Lobby for Cyprus recognises that the Joint Declaration of 11 February 2014 by President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot representative Dervis Eroglu is a gesture aimed at restarting negotiations, that (as the declaration states) “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, that it does not constitute a final settlement and that it has no binding legal effect.
Nevertheless Lobby for Cyprus feels obliged to comment on these foundations and to seek further reassurances.
Lobby for Cyprus hopes that the Joint Declaration will provide the necessary impetus for negotiations to begin in earnest and conclude with a settlement that complies with international law and respects the rule of law.
We welcome the comments in paragraphs 1 and 4 of the declaration which anticipate that a settlement will have a positive impact, leading to respect for “democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms” as well as “safeguarding the principles upon which the EU is founded”. Nevertheless these rights, freedoms and principles will be deemed illusory if negotiations and implementation of the settlement do not themselves respect these. The end result will be similar to handing over to citizens an empty box.
How are paragraphs 2 and 5 to be reconciled? If only “unresolved core issues” are to be on the table for negotiation, does this imply that any core issues deemed resolved by the previous President of Cyprus are agreed? Additionally will a list of these resolved core issues be made publicly available? Will there be public consultation on resolved core issues?
Lobby for Cyprus seeks reassurance that any negotiations and future settlement will facilitate the removal of all Turkish occupation troops; the repatriation of all illegal Turkish colonists; and ensure the right of return for all refugees as called for by UN resolutions.
Will a solution based on a bizonal bicomunal federation create a truly united Cyprus or will it further entrench the racist separation enforced by the unlawful Turkish occupation? Continuous talk of only a Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot community resonates with terminology used during the apartheid era in South Africa. Lobby for Cyprus wonders whether it is a coincidence that Cyprus and its three ‘guarantor’ powers together with the USA have not joined the 108 states that have signed the UN Apartheid Convention. Additionally, Lobby for Cyprus fails to see how such talk of ‘two communities’ is in compliance with the Cyprus of 2014, EU principles and international norms. The talk of only two communities existing in Cyprus is an illusion of political convenience which fails to take into account the other legitimate citizens and residents of Cyprus. This discriminatory approach is further reflected in paragraph 1 which states that a settlement will benefit “first and foremost” Greek and Turkish Cypriots. According to census results published in 2011 more than 18 percent of the population of the Republic of Cyprus are neither Greek nor Turkish Cypriot. A solution for a multi-ethnic island based on two communities is a defunct and outdated foundation for a settlement.
According to paragraph 7 confidence building measures will be deployed. Lobby for Cyprus would welcome any measures which inform and consult the victims and voters and do not adopt the same approach that was taken with the Annan plan which lacked public consultation and inadequate information in all aspects (legal and political).
However Lobby for Cyprus would like to reiterate that it does not support discriminatory measures, as confidence building measures should target all citizens and lawful residents of Cyprus and not only Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Do the Cypriots have a legal, political or moral obligation to negotiate on the basis of a bizonal bicommunal federal settlement? In so far as this relates to a settlement, it was overwhelmingly rejected by the people at the first (and to date only) opportunity they have been given, when the Annan plan was put to a referendum in 2004. There is no disguising the fact that the defective and unacceptable elements of the Annan plan stem from its very foundation, the bizonal bicommunal federation. It is Lobby for Cyprus’ view that in 2004 the negotiating parties lost their mandate from the people of the Republic of Cyprus to negotiate on this basis.
Lobby for Cyprus believes that for any settlement to be acceptable it needs to implement the 3Rs (removal of all Turkish troops, repatriation of all Turkish colonists and right of all refugees to return). Does the Cyprus government believe this is achievable on the basis of a bizonal bicommunal federation?
Lobby for Cyprus would like reassurance that the settlement will not be laying the foundation for the creation of two independent states. A key reason for non-recognition of the unilateral declaration of independence by the occupation regime is the fact that it stems from an illegality – the illegal invasion and the unlawful occupation. Despite paragraph 4 and any final provision as part of the settlement, it is doubtful whether the right of one ‘constituent state’ to self-determination (once its foundations are lawful) cannot under international law be restricted in such a manner.
With regards to paragraph 6, Lobby for Cyprus questions how ‘freely’ an agreement will be reached if its foundations are not built on the principles, freedoms and rights referred to above. How free can an agreement reached on political grounds be if it is juggling the economic interest, energy interests and geo-political interests not only of its citizens but also of other more powerful states?
Finally with reference to paragraph 7 we agree that idle gossip is harmful to attempts of creating an environment conducive to the reaching of a settlement. However Lobby for Cyprus does not support the granting of impunity for war crimes committed and does not believe that this is dwelling in the past. The crimes committed are still live and continuing, including but not restricted to the execution of persons who to date have been presumed missing, in addition to the ethnic cleansing and cultural destruction carried out by Turkey and its occupation regime. Additionally, Lobby for Cyprus does not believe that legitimate concerns raised by political parties and civil society is harmful – on the contrary it is the hallmark of a democracy.
A little known fact about the 2004 referendum is that Greek Cypriot refugees in the diaspora (including those refugees from other minorities which under the 1960 Constitution fall under the Greek Cypriot heading) were not eligible to vote. Conversely, the Turkish nationals that Turkey has used to colonise the occupied north (in violation of the Geneva Convention) were permitted to vote in the 2004 referendum. Lobby for Cyprus strongly believes that it is an affront to justice for the victims of an invasion and unlawful occupation to be deprived of a voice and the right to vote on a settlement which would determine their future. Those victims are living in the diaspora because they and their families were forcefully displaced and prevented from returning by Turkey. They should not be punished for something beyond their control. To grant these victims the right to vote on their future is not complicated, all it involves is the adoption of a law which would grant them the right to vote in the referendum alone.
• The Republic of Cyprus was invaded by Turkish troops in 1974.
• Turkey maintains an illegal occupation in the north of the island with 40,000 troops in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
• 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees and displaced persons are prevented from returning to their homes in the occupied north.
• Turkey continues its policy of colonising the occupied territory with hundreds of thousands of Turkish nationals in an attempt to alter the demography of the island, in violation of the Geneva convention.