Cyprus that is located in Eastern Mediterranean has a great strategic importance for European countries as much as other North Africa and Middle East have. Sovereign states made big wars especially to keep the artery of commerce under control and the island was occupied by so many forces throughout the history.
Cyprus that consistently passed through many hands, conquered by naval forces under the command of Piyale Pasha in 1571 and be a part of the Ottoman Empire. In that time there was Greek Cypriot population at a specific rate. When Ottomans got Cyprus under control, they gave Greek Cypriots the rights to move freely as they always did in other places they conquered. Moreover, they granted a privilege to them for establishing orthodox churches. By courtesy of Turks, Greek Cypriots found many opportunities that could never be found under the guidance of any other power; so in the course of time their population appreciably increased throughout the island.
Russia, that had always got the policy to “guard the hot seas”, occupied Kars and Ardahan in 1878, as a result of this Cyprus jeopardized and it was left to Britain temporarily. These all laid the groundwork for nowadays difficulties. On 4th of June in 1878, Britain took over the administration but it can be said that the island was still a part of the Ottoman Empire. As the 1st World War started in 1914 Ottomans entered the war on the side of Germany. Because of this attitude, Britain which was a member of the imperialist side against Ottomans, did not give the ship that Ottomans had ordered back. On top of this they declared that they annexed the island. Both during the world war and also after it, Cyprus by being an intercontinental base was attracted specially the victors.
Under the Treaty of Lausanne on the 23rd of July in 1923, it was officially accepted that Cyprus is a property of Britain. Now Britain was on the power. The island, that started facing with many internal problems after that time, became an independent republic with the treaty done in Zurich among Britain, Turkey and Greece on 19th of February in 1959. And these three counties did “guarantee” the independence of the newly-established republic. Because all these countries were the ones that had a voice in the management on the international stage; and they got the opportunities that could make Cyprus live in prosperity. With the acceptance of the constitution, Turk and Greek unions were positioned into the island. Actually the effect of the developments after Lausanne formed a basis of forthcoming difficulties.
In 60’s Turks were forming approximately the half of the existing population. The want of Greeks who did never discard the idea to unite Cyprus and Greece that called Megali (Big) Idea which was expanded after Ottomans leave the island, caused the sparks to send Turks away from the island. Because that the Prime Minister Karamanlis leave the island in 1963 and because of the chaos of the Greek internal affairs, the Cyprus problem was forgotten for a while. Cyprus mostly was making decisions according to its own wants, but Makarios was making efforts in order to make the pressure towards Turks increase. The most widely-ranged practices about ethnic cleaning were provided by the Greek terror campaign called EOKA which was opened in 1955. Millions of Turks were murdered in ethnic mass murders that lasted till August 1964. While this progresses, some internal disorders broke out in Greece and the army captured the administration. Greece raised the support to EOKA and started to locate the army secretly to the island. Greece was also supplying required support to make mass murders towards Turks continue. At that times that Turkey wanted these happenings to be stopped, the secret arrival of Rauf Denktaş to the island affected development in favor of Turks. Denktaş, the provider of the Turk organizations, was arrested by Greeks but then released by the agency of Turkey. Turkey understanding that the chaos would never come to an end, started to mention about the military intervention after the failure about the consequence of the negotiations done by Turks and Greeks.
Now insinuations started to be a threat. Turkey did not physically interfere to any country for long time and that situation directed international community to act freely. And with the sayings about this, the policies towards Turkey were intensified. The principle of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk “Peace at home, peace in the world” always perceived as a policy of “coming down a peg” by many nations; because the politic perceptions did not developed till that time for better understanding the Atatürk’s hidden message. This saying means “If there is no peace at home, there can not be peace in the world” and that meaning is vital for our nation and it will always make us stand in the first rank among other countries in the world, it will also make our historic characteristic -which is to settle and protect the peace- last forever.
New Ways to Realise A State Mechanism
(Photo : Necmettin Erbakan and Bulent Ecevit)
Situations were shaped insecurely on the island. On 15th of July in 1974, the Greek Cypriot National Guard that was conducted by Greek army officers knocked Makarios down and chose Sampson as a president. After Makarios leave Cyprus, Turkey asked Britain for interference in accordance with the 4th statement of the Treaty of Guarantee 1959; but Britain did not reply. Bulent Ecevit the prime minister and Necmettin Erbakan the deputy prime minister, in accordance with treaties and to come to Turks’ rescue, started military intervention which was mentioned so many times with the council approval. In that time there was no hope for the intervention. Turkish armed forces entered to the island with land, air and sea forces. With the Greeks’ attack to Turkish armed forced, hostilities started throughout the island. With the help of United Nations ceasefire came into the force at the end of July. Despite these progresses, the security of the Turks could not be policed.
Turkish armed forces started the second operation (on a %37 of the island under control basis) as Greece had continued to murder Turks despite the peace conferences in Geneva on 16th of august in 1974. As a result of peace attempts Turkish Cypriot Federal Government (TCFG) established in 1975. From that moment on population exchanges were started to happen. In the meantime, Turks living in south were placed into the northern parts of the Cyprus; and Greeks living in north into the southern. Exchange was done under the supervision of UN. But UN did not change its mind and insisted on diminishing Turkey’s impact on Cyprus. TCFG, council believing that all needed settlings were done, announced the independence of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to the world on 15th of November in 1983. Certainly, many countries showed reaction to the announcement. Turkish state, attracting the reaction of the southern side and the western countries, had never been recognized by any countries. And international negotiations, which had been done from the establishment of the state till 1990, were lack of a solution.
The rapid development of capitalism in Cyprus after independence is a very important matter. The economical development of the island developed separately from Greece, bourgeoisie raised internal affairs and these are so important matters among other problems. EOKA was against with the imperialism and that conflict enforced under the thought of Enosis. We can say that for some EOKA followers, Enosis lost ground after the independence. This can also be inferred from the terror agent’s behaviors. Especially the ones that were leaded by Makarios were always mentioned about Enosis; but the idea had nothing to do with the joining to Greece. Cyprus which can stand on its own legs was wanted. In 1990, Un Security Council carried resolution 649. With this resolution the UN Council called on the two leaders to co-operate, on an equal footing. It is also emphasized that the solution must be supplied by both of the communities with an equality approach and the direct negotiations with the leaders of both communities. Yet the result was still not positive.
Initiatives of Turgut Özal
Turgut Özal suggested a ‘four-power conference’ about Cyprus issue. Thus he brought Turkey an innovation, As Turkey always mentioned about two-communities. According to Özal’s suggestion; the issue of Cyprus must have been handled after eliminating the external interferences; and it must have been discussed among Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Republic of Cyprus (Greek Cypriots), Turkey, and Greece. In 1991 United Nations declared that it accepted the Turkey’s four-power conference. But it could not take action because of the attitudes of Greeks.
The attempts to revitalize the Cyprus negotiations, which were postponed because of the accession negotiations of Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus in UN Summit of Luxembourg in 1997, continued in the second half of the year 1999. In this context, Kofi Annan -Secretariat General of UN- conveyed in his explanation on 14th November 1999 that: “in order to lay the groundwork for the conferences for an extensive solution” . But in spite of the five-rounded conferences that were held between the dates of 3 December 1999 – 10 November 2000 with agents, yet the aim was not reached. On the other hand, the confederation offer (31 August 1998) of Turkish Cypriots was supported, decisions of 9th OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) Summit that was held in November 2000 in Duha were accepted like the decisions of 28th OIC Foreign Ministers conference – held in June 2001- under the subtitle of “Situation in Cyprus” that was accepted by OIC Foreign Ministers conference which was held in June 2000 in Kuala Lumpur.
The explanations done by UN General Secretary in the beginning of the fourth round on 12th September 2000 can be seen as a hopeful step to the solution process. As in the explanation there were statements mentioning about the political equalities of each communities. And it was also emphasized that an extensive solution must be found with the two-communal negotiations. But the Greek community reacted negatively and rejected the idea of the explanation with the verdict of Greek Council on 11 October 2000.
After the year 2001 Un General Secretary invited Rauf Denktaş. He accepted the invitation, went to Salzburg and negotiated with Annan. Denktaş gave his opinions about the Cyprus issue and then gave his document reflecting the conceptions of the Turks which then published as UN document. Then Alvara De Soto made contacts with both communities (between the dates 30 August—5 September 2001) in Cyprus. Denktaş showing his conciliatory gestures and ambitious attitudes about solution again, negotiated with Klerides in buffer zone on the 4th of December in 2001. Rauf Denktaş in his speech, displayed a helpful vision, mentioned that he was ready for an equal corporation and negotiations, and he would support the issue with the context of EU, and he also mentioned about the Turk – Greek equilibrium.
The most important problem in this process is the pressure on Turkey about rather discarding Cyprus or EU. This can be called as the triangle of EU-Turkey-Cyprus. And there was always a Greek-Greek Cypriot strategy towards this triangle. It is aimed to make the history of Turkish Cypriot cease to exist. Hereafter, by regarding the current situations, only the compromises that mention about equal policies about the island’s two-communal sovereignty will be assessed and that compromise will only be assessed if it includes Turkey’s entrance to EU apropos.
Mehmet Fatih ÖZTARSU - Analyst of Strategic Outlook