Cyprus 1998: Crisis or Stagnation?


Index

Background Paper 17 1997-98

Dr Adam Cobb
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
6 April 1998

Contents

Major Issues Summary

Introduction

1998 Presidential Election

EU Accession Negotiations

Russian Missile Acquisition

UN Talks

Cyprus-A Prognosis

The Australian connection

Conclusion

Appendix 1: Historical Background

Appendix 2: Basic Data

Appendix 3: Economic and Military data

Appendix 4: Resolutions adopted by the Security Council

Appendix 5: Australian Electoral Distribution of People Born in Cyprus Turkey and Greece by electorate (the top 36 electorates are selected)

Endnotes

The Lavant

The Lavant

Major Issues Summary

1998 is a critical year for Cyprus.(1) A number of important events are currently unfolding on this divided island that could precipitate dramatic change. While the recent presidential election and ongoing UN attempts to resolve the crisis are noteworthy and are surveyed below, the reason for increased interest in Cyprus centres upon the decision of the European Union (EU) last December to activate accession negotiations with the Republic this April. This decision has become highly controversial in light of the EU decision-at the same meeting-to delay Turkish entry into the Union. The situation is further inflamed by a growth in lethal armed 'border' clashes, a build-up of military forces on both sides (e.g. over 600 pieces of armour spread across a landmass that would fit into Tasmania over 7 times), and intensifying military activity on and around Cyprus.

With the potential for war on the one hand, and international political and economic integration on the other, Cyprus stands at an historical crossroad. The choice is between old forms of brute power (the use of force for territorial gain), versus sophisticated strategies for attaining influence not just at home but across boundaries.

The bitter stalemate of division could go one of three ways:

  • The building tensions of the past two years over arms acquisitions, unauthorised military overflights, border clashes, and the movement of the south to join the EU and the north to join Turkey, could seriously threaten peace.
  • Or, in the face of conflict, both sides might adopt realistic negotiation strategies and compromise toward a viable economic and political future.
  • The most likely outcome, however, will witness the victory of intrenched interests in the status quo of territorial division, with a subsequent slide into economic irrelevancy in the north and business as usual in the south.

The significance of this issue for Australia involves our foreign policy with respect to Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey, as well as the European Union. Currently, Australia's UN commitment, which was inaugurated in 1964, involves 20 federal police officers. Domestically, a number of important issues arise for Australians born in Cyprus, Greece or Turkey, including reciprocal social welfare benefits and pension arrangements.

Introduction

The history of the Cyprus conflict is summarised in Appendix 1, basic information in Appendix 2, and eceonomic and military data in Appendix 3. These peovide a background to the fact that the core problem for the future of Cyprus today centres on three interrelated factors. First, the leaders of both north and south of the island today have been politically active antagonists for over twenty years and have a long history of distrust and even hatred toward one another and what each person represents. Second, Cypriots, Greeks and Turks, seem forever locked in a blame-spiral over historical events that while important, should not have blocked innovative approaches to conflict resolution but nevertheless continue to do so. Third, throughout its history Cyprus has been susceptible to external influences and until very recently external powers have had little interest in ameliorating disputes.(2)

However, during 1998 four issues seem likely to test the continuing stalemate on the island:

  • The outcome of the Presidential Election Feb 9
  • EU Assecession talks April 9
  • Missile acquisition mid 9
  • UN talks March 98

This paper will examine the election, proposed UN talks, and missile acquisitions, in the context of the EU accession question and the historical background to the Cyprus problem. Australian concerns will be located together with suggestions for ways the international community might choose to attempt to resolve the crisis. While there is danger of major conflict, there is some hope that intensified international efforts to broker a deal may succeed. However, for a number of reasons that this paper makes clear, the most likely outcome will continue to be stalemate.

1998 Presidential Election

Presidential elections in the Republic were held in February 1998. After an inconclusive first round, Glafkos Clerides (78 years) narrowly won another five year term with just 50.82 per cent of the vote over former Foreign Minister George Iacovou (60 years).(3) The latter candidate was believed to be closely allied to hardline Greek nationalists. Clerides is no shrinking violet either. After a failed coup which installed Nikos Sampson on the 15 July 1974 (Annex 1), he became caretaker President until the elected President, Archbishop Makarios, returned from exile later that year. He has since served a number of terms as President before the latest poll. In all the years since the Turkish invasion, his opposite number in the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' (TRNC) has been Rauf Denktash (74 years).

On regaining office President Clerides stated he would renew efforts to resolve the 'Cyprus problem' through the pursuit of EU membership and negotiations with the northern breakaway statelet. In an important development, Mr Clerides invited all political parties to join him in a 'government of national unity'. He also announced that he would implement EU calls to incorporate representatives of the Turkish held part of the island in accession negotiations, as well as offering a greater distribution of economic incentives to the north. The outcome of these initiatives will not be known for some time. However, Mr Denktash's response on related issues has been in the negative.

EU Accession Negotiations

Like Turkey and following Greece, Cyprus has long been interested in joining the European club. Cyprus first signed an association agreement with the EU in 1973. This set in motion a phased reduction of tariffs on industrial and agricultural goods, completed at the end of 1987, 10 years later than originally planned. The movement towards a customs union began in 1988 and is due for completion sometime in 2003.

An EU delegation to the island opened in May 1990. The delegation monitors political, economic and other developments in Cyprus and helps improve contacts between the internationally-recognised government and the European Commission on a day-to-day basis.

But these advances fall short of Cyprus's real aim-full membership of the EU. The aim of both Cyprus and the EU has been to help resolve the division by seeking integration in Europe. Cyprus has also been keen to engage in the considerable trade and investment opportunities on its doorstep. News reports on this issue all refer to the fact that citizens on both sides of the Green Line (which separates Cyprus along a north-south axis running through the capital Nicosia) are strongly in favour of access to all that the EU has to offer. In response to Turkish Cypriot concerns, the EU has stipulated that the Republic would be favourably looked upon if it included representatives from the northern zone and offered greater economic incentives to northern participation in accession proper. Denktash, however, argues that the Republic is not authorised to negotiate for all of Cyprus, and, equally has criticised the EU for ignoring the TRNC. As the Republic has edged towards Union, so has the TRNC sought and secured closer ties with Turkey.

Cyprus presented its formal application to join the Union in the summer of 1990. Three years later in June 1993, the Commission decided that Cyprus was eligible for membership. According to the opinion of the Commission:

  • Cyprus's geographical position, the deep-lying bonds which, for 2,000 years, have located the island at the very fount of European culture and civilisation, the intensity of the European influence apparent in the values shared by the people of Cyprus and in the conduct of the cultural, political, economic and social life of its citizens, the wealth of its contacts of every kind with the EU-all these confer on Cyprus, beyond all doubt, its European identity and character and confirm its vocation to belong to the Community.(4)

In broad economic terms Cyprus should not have any major difficulties in being assimilated into the EU. The Cypriot economy is market-oriented, with a flexible and well educated workforce. Cyprus's official per capita income was over $13,000 in 1996 already making it an upper middle-income country among EU states. Its economy is growing faster than most in the EU, despite a decline in growth from 5 per cent to 1.5 per cent in 1996. There is little unemployment. Its Government claims that, if Cyprus were to join the Union, it would be able to satisfy the Maastricht criteria for economic and monetary union.

'In numerous sectors Cyprus had already harmonised a good part of its legislation, policies and practices with the acquis communautaire,' says an association council report. Progress has been encouraging, to the extent that one Brussels diplomat commented 'technically, there should be little difficulty with Cyprus's application to the EU'.(5)

Nevertheless because of the resistance in the north and the delay imposed on Turkey's application, bringing north and south Cyprus together is likely to prove one of the EU's major foreign policy challenges.

In July 1994 the UN Security Council adopted resolution 939 (UN resolutions on Cyprus from 1964 onwards are listed at Appendix 4) which advocated new talks based on a single nationality, international identity and sovereignty. In response, the TRNC legislative assembly issued a policy stating that no settlement based on a single sovereignty was acceptable and urged greater integration with Turkey. This policy also followed the decision of the EU heads of government meeting in Corfu in June 1997 that Cyprus would be included in the next round of expansion of the Union. Rather than assisting a resolution on Cyprus, through the incentive of greater economic opportunities for both north and south, the EU decision simply angered the Turkish Cypriot administration and led to a treaty being signed between the TRNC and Turkey on the 6 August 1997. The 'Association Council Agreement' calls for 'economic and financial integration' as well as 'integration of security, defence and foreign policy'. The public announcement of this treaty was delayed until 11 February 1998-after the EU decision on Turkey's exclusion.

Matters were exacerbated at the European Council meeting in December 1997 in Luxembourg. With the EU trumpeting the launch of its enlargement process, Cyprus(6) was publicly deemed worthy of EU membership while Turkey's application was deferred in no uncertain terms. While the European Council was at pains to reaffirm 'Turkey's eligibility for accession to the European Union', it could not avoid the conclusion that 'the political and economic conditions allowing accession negotiations to be envisaged are not satisfied':

  • The European Council recalls that strengthening Turkey's links with the European Union also depends on that country's pursuit of the political and economic reforms on which it has embarked, including the alignment of human rights standards and practices on those in force in the European Union; respect for and protection of minorities; the establishment of satisfactory and stable relations between Greece and Turkey; the settlement of disputes, in particular by legal process, including the International Court of Justice; and support for negotiations under the aegis of the UN on a political settlement in Cyprus on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.(7)

This decision outraged Turkey. The Turkish Prime Minister suspended political dialogue with the EU. Ankara immediately threatened to annex the TRNC if accession talks with the Republic of Cyprus went ahead.(8) They are scheduled to start in early April.

In understanding the Turkish reaction it is important to note that when Greece applied to join the EU its economic and political fundamentals were also considered essentially unsuitable by EU member states. However, on that occasion, the Council decided that overriding political considerations required that Greece should accede.

Because of its pivotal role in the Western alliance, its geostrategic position, its contribution to Gulf and Middle East security, an argument could have been mounted that Turkey's inclusion in the EU was similarly desirous on political grounds. Turkish accession to the EU would also have encouraged the very economic liberalization and democratisation that the EU Council suggested were preventing Turkish accession. It could be argued that, had Turkey been included, it would have had great incentives to adopt a more conciliatory position on the inclusion of Cyprus. Indeed, it would have been impossible for Turkey to join without Cyprus. If Turkey had become a member and Cyprus excluded, the consequence would have been that Turkish Cypriots would not have had the same rights and access to Europe that mainland Turks enjoyed.

Post-Luxembourg, the incentive for Turkey not to obstruct Cyprus' accession is the mere hope that its cooperation now will ensure a more favourable consideration of Turkey's application in the future. This is a weak guarantee given that future Turkish applications will no doubt fail for the same three reasons the last application failed: Greece's influence on EU decisions, less than acceptable economic fundamentals, and an inadequate human rights regime. It is also a misplaced hope, given the serious threats Turkey made over Cyprus before the final EU decision.

For its part, the TRNC has unequivocally stated its opposition to Cyprus-EU plans unless Turkey is given a firm offer to join. Mr Denktash has also warned that next month's EU membership negotiations would bring 'everything that has to do with intercommunal talks to a stop'(9) and 'lead the island to partition.(10) '

Cyprus faces a classic 'Catch 22' dilemma. The EU negotiations are designed to heal the rift on the island but have achieved the opposite. The closer Cyprus gets to Europe the further away it gets from a settlement at home-the very objective that the EU process was supposed to encourage in the first place.

The complex relations between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus have been further eroded by recent military activity.

Russian Missile Acquisition

Since 1995 outright hostilities between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots have escalated with a number of 'border' incidents leading to the deaths of soldiers and civilians on both sides. Accusations of, inter alia, air space violations by Turkish F-15s have added to the tensions. The consequent strengthening of UN, EU and US diplomacy, and negotiations between military and political leaders to establish confidence building measures, have gained little real support.

The security situation deteriorated throughout 1996, leading President Clerides to declare in January 1997 that his government would purchase Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. The missiles, with a range of 150 kms, could theoretically shoot down aircraft over the Turkish mainland just 40 kms off the coast of Cyprus.(11) Cyprus claims the missiles are a self-defence measure. The Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz immediately responded that 'all the defence measures [Cyprus] will take will be insufficient in the face of our power'(12) and vowed to destroy the missiles. Immediately thereafter, Turkey and the TRNC declared a 'joint military concept' whereby an attack on the TRNC would be deemed an attack on Turkey. As if to stress the point, Turkish naval units appeared off the coast days after the declaration.

President Clerides has publicly offered to cancel the missile acquisition in exchange for complete demilitarisation of the island. The offer was rejected by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. The missiles are due to arrive in June and already Turkish naval units have been reported in the press as stopping and inspecting vessels capable of carrying the missiles to Cyprus.(13)

The missiles are symptomatic of the intensifying military deployments on the island on both sides. They clearly exacerbate the growing tensions surrounding the EU/annexation issue.

UN Talks

In the coming weeks there will be an intensified international effort for peaceful resolution of the various issues that divide Cyprus. Some reports suggest that it is a 'make or break' year for Cyprus given recent border clashes, the military build-up, and threat of Turkish annexation in frustration over the EU negotiations.

Richard Holbrooke, the US President's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, has been attempting to find a solution in Cyprus since 1995. Together with Sir David Hannay-the special British envoy (the UK currently holds the EU Presidency)-Holbrooke will be returning to the island in early 1998 to attempt to ameliorate the problems arising out of the EU accession and to calm the waters on military acquisitions. Even with concessions for the Turkish Cypriots, including greater planned EU financial support, representation on EU accession talks, and lifting of the embargo, Denktash has stated time and again that unless the TRNC is recognised there will be no talks. Denktash also refuses to see Sir David Hannay because the Turkish Cypriot leader believes that Britain is biased against the TRNC.(14) At the same time, both the TRNC and Turkey have acted on their threats to move closer together.

There is a credible possibility of conflict between Cyprus and Turkey with the missile acquisition acting as the trigger. Any conflict involving Cyprus would inevitably involve mainland Greece. War between Greece and Turkey would be disastrous to the western alliance and could open the door to greater Turkish conquests in Cyprus if other states again refuse to become involved. This is because Turkey is strategically in a far superior position relative to Greece vis--vis Cyprus, and the Greeks know it.(15) Nevertheless, Greece and Turkey also have a range of other disputes that could aggravate their respective approaches to the Cyprus question, and both remain treaty guarantee powers.

But 1998 is not 1974, Cold War exigencies have evaporated, there is a dire need to keep Turkey within the Western sphere of influence, and there is a virtual certainty that either the UK or the US would become directly involved if a conflict erupted on Cyprus. Recent UN, US and UK policy on Iraq would make any non-involvement in a Cyprus bushfire look disingenuous to say the least. This is one reason why each actor is significantly increasing its diplomatic efforts, and is taking the possibility of conflict seriously.

Cyprus-A Prognosis

A solution to the problem of Cyprus has evaded the principal protagonists, their supporters and the international community for many years. To some extent left in the 'too hard' basket, Cyprus continues as a divided and partly foreign-occupied island with major ethnic and political difficulties. As long as this situation appeared to be stable it was probably acceptable to the major players, notwithstanding the costs it imposed on the Greek and Turkish people of Cyprus.

However, there are signs that the Cypriot status quo will not endure. This implies that unless effective measures aimed at a permanent settlement are taken, further violence and (in the worst case) even a Greek-Turkish war, might not be avoidable. There is a range of options available to the international community which might be considered, separately or together, as potential building blocks for such a settlement:

  • Cyprus should postpone its missile purchase in exchange for Turkish agreement to cease overflights of Cypriot airspace.
  • Confidence building measures should be agreed upon by both sides and supported by compliance inspections by UN forces.
  • In exchange for Turkish Cypriot flexibility on the status of their statelet, EU accession negotiations should include Turkish Cypriot representatives, the embargo should be lifted, access to the EU market for products from the north facilitated through the south, and more flexibility offered on freedom of movement issues.
  • Turkey should be encouraged to demonstrate that it will not annex Cyprus-perhaps in exchange for clear guidelines on the necessary actions to fast-track EU accession. If that fails or is not possible in the current climate, more pro-active means should be used. For example, NATO allies might encourage a more moderate approach through a demonstration of force-a visit or exercises by the US Mediterranean fleet perhaps.
  • If the federal model is the best basis for intra-Cyprus negotiations, and the evidence points to that being the case, both sides have to compromise on power-sharing agreements, land and the three freedoms of movement, ownership of property and right of settlement. For example, Mr Denktash might swap land in exchange for greater Turkish representation in the proposed federal structure.
  • Over a period of 3 years a well planned and monitored reduction in military forces should be conducted to encourage trust.

Of course, measures like these can only be put into place if the respective ethnic groups on Cyprus and their principal foreign backers (the Greek and Turkish Governments), as well as the wider international community, are prepared to undertake negotiations in good faith. Talks in an environment dominated by threats, arms buildups and ultimata are unlikely to succeed.

The Australian connection

On each side of the head of ANZAC parade directly opposite the Australian War Memorial stand two memorials, one Turkish and one Greek. The symmetry of this triangle of memorials and the associated symbolic importance will not be lost on any Australian. We have a unique (although quite different) historical link with both countries. A great many of us also once called either Greece or Turkey home. It is for this reason that Cyprus has featured far more significantly in Australian foreign policy than its size or distance would otherwise suggest. Today there are an estimated 20653 people born in Cyprus in Australia (with an additional estimated 60,000 descendants), and issues arising from this migration, for example pensions and social welfare benefits, continue to be an issue in the relationship.

As the survey of the Greek, Turkish and Cypriot born Australians by electorate shows, (Appendix 5) there is a considerable presence of one or more groupings in a fairly large number of electorates. The statistics do not permit an assessment of the numbers of descendants of those born in the countries concerned, however one might reasonably expect this factor to act as a multiplier to the extant data. Consequently, it should be expected that if a major crisis does arise this year on Cyprus, there will be a related interest in the issue reflected in a number of MPs electorates. Depending on the nature of the crisis, lobbying should be expected to be intense and prolonged.

Australia currently has 20 police officers stationed on Cyprus as part of the UN presence. In 1974 when UNFICYP was being reinforced Australia offered an infantry company and support elements, but the offer was declined. Australia also maintains a diplomatic station in Nicosia. Set in a background of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade cuts and mission closures in recent years, the logic of maintaining a mission in such circumstances may be questioned in some quarters.

If Australia is to attempt to help resolve the division of Cyprus the suggestions at page 6 might make an appropriate starting point. Our greatest contribution would be to encourage our allies, the US and the UK, to reinforce their diplomatic efforts with plans to intervene if the situation deteriorates sufficiently. But in the end it is up to the willingness of the Cypriots themselves to negotiate and as the forgoing suggests, that does not look at all likely given the unchanging rhetoric from both sides over the years. Cyprus must remember the past but it must also look to the future. No one prospers from division, as the Cypriots on both sides of the Green Line know all too well.

Conclusion

As demonstrated during the 1991 Gulf War, and by the location of critically important signals intelligence bases, Cyprus remains as strategically vital to the Western alliance as it was central to British and Venetian traders in the 19th and 15th Centuries respectively. Cyprus is important to a number of disputes-including the role of Turkey in the western alliance. EU enlargement, as well as European ambitions for common foreign and security policies are likely to be challenged in the coming months by the course of events on and around Cyprus. The US has also spent a considerable amount of diplomatic capital on brokering a deal between the two sides and Greece and Turkey.

Outside of major conflict the most likely outcome will be stalemate. This will continue until a change in the leadership of the north and/or south. Clerides and Denktash were both heavily involved in Cypriot affairs leading up to the events of 1974, and have argued with each other ever since. Both have demonstrated that they are unwilling to compromise. The TRNC will never be internationally recognised. Meanwhile the TRNC continues to slide into economic oblivion as Cyprus grows and prospers. It appears that only a new leadership on both sides, with a serious commitment to realistic compromise, would pose any real hope for reconciliation on Cyprus.

Meanwhile, Australia's interest in this comparatively distant island will be kept alive by Australians with links to the island and by the role it has chosen to play over the years in peacekeeping efforts.

Appendix 1: Historical Background

The lemons on Cyprus have always been more bitter than elsewhere in the Levant.(16) A sizeable island strategically located in the east of the Mediterranean, Cyprus has been eagerly coveted by the powerful through time. Ancient empires, city states, theocracies, nation-states and of late, multinational corporations, from both the East and West have found in Cyprus, a gateway to the 'Other'. The tragic, if predictable, irony is that the island's very importance has guaranteed its insecurity.

Ethnically Greek since the second millennium BC, Cyprus has been influenced (in many cases dominated) in turn, by the Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians, Egyptians, Romans, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians, Ottomans, and the British. The ancestors of the present Turkish Cypriots were imported by the Ottomans after Cyprus was captured in 1571. Anxious to maintain sea lines of communication to India and other eastern colonies including Australia, the British became involved in Cypriot affairs in 1878 when they imposed an alliance on the ruling Sultan giving them powers of administration. When the Turks sided with the Germans at the outbreak of WWI, Britain annexed Cyprus and exercised control until independence in 1960.

Today, Cyprus remains as strategically significant and yet as historically divided as ever. Indeed, after the two Korea's, Cyprus is the most heavily armed and dangerously divided country in the world. For example, the opposing sides each have over 300 armoured vehicles deployed on a landmass that would fit into Tasmania over 7 times. As recently as the 1991 Gulf War, Cyprus played an important role as a staging-post for coalition operations over Iraq, not withstanding the fact that since 1974 the island has been divided between Turkish and Greek interests(17). Critically important command, control, communications, and intelligence facilities are located in 'Retained Areas', including Mt Olympus and Troodos (the highest points on the island). 'There is not a radio station in the entire middle east region that is not monitored from these points'.(18)

Post-war independence and emerging divisions

The guerrilla war leading to independence in 1960 had its origins in the 1930s when Greek Cypriot nationalists started to agitate for enosis (union with Greece). Unsatisfied with post-WWII British attempts to introduce limited Cypriot representation within the colonial administration, the guerrilla war began in earnest in 1955. The political leader of the Cypriot revolt was Archbishop Makarios, while the guerrilla army was commanded by General George Grivas.

With many Hellenic islands already on its coastline, Turkey feared Cyprus would fall to their traditional competitor Greece, and initiated a program for Turkish enosis and taksim (partition). Intercommunal riots erupted in 1958, with the Turkish Cypriots seeking shelter in defensive enclaves. This internal Cypriot strife did not diminish British interests in maintaining control of the Greek Cypriots, but rather delayed the inevitable and caused division between the Greek and Turkish populations that was to scar Cyprus in perpetuity. A British Colonial Office minute dated 21 May 1929, concerning British administration of Cyprus, stated that 'the presence of the Turkish community is an asset from a political standpoint'. Cyprus historian Christopher Hitchens continues with the observation that the British 'would always view with favour-and even solicit-a Turkish intrusion, because this would counterbalance the demands of the anti-colonial majority'.(19) Colonial divide and rule lasted until 1960.

The treaties of independence which inter alia, formed the constitution, further complicated relations between Greeks and Turks. Negotiated by mainland Greece, Turkey, and the UK, each of these powers were allocated, inter alia, a right of intervention in the internal affairs of Cyprus 'to restore the constitutional status quo'. However, a separate clause prohibited partition of the island or union with either Greece of Turkey. In acknowledgment of Cyprus' ongoing strategic importance, a condition of the independence treaties ensured that the British were able to maintain two sovereign base areas encompassing some 2.8 per cent of the land mass.

With an independence settlement imposed on the island by external states that barred union with Greece, the Greek Cypriots persisted with their struggle for enosis. In 1963 Archbishop Makarios proposed constitutional amendments that would have greatly diminished the power-sharing rights of the Turkish minority. The Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the government and serious violence again erupted. Hundreds were killed and many Turkish Cypriots fled to the enclaves. On this occasion the British emerged from their sovereign base areas, to separate the warring parties, thereby establishing the so-called Green Line.

Excluded from government, the Turkish minority formed their own administration in the enclaves. The now wholly Greek Cypriot government invited the UN to intervene and in 1964 UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was dispatched to patrol the Green Line. In a sense, the agreement of the UN to intervene created a considerable obstacle to a lasting resolution. This is because the Greek Cypriots claim that their government was internationally recognised as the legitimate government over the entire island when the UN accepted their invitation to intervene. Whereas Turkish Cypriots argue that the government in 1964 was illegitimate because it excluded Turkish Cypriot participation.

For a decade after 1964, the Turkish Cypriot enclaves were blockaded, ostensibly to prevent 'military' supplies from reaching the Turks. The Turks claim the blockade caused great hardship and led on two occasions to Turkey threatening to invade Cyprus to relieve them.

The situation was stalemated until a military coup in Athens in 1967 when Colonel George Papadopoulos seized power from a democratically elected government. The pro-enosis military junta in Athens smuggled General Grivas (contrary to international agreements) back to Cyprus in 1971 to incite a terrorist campaign against his old political master Makarios. Although Grivas died in January 1974, the campaign continued. After the hardline Brigadier Dimities Ioannides (until then head of the Greek military police) seized power in Athens from Papadopoulos in November 1973, Greek efforts to unseat President Makarios in Nicosia intensified, until a pro-Athens coup on the 15 July 1974 installed Nikos Sampson (a former terrorist and political extremist) as president.(20)

Fearing enosis between the hardline junta in Athens and the pro-Athens junta installed in Nicosia, Turkey acted on its earlier threats and invaded five days later on the 20 July initially seizing approximately 5 per cent of the northern coastline and establishing access inland to Nicosia. Three days after the Turkish intervention Sampson resigned and the junta in Athens collapsed.(21)

Talks in Geneva were initiated between the UK, Greece and Turkey on the 25 July during a tentative ceasefire, and all parties agreed to continue negotiations. Had the Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, withdrawn his forces at this point, 'he would have been remembered as the man who rid Greece of the junta, saved Cyprus from its designs,(22) and rebuilt the image of Turkey in the West'(23). If it had withdrawn its troops, Turkey would have had a strong case that it had acted under the intervention clause of the independence treaties to restore the constitutional status quo. The latter was disturbed by both the Makarios constitutional changes of 1963 and the military coup in Nicosia in 1974. But Turkey did not withdraw its troops. Instead, just weeks after the initial attack, on the 14 August Mr Ecevit and his generals embarked on a campaign of expansion that was to witness thousands of deaths, around 200 000 refugees seeking shelter in the south and overseas, and a Turkish land-grab from 5 to 37 per cent of the island's landmass.

Hitchens contends there are a variety of reasons why the Turks initiated their 'second' invasion of 14 August(24). Central to his thesis is the influence of the great powers interested in Cyprus. He argues that knowing of a build-up of Turkish forces on Cyprus, US Secretary of State Kissinger sent a signal to Ankara on the 13th of August suggesting the US did not disapprove of Turkey's actions.(25) Similarly, the British continued to ignore the intervention provisions of the independence treaties and confined their forces to the British sovereign bases. The then Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Arnold Smith, explains in his memoirs that 'the British told me they would not act unless Kissinger agreed in advance'(26). The failure of British policy was not lost on all Britons. Richard Crossman noted in his diary of 28 July that 'a Commonwealth country is attacked by a Fascist dictatorship which tries to upset its constitutional government and though we have 15 000 armed men there we stand aside'(27). Meanwhile in Turkey itself, pressure was placed on the politicians by the military who wanted to use the window of opportunity that the international situation appeared to afford them.

As noted above, the independence treaties allowed the signatories to act to preserve the constitutional status quo. However Turkey's course of action not only violated the constitutional status quo, it abrogated the other treaty provisions regarding the responsibility to maintain the independence, territorial integrity and security of the republic. International condemnation was swift but no action was taken beyond issuing resolutions (see Appendix 5).

In the year after the Turkish armed forces had seized northern Cyprus, Rauf Denktash (the Turkish Cypriot leader who had 'invited' Turkish intervention in 1974) declared the establishment of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus in February 1975, recognised only by Turkey. By 1983, after the failure of a number of internationally brokered negotiations and with the UN demanding the withdrawal of Turkish troops, the north made a unilateral declaration of independence as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Like its forebear, it remains unrecognised by all but Turkey and condemned by resolutions of the UN Security Council, General Assembly and the European Union. In response, the recognised government of Cyprus imposed an embargo on the north.

Attempts at reconciliation-the bizonal bi-communal federation

Numerous attempts have been made to negotiate a solution to the Cyprus problem. By the late 1970s the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, with UN encouragement, had engaged in negotiations towards the creation of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. While a number of issues were agreed, the core point of frustration was centred on the issue of sovereignty. Greek Cyprus, the UN and later the EU, where to insist that the federation be comprised of a single sovereign entity, whereas the Turkish representatives insisted on a separate sovereignty for their part of the country and a sovereignty association between the divided north and south. All subsequent talks have been stalemated along these lines. Even the new UN talks that are to accompany the EU accession process starting this April will be working on essentially the same issues and will fail for the same reason.

Notable recent attempts at resolving the impasse include the 1992 UN Secretary General's negotiations around his 'set of ideas'. The UN plan focused on the creation of federal structures, codified all past points of agreement, and created a new map which would allow up to half the Greek Cypriot refugees to return home and reduced Turkish holdings in the north to 28 per cent of the island. In return the embargo would have been lifted and greater exchange between both communities encouraged. The negotiations floundered on the sovereignty question, and the absence of the 'three freedoms' of movement, ownership of property and right of settlement. In essence, Turkish Cypriot insistence that their 37 per cent of the landmass is a sovereign state remains the core stumbling block in all intra-Cypriot negotiations.

Appendix 2: Basic Data

Geography(28)

  • Location: Middle East, island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey
    Area: total area: 9250 sq km (note-3355 sq km are in the Turkish area)
    Comparative area: 3.8 times larger than the ACT (2300 sq km)-or for another example it would fit into Tasmania (67 800 sq km) over 7 times.

    1974 hostilities divided the island into two de facto autonomous areas, a Greek area controlled by the Cypriot Government (59 per cent of the island's land area) and a Turkish-Cypriot area (37 per cent of the island), that are separated by a UN buffer zone (4 per cent of the island); there are two UK sovereign base areas within the Greek Cypriot portion of the island (2.8 per cent).

    Climate: temperate, Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters
    Terrain: central plain with mountains to north and south; scattered but significant plains along southern coast
    Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
    Highest point: Olympus 1952 m
    Natural resources: copper, pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, timber, salt, marble, clay earth pigment
    Land use:
    • arable land: 40 per cent

      permanent crops: 7 per cent

      meadows and pastures: 10 per cent

      forest and woodland: 18 per cent

      other: 25 per cent

      Irrigated land: 350 sq km (1989)

    Environment:

    current issues:

    water resource problems (no natural reservoir catchments, seasonal disparity in rainfall, and most potable resources concentrated in the Turkish Cypriot area); water pollution from sewage and industrial wastes; coastal degradation; loss of wildlife habitats from urbanisation

    Appendix 3: Economic and Military data(29)

    Republic of Cyprus   TRNC  
    Economic   Economic  
    GDP $8.8 Bn GDP $837m
      $13 574 per capita   $4,110 per capita
    Growth 1.90% Growth -1.40%
    Inflation 3.00% Inflation 100%
    Debt $2.1 Bn Debt N/A
    Defence exp. $429 m Defence exp. N/A
      5.8% GDP    
    Pop. 850 000 (Turkish 24%)    
    Pop. 198 215 (inc. 500 of Greek ethnicity)    
    Armed forces   Armed forces  
    Active 10 000 Active 4 000
    Reserves 88 000 Reserves 26 000
        Foreign Forces (Turkey)  
        Active 25-30 000
    Equipment   Equipment  
    Tanks 102 tanks 265
    APCs 332 APCs 250
    Artillery (various) 98 Artillery (various) 164
    Foreign Forces
    Greece Active 1 250    
    UK Active 5 000    
    UN Active 1 180 (+35 civilian police)    
    Equipment
    1 helicopter sqn (UN)

    Appendix 4: Resolutions adopted by the Security Council

    For references purposes, all UN Security Council Resolutions on Cyprus are listed. A hyper-link to the text of each resolution can be made at the following web site: http://www.kypros.org/Cyprus_Problem/UNresolutions-list.html

    •Res. 186 (1964) •Res. 187 (1964)
    •Res. 192 (1964) •Res. 193 (1964)
    •Res. 194 (1964) •Res. 198 (1964)
    •Res. 201 (1965) •Res. 206 (1965)
    •Res. 207 (1965) •Res. 219 (1965)
    •Res. 220 (1966) •Res. 222 (1966)
    •Res. 231 (1966) •Res. 238 (1967)
    •Res. 244 (1967) •Res. 247 (1968)
    •Res. 254 (1968) •Res. 261 (1968)
    •Res. 266 (1969) •Res. 274 (1969)
    •Res. 281 (1970) •Res. 291 (1970)
    •Res. 293 (1971) •Res. 305 (1971)
    •Res. 315 (1972) •Res. 324 (1972)
    •Res. 334 (1973) •Res. 343 (1973)
    •Res. 349 (1974) •Res. 353 (1974)
    •Res. 354 (1974) •Res. 355 (1974)
    •Res. 357 (1974) •Res. 358 (1974)
    •Res. 359 (1974) •Res. 360 (1974)
    •Res. 361 (1974) •Res. 364 (1974)
    •Res. 365 (1974) •Res. 367 (1975)
    •Res. 370 (1975) •Res. 383 (1975)
    •Res. 391 (1976) •Res. 401 (1976)
    •Res. 410 (1977) •Res. 414 (1977)
    •Res. 422 (1977) •Res. 430 (1978)
    •Res. 440 (1978) •Res. 443 (1978)
    •Res. 451 (1979) •Res. 458 (1979)
    •Res. 472 (1980) •Res. 482 (1980)
    •Res. 488 (1981) •Res. 495 (1981)
    •Res. 510 (1982) •Res. 526 (1982)
    •Res. 534 (1983) •Res. 541 (1983)
    •Res. 544 (1983) •Res. 550 (1984)
    •Res. 553 (1984) •Res. 559 (1984)
    •Res. 565 (1985) •Res. 578 (1985)
    •Res. 585 (1986) •Res. 593 (1986)
    •Res. 597 (1987) •Res. 604 (1987)
    •Res. 614 (1988) •Res. 625 (1988)
    •Res. 634 (1989) •Res. 646 (1989)
    •Res. 649 (1990) •Res. 657 (1990)
    •Res. 680 (1990) •Res. 682 (1990)
    •Res. 697 (1991) •Res. 698 (1991)
    •Res. 716 (1991) •Res. 723 (1991)
    •Res. 750 (1992) •Res. 759 (1992)
    •Res. 774 (1992) •Res. 789 (1992)
    •Res. 796 (1992) •Res. 831/93 (1993)
    •Res. 839/93 (1993) •Res. 889/93 (1993)
    •Res. 902/94 (1994) •Res. 927/94 (1994)
    •Res. 939/94 (1994) •Res. 969/94 (1994)
    •Res. 1000/95 (1995) •Res. 1032/95 (1995)
    •Res. 1062/96 (1996) •Res. 1092/96 (1996)
    •Res. 1117 (1997)      

    Appendix 5: Australian Electoral Distribution of People Born in Cyprus, Turkey and Greece by electorate (the top 36 electorates are selected)(30)

    Electorate

    Cyprus

      Electorate

    Turkey

      Electorate

    Greece

    Calwell

    1154

      Calwell

    4846

      Watson

    7209

    Watson

    1025

      Reid

    3315

      Batman

    6755

    Maribyrnong

    897

      Wills

    1750

      Hotham

    5084

    Scullin

    794

      Holt

    1045

      Grayndler

    4925

    Blaxland

    658

      Melbourne

    931

      Scullin

    4662

    Hotham

    608

      Scullin

    764

      Wills

    4384

    Kingsford-Smith

    599

      Chifley

    691

      Barton

    4190

    Barton

    555

      Bruce

    676

      Chisholm

    3765

    Menzies

    519

      Kingsford-Smith

    667

      Menzies

    3620

    Wills

    508

      Grayndler

    653

      Kingsford-Smith

    3530

    Gellibrand

    495

      Prospect

    643

      Melbourne

    3433

    Batman

    404

      Fowler

    607

      Higgins

    3213

    Grayndler

    402

      Greenway

    562

      Adelaide

    2930

    Banks

    399

      Hotham

    540

      Gellibrand

    2911

    Bruce

    392

      Cunningham

    502

      Bruce

    2903

    Lalor

    382

      Mallee

    473

      Hindmarsh

    2707

    Hindmarsh

    362

      Parramatta

    388

      Blaxland

    2508

    Lowe

    339

      Batman

    387

      Melbourne Ports

    2488

    Greenway

    328

      Maribyrnong

    369

      Maribyrnong

    2467

    Chisholm

    312

      Lowe

    368

      Lowe

    2089

    Burke

    286

      Sydney

    327

      Kooyong

    1967

    Melbourne

    270

      Isaacs

    327

      Calwell

    1913

    Goldstein

    268

      Throsby

    317

      Port Adelaide

    1638

    Reid

    247

      Gellibrand

    312

      Goldstein

    1573

    Sydney

    240

      Murray

    307

      Sydney

    1558

    Fowler

    238

      Blaxland

    292

      Lalor

    1339

    Chifley

    231

      Swan

    265

      Banks

    1327

    Higgins

    230

      Lalor

    260

      Deakin

    1191

    Adelaide

    221

      Barton

    259

      Holt

    1155

    Prospect

    221

      North Sydney

    251

      Northern Territory

    1123

    Hughes

    205

      Watson

    241

      Jagajaga

    1110

    Holt

    200

      Bennelong

    209

      Brisbane

    1026

    Deakin

    194

      Goldstein

    190

      Boothby

    1013

    Aston

    192

      Menzies

    175

      Sturt

    1007


    Endnotes

    1. As explained in Appendix 1, since 1974 there has been a de facto division between Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the island of Cyprus. To the south lies the Republic of Cyprus, an internationally recognised independent state. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) which occupies 37 per cent of the land in the north of the island is a self-declared entity but is unrecognised by all but Turkey. For the purposes of this background paper 'Cyprus' will refer to the recognised state and 'TRNC' will refer to the Turkish sector or statelet. The use of the acronym TRNC in no way confers recognition of that entity, but is rather used as a shorthand. Occasionally 'Cyprus' will also be used as a geographical expression in the absence of a direct political connotation.
    2. Australia currently has 23 policemen on duty in Cyprus as part of the UN force.
    3. The difference between the candidates was 6600 votes.
    4. See EU, 1997, European Dialogue 4/97, Brussels: European Commission.
    5. Ibid.
    6. As well as Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia
    7. Presidency Conclusions, Luxembourg European Council,12 and 13 December 1997
    8. AFP, 1998, 'Turkish Cypriot Parliament approves closer ties with Ankara', AFP wire, 11 February 1998.
    9. Financial Times, 1998, 'Cyprus Turks stick to their hard line', Financial Times, 17 February 1998.
    10. Wolf, J., 1997, EU snub 'to split' Cyprus for good', The Canberra Times, 20 December 1997.
    11. Assuming the Cypriot systems had the appropriate radar and electronic countermeasure equipment.
    12. AFP, 'Turkey Warns on Cyprus Missiles', The Age, 13 September 1997.
    13. Ibid.
    14. Smith, H., 1998, 'British envoy faces silent treatment' in The Age, 28 February 1998.
    15. As an interesting historical aside, just before the Athens junta collapsed, Ioannides ordered all out war with Turkey over its invasion of Cyprus, but sensibly no one in the high command followed out the suicidal order.
    16. Durrell, L., 1956, The Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, London.
    17. Both states are however members of NATO. Unlike Greece, Turkey is not a member of the European Union, which is causing difficulties over Cyprus (see below).
    18. IDR, 1997, 'Walking the Tightrope: tension mounts along Cyprus' Green Line', Janes International Defence Review, June 1997, p.67.
    19. Hitchens, C., 1997, Hostage to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger, London:Verso, p.3.
    20. This train of events was foreseen by the Greek Cypriot newspaper Apogevmatini (Afternoon) in its edition of the 5 July where it claimed that the Athens junta was planning: 'a broad coupist action to take place in the next few days supported by certain military circles in cooperation with units of the National Guard and EOKA-B groups, for the purposes of seizing power. This coupist action has been planned in such a way that it formally releases senior military personnel or Greek army circles from any responsibility... If the plan succeeds, the government will be taken over by a certain person who has already been chosen and who, in substance, will be the puppet for a transitional period. Naturally, it is understood that the partition of Cyprus will be achieved through the coup plan with the understanding that the Turks have their plans prepared for such a golden opportunity'. Cited in Hitchens, C., 1997, Hostage to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger, Verso, London, pp.81-2.
    21. The current President of Cyprus, Glafkos Clerides (who was then President of the House of Representatives) became caretaker President until Makarios returned from exile in the UK in December to resume control until he died in 1977.
    22. Prior to 14 August Turkey's intervention may been considered within the limits of the intervention clause in the independence treaty.
    23. Hitchens, op.cit, p. 102.
    24. Until the second invasion Turkey held just 5 per cent of Northern Cyprus. This was extended to 37 per cent after the 14th of August.
    25. See Ibid, 99 and passim.
    26. Smith, A, 1981, Stitches in Time, quoted in Ibid, p. 92.
    27. Crossman, R., Diaries of a Cabinet Minister, quoted in Ibid, p. 91.
    28. 1996 World Fact Book, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington DC.
    29. Figures derived from EIU 1997, Cyprus Country Profile 1997-8, Economist Intelligence Unit, London; and IISS, 1997, The Military Balance 1997-8, OUP, Oxford.
    30. From Australian Bureau of Statistics data 1996. These are the top 36 electorates, the remainder have less than 1000 people of either category.

Back to top