The European Court of Human Rights has given the clear message that the Cyprus issue is primarily an international case based on the violation of human rights and international law by Turkey. Furthermore, the Court has ruled on important issues of international law, judicially verifying the legal status of the Republic of Cyprus and the illegal actions of Turkey in Cyprus.
The massive and systematic violation of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus has been judicially verified by the European Court of Human Rights in its judgment on the fourth interstate application of Cyprus v. Turkey, delivered on 10 May 2001, the Court has established serious violations of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Cypriots by Turkey, while it judicially reaffirmed at the same time several principles of international law that establish the framework within which a just and lasting solution to the long lasting Cyprus issue should be achieved.
FACTUAL AND LEGAL BACKGROUND
On 20 July 1974 Turkey, availing herself of the coup of 15 July 1974, took military action against the independent and sovereign Republic of Cyprus, a member of the United Nations and the Council of Europe. The Turkish Government had then proclaimed that this action was “a peace operation”, aiming at the restoration of the constitutional order in the island which was allegedly disturbed by the coup against the legal Government of Cyprus.
The then Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Bulent Ecevit, referring to the abovementioned military action, stated that the Turkish armed forces came to Cyprus to bring peace, and that this action had been taken by Turkey in her capacity as co-guarantor power, under the 1959 Treaty of Guarantee, signed by the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey, as part of the agreements establishing the Republic of Cyprus.
Even if Turkey’s allegations for having the right to take unilateral military action under article IV of the Treaty of Guarantee could be accepted (the legal interpretation of the term “unilateral action” within the scope of the United Nation’s Charter not been clearly understood as giving Turkey the right for an offensive military attack), the sole aim of such action should have been the re-establishment of the state of affairs established by the Treaty. Instead of this, Turkey has through military force occupied about 35% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
In fact Turkey’s military action against the Republic of Cyprus violates the independence and territorial integrity of the State whose independence and territorial integrity she has guaranteed and constitutes a flagrant aggression, which is considered as an international crime according to international law.
Furthermore, Turkey had unilaterally proclaimed the establishment of a puppet “autonomous administration” in the occupied part of Cyprus, propped up by the military power of the Turkish occupying forces. Turkey’s efforts to establish an autonomous administration in the occupied north of Cyprus was, of course, part of a plan to turn the de facto occupation into de jure and partition the unified, sovereign, independent State of the Republic of Cyprus into two different states. These actions are in contravention of article 195.1 of the Cyprus Constitution, which provides that “the territory of the Republic is one and indivisible”, and which Turkey had guaranteed to respect by signing the 1959 Treaty of Guaranty. It must be stressed that such actions are also contrary to the United Nations Charter and, generally, international law.
Turkey’s intention to destroy the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus is proved, inter alia, by the continuation of military operations by Turkish troops in Cyprus after the time set by the United Nations Security Council for the cessation of hostilities. This behaviour was in flagrant violation of the Security Council’s resolutions of 20 and 23 July 1974 [SC Resolution 353(1974) and 354(1974) respectively], under which the Council demanded an immediate end of foreign military intervention in the Republic of Cyprus and requested the withdrawal without delay of all foreign military personnel.
The following facts prove the escalation of the Turkish military operations and at the same time constitute indisputable evidence of Turkey’s real intentions against the Republic of Cyprus:
-By 16:00 hours of 22 July 1974, (the time fixed by the United Nations for the ceasefire) the Turkish armed forces had occupied 1.70% of the Republic’s territory.
-By 30 July 1974 (date of the Geneva Declaration signed by the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom) Turkey, by extending its occupation, had put under its control 3.74% of Cyprus territory.
-Following Turkey’s ultimatum at the Geneva conference, during the meeting of 13 August 1974, the Turkish troops further extended their occupation to over 34,10% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
-Even after the agreed cease-fire time, at 18:00 hours of 16 August 1974, and in spite of the resolutions of the Security Council [see SC Resolutions 357(1974), 358(1974) and 360(1974)], the invading Turkish armed forces continued their advance, thus putting under their occupation about 35% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
It must be added that Turkey’s intention for the creation of two autonomous and homogeneous zones in Cyprus had clearly became apparent at the Geneva conference. The Turkish Foreign Minister demanded at the meeting of 13 August 1974 an immediate answer to Turkey’s proposals for a geographical partition of the island, an allocation of 34% of the territory of the Republic to a Turkish Cypriot autonomous administration, and the formation of a federation between the two autonomous zones. The Greek Cypriot and Greek sides asked for a 36-hour recess in order to consider the Turkish proposals and have an exchange of views with their advisers. While the request was accepted by the British Foreign Minister, was turned down by the Turkish Foreign Minister who demanded that the conference be considered as having come to an end. A few hours later the Turkish armed forces advanced towards the town of Famagusta, ignoring the cease-fire agreement and the United Nations resolutions.
VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS
As a result of the Turkish aggression against Cyprus and the continuing occupation of the northern part of the island by Turkish armed forces, the Government of Cyprus has been prevented from exercising any form of control, power or authority in respect of the area under Turkish occupation. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus is prevented from applying the laws of the State or any international conventions over the occupied area. Furthermore, the courts of the Republic are prevented from applying justice in the said area.
An interview with Mustafa Organ, a Turkish soldier serving in the 48th Ankara/Tsoumbouk artillery brigade at the time of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, was published on 28 January 1998 in the Frankfurt-based newspaper “Ozgur Politica”.
Organ referred to the massacre of about 100 Greek Cypriot civilians who had fled to the small village of Meric (Mora), near Nicosia. “Those killed at the exit of the village were women, children and pensioners who were running for their lives”, he said. “The little streets and the exit areas were full of civilian pensioners and small children who were trying to get away. These people were killed in the most vicious way and some of the bodies were cut to pieces. The bodies were lying in the scorching heat for a week. Later officers told us we had to hide the bodies. I drove a bulldozer. Others dug a large and wide ditch and buried them. Soldier Sefket Avcioglu from Maras was also a witness to the event”.
Organ referred also to prisoners being killed and robbed and Greek and Turkish Cypriot women and girls being raped by Turkish officers and soldiers. “I cannot forget a tall dark officer from Adana who raped a 13 year old Greek Cypriot girl, and the rape of two Turkish Cypriot girls near the Nicosia industrial zone”, he said.
It can be said that all the human rights safeguarded by international conventions were violated by Turkey in Cyprus. The European Court of Human Rights and the Human Rights Commission of the Council of Europe have established that many crimes were committed in Cyprus by Turkish troops, such as cold-blooded murders, rapes, enforced prostitution, torture, inhuman treatment etc. By committing those crimes intentionally and on a mass scale, Turkey is answerable for war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.
Having in mind the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, together with relevant judgments of international courts, Turkey’s conduct towards the Greek Cypriot population in the occupied area of Cyprus should be considered as an act of genocide. Large-scale killings of both conscripts and civilians, cold-blooded murders, deliberate infliction of serious bodily and mental harm, all directed against Greek Cypriots simply because of their ethnic origin, race and religion, constitute a genocide according to international law.
Forcible displacement of Cypriots
The Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the destruction, the killings and the attack against the Cypriot inhabitants, forced about 142.000 persons (approximately one quarter of the Cypriot population) to be displaced from their homes and properties situated in the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus. All these persons are still refugees. For so many years Turkey has refused to comply with United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions calling for “urgent measures to facilitate the voluntary return of all refugees to their homes in safety and to settle all other aspects of the refugee problem”.
The displacement of so many people, in such a short period of time, in a small country like Cyprus, has created a dramatic situation, affecting personal and family life and creating major social and economic problems. Displaced persons, especially children, were forced to live under inhuman conditions. Families were separated. As a result the fabric of society was drastically altered. The Greek Cypriot displaced persons can see their homes and properties but they are forcibly denied the right to return and live where they are borne and grown up
The missing persons
Over the years those who lost their loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods went through the painful process of rebuilding their shattered lives. But for the fathers, the mothers, the brothers, the sisters and the children of the missing, the passage of time has deepened rather than healed the wounds inflicted by the Turkish invasion.
The relatives seek convincing information allowing the full determination of the fate of the hundreds of Cypriots still missing since the 1974 invasion. The lists of the missing persons include not only conscripts and reservists but also a large number of civilians among them women and children, who disappeared. Most of those missing Greek Cypriots were arrested by the Turkish army and/or by Turkish Cypriots who were acting under the control and command of Turkey’s armed forces. The rest were cut off in the Turkish-occupied area. After their arrest a number of them were transported to Turkey and were kept as prisoners in Turkish prisons. Since 1974, despite the appeals to the Turkish government and to other international organisations, and contrary to international law and human rights conventions, Turkey refuses to provide the relatives with any information regarding the fate of their loved ones. Instead, the Turkish government insists that it knows nothing about the fate of the missing Cypriots, and furthermore, that no Greek Cypriot missing persons are held.
Turkey’s claims, however, are not supported by the facts. On the few occasions when Turkey was forced to accept unannounced visits by representatives of the UN and the International Commission of the Red Cross to places where, according to information, Greek Cypriots were to be found, several Greek Cypriot missing persons were found imprisoned in Turkey and the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus.
There is hard and indisputable evidence establishing beyond any reasonable doubt that the persons who disappeared were alive and well at the time of their arrest by the Turkish army. This evidence is founded on:
- Eye witness accounts and sworn testimonies stating that a large number of the missing persons were arrested by Turkish military personnel after the cessation of the hostilities.
- Testimonies by ex-prisoners that such persons were seen in captivity in mainland Turkish prisons and other detention centres in the occupied part of Cyprus.
- Photographic evidence from the Turkish and international press showing clearly identifiable missing persons in the custody of Turkish troops both in Cyprus and in mainland Turkish prisons. These persons were recognized by relatives.
- Messages from missing persons broadcast by Turkish radio after their arrest.
- Red Cross lists compiled during visits in Turkish detention centres. These lists include names of prisoners who have not yet been released.
- In conformity with an agreement for the exchange of students, the Turkish side produced lists with the names of the students they were to release on 6, 7 and 8 November 1974. They included 138 persons, six of whom were never released.
- On 18 January 1975 the humanitarian service of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) supplied the Turkish military authorities with a list of 114 stranded students (document No. OPS/4405, HQ UNFICYP). The Turks replied that they had already released twelve of them. In fact, only nine out of the twelve were actually released. The remaining three are still missing. With regard to the same list, the Turks gave no information as to the fate of another forty-six persons. Thus 49 out of 114 stranded students listed by UNFICYP are still missing.
In 1975 the human rights organisation Amnesty International presented the Turkish Government with a list of 40 missing persons about whom it had compiled evidence pointing to their presence in mainland Turkish prisons. No response to Amnesty’s demands for an account was ever received from the Turkish Government. Turkey is constantly rejecting the efforts of humanitarian bodies and blocks any attempts by the international community to investigate the fate of the Cypriots who have “disappeared”. Although a Committee on Missing Persons was set up under the auspices of the United Nations in 1981, the Turkish Government is not represented and does not participate in its proceedings despite the fact that the European Court of Human Rights holds Turkey responsible for establishing the fate of the Greek Cypriot missing persons. It is not, therefore, surprising that the Committee, after so many years of investigations, has failed to determine the fate of a single missing person and to inform the family concerned accordingly.
It is worth mentioning United Nations resolution 3450 (XXX) of 9 December 1975, by which the General Assembly, “reaffirming the basic human need of families in Cyprus to be informed about missing relatives … requests the Secretary-General to exert every effort in close co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross in assisting the tracing and accounting for missing persons as a result of armed conflict in Cyprus”.
The United Nations Secretary-General, in his report to the Security Council at the end of 1995, underlined: ”On several occasions I have conveyed to the Council my concern about the absence of progress on the work of the Committee on Missing Persons. . .” (Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus S/1995/1020, dated 10/12/1995).
Amnesty International has also studied the situation. In a 1996 report on Cyprus it called on “the UN to establish a new body – an international commission of inquiry – which satisfies the strict international standards for such investigations, with adequate resources and powers, to conduct a thorough and impartial inquiry. . .”.
It would indeed be a challenge to international legal order if Turkey does not abandon its strategy of avoiding the presentation of the necessary evidence concerning the fate of the missing persons. The Turkish Government, in its refusal to recognize its obligation to account for the fate of Greek Cypriots held in its custody, is guilty of one of the most serious crimes against humanity – the crime of enforced disappearance; a crime which has been deplored internationally, and is not subject to any time limitation. The Verde Report, which was submitted in September 1984 to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, states:
“Enforced disappearance is one of the most serious
violations of the human rights safeguarded by international
instruments. It infringes virtually on all the victims’ personal
rights and many of the rights of their families. The violations…
cannot be justified by special circumstances, whether armed
conflict, state of emergency or internal unrest or tension.”
The issue of the Cypriots missing since 1974 is a purely humanitarian one and no political consideration should be allowed to interfere. International and, especially, European legal order should not permit Turkey to exercise such a criminal policy, which offends the civilization of mankind.
Despite the brutal attitude of the Turkish troops, approximately 20.000 Greek Cypriots and Maronites (about 1.000)* decided to remain in the Turkish-occupied areas, protecting their homes and properties and continuing their centuries old presence and culture in the area.
Following the cessation of the 1974 hostilities, the Turkish occupation forces and several Turkish Cypriot extremist groups, headed by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktash, implemented a plan aiming at the persecution of the enclaved Greek Cypriots. The implementation of the said plan has been indirectly verified by the United Nations, the Council of Europe and international non-governmental organisations, such as Amnesty International and ASME HUMANITAS.
It is evident that during the years following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Turkey has applied a policy of ethnic cleansing in the Turkish-occupied area, consisting of two parallel actions:
- The persecution of the Greek Cypriots who remained in their homes in the occupied area of Cyprus following the Turkish invasion of the island, by forcing them into inhuman conditions of living and by refusing them fundamental rights and freedoms (as verified by reports prepared by UNFICYP, the Council of Europe and international organisations).
- The illegal transfer of large numbers of Turkish settlers to the areas of Cyprus occupied by its armed forces and by giving them the homes and properties of the Greek Cypriots who were forced to flee to the government-controlled area.
During the third round of the inter-communal talks held in Vienna from 31 July to 2 August 1975, the Turkish side agreed with the Cyprus government on a number of humanitarian measures regarding the Greek Cypriot enclaved in the occupied area of Cyprus. The agreement, known as “the Vienna III agreement”, reads as follows:
- The Turkish Cypriots at present in the south of the island will be allowed, if they want to do so, to proceed north with their belongings under an organised programme and with the assistance of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
- Mr Denktash reaffirmed, and it was agreed, that the Greek Cypriots at present in the north of the island are free to stay and that they will be given every help to lead a normal life, including facilities for education and for the practice of their religion, as well as medical care by their own doctors and freedom of movement in the north.
- The Greek Cypriots at present in the north who, at their own request and without having been subjected to any kind of pressure, wish to move to the south, will be permitted to do so.
- The United Nations will have free and normal access to Greek Cypriot villages and habitations in the north.
- In connection with the implementation of the above agreement, priority will be given to the reunification of families, which may also involve the transfer of a number of Cypriots at present in the south, to the north.
Instead of applying the Vienna III agreement to the benefit of the Cypriot population, Turkey used the agreement as a way to implement its plan for creating its long desired separate “homogeneous” zones in the Republic of Cyprus. The “free will” of the Turkish Cypriots living in the government-controlled area to proceed to the Turkish-occupied area was “produced” by the Turkish extremist organisation TMT (under the leadership of Rauf Denktash), through extreme oppression and violence. The separation of the Cypriot population, as planned by Turkey, had to be implemented at any cost, even if the cost was to be paid by their fellow Turkish Cypriots themselves.
The part of the agreement referring to the Greek Cypriots has never been implemented. No family reunion was permitted, no priests or teachers were allowed to proceed freely to the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus. The oppression and persecution have continued and, in fact, have intensified. It is worth mentioning that during 1975, the year of the signing of the agreement, 2.745 enclaved Greek Cypriots were forced to flee to the government-controlled area, and during 1976, the year when the implementation of the agreement was expected, 5.449 enclaved Greek Cypriots abandoned their homes and properties, seeking security in the government- controlled area. Today, only a few hundred Greek Cypriots, mainly old persons, are still living in the Turkish-occupied area.
Enclaved Greek Cypriot elementary school teacher Eleni Foka used to teach a few pupils at Ayia Triada village, in the occupied area of Cyprus, since the Turkish aggression against the island in 1974. She returned a few years ago to the government-controlled area for medical treatment with the help of UNFICYP. Since then, Turkey has been refusing to allow her to return to her home in the Karpass peninsula, in the north-eastern part of the island. UNFICYP Spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski has said the UN supports Foka’s right to return home. The European Union Council of Ministers has deplored the denial by Turkey’s occupation force in northern Cyprus of permission to enclaved Greek Cypriot teacher Eleni Foka to return home to her village after receiving medical treatment in the government- controlled area.
Eleni Foka has also been physically attacked by agents of the Turkish occupation forces and suffered minor injuries as she tried to return to her home and to her school. According to a police statement, Eleni Foka, who was travelling on a bus with a number of enclaved persons wishing to return to their homes in the occupied part of Cyprus, was manhandled by Turkish occupation forces at the Ledra Palace checkpoint in Nicosia and forced to return to the government-controlled area.
According to the report of the UN Secretary-General to the Commission on Human Rights, dated 20 February 2001, the Turkish occupation forces reviewed 120 school books provided by the Cyprus Ministry of Education for the Greek Cypriot school in Rizokarpaso. They ultimately withheld 40 school books, which they considered “objectionable”.
It is unfortunately evident that the systematic destruction of everything that is Greek and everything that is Christian in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus is based on a well organised plan to create a “homogeneous geographic area” which will form the future “Turkish state”. Cultural treasures, religious sites, ancient and contemporary symbols and anything reminiscent of the Greek Cypriot presence in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus is destroyed. If such destruction is completed in accordance with the Turkish plans, the historic and cultural continuity of the Cypriot population will be interrupted and such interruption may constitute the most flagrant act of genocide. No people can live and be creative if its roots with its history and culture are cut.
The following extract from a newspaper report is enough evidence of what had happened and what happens today in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus:
“…The vandalism and desecration are so methodical and so widespread that they amount to institutionalized obliteration of everything sacred to a Greek […] In some instances, an entire graveyard of 50 or more tombs had been reduced to pieces or rubble no larger than a matchbox…we found the chapel of Ayios Demetrios at Ardhana empty but for the remains of the altar plinth, and that was fouled with human excrement[…] At Syngrasis […] the broken crucifix was drenched in urine.. At Lefkoniko […the interior of Gaidhouras church…] was overlooked by an armless Christ on a smashed crucifix.. Tombs gaped open wherever we went… crosses bearing the pictures of those buried beneath […] had been flattened and destroyed.”
(“The Guardian” – ‘The Rape of northern Cyprus’, 05.June1976).
The book “War and Cultural Heritage – Cyprus after the 1974 Turkish invasion” by Michael Jansen (Minnesota Mediterranean and East European Monographs – University of Minnesota, 2005) is a professional report of the Turkish massive and continuing deliberate destruction of the Cypriot cultural heritage. The book concludes with the following paragraph.
“History is the story of mankind. The narrative is supplied by the artefacts, the writings, and the buildings of our forbearers. Their works are the words, sentences, and paragraphs in the narrative. If they are destroyed, or removed from deposits and sites where they have rested for centuries, then a portion of the narrative of our history is lost”.
The illegal Turkish settlers
One of the major aspects of the Cyprus issue is the presence of tens of thousands of Turkish settlers, illegally brought by Turkey to the occupied area of Cyprus. These Turkish civilians were given the “status” of “citizen” of the non-existent (according, inter alia, to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Loizidou v. Turkey) “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, and are considered as being part of the “population” of the illegal puppet administration established by Turkey in the occupied territories of the island.
According to international law, the wilful deportation or transfer by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory under its occupation is considered as being an international crime or crime against humanity. Relevant provisions are found in:
- article 49 of the Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (12 August 1949), ratified by both Cyprus and Turkey,
- paragraph 4(a) of article 85 of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, which is particularly severe and regards as a “grave breach” of the Protocol “the transfer by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies…”
- article 20(c)(i) of the Code of Crimes against peace and security of mankind, adopted in July 1998 in Rome.
In view of the above, the wilful (in fact the well-planned and executed) transfer of Turkish civilian population from Turkey to the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus is regarded by international law as an international crime or crime against humanity. According to well established principles of international law, which are accepted as being jus cogens, criminal actions cannot produce lawful rights.
Having in mind the above legal framework and considering that no solution to an inter-state problem can be reached if it is not based on international legal order, we have to examine the situation created in Cyprus regarding the presence and the fate of the Turkish settlers in the occupied area of Cyprus, before and after the implementation of a solution to the Cyprus issue.
Due to the very small number of the population of Cyprus (less than a million) any consideration of the Turkish settlers as being part of the Turkish Cypriot community will dramatically alter the demographic structure of the state. Such an artificial demographic structure will give Turkey a justification for demanding a greater percentage of land for the Turkish Cypriot community, in the event of a federal solution to the Cyprus issue. In fact, this was the original political plan when Turkey decided to transfer the Turkish settlers to Cyprus.
It is, therefore, unacceptable both legally and politically for the Republic of Cyprus to provide the platform leading to the completion of an international crime against its land and its population.
It is a fact that the Turkish settlers come from another culture, completely alien to the culture of the Cypriots. Such a situation creates serious social problems, especially to the Turkish Cypriot community, and influences negatively the cultural continuity of the Cypriot population.
The argument is sometimes put forward that the whole issue is a humanitarian one, since the Turkish settlers are married and have children born in Cyprus, and “therefore, their compulsory withdrawal will produce major social and economic problems to them”.
If that is the case, what can we say about the humanitarian issue arising from the violent persecution of the Greek Cypriots who were forced to leave their homes and properties in the Turkish-occupied area and live as displaced persons in their own country? At least there has to be a balance in expressing our humanitarian feelings, especially when the humanitarian issues regarding the Greek Cypriots are based on the rule of law, while the same issues regarding the Turkish settlers are based on an international crime.
The Republic of Cyprus has a duty to protect its sovereignty and the rights of its people, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, against Turkey’s expansionist policy. No person can suggest that Cyprus’ small size may justify any deviation from the minimum standards of human rights protection and respect.
The Republic of Cyprus, in the form which will emerge from a final solution to the Cyprus issue, exercising its sovereign rights, may decide to resolve certain cases of Turkish settlers that have an obvious humanitarian nature. Such decisions must be based on concrete criteria and must be implemented by the state in exercising its sovereign authority. There is no justification for a massive naturalization by a non-existent state entity of so many foreigners brought to Cyprus in breach of international legal order.
THE FRAMEWORK SET BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
International legal and political instruments have repeatedly set the framework for the restoration of the human rights and fundamental freedoms Turkey has so flagrantly violated in Cyprus. The United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union have adopted resolutions and judgments pointing out Turkey’s responsibilities according to international law, in the field of the protection and respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The United Nations
Numerous resolutions on the Cyprus issue have been adopted by the Security Council, the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies since 1974.
The General Assembly
Time and again the General Assembly has reaffirmed the need to settle the question of Cyprus in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the relevant United Nations resolutions and stressed the right of the Republic of Cyprus and its people to full and effective sovereignty and control over the entire territory of Cyprus and its natural and other resources.
The General Assembly has also considered the withdrawal of all occupation forces from the Republic of Cyprus as an essential basis for a speedy and mutually acceptable solution of the Cyprus problem and demanded the immediate withdrawal of all occupation forces from the Republic of Cyprus.
Furthermore, the General Assembly has repeatedly called for respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, including the freedom of movement, the freedom of settlement and the right to property and the instituting of urgent measures for the voluntary return of the refugees to their homes in safety, and considered that the de facto situation created by the force of arms should not be allowed to influence or in any way affect the solution of the problem of Cyprus. (Resolution 37/253 of 13/5/1983)
The Security Council
The Security Council, having the duty to maintain and restore international law and order and conscious of its special responsibilities under the United Nations Charter, has called upon all parties to do everything in their power to alleviate human suffering, to ensure the respect to fundamental human rights for every person and to refrain from all action likely to aggravate the situation.
The Security Council has also expressed its grave concern at the plight of the refugees and other persons displaced as a result of the situation in Cyprus and urged the parties concerned, in conjunction with the Secretary-General, to search for peaceful solutions of the problems of refugees, and take appropriate measures to provide for their relief and welfare and to permit persons who wish to do so to return to their homes in safety. (Resolution 36 of 30/8/1974)
Furthermore, the Security Council has strongly condemned the further secessionist acts in the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus which are in violation of resolution 541(1983), namely the purported “exchange of Ambassadors” between Turkey and the legally invalid “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” and the contemplated holding of a “constitutional referendum” and “elections”, as well as by other actions aimed at further consolidating the purported independent state and the division of Cyprus and underlined its deep concern about recent threats for settlement of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants.
Expressing the fundamental principles of international law, the Security Council has reiterated the call upon all states not to recognize the purported state of the “Turkish Republic on Northern Cyprus” set up by secessionist acts and called upon them not to facilitate or in any way assist the aforesaid secessionist entity. (Resolution 550 of 11/5/1984)
The Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights Commission was actively involved with the human rights aspects of the Cyprus issue right from the beginning of their massive violations by Turkey. The Commission has called upon the parties concerned to undertake urgent measures to facilitate the voluntary return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes in safety and to settle all other aspects of the refugee problem and urged all parties to refrain from unilateral actions in contravention of the relevant United Nations resolutions, including changes in the demographic structure of Cyprus.
The Commission has also requested the Secretary-General to continue and intensify his efforts under General Assembly resolution 3450 (XXX) in respect of missing persons in Cyprus and called upon the parties concerned to co-operate with the Secretary-General in the fulfilment of his task. (Resolution 4(XXXII) of 27/2/1976).
Having in mind that the Turkish side has ignored all the United Nations resolutions, the Commission reiterated its calls for the full restoration of all human rights to the population of Cyprus, in particular to the refugees and called for the tracing of and accounting for missing persons in Cyprus without any further delay.
In particular, the Commission has considered attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as illegal and called for the immediate cessation of such activities, while it demanded the restoration and respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, including the freedom of movement, the freedom of settlement and the right to property. (Resolution 1987/50 of 11/3/1987)
The Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities
The question of the violation of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus was examined also by the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, which has demanded the full restoration of all human rights to the whole population of Cyprus, including the freedom of movement, the freedom of settlement and the right to property, expressed its great concern and anguish about the fate of the missing persons and expressed its concern also at the policy and practice of the implantation of settlers in the occupied territories of Cyprus which constitute a form of colonialism and attempt to change illegally the demographic structure of Cyprus. (Resolution of 2/9/1987)
The Council of Europe
The Council of Europe, through both its judicial and political instruments, has considered Cyprus’ appeals against Turkey as justified and has verified the massive and flagrant violation of human rights committed by Turkish occupation forces against the Cypriot population.
The European Court of Human Rights
By a majority of 16 to 1 (the judge appointed by Turkey) the European Court of Human Rights delivered on 10 May 2001 its judgment in the fourth inter-state application of Cyprus v. Turkey ((Application no. 25781/94). The Court, expressing the values of contemporary European legal order, has created the framework within which Turkey should act in respect of the protection and respect of human rights.
The European Court of Human Rights is considered as the ultimate defender of European legal order and the principles of mankind’s civilization. In its judgment in Cyprus’ fourth inter-state application against Turkey, the Court decided that Turkey, by her actions or omissions in Cyprus, continues to violate the provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, and specifically that:
(i) There has been a continuing violation of Article 2 of the Convention on account of the failure of the authorities of the respondent State to conduct an effective investigation into the whereabouts and fate of Greek Cypriot missing persons who disappeared in life-threatening circumstances.
(ii) There has been a continuing violation of Article 5 of the Convention by virtue of the failure of the authorities of the respondent State to conduct an effective investigation into the whereabouts and fate of the Greek Cypriot missing persons in respect of whom there is an arguable claim that they were in Turkish custody at the time of their disappearance.
(iii) There has been a continuing violation of Article 3 of the Convention in respect of the relatives of the Greek Cypriot missing persons. (The relatives of persons who went missing during the events of July and August 1974 were condemned to live in a prolonged state of acute anxiety which cannot be said to have been erased with the passage of time.)
(iv) There has been a continuing violation of Article 8 of the Convention by reason of the refusal to allow the return of any Greek Cypriot displaced persons to their homes in the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus.
(v) There has been a continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 by virtue of the fact that Greek Cypriot owners of property in the occupied area of Cyprus are being denied access to and control, use and enjoyment of their property as well as any compensation for the interference with their property rights.
(vi) There has been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention by reason of the failure to provide to Greek Cypriots not residing in the occupied area of Cyprus any remedies to contest interferences with their rights under Article 8 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1.
(vii) There has been a violation of Article 9 of the Convention in respect of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus regarding the restrictions placed on the freedom of movement of that population which considerably curtailed their ability to observe their religious beliefs, in particular their access to places of worship outside their villages and their participation in other aspects of religious life.
(viii) There has been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention in respect of Greek Cypriots living in the occupied area of Cyprus in so far as school books destined for use in their primary school were subject to excessive measures of censorship.
(ix) There has been a continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in respect of Greek Cypriots living in the occupied area of Cyprus in that their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions is not secured in case of their permanent departure from that territory and in that, in case of death, inheritance rights of relatives living in the government-controlled area of Cyprus are not recognized.
(x) There has been a violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 in respect of Greek Cypriots living in the occupied area of Cyprus in so far as no appropriate secondary school facilities are available to them.
(xi) There has been a violation of the right of Greek Cypriots living in the occupied area of Cyprus to respect for their private and family life and to respect for their home, as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention.
(xii) There has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in that the Greek Cypriots living in the Karpass region, in the occupied area of Cyprus, have been subjected to discrimination amounting to degrading treatment.
(xiii) There has been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention by reason of the absence, as a matter of practice, of remedies in respect of interferences by the occupation authorities with the rights of Greek Cypriots living in the occupied area of Cyprus under Articles 3, 8, 9 and 10 of the Convention and Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No. 1.
(xiv) There has been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention on account of the legislative practice of authorising the trial of civilians by Turkish military courts.
Apart from the findings on specific violations of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus, the Court decided that:
– The Republic of Cyprus has remained the sole legitimate government of Cyprus. This means that the Republic of Cyprus continues to have full legal rights over its entire territory and its entire population, although prevented temporarily by the use of military force to exercise such rights over the occupied area.
– Turkey is responsible for any violation of human rights committed within the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus.
– The Court’s reasoning and conclusion in the case of Loizidou v. Turkey (Application No. 40/1993/435/514) that Mrs Loizidou remained the legal owner of her land in the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus, apply with equal force to displaced Greek Cypriots who, like Mrs Loizidou, are unable to have access to their property in northern Cyprus by reason of the restrictions placed by the occupation authorities on their physical access to that property.
It is worth mentioning that the above-mentioned judgment constitutes a part of the European Union’s acquis communautaire and is binding on each and every member-state of the Council of Europe. It is furthermore stressed by international law experts that, given the extended area in which the judgment is applicable and the significant status of the European Court of Human Rights, the findings of the Court are considered as jus cogens (compulsory international law).
The European Commission of Human Rights
The European Commission of Human Rights has examined four inter-state appeals of Cyprus against Turkey and has verified in its respective reports the massive violation of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus.
According to the findings of the Commission, Turkey, through the Turkish occupation forces,
– had embarked upon a systematic course of mass murders, not only of soldiers who had surrendered, but also of civilians unconnected with any war activity, including women and children,
– had displaced 180.000 Greek Cypriots from their homes,
– had detained thousands of persons arbitrarily and without lawful authority,
– is responsible for the unlawful deprivation of liberty of the persons taken in Turkish custody and is responsible also for failure in accounting for the fate of those persons,
– is responsible for wholesale and repeated rapes of women, ranging in age from 12 to 71,
– is responsible for “inhuman treatment” exercised against Cypriots of all ages,
– is responsible for deprivation of possessions of Greek Cypriots on a large scale, both during and after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
The Commission concluded that all those crimes, most of which are considered as “crimes against humanity”, were directed against Greek Cypriots simply because of their ethnic origin, race and religion.
The Parliamentary Assembly
Though the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly is a purely political body and Turkey has a strong direct and indirect political presence in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly has taken a just position on the violation of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus, based on the principles of European legal order. The Assembly, in relevant resolutions, has condemned the continuing flagrant violation of human rights in Cyprus by Turkey.
The European Union
The policy of the European Union regarding the violation of human rights and international law by Turkey in Cyprus has repeatedly been expressed in various resolutions of the European Parliament. Those references, coming from a European political body, are considered as a particularly positive factor for the restoration of the human rights of the Cypriots, particularly in view of the fact that the Republic of Cyprus has become a member of the European Union since May 1st 2004, Turkey’s European orientation, and the need for both countries to prove their respect for the acquis communautaire of the European Union and their commitment to effectively implement it.
The European Parliament has condemned the unilateral declaration of an “independent Turkish Cypriot state”, and has also condemned the resulting “referendum”, the “presidential elections” and the “parliamentary elections” in the Turkish-occupied section of northern Cyprus as illegal. (Resolutions of 17/11/1983 and 13/9/1985)
The European Parliament is the only body which has clearly stated that the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and colonists from Cyprus is a prior condition which cannot be circumvented for any normalization of relations between the EEC and Turkey. (Resolution of 9/7/1987)
With reference to the systematic destruction of the Cypriot cultural heritage by the Turkish occupation forces, the European Parliament has condemned the systematic policy of expunging the past and the Hellenic and Christian culture pursued by Turkey in the part of Cyprus occupied by its troops, as regards both the imposition of place-names and the disappearance or transformation of the island’s cultural heritage. (Resolution of 10/3/1988)
In general, the European Parliament has condemned the flagrant violation of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus and has called directly upon the government of Turkey to withdraw its occupation forces from the Republic of Cyprus in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions. (Resolution of 12/7/1990 and 20/1/1993)
Regarding the murder of Tasos Isaak and Solomos Solomou by the Turkish occupation forces during the summer of 1996, the European Parliament has condemned the murders of the two young Greek Cypriots by the Turkish army of occupation and members of the unlawful Denktash regime, while it has expressed deep concern at the indiscriminate use of violence by the Turkish occupying forces. (Resolution of 19/9/1996)
THE VIOLATIONS CONTINUE
The violation of human rights and international law by Turkey in Cyprus, which has been continuing for so many years, is unique in recent European history. Turkey, having driven the bulk of the Greek Cypriot population from the area under its occupation, achieving thus the ethnic cleansing of the part of Cyprus occupied by its armed forces, has prepared the ground for partitioning the Republic of Cyprus.
It has always been Turkey’s policy to prevent Turkish Cypriots from mixing with Greek Cypriots. The objective of such a policy has been to mislead world public opinion by giving the impression that the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots cannot live peacefully together in their common country without some sort of geographical separation.
Despite the many years of Turkish aggression against Cyprus and the violation of human rights and international law by Turkey, the people of Cyprus firmly believe that the international community will not permit such an illegal situation to constitute the framework of a solution of the Cyprus issue. Human rights principles, the rule of law and respect of human dignity must prevail.
THE SO CALLED “ISOLATION” OF THE TURKISH CYPRIOTS
The Annan Plan
The rejection by the Greek Cypriots of the “Annan Plan – V” for the solution of the Cyprus issue, on April 24, 2004, we detected “anger” or “disapproval” coming from several officials of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and other countries.
The main political argument on which such anger is based is that “the Turkish Cypriot citizens of the Republic of Cyprus remain isolated at a time that the country officially entered the European Union and, as a result, they are prevented from enjoying the benefits of being European citizens”.
The first major issue we wish to stress is that the Greek Cypriots voted “No” in a democratically organized and carried out referendum, in which they had the right to choose to vote “Yes” or “No” to the implementation of that particular plan. So, it has to be understood by democratically structured countries and organizations, that the Greek Cypriots had just exercised their democratic right and rejected by a majority of 76% a plan which they consider unacceptable for being the foundation of their country’s future.
In fact Greek Cypriots were absolutely right in rejecting the “Annan Plan”, given that such plan:-
- was based on racism and racial discrimination,
- implied permanent violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
- did not provide for the restoration of human rights and fundamental freedoms continuously violated by Turkey since her invasion of the Republic of Cyprus in July 1974 and her continuing occupation of 37% of the country’s territory,
- provided for the establishment of “a non state”, by not giving any powers to the federal government, by demanding separate majorities of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot constituent states for each and every decision to be adopted and by referring the final political decision in case of a deadlock to a federal court consisted of three Greek Cypriots, three Turkish Cypriots and three foreign judges, by sharing the international legal personality of the state between the federal and the constituent states, by providing for the continuation of Turkey’s “guarantee rights” which perpetuate the presence of Turkish troops on its territory, with a right “to take unilateral action” if Turkey considers that the constitutional order or the geographic area of the federal state or either of its constituent states is at stake, by not permitting any amendments to the federal constitution except with Turkey’s consent, by permanently dividing Cypriot population and creating borders based on the Cypriot’s ethnic origin etc.,
- provided for the artificial “creation” of two “peoples” for the constituent states and a series of prohibitions with a view to safeguarding the “clarity” and/or majority of each “people” to the respective constituent state, which prohibitions constituted a flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms protected by the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union,
- provided for the prohibition of referring any violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms against Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights for any action prior to the entering into force of the plan, and that any such violation should be compensated by the victim’s own constituent state,
- justified the illegal transfer by Turkey of tens of thousands of Turkish settlers to the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, contrary to strict provisions of international law,
- provided for the extension of the “rights” of the British military bases in Cyprus by giving them rights to Cyprus’s territorial sea and sea shelf, renewing their “rights” to Cyprus’s territory and airspace and by prohibiting the reference of any dispute to any international judicial or other institution.
Are the Turkish Cypriots really isolated?
The second major issue which we consider fair to examine is whether Turkish Cypriots are in fact isolated and who is responsible and has to be “punished” for such isolation.
Despite the substantial economic and social help provided by the Republic of Cyprus, we do agree that Turkish Cypriots are isolated and that their economic situation is far from being acceptable, especially when compared with the economic situation of the government controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus. Who is to be blamed for that?
- In 1974 Turkey, applying a plan aiming at the creation of a “homogeneous” geographic and population area, has forcibly uprooted the Turkish Cypriots from their homes and properties, transferring them against their will to the areas under Turkish occupation. At the same time, within the framework of the same plan, Turkey had expelled thousands of Greek Cypriots, uprooting them from their homes and properties situated in such areas.
- Since 1974 Turkey and the puppet “administration” representing her in the occupied areas of Cyprus strictly prohibited any relationship between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. It is to be stressed that any “unauthorized” visit by a Turkish Cypriot to the government controlled areas constituted a “criminal offence”. Turkey did not even permit the Turkish Cypriots to attend scientific or social events in the government controlled areas and there are numerous complaints by Turkish Cypriot politicians, scientists, professionals and other factors of the community to that effect. The establishment of a so called “freedom” of visiting the occupied areas by the Greek Cypriots and the government controlled areas by the Turkish Cypriots has not changed the situation. In fact, if something is changed is the ability of the Turkish Cypriots to work in the government controlled area and to enjoy free social and health services provided to them free of charge by the Cyprus state.
- Turkey had unilaterally proclaimed the establishment of a “Turkish Cypriot state” within the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus challenging thus the international community. As a result the Security Council, expressing the fundamental principles of international law, called upon all states not to recognize the purported state of the “Turkish Republic on Northern Cyprus” set up by secessionist acts and called upon them not to facilitate or in any way assist the aforesaid secessionist entity (Security Council Resolutions 541 of 1983 and 550 of1984).
- For decades Turkey and its puppet “administration” in Cyprus had rejected each and every proposal towards achieving a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue and prevented any relationship between Greek and Turkish Cypriots at any level and such attitude is included in several United Nations reports.
- Turkey and its puppet “administration” in Cyprus refused to implement the agreement reached in Vienna on 2nd August 1975 in the presence of the UN Secretary General, providing for the conditions of living of the Greek Cypriots residing in the Turkish occupied areas.
- Turkey and its puppet “administration” in Cyprus refused to implement the high level agreement achieved in 1979 in the presence of the UN Secretary General, providing for the fundamental principles on which a settlement to the Cyprus issue should be based and refused to return the town of Famagusta to its legitimate inhabitants.
It is obvious that Turkey works for decades towards isolating the Turkish Cypriots, exploiting their existence for achieving her own strategic targets. It is also obvious that the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots has been legally, politically and factually implemented by the United Nations themselves as a measure of defence against Turkey’s actions which are contrary to international law.
It must be understood that the Greek Cypriots’ “No” to the Annan Plan is a “No” to that particular plan and not to a solution to the Cyprus issue. It must also be understood that the Greek Cypriots are the first to welcome a solution to the Cyprus issue, provided that such solution is based on the principles of freedom, democracy and the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In other words, just to be honest, although the Greek Cypriots have a great desire for a solution, although they want their Turkish Cypriot compatriots to develop their status and enjoy all the benefits from the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union, they will never accept a solution based on injustice, racism, the violation of human rights or malfunction of the state.
It is worth adding that the Greek Cypriot tax payers accept and support the Cypriot government’s policy of providing economic and social help for their Turkish Cypriot compatriots and the Pan Cyprian Association for the Protection of Human Rights salutes such a policy, which is considered as a just pathway towards the real and lasting reunification of Cyprus’s entire population.
Unfortunately the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Turkey in Cyprus continues even after the Republic of Cyprus has voted in favour of the commencement of accession negotiations between the European Union and Turkey and despite the strict commitments of Turkey, arising from the negotiation protocol, to fully respect and apply and safeguard EU’s acquis communautaire. Such violations have even taken more “sophisticated” application usurping the legal and political framework of the “Annan Plan” which they unilaterally apply, but only regarding issues that “strengthen” Turkeys political target of providing a legal basis to the illegal establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot state within the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus.
As a concluding answer to the question of the alleged isolation of the Turkish Cypriots we may say that –
- the individual Turkish Cypriots, having the status of the Cypriot citizen, being always free to access the government controlled areas for finding a job or use, always free of charge, the public services in the fields of health, social support etc, having the right to export their goods through the Republic’s official ports according to the relevant EU regulation, are isolated only to the extend that they wish to be isolated for their political reasons, while
- the Turkish Cypriot “administration”, being Turkey’s “subordinate administration” according to the European Court of Human Rights, is and must remain isolated as an illegal entity which flagrantly violates international law by its mere existence.
THE PLAN FOR ILLEGAL EXPLOITATION OF DISPLACED GREEK
CYPRIOT PROPERTY IN THE OCCUPIED AREAS OF CYPRUS
The northern area of the Republic of Cyprus, under military occupation by Turkey since 1974 (with more than 40.000 heavily armed troops), has been experiencing an unprecedented construction and property “sale” boom.
The vast majority of the properties affected by this boom are owned by Greek Cypriots who were forcibly expelled from their homes as a result of the military invasion by Turkey.
About 170.000 Greek Cypriots, a third of the total Greek Cypriot population of the island, were forced out of their homes and properties. These displaced people and their descendants are still prevented by the Turkish Armed Forces from returning and repossessing their homes and properties. A recent disturbing development is that the occupied area has become a haven for corrupt and unscrupulous businessmen out to make a quick profit from the illegal “sale” and development of Greek Cypriot property.
According to the 1964 Land and Registry record, approximately 82% of the privately owned land in the territory now under Turkish occupation was owned by persons belonging to the Greek Cypriot community, while persons belonging to the Turkish Cypriot community owned approximately 16,7%. That position still obtained in 1974.
The building and “sales” boom which, according to the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, is churning out low-quality buildings that will have problems in case of an earthquake, exploded after the submission of a controversial United Nations plan to solve the Cyprus problem. The proposed Plan, first submitted in 2002, only partially accepted a legal right for displaced persons to get property restitution. The Plan’s provisions, which by and large entrenched the geographical and institutional separation of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, favoured the transfer of property titles to current occupiers of these properties. A large proportion of the properties from which Greek Cypriot owners were expelled, was unlawfully distributed to and is currently being used by the tens of thousands of Turkish settlers illegally brought into the occupied area by Turkey, to change the demographic structure of Cyprus. The settlers, currently estimated at around 160.000, outnumber the Turkish Cypriots by about two to one, and make up nearly two thirds of the civilian population in the occupied area. Had the UN Plan been implemented, it would have allowed for the settlers to continue staying on such properties, thus legitimizing Turkey’s policy of ethnic cleansing in Cyprus.
Ahmet Uzun, the so-called “finance minister” of Turkey’s occupation regime in northern Cyprus, has reportedly stated that the UN Plan provided an incentive to build on Greek Cypriot property located there, because persons investing in such property could have had priority over the legitimate Greek Cypriot title-holder in its ownership (See the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibrisli of 20 August 2004). Such provisions were indeed an incentive, and facilitated the rush to build on usurped properties and to “sell” them mainly to British and other European citizens seeking a home in the sunny Mediterranean. Perversely, Mr. Uzun appeared satisfied over the fact that construction activities can make the return of Greek Cypriot refugees to northern Cyprus more difficult in case of a solution to the Cyprus problem.
On 23 August 2004, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Cypriot affairs, Abdullatif Sener, was reported by the Turkish newspaper Milliyet as having stated that the amount of properties that foreigners “bought” in the occupied areas of Cyprus had increased tenfold over the preceding two years!
Nonetheless, anyone engaged in or contributing to the “sale”, “purchase” or development of Greek Cypriot owned property in the occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus does so illegally and at his own financial and legal risk. As first discovered by a British couple in 2004, trespassers on such property
Property and their accomplices become a target for civil law suits in the Republic’s courts. Meanwhile, the first international and European Arrest Warrants have been issued against persons developing refugee properties without the consent of the owners. The civil judgments and arrest warrants issued by Cypriot courts can be enforced against persons and properties throughout the European Union, of which Cyprus is a member.
The rights to restitution of the properties and homes of Greek Cypriot displaced persons have been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights. The Court has found Turkey guilty of depriving Greek Cypriot refugees of the use of their properties. The government of Turkey is obliged to compensate the refugees and to allow them to return to their properties. Ankara has not done this, thus violating the fundamental human rights principles with which an EU Candidate Country must comply in order to start accession negotiations. Worse still, Ankara’ s occupation regime in northern Cyprus is constantly adopting measures aimed at accelerating the on-going property plunder!
The right of refugees to restitution the world over was reaffirmed in August 2004. The UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights unanimously approved “Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons” and declared that these principles –
“emphasized the importance of restitution as a form of restorative justice… They reflect the view that a human rights approach to return and restitution will yield equitable and sustainable results in achieving the restoration of housing and property rights for refugees and displaced persons and in creating long-term stability.”
Recent Facts, Figures and Statements
evidencing Illegal Property Development
- Imports of construction materials into the occupied territories (according to the Turkish Cypriot daily “Kibris”, 2 August 2004:
- Applications lodged with the occupation regime by foreign nationals for the “purchase” of immovable properties in the occupied territories:
2001 309 (+35.5%)
2002 591 (+91.3%)
2003 955 (+61.6%)
2004 1,701 (+78.1%) (until 8 September)
N.B.: The so-called “minister of interior” of the puppet regime, Mr. Ozkan Murat, predicted that by the end of 2004 the number of applications for the said year will match the total number of applications for ALL previous years taken together!
(Yeni Düzen, 3 October 2004 and 9 September 2004)
- Referring to the intense land development being observed in the occupied territories since 2002, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister and State Minister, Mr. Abdullatif Sener, stated, inter alia, that:
. in 2001 foreigners “purchased” 63,000 square meters (“s.m.”) of land,
. in 2002, 290,000 s.m.,
. in 2003, 613,000 s.m.
Mr. Sener admitted that Greek Cypriot properties are involved in the abovementioned transactions.
(Milliyet, 23 August 2004)
- The so-called “finance minister” of the puppet regime, Mr. Ahmet Uzun, admitted that the property provisions of the Annan Plan gave investors the incentive to build on Greek Cypriot properties and observed that construction activities will make the return of Greek Cypriots to the northern part of Cyprus more difficult.
(Kibrisli, 20 August 2004)
- Turkish Cypriot politician, Mr. Izzet Izcan, stated on 2 September 2004 that in the period April-September 2004 the value of property “sales” in the occupied territories reached $2 billion.
(Phileleftheros, 4 September 2004)
- Noting that the sale of residences in the occupied territories had reached 10,000 the former chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Eren Ertanin, stated that over the past two years the prices of immovable properties there have doubled.
(Milliyet, 12 October 2004)
- The chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Industry, Mr. Salih Tunar, stated that the on-going construction of 4 large hotels in the vicinity of the occupied Greek Cypriot village of Vokolidha will substantially increase the already existing number of tourist beds in the puppet regime.
(Kibris, 12 October 2004)
Legal and Practical Implications of the Unlawful
Misappropriation of Property
- Aggravation of continuing violations of the home and property rights of lawful owners in a manner that could potentially engage both criminal and civil responsibility of all persons assisting in the illegal development by supplying goods, services and capital to the actual trespassers.
- Constant prejudicing, on a daily basis, a just and law-conforming settlement of the Cyprus problem that will respect and safeguard the twin freedoms of establishment and property ownership/possession across the country.
- Creation of conditions which encourage the transfer of labourers from Turkey who end up settling down and colonizing the occupied territories with Turkey’s blessing and in direct violation of international law. As many as 40.000 such Turkish labourers are said to have made their way to the occupied territories in 2004 alone.
- Destruction of the natural environment and of archaeological sites to make room for unbridled development.
- Construction upon mass graves, reportedly containing the remains of Greek Cypriot missing persons murdered during Turkey’s military invasion of 1974, desecrating their memory and complicating efforts to identify and transfer their remains to their loved ones for proper burial.
The accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union on 1st May 2004 and the commencement of the accession negotiations between European Union and Turkey create a new environment within which the termination of the violation of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus should be immediately achieved.
The European inherent principles of justice, democracy and the prevalence of the rule of law and the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights provide a sound platform for the solution of human rights issues. It has to be understood and accepted that the principles upon which the European Union has been established are not negotiable and that no political consideration should permit their violation.
What is more, it should be understood and accepted that the European Union will not permit a country candidate for accession to continue violating human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of a member state.
The United Nations, evaluating the current legal and political situation and having in mind their universal principles have a substantial role to play towards producing and supporting a new initiative for achieving a solution to the Cyprus issue, such initiative based on the international rule of law.
Stelios Theodoulou, President
for the Protection of Human Rights