Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
Print this page Print Bookmark and Share

04 July 2011
Time for a European solution for Cyprus
Cyprus has been subject to centuries of domination by colonial and imperial authoritarian regimes. Since 2004 the Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the EU bringing with it hopes that a solution in keeping with the principles and values of the EU can be found.

Sadly this optimism does not seem justified as the legalised partition of Cyprus under the guise of a federal bizonal and bicommunal state, as envisaged by Turkey, looms large.

Photo: Cypriots in London campaign for a genuinely reunited Cyprus and implementation of UN resolutions that call for removal of Turkish occupation troops and colonists and for the right of refugees to return

Lobby for Cyprus supports any settlement that ensures the return of the refugees though we are concerned that current negotiations for a Cyprus settlement will not provide this and may well infringe European Union law.

Whatever faults the EU has, there can be little doubt that it champions the rule of law and other democratic and ethical values. This should come as no surprise given the origins of the EU as a riposte to the aggressive, confrontational, racist, discriminatory and segregationist practices which were once so prevalent across the continent of Europe.

Cyprus requires a fresh, modern, ethical, pluralist, inclusive European constitutional future that entrenches the values of the European Union

In particular these values are reinforced by and reflected in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’). Though many seem unaware of its existence, the Charter is binding on the Republic of Cyprus and in appropriate cases is enforceable via the courts. Since December 2009 the human rights of its citizens have been strengthened by the Charter’s core rights, freedoms and principles, which reinforce the notion that the fundamental rights of the individual should generally prevail.

The Charter underlines that in the EU the law ought to be infused with moral, ethical and human considerations. Thus, a citizen is free to enforce the law, via independent courts, in order to restrain the state or any citizen who seeks to violate their rights.

In light of the above, an obvious point must be made. The carving up of Cyprus and establishment of a new two-state Cyprus federation based on racial grounds will inevitably subvert the rule of law and convey retrospective legitimacy upon Turkey’s unlawful and unethical invasion, occupation, ethnic cleansing, colonisation and forced de facto partition of the island.

If a federation is introduced that prevents the return of refugees on the basis of race and religion, then the northern areas of Cyprus will be enshrined for the first time in history as ‘Turkish Cypriot’ and the southern areas will be enshrined as ‘Greek Cypriot’.

Indeed the very notion of bicommunalism harks back to the 1960 constitution imposed on Cypriots which was based on defining ‘Greek Cypriots’ and ‘Turkish Cypriots’ along religious lines. In the event of the transformation of Cyprus into a federation or in reality a confederation, the northern area will effectively become a Muslim flavoured constituent state and the southern part will effectively become a Greek Orthodox Christian flavoured constituent state, neither of which conform to the European model.

These concepts are anachronistic, intellectually bankrupt and frozen in the past, as the Republic of Cyprus in 2011 is obviously not the same as in 1960, 1974 or even 2004. It has become a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual melting pot much like many western European Union states.

If the twin notions of federal ‘bizonalism’ and ‘bicommunalism’ hark back to the 1920s (the forced transfer of populations between Greece and Turkey) in terms of their philosophical origin, they also reflect the ethnic make-up and circumstances of Cyprus in the 1970s, which at that time, apart from a smattering of Armenians, Maronites and Latins was overwhelmingly populated by Greek and Turkish Cypriots. That is not the case today.

What Cyprus surely needs is a fresh, modern, ethical, pluralist, inclusive, secular and European constitutional future which sweeps aside the dead wood of the past and entrenches the values of the European Union of which it forms part. ‘Bicommunal’ federation must be replaced by the notion that there is one community in Cyprus, which in 2011 happens to be multi-ethnic.

Put simply, segregation based on ethnicity and religion has no place in a Europe where multi-culturalism is encouraged.

Any solution that breaches EU law risks court proceedings. The simplest and fairest solution is one that is consistent with the law, namely a solution based on EU human rights, rules and regulations.

Based on 'The division of Nicosia, the rule of law and the values of the European Union'  by Dr Klearchos Kyriakides.