Friday, March 25, 2011

Partial admission of Turkey's Cyprus mistakes by Professor Levent Köker

The ‘problem of Turkey’ in Cyprus by LEVENT KÖKER, lecturer at Gazi University.

"One grave mistake was the division of Cyprus ... contrary to the provisions of the Treaty of Guarantee after the military operation of July 20, 1974. As you may recall, the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 used its supporters in Cyprus to overthrow the constitutional order on the island and, in response, Turkey launched a military operation on the island invoking its rights under the treaties of 1959-1960."

"Turkey’s intervention was justified by Article IV of the Treaty of Guarantee, which reads: “In the event of a breach of the provisions of the present treaty, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom undertake to consult together with respect to the representations or measures necessary to ensure observance of those provisions. In so far as common or concerted action may not prove possible, each the three guaranteeing powers reserves the right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs created by the present treaty.” The main interest to us here is the last sentence. Turkey took action alone, but the end result of this intervention was to create a new and “independent” state -- the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("KKTC") -- recognized only by Turkey and established contrary to the provisions of the Treaty of Guarantee. Thus, although we were perfectly justified in taking action, we ended up in an unjust situation before international law."

"The second error is connected to the first. The "KKTC’s" declaration of independence came on Nov. 15, 1983, nine days after Turkey’s general elections of Nov. 6, 1983, won by late Prime Minister Turgut Özal. People who tended to make assertive statements, such as “The homeland and the little land cherish an indivisible unity,” opted to declare an independent state on the island even before seeing the Cyprus policy of the first civilian government to be established after military rule in the “homeland,” and this point is worth questioning."

"It is hard to imagine that the military rule in Turkey at the time had not approved of the establishment of the "KKTC". But would the democratically elected ruling Motherland Party (ANAP) and its leader Özal approve of it as well? In the end, the establishment of an independent "KKTC" has clearly urged Turkey to move away from the target of establishing a federation -- which would call for acting together with the international community, and particularly the United Nations -- and approach the idea of establishing a loose “confederation” between two independent “nation-states.”"

"The third mistake was Turkey’s transfer of population from Turkey to the island just before the declaration of the "KKTC’s" independence. International law in general and the Geneva Conventions of 1949 clearly prohibit any country that conveyed its military troops to any land from transferring its population to the said land. That the international community did not opt for imposing effective sanctions on Turkey in this context does not invalidate the fact that Turkey’s systematic population transfer in the post-1974 period violated international law."

"At the time, Turkey concluded that the republic established in 1960 could no longer be maintained and wanted to reinforce the way leading to the establishment, first of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus, and then of the "KKTC", by changing the population balance on the island. This “population transfer” not only led to some unwanted socio-cultural consequences but also enabled some people and groups who had problems with the legal system in Turkey to migrate to the island, particularly after 1980. This was facilitated by the practice of allowing ordinary Turkish citizens to freely travel to the island using only their ID cards despite the fact that passports would be needed to do so just after the military intervention of 1974."

"It is possible to list other or more recent errors and argue that the AK Party has increased the “alienation” between Cyprus and Turkey by recently shifting toward a more nationalist stance and interfering in the domestic political processes in Cyprus. Thus, it is clear that there is now a visible “Turkey problem” in Cyprus, effected by a number of factors during the historical process. This problem is confirmed by the presence of a group of people who tend to perceive Turkey’s presence in Cyprus as a form of domination that can no longer be justified."

"Whether this group is big or marginal is not important. The important thing is that a vital component of the Cyprus issue has emerged as the “problem of Turkey in Cyprus” and, this time, in the "KKTC". The flags of the “Republic of Cyprus” -- designed by a Turkish Cypriot -- waved during the first rally were seized by the police during the second rally, and those who called on the EU about this incident complain about the “KKTC’s police” that seized the flags of the Republic of Cyprus, a member of the EU. You may or may not be aware that the police officers in the KKTC are subordinated to a military commander who is assigned by Turkey. Isn’t this another error?"

Read the entire article here:
Today's Zaman | The ‘problem of Turkey’ in Cyprus by LEVENT KÖKER 15 March 2011

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As either unitary state or federation solutions are discussed as replacements to Cyprus' 1960 and Turkey's 1923 unworkable constitutions, should we abide by "if a right is a right too many for Turkey's Kurdish community (circa 23% of population) then that right is a right too many for Cyprus' tCypriot community too (circa 15%), and vice versa." Is the adoption of this fair logic the catalyst to securing just solutions for both UN countries.