Thursday, March 3, 2011

Point #6 of November 30 1963 proposal - Debate it!

Point 6. Unified Municipalities to be established.

The Constitution provides that separate Municipalities shall be created in the five main towns of the Republic.

Not only does this provision not serve any useful purpose but it has also proved to be unworkable.

The impossibility of finding a way to define geographical areas and create separate Municipalities, based on communal criteria, is due to the fact that never before did the Greek and Turkish Cypriots contemplate living in separate areas.

A factual examination will show that there are many areas in which Greeks and Turks live side by side and that the ownership of property by the two communities does not follow the pattern of communal areas. This fact is clearly apparent from the proposed principles formulated by the Vice-President of the Republic for determining which streets will fall within the Greek Municipality and which will fall within the Turkish Municipality. The Vice-President proposed that:

"The frontage of all property abutting on any street will be measured and if the total length of the frontage of the property belonging to the members of the Greek community in that street is greater, then that street will be included in the sector of the Greek Municipality. The same principle will apply in the case of a street where the total length of the frontage of the property belonging to the members of the Turkish community is greater."

It should be observed that by this proposal, the Vice-President has tried to find a solution by distinguishing ownership of property on the basis of communal criteria without taking into consideration the occupants of such property. It is an undisputed fact that there are many properties belonging to Turks which have Greek tenants and vice versa. Many streets abutting on or leading into each other will fall in the area of one or the other Municipality and thus the resulting two municipal areas will not have any territorial cohesion. This fact alone demonstrates the impracticability of the division of the town into separate areas on the basis of communal criteria.

Apart, however, from the fact that geographical separation is not feasible, the separation of Municipalities will be financially detrimental to the townsmen. There would be duplication of municipal services and the cost of their running might become so prohibitive as to render their proper functioning almost impossible.

The impossibility of agreeing on the separate areas became apparent during the yearlong deliberations of the Constitutional Commission. In view of the inability of the Constitutional Commission to reach agreement on this point, the responsibility was transferred to the President and the Vice-President of the Republic by the insertion of Article 177 of the Constitution, whereby the President and the Vice-President were empowered to define boundaries of the areas of each Municipality. Owing to the above difficulties, however, they failed to reach an agreement on the determination of the boundaries.

Under the provision of Article 173.1 of the Constitution the President and the VicePresident of the Republic have a duty, within a period of four years from the date of the coming into operation of the Constitution, to examine the question whether or not the separation of the Municipalities in the five main towns shall continue.

It is obvious that the reason why this provision was inserted was that, even at the time when the Zurich Agreement was drafted, doubts were entertained as to the desirability or practicability of such an arrangement and it was, therefore, thought necessary to give the President and the Vice-President power to reconsider the position within a specified period from the date of Independence. If it were put forward that the separation of the Municipalities in the five main towns was provided for in order to protect the Turkish inhabitants of such towns against any discrimination, other safeguards may be provided in this respect, such as:-

(a) the municipal council in each of the five main towns should consist of Greek and Turkish councillors in proportion to the number of the Greek and Turkish inhabitants of such town by whom they shall be elected respectively;

(b) there should be earmarked in the annual budget of each such town, after deducting any expenditure for common services, a sum proportionate to the ratio of the Turkish population of such town. This sum should be disposed of for municipal purposes recommended by the Turkish councillors.

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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.