Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus-TRNC
ATAA statement on Cyprus for European Subcommittee
Statement of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations Regarding Cyprus Before The European Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, June 18, 2001
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: The Assembly of Turkish American Associations is grateful for the opportunity to submit its views on United States policy towards Cyprus, both towards the Greek Cypriot administration and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus established in 1983.
We believe that sound United States policies would be promoted by understanding the following key points:
1. Distrust. Substantial but understandable mistrust obtains between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. The Republic of Cyprus attained independence from British colonial rule in 1960. During the years 1955-58 as independence was negotiated, Greek Cypriots forged a terrorist organization (EOKA) featuring the likes of George Grivas and Nicos Sampson wedded to employing terrorist crimes to gain unity or ENOSIS with Greece. British personnel, Turkish Cypriots, and Greek Cypriot dissenters alike were targeted for EOKA's villainy.
Turkish Cypriots did not look on the prospect of ENOSIS with equanimity. The example of Crete was riveting. After long years of Ottoman rule, the island was annexed by Greece in 1913, and persons of Turkish extraction or heritage were expelled or otherwise eliminated from the island. In modern terminology, Crete underwent ethnic cleansing, and Turkish Cypriots did not relish a second edition of Crete if Cyprus similarly succumbed to Greek sovereignty.
Accordingly, the 1960 Constitution that accompanied Cypriot independence enshrined an equal partnership dispensation that would prevent Greek Cypriot domination of Turkish Cypriots and vice versa. National security and foreign policy was shared equally by a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president. The legislative branch, the judiciary, the civil service, the armed forces, and municipalities similarly divided power between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, generally in a 7-3 ratio in favor of the former.
The 1960 Constitution also explicitly prohibited ENOSIS, and was reinforced by international covenants authorizing unilateral intervention by either Turkey, Greece, or Great Britain to maintain its integrity, for example, the Treaty of Guarantee. Greece and Turkey retained skeletal forces on Cyprus, and Britain retained military bases.
With a few road bumps, the partnership Constitution operated smoothly for three years. Current President of the Greek Cypriot administration, Glafcos Clerides, in his memoirs confesses that Turkish Cypriots had not brandished their blocking powers to frustrate Greek Cypriot policies. Despite the clear absence of justification, then Greek Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios insisted in November 1963 that Turkish Cypriots accede to thirteen revolutionary constitutional amendments that would reduce them to serfdom. When Turkish Cypriots balked, President Makarios launched a campaign of genocide (known euphemistically as The Akritas Plan), a term employed by reporters from acclaimed newspapers, such as The Washington Post. Newspaper reports of genocide were confirmed by peace envoy and United States Undersecretary of State George Ball. He writes in his memoirs that President Makarios was uninterested in peace but craved the opportunity to turn Cyprus into his private abattoir and continue happily to kill Turkish Cypriots.
Turkish Cypriot bravery foiled the genocide attempt, but Turkish Cypriots were nevertheless herded into tiny enclaves constituting but three percent of the island and subjected to a punishing Greek Cypriot embargo. The United Nations Security Council passed various resolutions hoping to bring peace and a constitutional dispensation to Cyprus, and a peacekeeping force was dispatched in 1964 and has remained ever since.
Fighting erupted intermittently between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, with the aggressors more often the former than the latter, until 1974. Then a coup against Greek Cypriot President Makarios was initiated by the Greek military and their Greek Cypriot collaborators. Its aim was illegal ENOSIS and the elimination or extermination of Turkish Cypriots from the island. The coup success proved evanescent. Terrorist Nicos Sampson vaulted into the presidency for a few days, but the coup collapsed soon thereafter. As authorized by the Treaty of Guarantee, Turkey dispatched a rescue mission to Cyprus on July 20, 1974 to thwart the second attempted genocide by Greeks and Greek Cypriots. Turkey had sought British intervention to forestall the ongoing mayhem, but the latter was unmoved, forcing the former to act unilaterally. Turkey's rescue mission was declared legal by the Athens Court of Appeal in a 1979 decision, and by the Standing Committee of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe.
It has never been declared a war under international law. The Turkish Cypriot fear of genocide was well founded. In a February 26, 1981 Athens newspaper publication, Nicos Sampson boasted that, "if Turks did not launch the operation, we not only could succeed in ENOSIS, but also eradicate the Turks from the Island."
Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto between a Greek Cypriot administration in the south and a Turkish Cypriot administration in the north. Both are democratic, and both receive independent human rights reports by the United States Department of State. Turkey maintains troops in the TRNC to deter Greek Cypriot aggression. The Greek Cypriot administration spends more per capita on its military than any other nation in the world. It attempted to install advanced S-300 missiles purchased from Russia a few years back. Its military is virtually merged with Greece's through joint exercises and planning and otherwise. Its legislature features an official policy of illegal ENOSIS as the objective of Greek Cypriots, and maintains a punitive embargo on the TRNC which denies Turkish Cypriots customary international commerce, communications, travel, and otherwise.
This history explains why Turkish Cypriots are exceptionally wary of a second matrimony with Greek Cypriots without a prolonged courtship featuring numerous confidence building measures to overcome deep and legitimate feelings of distrust and ulterior designs for ENOSIS.
2. Prevailing Status and Negotiations. At present, only the Republic of Turkey recognizes the sovereign independence of the TRNC. That makes no sense. Even President Clerides has confessed to TRNC President Rauf Denktas that he exercises no sovereignty over northern Cyprus. And under international law, the TRNC qualifies for statehood because it exercises effective sovereignty over a specified territory with a discrete population.
Moreover, the United States and the United Nations encourage the Greek Cypriot administration to negotiating intransigence by falsely treating it as governing all of Cyprus and adhering to its punitive embargo on the TRNC. Greek Cypriots thus are given no incentive to compromise their demand for a unitary state in which Turkish Cypriots would be politically overwhelmed. That largely explains why negotiations over Cyprus have sputtered and stalled for decades with virtually no progress.
At present, President Denktas has proffered a confederation proposal similar to the American Articles of Confederation. The Greek Cypriots have rejected the idea out of hand, but have not countered with a proposal of their own, other than instant sovereign unity which is extremist by any measure. No negotiations are underway because the Greek Cypriot administration refuses to recognize the TRNC as a political equal as declared in United Nations Security Council resolutions. Moreover, the Greek Cypriots are negotiating unilateral entry into the European Union in violation of the 1960 Constitution and international law, which prohibits Cypriot union with any other political entity, either individually or collectively.
3. United States Policy. In forging policy on Cyprus, the United States should be attentive to the following. The Greek Cypriot administration serves as a money laundering haven for the Russian mafia and indicted war criminal Slobodan Milosevic and his thieving cronies. Greek Cypriots vociferously denounced NATO interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo. They aided and abetted convicted terrorist Abdullah Ocalan of the Marxist-Leninist PKK by providing a counterfeit passport, and have otherwise been sympathetic to Kurdish and sister anti-Turkish terrorists.
The TRNC supports NATO and United States intervention in the Balkans. It is unswervingly committed to fighting terrorism. It is devoted to and practices democracy. It is working diligently with the United Nations to identify missing persons from the previous fighting on Cyprus, and to negotiate a global property settlement with Greek Cypriots to insure fairness to all those displaced by the previous conflicts.
The United States could overcome the punitive and counterproductive embargo on the TRNC without officially recognizing its sovereign independence, just as it conducts trade with Taiwan and Hong Kong without treating them as independent nations.
We are convinced that United States recognition of the sovereign equality of both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots would jump-start serious negotiations towards a dispensation that is fair and just to both communities.
Turkey is vastly more important to the national security and energy interests of the United States than is Greece. Thank you for entertaining our views.