained a Default Judgement which can not be
enforced in the UK High Court.
Mrs Booth finally emphasised that the case is not an
individual matter: She explained that there are 80,000 Turkish Cypriots
living in the UK, 200,000 in TRNC, 800,000 GCs living in Cyprus and
therefore, the case will have a wider implication and asked the judge to set
aside the case.
The judge told the court that:
He would reserve his judgement,
The appeal requires a number of questions in the law,
The case is important for everyone and not just for the
The case will go to a council for a draft,
He did not know when the decision will be made
available but confirmed that it will take time.
No hotel for Greek Cypriot rep
Greek Cypriot Ambassador to Moscow, Leonidas Pantelides, met with
frustration on a trip he took two days ago to the Azerbayjianian capital of
Baku to attempt to block decisions made in support of Northern Cyprus at a
meeting of Islamic Conference Organization (IKO) foreign ministers.
Pantelides was reportedly unable to receive a hotel room in Baku, and spent
the night going between bars, restaurants, and the streets of the capital.
According to sources in Turkey, Ankara had known that
the Greek Cypriots would be sending a representative to the IKO meeting, and
had contacted Baku authorities to ask that the Greek Cypriot representative
be blocked from the meeting.
When in fact the Greek Cypriot authority did send Pantelides, the Azeri
leadership told him that they would not extend accreditation to him for the
IKO conference, and that all the hotels in the capital were full.
At a previous IKO conference in Yemen, a Greek Cypriot
ambassador did succeed in entering into proceedings, even attempting to
participate in a commemorative group photograph, though he was discovered by
the Turkish delegation at the last moment.
Meanwhile, one of the results from the IKO conference
in regards to Northern Cyprus was a firm proclamation in support of the
entity, with a stress on the necessity of lifting current isolationary
blockades on the northern side of the island.
Oram's Case given date at London High Court
ON THE anniversary of the 20th of July the
day the Turkish army invaded Cyprus, the London High Court will deliver its final
judgment on the controversial Orams case, which is expected to have an
enormous effect on the future of Greek Cypriot refugee properties in the
Lawyer Constantis Candounas, who has asked the High
Court to enforce a decision by a Cypriot court ordering David and Linda
Orams from Hove, Sussex, to return land property to his client Meletis
Apostolides, said the trial had been set for July 18, 19 and 20.
The action, under an EU regime making possible the
enforcement of court decisions of one member state in the courts of another,
was filed on December 21, 2005 and, besides being the first of its kind in
the UK, it became even more controversial when the Orams retained the legal
services of Cherie Blair QC, wife of the British Prime Minister.
Candounas told The Cyprus Weekly that he attended a
hearing at the High Court with the Orams’ solicitors on March 1, 2006,
during which the Court gave instructions for Apostolides’ expert witnesses
to submit their evidence by March 29.
The Orams were to reply within a week, which they did,
and then the lawyers of both sides were given two weeks to meet together.
Greek Cypriot newspaper, ‘The Cyprus Weekly’ asked if
the date coinciding with the 32nd Turkish invasion anniversary carried any
special significance, Candounas said it was very fortunate that they could
get such an early date.
He explained that it was not easy to find a time slot
suiting the lawyers of the two sides and the High Court judges.
Cherie Blair tried to get a postponement until Linda
Orams’ appeal to the Cyprus Supreme Court against the ruling of the court of
first instance was heard, but the High Court rejected this, as it could have
taken as long as a year to 18 months.
Leading the UK legal team for Meletis Apostolides
against Cherie Blair and other lawyers from the Matrix Chambers, will be
Thomas Beazley QC, of Blackstone Chambers, with Simon Congdon of Holmans
Fenwick Willan Solicitors and another QC from Brickstone Chambers.
Unaware Linda and David Orams claimed they had bought
Apostolides’ property in Lapta, near Kyrenia, in good faith from a Turkish
Cypriot without being aware of the legal and political implications and
build a luxury villa there.
The Greek Cypriot controlled Nicosia District Court
ordered them to demolish the villa and return the property to its rightful
owner. In the face of the Orams’ refusal to comply with the decision and
being unable to enforce it because of the Greek Cypriot law is unenforcible
in the TRNC, Apostolides can ask to have the judgment executed against the
Orams’ UK property.
The British High Court will not review the merits of
the case but will decide on matters of procedure and public policy.
The development has slowed down the arbitrary sale of
Greek Cypriot refugee properties in the TRNC, mainly to UK nationals, which
had reached alarming proportions.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the High Court
decision will seal the fate of the Greek Cypriot refugee properties either
ON THE anniversary of the 20th of July Peace
Keeping Operation by Turkey, the London High Court will deliver its final
judgment on the controversial Orams case, which is expected to have an
enormous effect on the future of Greek Cypriot refugee properties in the
Lawyer Constantis Candounas, who has asked the High
Court to enforce a decision by a Cypriot court ordering David and Linda
Orams from Hove, Sussex, to return land property to his client Meletis
Apostolides, said the trial had been set for July 18, 19 and 20.
The action, under an EU regime making possible the
enforcement of court decisions of one member state in the courts of another,
was filed on December 21, 2005 and, besides being the first of its kind in
the UK, it became even more controversial when the Orams retained the legal
services of Cherie Blair QC, wife of the British Prime Minister.
Candounas told The Cyprus Weekly that he attended a
hearing at the High Court with the Orams’ solicitors on March 1, 2006,
during which the Court gave instructions for Apostolides’ expert witnesses
to submit their evidence by March 29.
The Orams were to reply within a week, which they did,
and then the lawyers of both sides were given two weeks to meet together.
Prime Minister dispels rumours
Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer dispelled the rumours
that the “construction sector was dying” and said that property sales to
overseas was showing a regular trend.
Prime Minister Soyer addressing the MPs today during
the general assembly meeting gave number about the transactions that took
place on the property sales to the foreigners.
He said in the year 2000 there was 228, in 2001:309, in
2002:591, in 2003:955, in 2004:2827, in 2005:1571 and in the first few
months of 2006 there were 300 applications by the foreigners for purchasing
property in TRNC.
As for the transactions that have actually taken place
Prime Minister Soyer said, in 2000:114, in 2001:231, in 2002:130, in
2003:425, in 2004:249, in 2005:667 and in 2006 267 foreigners bought
property in the north.
Soyer said there was no slowing down in the property
sales to the foreigners and that it displayed a consistent regular trend. He
said the rumours that say “construction industry had died” did not reflect
the actual situation, nevertheless he said there were more and more people
that were entering in to the real state business therefore market was being
He acknowledged the problems faced by the estate
agencies and development companies and said new regulations would be
prepared to answer their problems.
Prime Minister Soyer laid stress upon that, whoever
bought property in the north was under the guarantor of the government.
Prime Minister Soyer also gave assurances that, after
the proposed moratorium by the Greek Cypriot administration on “disallowing
sale of the Greek Cypriot properties that was left in the north back in
1974” was rejected by the European Commission it could not be brought up in
any other EU platform
Andy votes against Turkish Cypriot interests
Human rights group Embargoed! today released details of
the meeting they had with North London MP Andy Love on Friday 31 March
following his signing of Early Day Motion (EDM) 1792, which seeks to
undermine the politically equality of Turkish Cypriots and to remove the
United Nations from its role as principal facilitator in the Cyprus
Conflict. During the meeting, Mr. Love conceded his support for this badly
worded EDM would offend Turkish Cypriots, and he further shocked the group
when he admitted the EDM had been drawn up by the Cypriot High Commissioner
in London. However, Mr. Love refused to withdraw his signature and
maintained his actions and approach to the complicated Cyprus problem was
Embargoed! were extremely disappointed with the response they received from
MP Andy Love, whose Edmonton (UK) constituency contains a large number of
both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Whilst highly knowledgeable on Cyprus, the
group felt Mr. Love’s comments, as summarised below, indicated a high level
of bias towards Greek Cypriot concerns and interests:
* While Mr Love demonstrated understanding of the root causes of the Cyprus
Conflict and the impact of 42 years of embargoes on Turkish Cypriots, he
showed little concern for the fact that signing this EDM would further
undermine the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people and encourage the
intransigent stance of Greek Cypriot leader Mr. Papadopoulos.
* Mr. Love believed it was not for him to challenge the status of the
internationally recognised, wholly Greek Cypriot controlled Republic of
Cyprus or to support the political equality of Turkish Cypriots (who in
December 1963 were forced out of Government by Greek Cypriots and relegated
to a “community” status), hence his signing of EDM 1792, which he says
“reflects the position of the international community on Cyprus”. All this
despite the fact this approach undermines the UN’s commitment and efforts
towards a bi-zonal, bi-communal solution for Cyprus.
* Mr. Love was against the visit of UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to North
Cyprus and his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat as it
had caused him massive problems [with his Greek Cypriot constituents].
* Mr. Love felt more sympathy is needed towards the Greek Cypriots who for
decades have been regarded as the sole victims on the island, enjoying
international support and the economic monopoly on the island at the expense
of Turkish Cypriots, but are now struggling to come to terms with the
international backlash following their “no” vote to the UN Annan Plan for a
comprehensive settlement in 2004. He stated that Greek Cypriots also feel
they have conceded enough towards the “minority” Turkish Cypriots (a stance
which even undermines the 1960 Constitution – albeit frozen – of Cyprus).
Dr. Fusun Nadiri, one of the Embargoed! delegation to meet with Andy Love,
said, “We asked Mr. Love why he doesn’t ‘do the right thing and show more
balance in his actions on Cyprus’? His response was that ‘if he had not
signed the EDM he would upset lots of people’. Clearly, he is more concerned
about Greek Cypriot votes than basic Turkish Cypriot human rights!” She
continued, “Embargoed! intend to continue the dialogue we’ve started with MP
Andy Love so we can help him develop a more positive and helpful position on
Cyprus that respects the equal traditions of both communities.”
In addition to Dr. Fusun Nadiri, the Embargoed! delegation meeting MP Andy
Love comprised Ipek Ozerim (Embargoed! Campaigns and Communications
Officer), Ata Cholak and Halil Aras (Embargoed! members). The meeting was
facilitated by local Labour Councillor Ahmet Karahasan, who was also in
attendance. The meeting took place at the MP’s Edmonton surgery in Fore
Street and lasted for about 1.5 hours.
Cyprus’s risky stalemate
The blockage of political progress
in Cyprus since 2004 only freezes the island's unresolved question, says
On the three-and-a-half-hour flight
eastwards from Rome to Larnaca, I re-immerse myself in the details of the
"Cyprus question". As I read again the half-truths, self-indulgent rhetoric
and bogus history that accompany most discussion of the island's modern
politics and its associated massacres and invasions, my heart sinks and
uneasy memories return.
Also in open Democracy on the
politics of Cyprus:Alex Rondos, "Cyprus: the price of rejection" (22 April
2004)The last time I had been in Cyprus was in July 1974, on holiday but in
time to have a ringside view of the dramatic events of that time: the
growing tension on the island as the Greek nationalist right sought, with
the help of the military junta in Athens, to undermine Archbishop (and
president) Makarios; the dramatic events on that Monday morning of 15 July
when I went to buy fresh yoghurt at the village shop to find the owners in
tears and the radio announcing that Makarios was dead; the realisation that
a fascist coup had taken place, but that Makarios was alive and that his
people were resisting; the days of tightening military control, the arrest
by a group of paramilitaries of the socialists from the Edek party who were
holding their summer school in the hotel next door. In Nicosia itself there
was chaos at the airport, but all seemed sure that the Turks would not
attack: "the Russians will make sure it never happens", I was told.
On the morning of Saturday 20 July,
there was the sound in Nicosia of artillery shells being fired from nearby
and the sight of Turkish paratroopers, their parachutes like puffs of smoke
across the dawn sky, dropping on the northern part of Nicosia. Messages on
the BBC World Service instructed us to assemble at the Hilton hotel, from
where we were evacuated to a British base in the south of the island, then
in transport planes to somewhere in Wiltshire.
Much leftwing analysis of these
events exaggerates United States responsibility in identifying the hidden
hand of a US-inspired conspiracy masterminded by then secretary of state
Henry Kissinger, a reprise of the coup in Chile in September 1973. In any
event, and somewhat in contrast to Chile, Cyprus gradually slipped from the
news. (Years later, at a Royal Institute of International Affairs meeting in
London, I told the visiting Bülent Ecevit - the Turkish prime minister who
ordered the 1974 invasion - that, in addition to the other burdens of
history he carried, he had also once interrupted my breakfast...)
The 1974 crisis indeed marked the
most dramatic turning-point in the history of the Cyprus question. It led to
the occupation of 40% of the island by Turkish troops and - in effect, and
despite the proclamation in 1983 of a "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus",
the annexation of this area to Turkey. It also involved what, two decades
later in the context of disintegrating Yugoslavia, would be termed "ethnic
cleansing", the forced reallocation of population into a wholly (with a
marginal exception in the northeast of the island) Turkish north and wholly
Greek south, and the establishment of a militarised frontier between the
Greek and Turkish regions.
Both sides share responsibility for
the outcome (not forgetting the British colonial inheritance that allowed
the "question" to be posed at all). If the Turks certainly acted without
justification in occupying as much of the island as they did and in
remaining intransigent for so many years thereafter, the Greeks are also to
blame for provoking the crisis in the first place, and for years of
indulgent calls for enosis (union with Greece) from the 1950s onwards.
In the ensuing decades many attempts
were made to overcome this partition, with the aim of restoring the unity of
Cyprus (even minimally) as a single state with common citizenship, and of
finding a means of resolving the many property disputes and personal abuses
on both sides that accompanied the 1974 events and which political and
religious leaders have done much to keep alive.
In April 2003 it seemed as if a
breakthrough had finally been achieved, following a change of policy in
Ankara by the Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (Justice & Development Party / AKP)
government (elected in November 2002), and the emergence within the Turkish
Cypriot community of a new leadership under prime minister (later president)
Mehmet Ali Talat that was more flexible than the previously unbending one
associated with Rauf Denktash. When the Turks unilaterally (and to the great
surprise of many) opened the frontier, tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots
drove north to visit the towns and properties they had once known, and later
visited the casinos of the north that have no counterpart on the Greek side;
at the same time, many Turkish Cypriots, who remained under Cypriot law
citizens of the once united island, found work in the south and, reclaiming
citizenship, took advantage of health and other facilities available to them
Many Greek Cypriots I met said they
they refused to make the trip, as it would mean having a foreign state, in
this case Turkey, stamp their passport on the territory of their own
country; but they nonetheless welcomed the reduction of tension and the new
mingling of populations, albeit on only a daily basis, that had followed. At
a slower pace, but with broadly positive intent, the Greek Cypriot
government removed some of the guard-posts and other obstacles erected in
1974 along the "green line" through the heart of Nicosia itself. Most
surprisingly, given the violence and bitterness of the past, and some lethal
incidents in the years prior to 2003, there have been no serious incidents
of conflict of any kind reported since then in either the north or south of
Today the crossing at the checkpoint
in central Nicosia beside the restored Ledra Palace hotel is a relaxed, even
somewhat surreal, affair: a desultory guard on the Greek side checks your
papers, you then walk a few hundred metres along a dusty road that skirts
the old Venetian defensive walls of the city on the right, and the hotel
(alongside a United Nations building) on the left; once around the corner,
you encounter a Turkish guard beside a few faded propaganda posters. Apart
from the odd tourist, many of those trudging between frontier-posts are
Turkish Cypriots who have been on shopping visits in the south. There is
little sign of military occupation, or menace, at least on this sunny
weekend afternoon. This is not Panmunjom, the Allenby Bridge or cold-war-era
The referendum switchback
The optimism generated by the
opening of the frontiers in 2003 was compounded by the decision of the
European Union to agree to the accession of Cyprus to the EU. It was
expected that in return for this agreement, both sides would make
concessions: the Greeks to ensure that the entry actually took place, the
Turks to ensure that their part of the island was given access to the
benefits of European Union membership, and that flexibility on their part
would help in the overall negotiations with Brussels on Turkish entry to the
Moreover, responding with renewed
diplomatic enthusiasm to events in Cyprus, the United Nations
secretary-general Kofi Annan sought in a series of meetings inside the
island and at international venues to broker an agreement between the two
communities. This would have restored a confederal Cyprus, reduced the level
of Turkish and Greek forces on the island, provided a mechanism for settling
property and other issues arising from 1974 and given all the citizens of
the island access to the European Union. A major obstacle to Turkish entry
into the EU, an irritant in relations between the Islamic and western
worlds, and one of the last remaining intractable conflicts in Europe, would
have been resolved.
The international community, i.e.
the EU and the UN, certainly believed things were going well. It was widely
assumed that everyone involved would come to their senses: the incentives
were simply too great. But such optimism was to hit the rocks of political
reality, within the island and within the two externally involved states:
when it was put to a referendum in both parts of the island in April 2004,
the Annan plan was rejected by a great majority of Greeks, even as it was
supported by a majority of Turkish Cypriots.
The manner of the Greek rejection
was another example (if one were needed) of the folly, self-indulgence and
international irresponsibility of nationalist politics. Greek Cypriot
leaders wilfully and frenetically misrepresented the terms of the Annan
proposals; Greek Orthodox bishops piled in with menacing sermons; the Greek
press engaged in weeks of invective and scaremongering; soldiers doing their
military service were simply ordered to vote no. But pride of place for
irresponsibility and mendacity must go to the president of Cyprus, Tassos
Papadopoulos, a conservative politician with a less than stellar record over
inter-ethnic violence who had long opposed UN reconciliation efforts and.
His speech calling for a "no" vote, delivered just before the referendum,
was a masterpiece of ingenuousness.
The Greek refusal
The underlying reasons for the Greek
rejection, however, require closer attention and are of a more substantial
character. The veteran socialist politician and leader of Edek, Vassos
Lyssarides - one of the Greek Cypriot politicians who always sought to
include Turks in his party - gave me a detailed account of the ways in which
he found the agreement unworkable. In a discussion at his home, whose front
door is still marked by bullet-marks from the 1974 events, he told me that
the UN negotiating process (involving closed meetings between top officials)
failed to bring Greek Cypriot opinion with it; and that the effort to raise
support for the proposal referendum process was hampered by the distribution
to voters of an unwieldy and unreadable volume documenting the statements
Greek Cypriots also objected to the
fact that the agreement would have left large numbers of Turkish troops on
the island, that immigrant from mainland Turkey since 1974 and who did not
count as Cypriot citizens could stay, and that the process for settling
property disputes and compensation was protracted and almost certainly
However, beneath these specific
points, and all alarmism and distortion apart, were three other important
and deeply embedded factors.
First, while in recent years the
Turks have been much more reasonable than the Greeks, and deserve support
from Europe for this, Ankara simply waited too long, left it too late, in
effect three decades, before making serious concessions to the Greek side.
Second, and equally on the negative
side, was the issue of insecurity, the sense that the Turkish army could, if
included within any unitary agreement, occupy the whole of the island, and
that, in effect, the Greek Cypriots were safer inside the EU and with the
Turks remaining outside.
Third, on the incentive side, the
fact that the Greek part of Cyprus has, since 1974, and with the integration
of tens of thousands of Greeks who fled the north, become a much more
prosperous country, enriched by tourism, services, and, at least until EU
membership imposed tighter controls, the inflow of large quantities of
questionable Russian money.
Many Turkish Cypriots feel
increasingly uneasy in their own region, and resent the newly arrived
central Anatolian and other immigrants. An informed local observer, whose
own landlord lives in north London, tells me that about half of all Turkish
Cypriots live outside the country. As any visitor can see, the north is much
poorer than the south. There are far fewer ATMs and no Starbucks, in the
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. By the same token, it is safe to walk
the streets at night.
The cost of illusion
The international consequences of
the Greek "no" vote are serious indeed (see Alex Rondos, "Cyprus: the price
of rejection", 22 April 2004). In the years, decades, perhaps centuries to
come it may be seen as one of the decisive moments in that short-sighted,
and bigoted, European rejection of the middle east and of the Muslim world
that will lead to centuries of conflict. It is will certainly not be counted
as the only such event. The French and Dutch votes on the European
constitution were equally problematic, and the Islamic world plays its own
due part in this mutual incomprehension: yet as an act of parochial
self-indulgence, the Greek Cypriot vote of April 2004 has few equals.
The Cyprus question has come to
embitter Turkish negotiations with the EU and to be one of those questions -
along with treatment of the Kurds and recognition of the Armenian genocide -
which are used by opponents of Turkish accession to block progress. Yet
while on the latter two issues the Turkish case is indeed a weak one, and
open to much criticism, the use of the Cyprus issue and the Annan plan's
failure against Turkey is partisan: a one-sided campaign by the Greek
Cypriots, a complacent government in Athens and other European states (with
France in the lead) that has little justification. For whatever else Ankara
can be blamed, Cyprus is not a leading item on the list.
In the aftermath of the April 2004
rejection, the island therefore remains divided; the Turkish mood has
hardened; and the diplomats and well-wishers of the international community
will require a lot of reassurance to spend even more time and credit to get
involved once again in the affairs of Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots cling to
the idea that the world will in the end come to them and on their terms.
The Nicosia press is full of stories
about new international initiatives. When I asked a Nicosia taxi-driver what
he thought of Tony Blair, he regaled me with a stinging denunciation. Blair,
he told me, was a "complete failure". Why? Not because of Iraq or any such
triviality. "The man never set foot in Cyprus", he told me, "and he never
came up with new proposals...on the Cyprus question". Needless to say, this
same taxi-driver told me that the whole Turkish invasion of 1974 was
organised by the British and that captured British pilots flying Turkish
planes had been captured.
The expectations of a major new
international initiative may prove illusory, not least because of impending
parliamentary elections in Greece (16 September 2007 - unless delayed by the
fallout of the forest-fire disaster) and presidential elections in Cyprus
itself (8 February 2008) that are sharpening the political atmosphere in
both countries. But the apparently more realistic view, echoed in much
international coverage of the island, may also prove to be unfounded: that
Cyprus in effect has been partitioned, and that the situation of today will
now last, with a partially independent Greek protectorate in the south, and
an almost wholly dependent Turkish colony in the north.
An unstable stability
In some ways the change of heart in
Turkey under the AKP and the increased contacts between the two communities
on the island itself do mark a significant and welcome step forward.
However, the Cyprus situation is rarely straightforward, and the path ahead
is unlikely to be smooth. This was brought home to me in discussion with an
astute former Greek Cypriot diplomat I first met in 1974. He had voted "yes"
in the 2004 referendum, but, as he put it, "only when I was sure it would
lose". As he argued, the situation in Cyprus is in some respects unstable:
Turkey and Greece have far from
settled their overall regional rivalry, which can flare up at any time, as
the death of a Greek air-force pilot in a mock dogfight over the Aegean sea
in May 2006 demonstrated
the mood of nationalist
self-assertion in Turkey may have consequences for Cyprus (as it may, for
different reasons, in northern Iraq)
international (United Nations),
European and bilateral (United States, United Kingdom) capacity for
controlling local events and the actions of their local allies is less than
Meanwhile, and on the island itself,
with the initiative perhaps passing to a new generation of more nationalist
politicians, there has since 2003 (and probably will continue to be) almost
no progress on the practical issues of property, compensation, territorial
readjustment and commercial freedom of movement. Some see hope in the fact
that Dimitris Christofias, the leader of Akel, the Greek Cypriot communist
party, has now broken with Papadopoulos and has announced he will run for
president in the next Cypriot elections; but no one can be sure this is more
than a tactical gambit, and in any case Akel itself has sunk (its
progressive veneer notwithstanding) into a mire of clientilism and dogmatic
verbiage such that few can believe it is capable of taking a decisive
To students of other inter-ethnic
and regional disputes - from Kosovo to the post-Soviet "frozen conflicts",
this may sound all too familiar. In Cyprus too, the risks that remain, not
least those caused by neglect and diplomatic complacency, may be as great.
Cyprus and the European Division
More than three years after the
opening of the ceasefire line that divides Cyprus, the island is closer than
ever to rupture. When the Green Line first opened in April 2003, there was
an initial period of euphoria, as Cypriots flooded in both directions to
visit homes and neighbors left unwillingly behind almost three decades
before. But a year later, when a UN plan to reunite the island came to
referendum, new divisions emerged. While Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of
the plan, their Greek Cypriot compatriots rejected it in overwhelming
numbers. Visits stalled, and today social relations are mired in an
increasingly divisive politics. Recent polls indicate that more Cypriots on
both sides of the line favor partition than reunification, while Turkish
Cypriots are anxious about a spate of lawsuits over property that they
occupied when the island was divided. They perceive these suits as a direct
threat to their existence in the absence of an acceptable plan for
Moreover, in the absence of such a
plan, Cyprus has become a key obstacle in Turkey’s bid to join the European
Union. Only a week after the fateful referendum in 2004, the
Greek-controlled Republic of Cyprus itself joined the EU, and immediately
began using its membership to put pressure on Turkey. Indeed, the prospect
of doing so was one of the main reasons that Greek Cypriot President Tassos
Papadopoulos gave for rejecting the UN reunification plan. Today, the
stumbling block is the question of whether Turkey will “recognize” the
Republic by opening its ports to ships bearing the Republic of Cyprus flag.
The Turkish government has clearly stated that it will open ports only when
the economic isolation of Turkish-majority northern Cyprus ends—something
promised by the EU after the referendum but never delivered. Turkey had put
its full weight behind the reunification plan, which would have ensured the
withdrawal of Turkish troops from the northern part of the island. Indeed,
the Turkish government was eager to be rid of the Cyprus problem, but
subsequent events have shown that it will not be rid of it at all costs.
Contrary to what many analysts
expected and hoped for so long, the bumbling entry of the European Union
into the Cyprus equation has produced only an insoluble tangle. Local actors
now use their access to EU legal and political mechanisms to threaten, bluff
and bully their way into a future that looks more and more like partition.
Turkey’s journey toward the EU may run aground on Cyprus’ shores. And as
usual, it is Turkish Cypriots who are caught in between, unable to rid
themselves of Turkey’s presence and unable to have their own political
presence recognized by their Greek compatriots.
UNITE AND DIVIDE
Not long after the referendum, a
Greek Cypriot refugee told me something that seemed boldly to summarize the
growing mood in the south. Like many refugees, she refuses to cross the
ceasefire line to visit her home in the north, saying that she will not be a
tourist in her own country. But it soon became clear that her refusal meant
something very specific in political terms. Such refugees desire a full
return to their villages and the recreation of their communities --
something that would not have been allowed under the UN reunification plan.
But the plan was only the latest instantiation of the idea of a federal
government uniting two, ethnic states, an idea to which the Republic has
paid lip service for more than 30 years. The refugee woman’s position,
however, was clear: “Either we will return to the 1960 constitution and all
refugees will go back to their homes, or we’ll continue to live in our
dreams.” In other words, there would either be a unitary state in which
Turkish Cypriots would return to their status as a minority, or, in her
words, a wall should be built to keep them apart.
Internally displaced persons and
their descendants make up about a third of the Greek Cypriot population and
so constitute the single most important interest group in the south.
Moreover, many refugees are closely tied to the refugee organizations that
sprang up around lost villages and towns to fill the gap created by the loss
of their communities. Not surprisingly, refugees were the key group to which
much propaganda was addressed during the period leading up to the
referendum. During that time, minute calculations of land to be regained and
numbers of refugees to return eclipsed serious discussion of a federal state
or the process of reconciliation. It became clear that there were many
contradictions in the Republic’s stance on reunification, the most obvious
being an avowal of support for a federal state while at the same time
insisting on the absolute return of all displaced persons to their original
Indeed, in all its actions since,
the Republic has made it increasingly clear that a federal state simply is
not on the agenda. Interestingly, it is actually EU membership that has
allowed the Republic to take this stance, enabling them directly to pressure
Turkey without having to negotiate with Turkish Cypriots. In a November 2006
interview with the Turkish Cypriot Kıbrıs-TV, Greek Cypriot Minister of
Foreign Relations Yiorgos Lillikas reiterated that the only interlocutor the
Republic of Cyprus will recognize is Turkey. Indeed, until a brief meeting
in July 2006, Papadopoulos had refused since the referendum to meet with his
Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Mehmet Ali Talat, on these grounds. “Look, the
Cyprus problem is becoming more and more confused every day,” Lillikas
remarked. “We say, our interlocutor on this subject is not Mr. Talat, it’s
Turkey. But because neither Talat nor Turkey accepts this, we’re constantly
experiencing differences of opinion.”
The Republic insists that it is
really Turkey that controls what happens, and that Talat is an insignificant
player. But the Republic also operates with a limited understanding of
Turkish politics or of the complex relation between Turkey and its de facto
colony in northern Cyprus. At the height of his power and popularity, former
Turkish Cypriot president Rauf Denktaş was known for his ability to make or
break governments in Turkey. The 1974 Cyprus intervention is a matter of
Turkish national pride, and the recent rebellion of Turkish Cypriots against
their “protectors” has soured relations, leading many Turks to call their
Cypriot counterparts ungrateful. After sweeping to power in 2002 elections,
the Justice and Development Party adopted a surprisingly compromising stance
on Cyprus. While this softened line was initially unpopular, the demise of
Denktaş and the rise in Cyprus of a party that seeks freedom from Turkish
colonial rule has shaken popular attitudes toward the problem.
What it has not shaken, however, is
the refusal to be blackmailed. In July 2006, the Justice and Development
Party published a booklet entitled “The European Union in One Hundred
Questions.” The primary aim of the booklet seems to have been to dispel
fears that EU requirements would divide the country or that the government
would bow to demands that would damage national “honor.” Its stance on the
recognition of the Republic is clear: “In the present circumstances Turkey
cannot recognize the Greek administration of Cyprus under the name the
Republic of Cyprus. Political recognition will come only when a
comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem can be found.” The Republic and
its EU allies appear to believe that the Turkish government is simply
bluffing and that it would not rebuff the chance at EU membership.
Unfortunately, things are not as simple as that.
In the past, US support for the
Turkish military overlooked that military’s anti-democratic tendencies in
favor of its supposedly secularist ones. When Turkey’s EU candidacy became a
real possibility, the support of another power besides the US became a
balance that enabled the development of a stronger democracy in the country,
one that might make the military answerable to the government rather than
the other way around. But European support for Turkey’s candidacy has been
wavering and contradictory, and many Turks now believe that the EU will
simply continue to erect new hurdles before an ever receding finish line.
Many Turkish analysts agree that giving in to the Republic of Cyprus’
demands will accomplish nothing, because new demands will appear to take
their place. Turks recognize, moreover, that the Republic’s hardline
approach conveniently dovetails with the desires of extremists in the EU to
exclude Turkey at all costs.
One of the unfortunate costs has
been the shattering of political stability in Turkey, as the Cyprus problem
becomes a wedge to drive in further divisions. In the summer of 2005, a
middle-aged Turkish Cypriot woman hinted to me that she is an ülkücü, a word
that literally means “idealist” but has come to connote members of a wide
coalition of fringe, fascist-nationalist organizations based in Turkey that
also have supporters in Cyprus. The most famous of such supporters is
Denktaş, known for his association with the Gray Wolves, an organization
infamous for its use of violence and provocation. When the Turkish Cypriot
woman discussed her involvement in the larger web of ülkücü politics, she
also angrily threatened that they would never allow the Turkish government
to “sell out” Cyprus. Indeed, she hinted that they would go so far as to
overthrow the Turkish government to prevent it.
Although her threat appeared
toothless at the time, such threats from the periphery nevertheless produce
a sense of disquiet. Indeed, provocations in Turkey over the next months
appeared to have links to Turkish nationalists in Cyprus. The assassination
in May 2006 of a High Court judge in Ankara, originally blamed on Islamists,
eventually was linked to one Muzaffer Tekin, a retired army officer with
ties both to radical organizations in northern Cyprus and the Turkish “deep
state” -- the term used for a nexus of military officers, police chiefs and
far-right paramilitary groups existing in parallel to the official Turkish
state. The assassination marked the crest of a wave of radical
dissatisfaction with the Justice and Development Party government, known for
its neo-liberal policies, its desire for integration into Europe and its
Islamist past. And many analysts link the January 2007 assassination of
respected Armenian Turkish journalist Hrant Dink to the isolationism and
rising nationalism that European attitudes have produced. That nationalism
was fueled by a recent EU decision to freeze segments of Turkey’s admission
negotiations after the country’s refusal to open its ports to Nicosia’s
ships. Although Turkish Cypriots themselves have largely stayed out of the
fray, Cyprus has again come to the fore as a symbol of all that Turkey
stands to lose as it stumbles westward.
Support among the Turkish public for
EU membership has now fallen to an all-time low, in part because of the ways
in which the EU allows the Republic of Cyprus to use its membership. But it
should be no surprise that the same EU that allowed a divided Cyprus to
enter as a political anomaly is now using that anomaly to put obstacles in
the way of Turkey’s EU bid.
LAWFARE IN THE NEW CYPRUS
After the opening of the Green Line,
many Turkish Cypriots traveled to the south to claim advantages available to
them as technical citizens of the Republic. Many acquired EU passports,
while others began to work or to use the south’s better-equipped medical
facilities. Still others sent their children to the English School, an
institution established in the early British colonial period that was
intended to quell nationalist fervor by producing an elite that would be
loyal to the Crown. Ironically, many politicians who played an important
role in the island’s division, including Denktaş and former Greek Cypriot
president Glafkos Clerides, emerged from that school.
The school has a history of
producing graduates who have gone on to study in the best universities in
Britain and who have subsequently become community leaders. It should not be
surprising, then, that almost 70 Turkish Cypriot families chose to send
their children to the school, as soon as they gained access. As with all
such gestures, this was heralded as a step in the direction of bicommunal
harmony and reconciliation, and by all reports students in the school
managed well together until an incident in early December that shocked and
worried both communities.
Although reports are contradictory,
it appears that a 12-year old Turkish Cypriot boy took offense when he saw a
Greek classmate wearing a cross. Reportedly, they argued, possibly fought,
and the Turkish Cypriot boy became angry and spat on the ground. The
right-wing Greek Cypriot newspapers Simerini and Machi printed inflammatory
stories claiming that the Turkish boy spat on the cross and that the school
implemented a ban on religious symbols. The furor that resulted culminated
when about 20 masked Greek Cypriot youths dressed in black entered the
school from outside and attacked five Turkish Cypriot boys. The boys’ Greek
classmates intervened and little serious damage was done, but the shock has
rippled throughout the island. Reports linked the youths to neo-Orthodox
fascist organizations with ties to Greece and names such as “Golden Dawn” (Chrisi
Avgi). Such organizations have been increasingly visible since the opening
of the Green Line, so far with only isolated incidents involving Turkish
At the same time, many Cypriots
discuss the rise of these organizations and the English School incident as
the predictable outcome of policies that have divided the communities since
the ceasefire line opened. The most divisive of such policies has been the
Republic’s implicit and explicit sanction of lawsuits over property that
have created much ill will between the communities. In November 2004, the
decision of one Greek Cypriot refugee to bring a lawsuit against a British
couple who had built a villa on his property in the north sparked a series
of such cases that also encompassed Turkish Cypriots. Soon Turkish Cypriots
opened their own suits, mostly for the expropriation of their properties by
the government in the south. Ironically, it was the open Green Line and the
Republic’s EU entry that allowed this litigation to take place, since
decisions may be appealed to European courts and enforced by EU law, if
enforcement remains impossible in Cyprus. Not surprisingly, the Greek
Cypriot refugee won his case against the British couple, and that case has
now been remanded to Britain, where he hopes to seize the couple’s property
Only a few days before the English
School incident, President Papadopoulos announced the passage of a law that
criminalizes the sale of Greek Cypriot property in the north, in the
unrecognized Turkish Cypriot state. Following the division of the island in
1974, Turkish Cypriots had settled in abandoned Greek Cypriot properties,
and the government in the north eventually issued titles that allowed them
to sell those properties. Now such sales have become criminal offenses,
subject to five years in prison. The use of such legal mechanisms,
encouraged and made possible by the Republic’s EU membership, is an instance
of what has come to be known as “lawfare,” or the continuation of conflict
by legal means. Clearly, that legal battle is escalating.
Although President Papadopoulos
dismissed the November attack on the Turkish Cypriot boys as the work of
“brainless thugs,” Turkish Cypriot president Talat saw it as a natural
outcome of Papadopoulos’ own policies. “Whatever face you show to your
people, that’s how they’ll behave,” Talat noted in an address that month.
“If you design a law that includes Turkish Cypriots living in Greek
property, and if you declare that Turkish Cypriots are criminals and say
that you’re going to put them in jail, how would you expect the Greek
Cypriot people to behave?”
The escalation of tensions has
everyone on edge, waiting for an explosion. Only a day after the English
School incident, Turkish Cypriots crossing to the south reported that Greek
Cypriot police at the ceasefire line refused to accept their identity cards
from the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, insisting that
they would be able to cross only with Republic of Cyprus identity cards.
Many Turkish Cypriots had acquired those cards, along with EU passports,
when the ceasefire line opened; others refused to do so on principle. By
the following day, this “policy” had changed, and Turkish Cypriots were able
to cross. Unfortunately, it is precisely such whims that in the past have
proven so divisive.
What has become strikingly clear in
all of this is that the political use of EU membership has only encouraged
the rise of a militant nationalism that leaves no room for compromises such
as federation. Before the opening of the Green Line, many activists and
analysts still hoped for the development of a multicultural, civic
nationalism in the island that would entail loyalty to a federal state. But
at a recent conference on nationalism in Nicosia, a number of Cypriot
scholars openly discussed the demise of Greek and Turkish nationalisms in
the island and the emergence of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot
nationalisms that express identification with the island while rejecting its
cultural or political unity. Certainly, the communities are divided by the
interests that those loyalties serve, and by the ways in which the
transnational configuration of the EU has given new impetus to local
In Turkish folk literature, the
clownish Nasrettin Hoca is a staple figure, and there are hundreds of
stories and anecdotes about his misguided foolishness. In one such story,
Nasrettin Hoca finds a stork, whose beak and legs he proceeds to amputate in
order to make it resemble a “real” bird. The phrase, “Kuşa benzettım” (“I
made it look like a bird”) refers to the ways in which one may destroy
something with one’s good intentions.
The stumbling of the EU into the
Cyprus morass unfortunately calls to mind the stork’s sad story. The island
has certainly become a more and more European “bird,” with a booming economy
in the south and all the superficial signs of “Europeanness,” such as Gucci
boutiques and chic outdoor cafés. Turkish Cypriots, too, have benefited,
especially economically and educationally, if at a slower pace than their
wealthier, recognized neighbors. But there has been much lost politically.
In contrast to the years prior to the Republic’s EU entry, Greek Cypriot
politicians have now begun to proclaim that they will not “give up” the
Republic, despite previous avowals to support a federal solution that would
have dissolved it. Even Turkish Cypriots, who had supported a federal
solution, appear to be drawing back from it, retreating into a protection of
what is already in hand. That retreat also by necessity entangles Turkey,
whose troops in the island are the only thing giving Turkish Cypriots a
position from which to bargain. And so one can only wonder what sort of
“bird” the island may resemble when its makeover is complete.
Trend in Cyprus
In late April 2004, voters in Cyprus
went to the polls to pass judgment on a plan offered by the United Nations
that held out the hope of ending over 30 years of conflict. The plan,
bearing the name of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, would have reunified the
island that has been divided since 1974, when a Greek-sponsored coup aimed
at uniting the island with Greece provoked Turkish military intervention.
The breakaway Turkish administration declared itself the Turkish Republic of
Northern Cyprus in 1983, but the Greek-controlled Republic of Cyprus remains
the internationally recognized government of the island. Annan and European
chanceries put their weight behind the reunification measure, hoping that
its acceptance would pave the way for a united Cyprus to enter the European
Union on its May 1 accession date. But while a majority of Turkish Cypriots
voted yes, Greek Cypriots—in larger numbers—voted no.
One year after the referendum,
Cyprus is undergoing new and potentially dangerous transformations. Greek
Cypriots rejected the UN plan in the belief that European Union membership
would give them a stronger position from which to negotiate a better deal.
So far, EU membership has brought them little besides ill will from Europe.
What their rejection has wrought in the island is a new period of
inter-communal mistrust, along with rising nationalism in the majority-Greek
On April 17, 2005, Turkish Cypriots
went to the polls again in the final phase of a revolution that over the
past two years led to the opening of checkpoints along the divided island’s
ceasefire line and mobilization in support of the Annan Plan. Turkish
Cypriots elected as their new president long-time opposition leader Mehmet
Ali Talat, who in 2004 led the campaign in favor of the UN scheme. After 22
years in office, hardline President Rauf Denktaş, known for his
determination to keep Turkish and Greek Cypriots apart, did not even bother
to run. But the ouster of Denktaş—seemingly a momentous event—aroused little
joy, as northerners watch Greek Cypriot obstacles to a solution appearing to
mount daily. At 70 percent, the voter turnout was the lowest in the north’s
Indeed, despite Talat’s significant
victory with 55 percent of the vote, Turkish Cypriots are dispirited and
worried in the face of an uncompromising Republic of Cyprus led by a
hardliner who appears in no danger of being ousted. Greek Cypriot President
Tassos Papadopoulos has rejected Annan’s call to submit in writing Greek
Cypriot requests for revisions to the plan rejected in the 2004 referendum.
He has refused to engage in dialogue with Turkish Cypriot leaders and
instead is using his new position as president of an EU country to put
pressure on Turkey, the EU’s most controversial candidate for entry. In lieu
of a negotiated settlement, the government now appears to encourage the use
of individual mechanisms for compensating owners of property lost in the
1974 fighting that led to the island’s division, including using courts both
in Cyprus and in Europe. This strategy promises to institute a new regime of
legal tangles that may not be easily undone at the negotiating table.
What is most apparent in this new
approach is that the Republic’s current government is determined to ignore
Turkish Cypriots as political actors. That was clear at the time of the
referendum and has become more obvious as the leadership of the Republic has
evaded invitations to the negotiating table. But one would not expect
Papadopoulos to be particularly concerned to include Turkish Cypriots, given
his history. Only days after Talat’s election, the Greek Cypriot newspaper
Alitheia created a stir when it publicized that journalist Makarios
Dhroushiotis had documented in his latest book a secret plan proposed by
Papadopoulos to the Greek army in 1964.
The plan provided for the complete annihilation of all Turkish Cypriot
civilians within 75 minutes in the event of an impending Turkish invasion.
Fortunately, Papadopoulos’ Greek military superiors rejected the idea. This
revelation surprised no one, but it led many Turkish Cypriots to ask if
perhaps Papadopoulos’ present strategy might not be a slower, more effective
version of the same plan.
All of this seems to recall a period
that many thought had passed, when Rauf Denktaş turned up his nose at
opportunities for dialogue, insisting on the independence and sovereignty of
his unrecognized state. Moreover, rather than rejecting their rejectionist
leader, Greek Cypriots have, since the referendum, called for solidarity in
the face of world pressure. While the wave that brought Talat to power has
sent ripples through Turkey and Greece, those effects seem to stop at the
ceasefire line that still cuts Cyprus in two. Or, as a Turkish Cypriot
postal worker put it, “We’ve had our revolution in the north. Now we have to
start one in the south.”
Conspiracy Theories Die Hard
Not long ago, right-wing parties in
northern Cyprus canvassed the villages with checkbooks and trucks filled
with children’s shoes and pressure cookers. Getting services, jobs or
promotions depended on one’s party affiliation. It is generally known that
those close to Denktaş were favored in the post-1974 distribution of
property left behind by Greek Cypriots fleeing southward. One leftist says
that such “moneyism,” rather than nationalism, is still very much in
evidence. Denktaş-style rejectionism fell out of fashion after the
checkpoints opened; when better-off Greeks began to visit the north and
patronize Turkish establishments, some of the nationalists went with the
flow. “Those same people who ran around with a flag when Denktaş told them
to,” the leftist says, “danced on the tables when the Greeks came over with
all their money.”
In such an environment, it is not
surprising that Turkish Cypriots should be cynical and prone to conspiracy
theories. Nor should it be surprising that they were anxious to throw off
ties to Turkey. The overwhelming presence of Turkish troops; the opening of
the island to Turkish settlers and workers; the use of Cyprus for the
Turkish black market, including drugs, gambling, prostitution and human
trafficking; and the use by local politicians of ties with Turkey led many
Turkish Cypriots to sour upon a power whose intervention they had once
desired. Turkish Cypriots unable to find work were leaving the island, while
poor Turks were arriving in droves. Denktaş infamously remarked that “the
ones leaving are Turks, the ones coming are Turks,” suggesting that it made
no difference whether they were from Cyprus or Trabzon. This remark is still
repeated by Turkish Cypriots with a certain wry amusement today. The result
was a rebellion against a local regime whose main political tactics seemed
to be bribery and threat.
But while the main slogans of the
Turkish Cypriots’ revolution reviled the Turkish occupation of their island,
events began to take a different turn. By the end of 2002, Turkey was no
longer the same old Turkey, and the new Justice and Development Party was
eager to resolve problems in Cyprus to clear the way for its own EU
accession bid. Meanwhile, the opening of the checkpoints in April 2003 made
it clear that the reunification of the island would not be as simple as
long-lost siblings embracing. Turkish Cypriots had prepared to rebel against
Turkey if necessary, and it was something of a denouement when it turned out
that the new Turkish government was as anxious to be rid of the Cyprus
problem as Cypriots were to be rid of the “motherland.” The real surprise
came when Greek Cypriots, who had always declared themselves ready for a
solution, were caught off guard at the transformation of the subject of
their propaganda into a real possibility. As one Turkish Cypriot researcher
recently phrased it, “Because of Turkey we began to feel ourselves to be
Cypriots. But now, because of the Greeks, we’ve become Turks again.”
One misconception common in the
south is that the key to a solution is simply pressuring Turkey. Greek
Cypriots are aided in this misconception by an interesting coalition of far
left and far right in the north, who have united in the claim that the
revolution that ousted Denktaş and brought Talat to power must be
orchestrated by foreign powers, whether Turkey or the US. The absurdities of
this situation become apparent when one realizes that the far-right,
ultra-nationalist Greek Cypriot newspaper Simerini favors the far-left,
ultraradical Turkish Cypriot newspaper Afrika as its source of information
about the north. The latter insists that the current government in the north
is only a puppet of Turkey, confirming for nationalists in the south that
Turkish Cypriots have no political will of their own, are at the mercy of
Turkey, and should be politically and economically strangled for their own
The reality is that while Turkey’s
cooperation is certainly necessary for any solution to the Cyprus problem,
Turkey could not force a solution on Turkish Cypriots. Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan, recognizing this situation, has repeatedly
invited Cypriot leaders to the negotiating table. In the south, Erdoğan’s
call is seen as evasion, and Papadopoulos now threatens to erect barriers
for Turkey at every step of its EU accession process. These threats are
hailed in the south as a sort of David-and-Goliath battle. Unfortunately,
the only possible results of this legal gamesmanship are either the
Republic’s own further isolation from other EU countries or Turkey’s
withdrawal from the EU process. Seemingly, these are both results that the
Republic should not want, especially after years of insisting that Turkey
should conform to EU norms. But it seems that these days the view from the
moral high ground has grown a bit cloudy.
Preparing the People
These developments are disheartening
for an island that only two years ago experienced the excitement of
long-closed checkpoints opening, allowing Cypriots to visit their former
homes. There was an initial enthusiasm, replete with emotional reunions with
former neighbors in villages left unwillingly behind. But interestingly, it
seems that one of the primary reasons for Greek Cypriots to reject the Annan
Plan was the realization in very concrete ways that life simply would never
be as it once was. What Greek Cypriot civil society leaders now repeat time
and again is that the Annan Plan failed because there was no time “to
prepare the people.” That preparation would have been as much psychological
as political, “preparing” them to accept a new reality that for 30 years had
never been part of their horizon of possibility.
A year ago, not long before the
fateful referendum, I had the opportunity to return with a Greek Cypriot
couple to their former village and to act as interpreter as the Greek
Cypriot woman visited for the first time since 1974 the house where she was
born and grew up. She had fled the village without a chance to look back,
“without even a handkerchief,” as she says. A family from a village outside
Ankara now lives in her childhood home, persuaded to immigrate by their son,
who was wounded during the Turkish invasion of the island. The Turkish
family acquired the property from the government, sold all their land in
their former village and invested in the house that they now fear losing.
Many Greek Cypriots despised the
Annan Plan because it appeared to legalize this sort of plunder. But the
real irony of the plan is that it would have allowed both the Greek Cypriot
couple who desire to return to their village and the Turkish family now
living in their house to remain neighbors in a new sort of community that
many have had difficulty imagining. The plan called for a bizonal, federal
state in which property issues would have been resolved through restitution
or compensation and a limited number of Greek Cypriots would have returned
to their homes. Although it would have returned to the Republic of Cyprus
many villages that before 1974 were primarily Greek, the plan also would
have allowed large numbers of Turkish immigrants to remain in the island. As
a result, the dream of recreating their communities that has sustained Greek
Cypriot refugees for 30 years would have been sacrificed to a realpolitik
that appears to many cynically to disregard the demands of what Greek
Cypriots call “justice.”
The use of abstract, supposedly
universal principles for culturally specific aims has a long history in the
Greek Cypriot community. The dream of uniting the island with Greece was,
even in the early part of the twentieth century, expressed in terms of
abstract principles of “justice.” In the 1950s, Greek Cypriots expressed
that dream in terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Greek
Cypriots understood this as their majoritarian right, even though Turkish
Cypriots perceived the demand for union with Greece as what Tocqueville
called the “tyranny of the majority.” Since the division of the island in
1974, the only “just” solution for Greek Cypriots has been one that would
expel the Turkish army and ensure an absolute return to their homes and the
reconstitution of their communities.
The Annan Plan guaranteed none of
that, and as a result, it was, for most Greek Cypriots, unjust. Much of what
appeared to overtake Greek Cypriots prior to the referendum was a sort of
self-righteousness about compromising such principles. In early May, when
Papadopoulos reiterated that “no hardship, pressure or threat can force me
to sign a settlement that will undermine the present and future of my
country,” many saw him as sticking by the principles that have shaped the
community for decades.
At the same time, such a principle of “justice” helps explain why the same
Greek Cypriots who rejected a plan that would have provided them
compensation for their lost property are now seeking that same compensation
in courts of law.
Moreover, at a psychological level,
large numbers of Greek Cypriots have found themselves caught between the
moral demand that they remember and the pragmatic demand that they forget.
Institutions of memory that have permeated life in the south for 30 years
have been aimed at the constant reliving of trauma, rather than at
overcoming it. Refugee organizations, committees of relatives of missing
persons and even political parties all develop, sustain or symbolize
narratives that produce what historian Dominick LaCapra calls a historical
“acting-out,” or a compulsive repetition of the site of trauma.
Indeed, compulsive “acting-out” has been the dominant mode of historical
engagement in Cyprus for more than 30 years. At the same time, people have,
by necessity, gone on with their lives, creating contradictions that only
became apparent after the opening of the checkpoints, when refugees returned
to their villages and realized that the past was gone. The Annan Plan forced
into full public view the heretical idea that nothing would ever return to
the way it once was.
In this situation, it should not be
surprising that Greek Cypriots are now having some trouble articulating
exactly what they want from a solution. It should also not be surprising
that all official efforts in the past year involve not dialogue with their
Turkish Cypriot compatriots but the use of legal mechanisms gained by their
new position as members of the EU. For those who believe that the only
“just” solution is a full restitution of everything lost, taking the problem
to a court of law seems the natural next step.
The Spoils of War
In the past few years, the north has
sprouted a real estate agency on every corner, many foreign or with foreign
ties. Indeed, since the introduction of the Annan Plan, northern Cyprus has
experienced a property boom. Because the plan would have provided everyone
who has invested in property with compensation, foreigners no longer afraid
of losing their investments in the event of a settlement have begun to
snatch up property in the highly desirable, heretofore undeveloped north.
Turkish Cypriots appalled by the construction’s effects on the environment
nevertheless shrug that as long as they are under embargo, they do not have
many choices. If they cannot export goods, they can at least import buyers.
This development boom has created an
even greater property tangle than the one that previously existed, when the
essential problem was that of Turkish Cypriots and Turkish settlers living
in former Greek Cypriot property, with a smaller number of Greek Cypriots
living in Turkish Cypriot property left in the south. Now not only are
foreigners being issued unrecognized titles to land in an unrecognized
state, but Greek Cypriots are finding their dreams of return cluttered with
bulldozers and bungalow complexes.
Much of the tangle of the current
state of affairs is reflected in what has come to be known as “the Orams
case,” after an English couple by that name. When Meletis Apostolides
returned to his village of Lapithos, now in Turkish northern Cyprus, and
found that the Orams had built a villa in what used to be his garden, he
decided to take the couple to court in the Greek Cypriot south. Not
surprisingly, he won the case, which demanded that the villa be demolished
and compensation paid. The case is currently under appeal, but many are
waiting to see what the EU will do about the unanimous decision of the
parliament of the Republic of Cyprus demanding that the EU extradite EU
citizens such as the Orams. Of course, many frightened foreigners now await
the final results of the Orams case and others like it.
Moreover, since the opening of the
checkpoints and the Republic’s entry into the EU, the south has come into
possession of much more information about northern Cyprus and Turkish
Cypriots than it previously could access. The Republic, in its claim to be
the single government of the entire island, has always recognized Turkish
Cypriots as its citizens. So when the checkpoints opened, large numbers of
Turkish Cypriots, desperate for easier ways to travel, immediately crossed
to receive their identity cards and passports from the Republic. Former
Turkish Cypriot president Denktaş called those acquiring Republic of Cyprus
identity cards traitors, though he later took a more pragmatic view of the
issue when his own grandson became a Republic of Cyprus passport-holder.
At the end of April, the first
lawsuit against a Turkish Cypriot for use of Greek Cypriot property was
brought against a restauranteur in Famagusta, using information obtained
when he applied for an identity card in the south. Because of the open
checkpoints, Greek Cypriot officials were able to bring the summons to the
restauranteur’s front door. In a move that appears to encourage such suits,
the Republic recently passed a law giving a two-year prison sentence to
anyone who occupies the property of a citizen of the Republic without the
legal owner’s permission. With its two-year prison sentence, the law was
intended to meet the EU criteria for extradition. Although the law’s author,
Androulla Vassiliou, claims that the law was not addressed to Turkish
the first four arrest warrants, issued in early May, included three Turkish
Now, hundreds of lawsuits to be brought by Greek Cypriots against their
Turkish compatriots are reportedly queued in the courts of the Republic,
with others pending in the European Court of Human Rights. Because Greek
Cypriots cannot sue a government that they do not recognize, they have
resorted to suing individuals.
In the north, those individuals able
to be sued constitute about 80 percent of the population. Many Turkish
Cypriots originally from the north had their property destroyed when they
fled their villages in 19631964; when they returned more than a decade
later, they settled in Greek Cypriot houses. Many other Turkish Cypriots
came from villages in the south, and the government in the north issued them
Greek Cypriot housing. Most Turkish Cypriots at the time were too war-weary
to think much about the legal consequences. As one woman put it, “I had
three children and a baby in my arms. We had lived in a tent for eleven
years. All I could think about was having a roof over my head.”
Many Turkish Cypriots visiting their
former homes in the south report that the homes are now either rubble or
have been flooded by dams or made into shopping malls, hotels and parking
lots. If the Republic succeeds in implementing the extradition plan, Turkish
Cypriots convicted in the Republic’s courts will no longer be able either to
cross to the south or to set foot on European soil without risk of arrest.
For some there are ominous reminders in all this of the period between 1963
and 1974, when Turkish Cypriots were forced into enclaves but encouraged to
emigrate by the then Greek-controlled Republic, which many report offered
them plane tickets and passports. Much of the construction boom in the
north, and especially its sales to foreigners, bears an unfortunate
resemblance to stripping bare a sinking ship.
There is now some talk of Turkish
Cypriots initiating their own lawsuits, but some reports say that the
Republic is blocking information for Turkish Cypriots wishing to sue for
compensation for their own property in the south. The disappointment for
many is that the Annan Plan had promised to rescue Turkish Cypriots from a
life built on spoils and from the tenuousness of an existence in which all
aspects of life are “so-called” and dubiously legal. Now they are faced with
the possible creation of a legal, de facto “solution” that would stand in
the way of a true political one.
“We just have too many lawyers,”
commented one Greek Cypriot activist, “and we’ve all been trained to think
of the legal side of things. We have to start thinking of the human side.”
But that human side may also be changing. One Turkish Cypriot mukhtar
recently put it rather simply: “We gave lives in the name of all of this.
For them [Greek Cypriots], it was more a matter of losing property.” While
the mukhtar’s comment in no way reflects the reality of Greek Cypriot
losses, it certainly reflects a perception that seems to be growing in
momentum among Turkish Cypriots today: namely, that Greek Cypriots want it
all, and they will sell their compatriots up the river to get it.
In this atmosphere, it is not
surprising that even Turkish Cypriots who a year ago voted in favor of a
plan that would have brought Greek Cypriots into their communities now say
that they do not want them there. We want a solution, they say, but not one
that brings them back. For Greek Cypriots now asking what they lost in
voting against the Annan Plan, this should be an important answer.
The Pieces of Peace
When Papadopoulos declared in his
pre-referendum speech that “I took over an internationally recognized state.
I am not going to hand over ‘a community,’” it was difficult at the time to
imagine the resonance that that statement would have among Greek Cypriots.
In fact, it may have surprised some Greek Cypriots to realize that they had
developed a loyalty to the republic that they had never wanted. The Greek
Cypriot anti-colonial fight had been the only one in the world aimed not at
independence but at annexation to another country. “The flag of the Republic
of Cyprus is the best in the world,” former President Glafcos Clerides once
remarked, “because it’s the only one that no one would die for.” Yet many
Greek Cypriots apparently discovered a loyalty to the Republic when they
felt under threat of losing it. What the Republic now guarantees them is a
political voice of their own and a legal weapon with which to fight for the
justice that they believe the Annan Plan denied them. Giving up their status
as the only recognized government of the island would mean giving up their
chances of getting anything more.
Overwhelming rejection of the Annan
Plan and the belief in the impending success of legal mechanisms appears to
be emboldening individuals in a trend that many see can only lead to
conflict. During the Easter holiday, many Greek Cypriots crossed to the
north to visit their former homes and villages. Among them was a group of
refugees from the village of Karmi, formerly an entirely Greek village and
now a quaint community of foreigners who have restored the village houses on
long-term leases. Foreign residents in the north have borne the brunt of
Greek Cypriot ire since the checkpoints opened, and Karmi, as a foreign
enclave, has reportedly experienced more than most. When a Greek Cypriot
woman entered the garden of her father’s coffee shop to pick flowers, she
was stopped by policemen called in by the current resident. She and her
companions were arrested for trespassing, detained overnight and released
with a fine.
On both sides, it seems, good will
is wearing thin. Indeed, the specter of Greek Cypriot officials turning up
at one’s door with summons or eviction notices has led many people openly to
declare that they will not go out without a fight. In the wake of these new
and dangerous developments, Turkish Cypriot parties and newspapers that were
a year ago in the forefront of the peace movement and support of the Annan
Plan now openly say that Turkish Cypriots are under no obligation to unite
with the south. Certainly, if matters continue to move in this direction,
the reclosing of the ceasefire line that divides the island seems to be only
a matter of time.
Result in Cyprus
The April 24, 2004 referendum on a
plan to reunite Cyprus marks a turning point in the island's history. While
65 percent of Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the plan, Greek Cypriots
rejected it by a resounding majority of 76 percent. European observers were
shocked by the anti-democratic conduct of the campaign in the Greek Cypriot
south. The negotiator in charge of the Republic of Cyprus' European Union
accession went so far as to confess that he "felt duped." Greek Cypriots
rallied around a leader known for his extreme nationalism and unwillingness
to compromise. Turkish Cypriots, in contrast, cast aside their equally
rejectionist leader and campaigned vocally in support of the plan. But while
many observers were taken aback by this turn of events, it is in fact a
sadly logical outcome of the ideologies and institutions that have shaped
much of the island's recent history.
THE "SATANIC" PLAN
Cyprus has been divided and trapped
in a political stalemate for 30 years, ever since Turkish troops landed in
the island in 1974 in response to a Greek-sponsored coup aimed at annexing
the island to Greece. Only when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan laid a
reunification plan on the negotiating table in November 2002 were hopes
revived that the Cyprus problem would be resolved. Both European Union and
UN officials wished to see a settlement before May 1, when the Republic of
Cyprus was set to join the EU. Despite the declaration in 1983 of a
supposedly sovereign Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only the
Greek-governed Republic is internationally recognized, and it was to join
the EU as the representative government of the entire island. Without a
settlement, the Turkish troops now stationed in the north of Cyprus would
become occupiers of EU soil.
The Annan Plan called for a loose
federation under an umbrella government that would have restricted powers
over two constituent states generally defined along ethnic lines. The border
would have followed the current ceasefire line, though the line would have
been adjusted in order to give the Greek Cypriot constituent state certain
territories that formerly had large Greek populations. The Turkish Cypriots
currently living in those areas would have been relocated to newly built
settlements in the Turkish constituent state. All property claims resulting
from the division of the island would have been resolved, either through
restitution or compensation. The state of uncertainty and isolation in which
Turkish Cypriots have lived for 30 years would have been replaced by
citizenship in an EU member state.
When Annan first presented his plan,
many in Cyprus complained that the document contained too many blank pages
-- the areas to be worked out in negotiations. Since that time, diplomatic
talks and behind-the-scenes wrangling between Turkish and Greek Cypriot
bureaucrats resulted in the completion of a 9,000-page document that went
before the Cypriot people on April 24. All blanks were filled, down to the
design of the new confederation's flag and the approval of a national anthem
(without words, allowing the bureaucrats to avoid choosing Greek or Turkish
lyrics). Many of the thousands of pages simply listed the rules and
regulations that would govern the branches of the new government, the United
Cyprus Republic. But for those who wished to undermine the plan, its very
obesity became a stumbling block. Greek Cypriot President Tassos
Papadopoulos complained of the "unworkability" of the plan, and few were
sufficiently well-versed in its details to argue with him. Long-time Turkish
Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash complained that no one could have the time to
study a 9,000-page document before the referendum.
But even Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented that Denktash's objections were disingenuous.
Turkish Cypriots were in fact well-prepared to vote on the plan. Beginning
with the 2002 announcement, Turkish Cypriots began a long, hard struggle to
change their government, to gain the support of Turkey and to educate the
electorate. For many voters, the referendum's passage would have meant
displacement, as land where Turkish Cypriot refugees now live would have
been given to the south. But even in those districts where thousands of
Turkish Cypriots would have been relocated, the plan was approved with a
resounding majority, for it would have meant a new state of certainty about
In contrast, Greek Cypriots certain
of their own future as the wealthiest of the new EU member states spent
little time discussing the plan. Up until the day of the referendum, polls
showed that almost 70 percent of Greek Cypriots felt that they did not
understand it, especially the complicated procedures for the return of
refugees and restitution of property. The plan was presented to them in bits
of propaganda and in the diatribes of the church, many of whose leaders
condemned the plan as "satanic" and threatened their flocks with damnation
if they voted in favor. The broadcast media put a heavily negative spin on
the plan, and leading EU diplomats complained that they had not been allowed
to explain their own views on the plan. Since Papadopoulos owns 33 percent
shares of the three largest private television stations in the south, the
rough media treatment of the plan is not surprising.
In an exit poll, more than 70
percent of Greek Cypriots who rejected the plan said that their reason was
"security." The security fear, repeatedly raised in the media, emerged over
Turkey's right as a guarantor power to intervene to restore constitutional
order in the event of a political collapse, a right that Greek Cypriots and
much of the world agree Turkey abused when it stayed in the island after
intervening in 1974. Turkey, along with Greece and Great Britain, gained
that right in the 1960 Zurich Agreement that secured Cyprus' independence;
it would have retained the right under the Annan Plan. But the Zurich
Agreement was not sent to referendum, and the question of approving Turkey's
guarantor status became a point of honor among Greek Cypriots prior to the
referendum. As numerous Greek Cypriots put it, echoing their party leaders:
"In Zurich, they forced Turkey on us. Now they want us to put our signature
Hence, it should not be surprising
that the referendum results were lopsided. In response, the EU and US are
contemplating ways to "reward" the north for its cooperation. That reward
has already included an easing of the embargo against the export of northern
Cypriot goods, and it may soon mean direct flights into the north of the
island, which could bring a dramatic increase in tourism. As a reward for
the cooperation of the Turkish government in securing a Turkish Cypriot
"yes," the EU will not consider Turkey's troops to be in occupation of EU
soil. Indeed, it seems that the ceasefire line that divides the island will
now mark the boundary of Europe.
This development was heralded as a
triumph of Turkish diplomacy, and Denktash, along with his right-wing
nationalist supporters in Turkey, breathed a sigh of relief. Before the
referendum, Denktash had campaigned against the plan and promised that a
"yes" vote would mean his withdrawal from politics. But as soon as the
outcome was announced, Denktash proclaimed it a victory, saying that he had
wanted this result and that he would not resign. Although Turkish Cypriots
who had campaigned in favor of the plan celebrated their "victory"
throughout the night, by the next morning the wariness had already set in.
What was in store for them now? What would the Republic of Cyprus do after
it joined the European Union on May 1? Even more importantly, could there be
any other efforts after this?
Turkish Cypriots are not only wary,
but also weary. After a long campaign in which politicians and civil society
organizations canvassed villages and debated the plan in coffee shops, there
is a general sense that there can be no more. This is in direct opposition
to the proclamation by Greek Cypriot communist leader Dimitris Christofyas
that "our no vote was intended to cement a yes." While Greek Cypriots talked
of the referendum as only one step toward reunification, for Turkish
Cypriots and much of the international community the referendum was the
final step that would determine the future of the island. The placard held
by one of the flood of celebrants in the streets of north Nicosia expressed
the sentiment concisely: "65 Percent Yes/Solution, 75 Percent No/Division."
Division, or taksim in Turkish, had long been Denktash's "solution" to the
Cyprus problem. It was no wonder, then, that crowds not only shouted "Denktash
resign," but also "Denktash to the south." Denktash was known for telling
his critics that they should "go to the south," where they would presumably
find persons of like mind. Now, it seems, the tables are turned.
REIGN OF DENKTASHOPOULOS
In separate speeches preceding the
election, both Denktash and Papadopoulos caused something of a stir with
their tearful deliveries. Denktash cried before a meeting of nationalists in
Bursa, Turkey; Papadopoulos cried asking the Greek Cypriot community to vote
no. But in those last weeks, I saw many people cry. A friend who is a
long-time communist party member cried on the day before the referendum for
what he feared would be the results. A Turkish Cypriot friend cried after
she cast her vote in favor of the plan, wondering if she had done the right
thing. The referendum was a period of high emotional anxiety, as average
people felt torn between their desire to see a reunited island and their
Denktash and Papadopoulos were no
doubt equally sincere in their own tears, but they cried for fear of what
they might lose. Both leaders have been players of Cyprus' political games
for more than 40 years. In late 1963, Denktas crossed from Turkey in a small
motor boat and landed in the northwest village of Kokkina/Erenkoy, bringing
guns and the intention to lead the defense of the village enclave, which was
then under attack by Greek Cypriot nationalists. An article published in the
Politis newspaper during the recent negotiations showed a photograph of
Papadopoulos early in 1963, inspecting machine guns that he received from
Greece. Stories have long circulated in the island of exchanges of weapons,
money and favors between the Greek and Turkish nationalist groups that were
then in conflict. All this history helps to explain an ironic remark by a
Turkish Cypriot NGO leader at a recent rally; those opposed to the plan, he
said, had fallen for the strategy of "Denktashopoulos."
Denktash has recently been
discredited both in the Turkish Cypriot community and in Turkey. When he
walked away from negotiations over the Annan Plan in early 2003, he spurred
tens of thousands of Turkish Cypriots to pour into the streets in protest.
On April 23 of that year, Denktash responded to the protests by opening the
ceasefire line that had divided the island for almost 30 years. Refugees
returning to their old homes and those curious to see the long forbidden
flooded across the line. The tenor of Cypriot politics completely changed.
Even so, Denktash's party received a small portion of the vote in the
December 2003 elections and returned only as part of a new coalition
government. Denktash remains president, but his prime minister -- his
long-time opponent, Mehmet Ali Talat -- is now the interlocutor for the EU,
the US and the UN. Denktash's stubborn insistence on retaining power has
caused him a crisis of legitimacy even in Turkey, where he was long regarded
as a hero.
When Turkey's Justice and
Development Party came to power in November 2002, it was clear that the fate
of Cyprus would change. Party leaders dropped hints that Cyprus was a
problem that needed to be solved, because their main goal was entry into the
EU. The JDP approach contrasted deeply with the uncompromising stance of
previous governments, which had earned the support of the Turkish military
but the ire of Europe. In January 2004, Erdogan announced that the military
was in agreement with his strategy to restart negotiations, even though an
agreement would mean a gradual withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island.
As was repeated again and again in the Turkish press, it would not be a good
thing for Turkey to have to sit across the EU negotiating table from a
Cyprus represented only by Greek Cypriots.
Heading into the referendum,
Denktash and key leaders of the JDP, including Erdogan, commenced a battle
of words. After Denktash delivered his tearful address in Bursa, Erdogan
asked, "Why do you come to Turkey and talk to some marginal groups? Go back
and talk in Cyprus." The implication was that Denktash had lost legitimacy
among Turkish Cypriots and was attempting -- as he had done so often in the
past -- to stir up hardliners in Turkey. Leaders of ultra-right Turkish
parties did in fact arrive in the island to campaign in the week before the
referendum. Not coincidentally, at the same time Cypriot members of the Gray
Wolves, a violently fascist-nationalist organization, called on Turkish
members to come to the island, where they were responsible for violence and
threats against supporters of the Annan Plan. In the island itself, these
efforts were seen as the agonies of a dying regime. The hardliners did not
dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands who turned out in the main squares of
Nicosia to sing and shout in celebration of their "victory" when a "yes"
vote became clear. Denktash, then, has become a marginalized leader who has
lost even the support of the state that had for so long kept him in power.
Tassos Papadopoulos, on the other
hand, is continuing his rise from the political ashes. Papadopoulos is a
lawyer known for his past involvement in anti-Turkish activities, and, more
recently, for helping Slobodan Milosevic launder several billion dollars
that fueled the war in Bosnia. In 2003, he was voted into power with the
surprising support of the communist party, AKEL. During the election
campaign, Papadopoulos' stance on the Annan Plan was contradictory. He
expressed support for it at the same time that he said he would never sign a
plan that would not return Kyrenia, one of the disputed territories now in
northern Cyprus. AKEL, which suffered at the hands of nationalists in the
1950s and 1960s, has long commanded a large following in the island, though
not large enough to put them in power. By backing Papadopoulos, AKEL put
itself into the government, but at the expense of values it has long
supported: cooperation with Turkish Cypriots, reintegration and
reconciliation. Even AKEL, the only party that can claim a bicommunal
heritage, was forced to make its official stance a "no" to the Annan Plan.
In his tearful speech, Papadopoulos
stressed three main objections to the Annan Plan. It gave in to Turkey's
interests, he claimed, because it kept a symbolic number of troops in the
island (650 Turkish and 900 Greek), and it retained Turkey's right as a
guarantor power. It legitimated occupation and division because it allowed
most of the Turkish settlers in the north to remain, did not allow the right
of return to all refugees and reduced the Republic of Cyprus to a
constituent state. The third point was a conclusion drawn from the first two
objections: if the Republic is reduced to a constituent state, and Turkey
still has troops in the island, then Greek Cypriots must trust Turkey to
fulfill its promises. Instead, he argued, Greek Cypriots should hold out for
the better plan that they would be able to negotiate after EU entry, and
they should not believe the threats of foreign powers.
These three points were reiterated
by Greek Cypriots justifying their own opposition. Supporters of the plan,
including EU and UN negotiators, were frustrated by what they saw as the
disingenuousness of Papadopoulos' complaints. For instance, it was always
known and accepted that a federation would mean that Greek Cypriots would
become part of a constituent state -- why the objection now? Also, while not
all refugees had the absolute right of return, all refugees did have the
right to use of one third of their property, meaning that those who could
not return could keep a summer house and spend weekends there. The two
living former presidents of the Republic, Glafkos Clerides and George
Vassiliou, both of whom had long negotiated within similar frameworks, came
out in favor of the Annan Plan. But their efforts bore no fruit.
Indeed, much of the atmosphere in
advance of the referendum was defiant. In an open letter to Papadopoulos on
the eve of the third stage of the negotiations, the right-wing newspaper
Simerini claimed that "if they pressure you and if you submit, the judgment
of history will be implacable.... Because you will be the first Greek who
with your signature dissolves and surrenders your homeland to our enemy,
without a military defeat." Such views of Greek honor ultimately triumphed.
The irony is that Greek Cypriot
opposition to the plan appears to present the danger of realizing the goal
of their long-time enemy, Rauf Denktash, who has for decades demanded that
the international community accept the de facto partition of the island. For
once, as the Turkish press delighted in pointing out, it is not Turkey but
the Greek Cypriots who appear intransigent. A further irony is that despite
oppression and censorship, Turkish Cypriots have created a lively debate
around their own future and the future of the island, while the supposedly
free and democratic Republic is now haunted by accusations of censorship and
intimidation. How did things reach this point?
INSTITUTIONS OF IDEOLOGY
In Greek Cypriot rhetoric, the
northern part of Cyprus is referred to as "the occupied areas," while the
south constitutes the "free zone." A Turkish Cypriot friend whose opposition
to Denktash led her to move several years ago to the south has long worked
for reconciliation and the reunification of the island. But even she, on the
night of the referendum, joked that perhaps now she should move to the "free
zone," by which she meant the north. Her remark succinctly expressed the
general sense that Turkish Cypriots have engaged in and won a political
battle that their Greek Cypriot compatriots have yet to contemplate -- a
battle against the oppressive forces of their own regime.
For 30 years, the Republic of Cyprus
has been the recognized government of the island, while the government of
the north is always referred to as a "pseudo-state" with "so-called"
ministers and a "so-called" president. The Republic has maintained various
state fantasies that shape popular views of the Cyprus problem. Refugees
from the north vote in national elections as though they still live in their
former villages, and the parliament is made up of representatives who
supposedly represent areas now under Turkish control. These same refugees
vote into office mayors of their towns and villages. The mayors are viewed
as the "real" and the "legitimate" mayors, despite the fact that they have
no access to the municipalities and so do nothing besides crank out
propaganda and organize outings for elderly refugees. In the meantime, the
Turkish Cypriot mayors who actually manage the towns and villages are
"so-called" mayors who are part of the "pseudo-state."
In the meantime, Turkish Cypriots
have been keenly aware of the tenuousness of their situation. Not only have
they lived under an embargo, but they carry an unrecognized passport and so
have been forced to obtain passports from either Turkey or the Republic,
which still counts them among its citizens. With the Republic's acceptance
to the EU, many Turkish Cypriots chose the latter option; now many wonder
what will happen to those passports if the Republic is no longer the sole
government of the island. Many Turkish Cypriots were also resettled after
1974 in Greek Cypriot houses, often in areas that they knew might eventually
be returned. In such areas, they were often reluctant to invest in the
maintenance of houses and property, because they never knew when they might
have to leave. As a friend commented, "We lived a false life in a made-up
state, and now we have to face the consequences."
While Turkish Cypriots have lived
the quotidian realities of a "made-up state," Greek Cypriots have lived the
quotidian fantasies of recognition. Moreover, Greek Cypriot politics has
long been centralized and party-oriented, leading to a general malaise. At
the start of the last round of negotiations, several thousand Turkish
Cypriots gathered spontaneously in one of Nicosia's central squares to
express their support of a settlement. Such meetings have become common in
the north, an expression of a newfound capacity for local democracy. Even at
the time, they repeated the question, "Why is nothing happening on the Greek
side?" But Turkish Cypriots knew very well that nothing was happening
because Greek Cypriots felt secure in their advantage of wealth, recognition
and imminent entry into the EU.
The initial wave of enthusiasm after
the opening of the ceasefire line in 2003 was followed by the onset of
something worse than malaise: an unwillingness to converse, even when there
was a chance. At a March meeting of almost 4,000 refugees from Kyrenia,
organizers who vilified the plan claimed to want "a just solution for Greek
Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots," but had invited no Turkish Cypriots to the
meeting. Bicommunal meetings or initiatives are sparsely attended by Greek
Cypriots. While Turkish Cypriots arrive at meetings eager to discuss and
negotiate the future of education in the island or health initiatives, Greek
Cypriots have been more reticent. This willingness to leave politics to the
politicians has meant a general wariness about a plan that depended on the
good will of the people for its workability. Those who favored the plan saw
it as a start, something to be worked on and improved as Cypriots built
mutual trust. But building that trust requires work, and work requires
motivation. For many, it was not clear what their motivation might be.
It is no wonder, then, that Greek
Cypriot politicians who claim, in a naively patronizing way, that they will
negotiate a better solution "for both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots"
still have an audience in the south. For 30 years, Greek Cypriots have
claimed to speak for their Turkish Cypriot compatriots, who lived in an
unrecognized state and were portrayed in the media of the south as silent
prisoners of an illegal regime. Such fantasies die hard, and only now are
Greek Cypriots beginning to recognize that their Turkish compatriots have
political voices of their own. It is only when those voices are heard in the
south, and real dialogue emerges, that there can be any hope of
reconciliation in the island.
Are Turkish Cypriots the lost
sons of Venice?
The question is not meant to be
provocative; rather it is simply an invitation for debate following what
appears to be a general denouement of this very matter. While some circles
of Turkish Cypriots have already an accepted this theory, others have
resisted with zeal. Admittedly, those affected in this debate are not the
entire Turkish Cypriot community by all accounts but rather those
originating for generations from such villages as Louroujina, Potamia,
Monarga and the Tylliria region.
Traditionally bilingual, these
Turkish Cypriots as well as being able to converse fluently in Cypriot Greek
(Kypriakos Dialectos or the phonetically correct Gibreiga) frequently had
Italian surnames or at least used to. This fascinating group, the
descendants of the Linobambaki or Crypto Christians to give it its less
derogatory term are clearly the creation (not anomaly) of living on the
front line of two great abrahamic religions.
Sadly as a result of the lingering
Cyprus question, which has forced minority communities to make choices,
whether they want to be ‘Greek or Turkish,’ the former
So who were the Crypto- Christians?
According to M de Cesnola who visited the island under Ottoman rule, many
Linobambaki were originally Roman Catholics who converted to Islam and not
Greek Orthodox as thought. Another Latin Jerome Dandini makes a similar
claim after visiting the island on the way to Terra Santa in the 17th
century. Are these Roman Catholics telling the truth? Or is there some
Catholic bias here? Whatever the case, such news often delights some Turkish
Cypriots keen on romanticizing their heritage, particularly a time when
Cypriots all look to Europe for their inspiration.
Time and time again, I heard people
from Louroujina (Laurentia), Monarga (Monagria), Potamia and even Ayios
Sozomenos near the tomb of Queen Catherine Cornaro talk casually about a
lost Venetian or Frankish heritage, while attributing everything from their
facial features to their business acumen to their ancestors. An idea that
emanated from one anonymous Louroujina man who on account of his fair hair
and blue eyes claimed to be of Latin decent; He claimed that was about to
take the current Italian Republic to court for abandoning him in the 16th
century. I think he was pulling my leg!
Perhaps this is wishful thinking by
a group of vainglorious Cypriots trying to resurrect a false past or perhaps
is there some truth in this?
According to oral history passed
down for generations, the name Louroujina, Louroudjina or the Turkish
spelling ‘Luricina’ (today known as Akincilar) was named after an Italian
maiden called Lorenza or Laurentia who fell over and died on its very spot.
Laurentia supported a mostly Latin populace before the Ottoman conquest with
numerous estates belonging to Italian and French families. Were these estate
holders murdered after the 1572 Ottoman conquest or did they convert to
Islam to save their lives?
In our secular world, we would argue
that they proselytised to Islam, but perhaps religion was so important to
them that facing the sword as Brigadino himself did was natural. If we
accept this argument, one is still compelled to ask, if Louroujina became
Muslim after 1572, then how comes the inhabitant spoke Greek for so long?
For those who believe Louroujina is
insignificant in the Turkish Cypriot community, they would be surprised to
learn that Louroujina was one of the largest and most important Turkish
Cypriot villages of the island with over one thousand five hundred souls
during the time of the 1960 population census. Nestled beside a hill, the
village with its yellow stone houses amid empty plots of land with farm
equipment and rusty steel windmill looks like any average Cypriot village
that has suffered from the war, but many of the most influential and most
successful Turkish Cypriots come from there. There are over 7,000 Louroujina
folk among the British diaspora alone.
But Louroujina’s history is an
unusual one, where religious rivalry resulted in the beheading of the local
priest by the imam followed by mass conversion of an entire populace within
a few generations to Dar al-Islam. Another Louroujina resident Ali, who
speaks excellent Cypriot Greek, informed me that his grand parents spoke
Greek to him, his parents were bilingual. Turkish he claims was taught in
the 1940s when teachers were shipped from Turkey to serve in the village.
However, Cyprus is a complicated
place, knowledge of the Cypriot Greek vernacular does not necessary mean
they were originally Greek Orthodox Christians. Latin and Maronite Catholics
long spoke Greek in the Near East, even before the Ottomans arrived. Even in
neighbouring Lebanon, Greek was the liturgical language of the Maronite
Church. In multi-cultural Cyprus, where nothing is as it seems, there is
often a paradigm way of thinking, where if one speaks Greek then that means
they are Greek. If they were Greek Orthodox previously, then why were the
neighbouring villages of Athienou, Pyroi and Lymbia not also converted to
Islam? Could it be it was because Louroujina was Catholic?
Furthermore as I mentioned above
Cypriot Greek much like the Cypriot Turkish dialect has borrowed many loan
words from Italian, enough to perplex an Athenian or Istanbulite. Although
there seems to be some ignorance of this, as people would only rightfully
recognise that the words are Italian if they knew Italian. Terms like
“Fundana” come from the Italian Fontana (Fountain), while “Borta” stems from
Porta (Door) and “Estrada” whose roots derive from the Italian word for
Street – Strada. Even in the 1518, there seemed to be bilingualism on the
island, silk merchant Jacques Le Saige who visited Cyprus noted that even in
church at one end the pilgrims chanted in Latin but in the middle they
chanted the choir in Greek.
Nineteenth century British visitor
to Cyprus RLN Michel who wrote “The Muslim-Christian Sect in Cyprus” in 1908
reported that while most Catholics were “wiped out, small remnants of the
community adopted Islam, faced slavery or death.” Citing the village of
Monarga as Linobambaki, he estimated that rather than face death,
“relatively larger numbers avoided persecution by the adoption of Islam.”
But not everybody is enthusiastic
about the theory, one elderly gentleman called Yusuf who once worked in the
British Civil service and who spoke impeccable English did not seem too hot
on the idea of the phenomena of Crypto-Christians. In fact when I took out a
paper on Louroujina, where he was from, after having perused its content,
said “Ne mutlu Türküm Diyene” (Fortunate am I to call myself a Turk) the man
threw the paper down before looking haughtily into a different direction. I
had clearly offended him.
Such die-hard attitudes are
widespread in Cyprus where Greekicisation and Turkicisation has narrowed the
minds of Cypriots leading to selective national history. Rather than accept
and embrace our very diverse heritage, we instil a false history, one
claiming to be from the most Turkish part of Turkey and the other from
fruits of the Ancient Greek loins with no room for anything else. Whatever
your ancestry, it is your ancestry, you have no control over it in the same
way that one has no control over one’s birth, however what it shows is just
how diverse each Cypriot community is. For those still sceptical of this
diversity, Cyprus is far too rich and complex to be solely a Greco-Turkish
affair, perhaps the answer to my previous question is, we may well be the
lost sons or daughters of Venice, but don’t all rush to apply for your
about Cyprus Part 2:
I would like to start out by saying that Mr. Argyrou in his article "'The
truth about Cyprus' is a lie," published on January 1, 2007, was very
mistaken regarding my views on Greek Cypriots and Greeks. My statements were
not hate-filled propaganda. I never said any thing derogatory about the
Greek Cypriot people or Greeks in general. I only criticized their general
policy and their treatment of the Turkish Cypriot people.
My article, "The truth about Cyprus," was not a lie, as Mr. Argyrou would
like readers to believe. Cyprus is over 600 miles away from Greece. It has
never been under Greek rule through out history. Before the Ottomans
arrived, it belonged to the Venetians. Turkish Cypriots are not foreigners
in Cyprus, as Mr. Argyrou would like people to falsely believe. Turks have
been on the island for over 500 years. There has been a Turkish quarter of
Nicosia for quite some time. Otherwise, Harry Scott Gibbons would not have
been able to describe the Greek Cypriot massacre of Turkish Cypriots in the
1960's in his book, "The Genocide Files." Actually, it was in the Turkish
Quarter of Nicosia where the genocide against Turkish Cypriots began. In no
period of history was the Turkish Quarter of Nicosia an Armenian Quarter.
Mr. Argyrou is extremely misinformed about Greek Cypriot patriotic songs
that are taught in Greek Cypriot schools. Their primary slogans are very
similar to the recent graphite's that were written on the top of the highest
building near the Ledra Street border gate in Nicosia. The graphite's
stated, "Death to the Turks" and "Axe and fire to the Turkish dogs." The
Turkish Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that, "Having failed to
adopt any measures to prevent incidents such as the inhumane treatment of
our citizens and foreigners at the border gates, the extensive damage
inflicted on the cars carrying TRNC license plates and the beating-up of the
Turkish Cypriot students studying at the British School in the South, the
Greek Cypriot leadership has opted for a policy of lending support to such
incidents." I would hardly call slogans advocating mass murder of an entire
group of people songs "about freedom from brutal Turkish oppression," as Mr.
The Ottoman Empire was not as bad as Mr. Argyrou would like Israelis to
believe. In 1492, Sultan Bayezid II was one of the few rulers of his day who
accepted the expelled Jews of Spain with open arms. Jews held prominent
positions in the Ottoman System, as did Christians. There were no pogroms in
the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Turks did not force people to convert or die
by the sword. The Ottoman Empire was one of the most tolerant empires in
human history. Everyone was treated according to their laws: Jews and
Christians had their own laws that were applied only to their societies,
whereas Muslims had their own laws that were only applied to them. The
allegation that minorities were treated badly in the Ottoman Empire is
inaccurate. Anyone who seriously studies Ottoman history is astonished by
the level of freedom for minorities in the Ottoman Empire compared to any of
the other empires that existed during that exact same time period.
Minorities were never second class citizens. In fact, minorities were
favored over Turkish people. Most of the Famous Pashas, high ranked
government officials and army commanders were of non-Muslim origin.
Minorities were exempted from being soldiers. This gave them many
opportunities to pursue business, a privilege that the Greeks benefited
from. The Phanariots became so rich they became the monetary bank of the
entire empire. In return, they were charged a small extra wealth tax. I am
sure that the Greek Cypriots were more than willing to pay to be exempted
from Turkish army work!
The Treaty of Guarantee, written in 1960 after the British departed from
Cyprus, did not violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as Mr.
Argyrou claimed. To the contrary, it was a treaty that reaffirmed the human
rights of every body on the island. This treaty stated that Turkey, Greece,
the United Kingdom, the Greek Cypriots, and the Turkish Cypriots would all
guarantee the independence of Cyprus. Cyprus was to be a republic. According
to a report written by the British Parliament, "From its very inception, the
Republic of Cyprus was never a unitary state in which there is only one
electorate with a majority and minority. The two communities were political
equals and each existed as a political entity, just as both large and small
states exist within the structure of the European Union." The President
would be Greek Cypriot; the Vice President would be Turkish Cypriot. Power
rested in the legislative branch, which was 70% Greek Cypriot and 30%
Turkish Cypriot. The Treaty of Guarantee is democratic in the sense that it
respected every body's rights, like all liberal democratic systems should.
Also, it is important to remember that this treaty was not imposed by the
British. The Turks, Greeks, British, Turkish Cypriots, and Greek Cypriots
are all on record of consenting to this treaty with their own free will.
Their signatures are all on the Treaty of Guarantee, one of the founding
treaties of the 1960's Republic of Cyprus. For this reason, it is ridiculous
that the Greek Cypriots signed this treaty with their own free will and then
say that it was imposed on them, thus justifying their persecution of the
Mr. Argyrou is wrong to state that the Turks pulled out of the government in
the 1960's. They were forced out of the government by the Greek Cypriots,
who high jacked the constitution and started a campaign of genocide against
the Turkish Cypriots. As Makarios stated himself in a sermon at Panayia
village on September 4, 1962, "Until this Turkish community forming part of
the Turkish race which has been the terrible enemy of Hellenism is expelled,
the duty of the heroes of EOKA can never be considered as terminated."
Contrary to the myths made by Mr. Argyrou, the Turks were unarmed and
without support. Even the Turkish Cypriot police were unarmed, thus leading
them to be taken hostage by the Greek Cypriot police, who were armed, as
documented by Harry Scott Gibbons in the "Genocide Files." Thus, for eleven
years, the Turkish Cypriots would suffer unspeakable tragedies. The UK
Commons Select Committee found that "There is little doubt that much of the
violence which the Turkish Cypriots claim led to the total or partial
destruction of 103 Turkish villages and the displacement of about a quarter
of the total Turkish Cypriot population, was either directly inspired by, or
certainly connived at, by the Greek Cypriot leadership."
It is absolutely mind-boggling how Mr. Argyrou distorts history. The Akritas
Plan was not a reform of the constitution that the Greek Cypriots consented
to. Even Greek Cypriot Lt. General George Karayiannis admitted this, when he
stated that "When the Turkish Cypriots objected to the amendment of the
constitution Makarios put his plan into effect, and the Greek Cypriot attack
began in December 1963." In other words, the Akritas Plan was the Greek
Cypriot plan on how to deceive the world about their true intentions, which
was the mass murder of the Turkish Cypriots since they refused to accept
changes that would make them third class citizens. As the Akritas Plan
states, "we must be ready to proceed immediately through actions, including
the immediate declaration of Enosis." According to a statement that Makarios
made to Bunte Illustrierte in 1972, "The union of Cyprus with Greece
(Enosis) required the extermination of the Turkish Cypriot community."
Whether Mr. Argyrou likes it or not, Makarios is the terrorist, not Denkta÷.
In fact, Professor Ernst Forsthoff, the neutral President of the Supreme
Constitutional Court of Cyprus, told Die Welt on December 27, 1963, that "Makarios
bears on his shoulders the sole responsibility of the recent tragic events."
Makarios was the leader of EOKA, a Greek Cypriot terrorist organization that
is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
One cannot help but be amazed at how Mr. Argyrou perverts the history of
Bloody Christmas. Bloody Christmas is a historic fact. As Harry Scott
Gibbons, author of the "Genocide Files," explains, "During the night of
December 20-21, 1963, the Greeks launched a series of attacks on Turks
throughout the Nicosia area. The combined forces of uniformed Greek Cypriot
police and civilian EOKA gunmen began systematically to murder Turks and
arrest and disarm Turkish policemen. At the same time, the Greek Cypriots
took complete control of the Cyprus government information organization and
announced the legal authorities were putting down a Turkish uprising. Within
days, Turkish civil servants through out the island had been ousted from
their positions and Greeks now ran the entire governmental administration.
Armed EOKA thugs physically prevented the Vice President, a Turk, Dr. Fazol
Kחk; from entering his office." These statements are confirmed by the
Guardian, which reported on December 31, 1963, that "it is nonsense to
claim, as the Greek Cypriots do, that all causalities were caused by
fighting between armed men of both sides. On Christmas Eve many Turkish
Cypriot people were brutally attacked and murdered in their suburban homes."
To deny the gravity of the suffering of the Turkish Cypriots on Bloody
Christmas is absolutely despicable and historically inaccurate.
It is mind-boggling how Mr. Argyrou claims that an unarmed Turkish Cypriot
population had the power to ethnically cleanse the heavily armed Greek
Cypriot population. Such statements go contrary to historical fact. His
perversion of numbers is a discredit to academic scholarship. Mr. Argyrou's
numbers totally contradict those given by the United States Senate, which
claimed that 20,000 Greek Cypriots were forced to move from Northern to
Southern Cyprus, while 34,000 Turkish Cypriots were forced to move from
Southern to Northern Cyprus. The 194,000 Greek Cypriot refugees in Southern
Cyprus are the result of the Greek coup, where Simpson overthrew Makarios in
a coup because he did not want to complete the genocide against Turkish
Cypriots fast enough for his liking. Upon gaining power, he would slaughter
many Greek Cypriot Makarios supporters, in addition to the Turkish Cypriots.
As the Washington Star reported on July 22, 1974, "Bodies littered the
streets and there were mass burials. People who were told by Makarios to lay
down their guns were shot by the National Guard." Sampson was even more
fanatical in his extermination plans than Makarios. Sampson wanted the
Turkish Cypriots to be annihilated with all possible speed. These facts are
confirmed by Nicos Sampson himself, who stated in the Greek newspaper
Eleftherotipia on February 26, 1981 that "Had Turkey not intervened I would
not only have proclaimed Enosis but I would have annihilated the Turks in
Cyprus." Given these facts, who are the true victims of genocide?
I would also like to clarify that I did not compare the Greek Cypriot people
to Adolph Hitler. I compared the Akritas Plan to Mein Kampt and the Iphetos
Files to the Nazi Final Solution, because there is an important comparison
to be made. The Akritas Plan states the general plan for the implementation
of Enosis, the unification of Cyprus with Greece, which Makarios even stated
required the extermination of the Turkish Cypriot people. Mein Kampt states
the general idea of cleansing the Jews from Europe because they are viewed
as racially inferior to Aryans. The Akritas Plan would lead to the more
lethal Iphestos Plan, where according to Harry Scott Gibbons, author of the
"Genocide Files," "these files show clearly that Greeks and the Greeks of
Cyprus intended to wipe out the Turks of Cyprus." The Final Solution sought
to exterminate all of the Jews. Given these facts, I think that there is a
decent argument to be made in favor of these comparisons. Indeed, it is a
mockery of the Jewish people to deny true genocides, like that of the
Turkish Cypriots, while to fabricate others.
By Rachel Salomon
In the article "What the world can learn from Cyprus," published on December
19, 2006 in the Israel Insider, Joel Bainerman did an extreme disservice to
the Israeli people by only portraying one side of the Cyprus conflict.
Israelis are intelligent people. They deserve to hear the whole truth, not
one-sided partial truths. Therefore, I feel that it is my duty to share with
Israelis the other side of the story.
The conflict in Cyprus did not begin in the 1950's with the British Colonial
Office favoring Turks. The conflict in Cyprus began with an idea called
Enosis, which is the unification of Cyprus with Greece. This idea was
beginning to take root as early as 1879, when the British allowed Greeks to
settle on the island in "patriotic communities." As early as 1895, Greek
Cypriots were organizing their children to march through the Turkish Quarter
of Nicosia, singing songs about the slaughter of their Turkish Muslim
These kinds of songs are taught to Greek Cypriot children to this day and
they have a profound negative effect upon Greek Cypriot youth of today, as
demonstrated by a recent violent attack upon Turkish Cypriot students in the
English School in South Nicosia. Thus, the root of Cyprus's problems are not
colonial favoritism of Turks nor a Turkish "invasion" in 1974, as Bainerman
would have Israelis believe, but rather a lack of tolerance by Greek
Cypriots for the very existence of Turkish Cypriots living on the island and
a disdain for granting them any kind of fundamental human rights.
From the very beginning, the Greeks were opposed to the idea of coexistence.
The British provided Cyprus with a constitution that was not only agreed
upon by both parties, but also provided for the existence of a Republic
where each community would have equal rights and a say over their own
population. The President would be Greek Cypriot; the Vice President would
be Turkish Cypriot. Agreement must exist for decisions to be made. The
Turkish Cypriots did not have total sovereignty over part of the island
under the constitution, as Bainerman would have the Israeli people falsely
Bainerman goes on and on about Greek Cypriot suffering as a result of the
coup that overthrew Makarios and from Turkey's intervention, but he fails to
mention that whatever suffering the Greek Cypriots went through pails in
comparison to what Turkish Cypriots went through. It totally neglects to
show that prior to the 1974 intervention the Greek Cypriots were
orchestrating genocidal policies against Turkish Cypriots over a period of
eleven years.103 Turkish Cypriot villages were completely destroyed and
hundreds of Turkish Cypriots massacred and buried in mass graves by the
Under the Akritas Plan, the Greek Cypriots sought to annihilate the entire
Turkish Cypriot population on Cyprus. Greek Cypriots started this campaign
of annihilation of the Turkish Cypriot people on December 20, 1963. This
atrocious night is known as Bloody Christmas. Bloody Christmas is to Turkish
Cypriots what Kristallnacht is to the Jewish people.
On Bloody Christmas, over 600 innocent Turkish Cypriot men, women, and
children were ruthlessly slaughtered in one night. Journalists Rene MacColl
and Daniel McGeachie described Bloody Christmas and the events that followed
it as "too frightful to be described" and referred to the suffering of the
Turkish Cypriots as "horrors so extreme that the people seemed stunned
beyond tears." The Washington Post reported on February 17, 1964, that the
"Greek Cypriot fanatics appear bent on a policy of genocide."
As a result of such grave human rights abuses, the Turkish Cypriots were
forced to withdraw into small enclaves, where their fundamental human rights
were severely restricted and they lived out their lives as refugees within
their own country. They did not have access to most of life's basic
necessities, had no political representation, and were exposed to constant
violence and harassment orchestrated by the Greek Cypriot leadership.
The goal of the Greek Cypriot leadership under Makarios was to force all
Turkish Cypriots off of the island. However, the pace at which Makarios was
going to rid Cyprus of Turkish Cypriots was not fast enough for some. This
led to the Greek Cypriot National Guard overthrowing Makarios in a coup
d'יtat on July 15, 1974. From this point on, things would go from bad to
worse. Under the leadership of Nicos Sampson, the speed of the genocide
would get accelerated. By the end of the month, the Wash Star was reporting
that "bodies littered the streets and that there were mass burials."
In the early 1970's, the Greek Cypriot leadership produced the Iphestos
Files, which outlines the elaborate details on how the Greek Cypriots
planned to annihilate the Turkish Cypriots and put the Akritas Plan into
concrete premeditated action, step by step. The Akritas Plan had an uncanny
resemblance to Mein Kampf for Turkish Cypriots, while the Iphestos Files
were like the blueprints for the Nazi Final Solution that the Greek Cypriots
would almost succeed in implementing against the Turkish Cypriots. It is a
historic fact that the only thing that prevented the full implementation of
the Iphestos Plan was the arrival of Turkish peace-keeping troops on the
Instead of relying on Brian O'Malley and Ian Craig for information,
Bainerman should have read "The Genocide Files" by Harry Scott Gibbons or
read "The Cyprus Question" by Michael Stephen, who wrote for the British
Northern Cyprus Parliamentary Group. These two authors give a far more
accurate account of what happened than O'Malley and Craig, both of whom were
accused by Daniel Pipes of giving journalists a bad name in the Middle East
Quarterly in March 2000.
It was also incorrect of Bainerman to state that 650,000 Greek Cypriots were
displaced as a direct result of the Turkish intervention, when in reality
there are only 650,000 people in all of South Cyprus. Not all Greek Cypriots
were displaced during this time period and it is not like many Turkish
Cypriots weren't displaced as well. According to a report from the United
States Senate, 20,000 Greek Cypriots were forced to move from Northern to
Southern Cyprus, while 34,000 Turkish Cypriots were forced to move from
Southern Cyprus to Northern Cyprus. Although it is true that there were
194,400 Greek Cypriot refugees in Southern Cyprus, this was the result of
the Greek coup d'יtat and not the Turkish intervention.
As ancestors of people who survived the Holocaust, the Israeli people should
stand by the Turkish Cypriots, not the Greek Cypriots. Like the Israeli
people, Turkish Cypriots have been struggling to live in peace but instead
have been forced by their adversaries to rely on the armed forces. Like the
Israeli people, Turkish Cypriots understand suffering and pain. Indeed, it
is true that Israeli people share a lot of similarities with the Turkish
Cypriots. However, this bond really does not extend to the Greek Cypriots,
who like the Palestinians, have been known for sponsoring terrorist
organizations, violating peace agreement after peace agreement, teaching
their children how to hate, and deceiving the world with their fanciful
What a magnificent site to see
Having to write about Cyprus and the
politics of this island can sometimes be a tedious affair. I remember once
discussing with my tutor during my undergraduate days the Cyprus issue
during a politics seminar and exactly what the issue was really all about.
It took about a minute or so of academic debate before we had covered the
major points before it was time to move on to the more pressing subject of
Palestine and the Israeli occupation and its significant impact on the
Prior to the establishment of the
Cyprus Times the editor and I met up at a press conference after the general
elections in February where he had asked me to contribute to a new newspaper
he was giving birth to. He knew of my writings back in the UK when he was
editor of a London Turkish news paper and I editor of my internet based news
service the London Cyprus Information Centre and so asked if I could do a
little of the same for this upcoming project . I asked him what the Cyprus
Times was going to be about and how many publications he was planning to
produce. He first told me it was going to be once a week publication, then
he told me it will then go up to 3 times a week and then finally when I last
met up with him, he was boasting that the Cyprus Times was now the only
newspaper on the island to be published every single day of the week! Oh
god, I groaned to myself as I remembered the discussion I had with my tutor,
what the hell can I write about that concerns the bloody politics of this
island every single day!
Come on Aydin he said to me why
aren’t you writing for me what’s the matter with you? I shunned from giving
an immediate answer as I had broken my original promise to contribute as
much as possible to this leviathan in the making which I had been so
honoured to be a part of. Writing about the Cyprus issue once a week can
some times be a tall order. Firstly you have to find something innovative to
write about which can some times be a tough challenge, secondly to maintain
some credibility it is wise to try and detract from the usual sound bites
that come out of the political establishment like, ‘isolation, sovereignty,
recognition’ from our side to the ‘illegal, pseudo, invasion and occupation’
from theirs becoming another tiresome, infantile and repetitious exercise in
time wasting. This I believe is due to the very reason they have nothing new
to write about and so are doing just to keep themselves in a job or
So why may you ask am I writing this
article if I have become a little ‘tired’ of the Cyprus issue. Well in truth
it takes inspiration for me to contribute to this islands affairs, I had
plenty of it recently with the borders opening and the referendum to get me
back onto my laptop and start burning the midnight oil. But since then
things have once again become stagnant, that was until today.
As usual I sat in front of the TV to
watch my daily diet of news from BRT, PIK 1 and NTV when I saw the US
special envoy Laura Kennedy together with Michael Klosson at the
presidential palace giving a speech on what exactly America intends to do
upon solving the Cyprus issue. So you may ask what’s new about that then!
Well as the camera zoomed out the two special American diplomats were not
standing next to a senior political figure of the Greek sector but guess
what our very own President Talat! And the presidential palace wasn’t the
former home to the former British governor of Cyprus now resided by
Papadopoulos and co, but our very own palace formerly resided by our ex-
colonial governor Mr .Denktash! If that wasn’t enough the presidential box
were the speech was being given even had the ensign of the TRNC presidency!
Now this I’m afraid is really getting me excited, at long last I really have
something to write about!
For those who still don’t quite
understand the political issues surrounding Cyprus but have a general idea
about it let me try and clarify a few major points about this meeting and
what significance this really has to the latest developments on Cyprus.
Firstly never has an international
figure to hold such high office ever publicly entered our “unrecognised”
palace let alone stood shoulder to shoulder with our democratically elected
leader. Secondly never has anyone or anything outside of the Turkish
establishment openly associated themselves with the flag of the TRNC. Today
I’m afraid history was made and one giant step has been taken by the
international community to alleviate the hardships of what’s left of our
community from this despairing isolation which has imprinted such a mark on
the psyche of every Turkish Cypriot you ever meet.
Laura Kennedy made t quite clear in
her speech today she will do all she can to assist the Turkish Cypriot
community to integrate with the outside world by improving their socio
economic standings by bringing them as close up to a level as their
counterparts in the south. If this is an indirect reference to the lifting
of embargoes then lets hope this time they actually keep their promise. Yes
you might say but so were these same promises made after the referendum so
what happened to them? We’ll come on now! We sat and let Rauf Denktash do
everything he could to keep us in isolation for 30 years and now all of a
sudden you want Mr. Talat to get us out of this in one year! Give the man a
break will you. Mr, Talat did not have the support Mr Denktash had nor still
does he have the trust, yet despite all this he has moved mountains as far
as getting greater recognition of our people and last night was testimony to
this. Who ever went to a public event for Mr. Denktash? Was the British high
commissioner the American special representative or the Turkish foreign
minister ever present for the presidential inauguration of our former
leader as they were for Talat last month? No they weren’t (oh sorry only
when he was leaving). It seems that at long last finally a genuine effort to
recognise our authorities is finally being made by all the interested
Many a change is happening now in
North Cyprus and all are for the better. I am very pleased at long last the
Turkish Cypriot community have finally matured enough to take on the
responsibilities of self governance which so long had been denied to them
and the political will to make a contribution despite our size
disadvantages. It is also good to see many a Turkish Cypriot now returning
to Cyprus from all spectres of the community who were dearly lost due to the
frustrations of the past. Many of our technical experts, business leaders
and thinkers are slowly returning from abroad to help contribute to the
redevelopment of our near diminished community and unlike before they are
being encouraged to stay and help contribute to this recovery. It will take
time and the growing pains are evident for all to see but make no mistake
there will be no return to the frustrations of the past that have blinkered
this island paradise. Any change be it beneficial or not in the short term
will have a far more positive outcome in the long. So as long as Mr. Talat
keeps his hand out for reconciliation, whether accepted or not by the Greeks
will only serve to better the interests of our cause and sooner rather than
later will ultimately lead to a more positive out look for the Turkish
Write about Cyprus and Greeks respond
When I wrote my latest article, “Reality Behind Greek
Cypriot Mischief.” There was no round of applause for me as a hero, nor did
letters pour in from patriotic souls.
No sooner was the English translation of the column was
placed on the web’ an avalanche of derogatory letters from the Greeks began
to pour in. “When will you talk about Turkish mischief?” some said, while
others called me a nationalist and a provocateur. How ironic it is that
these two traits are loved by our academicians and columnists! I was,
frankly speaking, moved by the “politeness” of the people who referred to my
column as “sounds of dog barking,” and others who offered the advice:
“Drinking and writing do not mix, you drunken writer.” I have witnessed how
the Greeks use the Armenian allegations of genocide as weapon against
Turkey. They attribute Turkey’s independence success to assistance from
Western countries rather than to the leadership of Ataturk. Greeks must be
suffering from amnesia, to not remember that it was the Western countries
that invaded Anatolia.
They are too vein to admit plain truths. I advise those
who insistently call Turks “nationalists,” to investigate the evidence of
Greek and Armenian nationalism.
One Greek claims, “Show me a country that borders
Turkey, and is not at war with Turks." He is convinced that we are embroiled
in conflict with the Greeks, Bulgarians, Russians and Iranians. Our refusal
to take sides with the US, our 40-year allies, in the Iraq war is ignored.
As far as I understand, the Greeks, who referred to the Ottoman state as “a
bunch of murderers,” never think of critiquing themselves, whereas,
Westerners always tell us to face “the facts” in the Armenian and Kurdish
issues. There are those who claim we Turks set Izmir on fire. Let’s read
what American Donald Whitthal and the commander of USS Arizona say on this
subject, “From where I stood -- between customs building and Palace Hotel --
I witnessed the killings of thirty people with their hands handcuffed and on
their heads. This atrocity was the work of Greek soldiers…” They add, as
soon as Greek soldiers landed, they killed the civilians they came across.
The commander relating how civilians were stabbed with bayonets, states,
“Most of the cruelty took place while Turks were under arrest.”
A British officer notes in his report, “Greeks
plundered Turkish villages, killing villagers trying to escape.” The Allied
Investigation Commission states that Greek soldiers and civilians alike
caused chaos in the city, committing assaults, murder and robbery. The
Greeks attacked the Ottoman state without any legal grounds and were
defeated. Why are they angry? The Greek cruelty was not only to Muslims but
also to the Jewish population of Izmir. Since Jews were seen as Turkish
allies, many of them were killed or exiled while hatred was fanned by
anti-Semitic prejudices. It is an historical fact that the Greeks at times
raided Jewish camps searching for “child-eating” Jews. Thanks to the British
and other western allies, we have records of these bloody events. The
principal reason for the Cyprus conflict is blunder committed by the
European Union by admitting Greek Cyprus to the union at the expense of its
own laws. Without touching this main reason, the EU is dancing syrtaki with
the Greeks and wants us to dance with them If the West so respects its laws,
then why should it grant membership to a ‘country’ beset with border
conflicts? Because it will serve to block Turkey’s entry to the union. Now,
the EU is beating around the bush. It cannot steer clear to keep a straight
path. An expert on hypocrisy and double standards, the West is playing the
three monkeys and not keeping its promises.
Those who read-only my column superficially may
conclude that Greeks are our enemies, and that Turkey should not join the
EU. These are emotional reactions. The fact is that we are not enemies of
anyone and have an optimistic view of things, but we pay a heavy price for
our good intentions. Secondly, joining EU is our right, thus we should do
so. It is now the Union’s move, after long years of our sacrifice to meet
the criteria put to us, including customs agreement. However, if.
Who is the pseudo-state on this
By Loucas Charalambous
RAUF DENKTASH, the former Turkish
Cypriot leader, is being investigated for corruption by the Turkish Cypriot
authorities, the press in the north reported last week. There is talk of
unauthorised payments totalling ?650,000 to fast food restaurants, gift
shops, flower shops, etc. over a five-year period.
Denktash was furious about the reports and hit out at the media, but a
spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot ‘government’ announced that there would be
a thorough investigation of the ‘presidency’ accounts for the period in
question and if there was evidence of corruption the retired leader would be
Let us move south of the dividing line to the internationally recognised
Republic of Cyprus. In its issue of October 3, Politis, revealed that back
in 2003 the Tassos Papadopoulos election campaign fund received a £50,000
donation from a UK-based company called Watford Petroleum. The donation was
made at a time when a case brought by Watford against a foreign company
relating to illegal money transfers was before the Cyprus courts.
The reaction to this revelation by the president and his allies was of the
arrogant dismissive type that could only have taken place in Cyprus.
Papadopoulos declared that the matter had “nothing to do with me” and then
lied that had never heard of the company before. Yet his friend and campaign
manager, Polakis Sarris, stated that Papadopoulos had twice met a senior
Watford executive. House President Christofias laughed off the whole issue,
telling reporters that the amount was too small to be regarded as bribery.
I am not in the least bit surprised by these reactions. It would have been a
big surprise if they had reacted differently, for instance, showing a hint
of contrition. What is particularly interesting is the big difference in
political culture between north and south (to use a phrase that has become
commonplace). While we constantly look down and laugh at our neighbours, in
practice, in the last couple of years, they have developed a political
culture that we should envy.
The media in the north have reached a level, compared to which, our media
can be describe as primitive. We have entered the 21st century, but our
media are still operating like they did in the undemocratic 1960s. The
majority of them see their primary role as being to serve the government of
the day, which is related to our pitifully low political level. A perfect
example of this slavishness was provided by Radio Proto, which downplayed
the fact that the president accepted a big donation from a foreign company
and made a big fuss about the ‘suspicious’ revelation by Politis.
If Papadopoulos was the president of any other state, including the
pseudo-state in the north, he would never have been given such an easy ride
by the media after such damning revelations. Nor would the House President
have been able to defend him in the absurd way that he did – that no
politician could be bribed with a paltry £50,000. On August 2, 2003,
Christofias had trumpeted a big drive for the “propping up of the
institutions” of this country, but in practice he has been carrying out a
demolition job on them.
The depressing conclusion is that nothing can change in this country, which
the European Union now admits was a mistake to allow into its ranks. If
there was a union of banana republics, I doubt it would have agreed to grant
us membership. Because if the test was political culture and behaviour, we
would be living in a pseudo-state rather than the Turkish Cypriots, who are
proving to be much more European in their political thinking than us.
Preserving the environment is
more than just about building controls.
Implementing building controls here
in the TRNC in the hope that long term environmental damage can be contained
is a small step in the right direction when trying to keep the natural
beauty of this island. After all isn’t this why so many people come to visit
north Cyprus and then do so again in the first place? Recent criticism about
the construction booms rapid development (5000 new homes in the last 2
years) has been a cause this government has been quick to jump on and find a
scapegoat. This is however no more than a distraction from the more
underlining problems that exist concerning our environment.
Let me take the example of my
beloved Karpaz and Yesilkoy as a primary example. Yesilkoy being rich in
water, supplies the surrounding 25 villages with fresh drinking water, this
is by no means a small feat given the locality we inhabit. The region has a
natural underground reservoir from where it draws its water thanks to the
vast forests it is covered by thus getting its name ‘Yesil’ meaning green.
Because of its supposed abundance in this invaluable commodity the local
farmers have over the last 30 years become very wealthy as a result of the
crops they have produced whether it be kolokas, aubergines or potatoes. As
years pass these farmers with their jaguar size engines have continued to
extract water for their crops without even the simplest of guidelines from
the water department on how it should be applied correctly. Whether it is
summer, winter day or night you can hear these mighty engines extracting
water from the grounds below and then liberally being sprayed over the crops
until the grounds not to mention the roads and the houses become almost
The water they extract from the
ground is not metered and no water rate is levied by the local authority who
is in fact a muhtar and coincidently the largest land owner in the village.
One day a representative from the United Nations came to the village to
speak to the same muhtar to find out how water from this famous village is
managed and how he could help assist him as part of a redevelopment fund
made available to the Karpaz peninsula. After being briefed it wasn’t long
before the man from the UN realised that something wasn’t quite right about
the farming methods of the inhabitants of Yesilkoy. He first asked where did
the water come from and how it was extracted. He wanted to know if there was
a desalination plant to monitor the water standard and whether or not a
reservoir had been built to store it. He wanted to know who footed the bill
for the electricity which powers the extraction from the ground and whether
or not any of the water was metered. When the muhtar told him that the state
pays for the electricity used to extract the water, no meters exist for
individual wells and that the average water bill was around £5 a quarter he
was astonished to discover the generosity of the water management system
operated in the village. He then went on to explain that he had been given
money by the UN to develop a water system that would include desalination,
reservoirs and pressure systems that would upgrade us to EU standards. ‘But
and a big but’ he said, the locals would have to pay for it as well. They
would have to do this by metering all water extracted from their wells, and
a more realistic tax would have to be levied upon the villagers as a new
water rates system. When the muhtar told him that many of the settlers who
came to the Karpaz to farm the lands once owned by the Greeks even received
subsidies for their electricity costs he laughingly said ‘I’m afraid but not
even we could match that level of generosity for the people of Karpaz. He
decided to leave concluding ‘if we invest in the region we will need to get
our money back if not we are not allowed to do so, that is the way we work!’
and that was the last we ever heard of him again. Ah well another
opportunity missed again by the Turkish Cypriots.
It was what the muhtar had explained
to the man from the UN before which was the greatest cause for concern and
not something he will leave without putting it into his report. As
successive droughts over the years have eventually depleted water stocks
from the underground reservoir, farmers have drilled deeper and deeper to
the point now where the water coming out of the ground is at the bottom of
the reservoir mixing with the calcium sulphur stone. Recent test have shown
that there is high levels of damaging chemicals that are mixing with the
water which is harmful to humans. Whether it is from the pesticides used
over the years which has eventually seeped into the underground water
supplies or whether it is from the quality of the water now being dragged up
but the water used for drinking is no longer safe. Everyone in Yesilkoy now
buy all their water from bottles and many illnesses some fatal have been
blamed on the safety of the water that has been drunk over the years. In the
village everybody knows somebody who has died from cancer, in other cases
there has been high levels of prostate dysfunction amongst men. Many locals
put the blame on the water supplies and some now refuse to drink it.
As this season’s potato crop comes
to a head the local farmers will be rubbing their hands at another bumper
harvest which the ministry of agriculture has guaranteed to purchase. This
will be the third time this year those potatoes have been sowed for harvest,
yes the THIRD time! Despite being told that there is no more water left for
this level of farming the state still subsidies these farmers to grow their
crops without so much as a hint that sooner or later the water will run out.
What will happen then? What about the 26 villages that depend on the water
from Yesilkoy? What about the quality of water being produced? The
government is well aware of the situation in Yesilkoy and has earmarked
money received from the EU to be spent on the region as part of its
environmental action plan. But until they are brave enough to tell these
farmers that what they are doing is wrong and that enough is enough all talk
about improving the environment we live is nothing more than the usual
governmental lip service. After all most of these farmers are not full time,
in fact many of them have jobs working for the state, the private sector and
the elderly are all on very generous pensions (far better than the UK state
pension). This money they receive from farming is another generous top up
this country seems to lavish on its citizens. It’s no wonder that so many
people now drive around in 30k Mercedes Benz cars, now you know where the
money is coming from!
Yes please put a control on the
building of houses I welcome this with open arms, but it cannot be one rule
for one! If the government is that serious about preserving the natural
beauty of the Karpaz by banning the building of new houses then it must with
equal measure take action upon these reckless farmers who are raping the
land with their outdated methods of farming and their jaw dropping use of
the water. Having just spent the last four months in London where it has not
rained the govt there has already implemented a hosepipe ban on all
households. They are bracing themselves for the worst. Isn’t it time the
same was applied here? After all is it really necessary to have three
harvests a year? Do these farmers really need the money they receive from
the sale of their crops? Just remember one thing, for all of you who live in
Nicosia , Famagusta or Kyrenia and receive water two or three times a week
to fill up your depots and still find that even when using your supplies
with caution you still find yourselves with very little to manage your daily
routine by. Take a thought for all of the farmers in Yesilkoy who are being
subsidised by the state to water their fields relentlessly without even a
care in the world as to where the water is coming from and when it will run