Thursday, June 7, 2012

Confronting "independent" international experts

Responding to a number of inaccuracies and clear distortions of the truth in  Aphrodite’s Gift: Can Cypriot Gas Power a New Dialogue?  prepared by the International Crisis Group  Mr Charalambos Constantinides  addressed the following e-mail to ICG. An excellent read!

I have read with interest your above referenced report, but I was buffled by the repeated reference to the Greek Cypriot government when you should be referring to the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

I am sure you know that the Greek Cypriots represent one of the two communities, be it the largest one (82%) living on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, which comprises the whole of the island of Cyprus, save for the area covered by the two Sovereign British Bases.

There is only one Government in Cyprus and that is the one recognised by the all countries of the world, except Turkey. Turkey on the other hand recognises the illegal regime set up in the part of the island which is occupied by its army, since the Turkish invasion of 1974. In that occupied area, Turkey has brought thousands of Anatolian Turks as settlers, on the properties of Greek Cypriots , while the latter were forcibly expelled (myself and my family happen to be amongst the 200 000 who suffered this fate). The advent of these settlers has caused a 3-4 fold increase of the population in the occupied part of Cyprus. These settlers have, illegally, been given "citizenship as well as voting rights", and hence no one can any longer speak of "Turkish Cypriot Authorities" or expression of Turkish Cypriot free will. Anatolian settlers in Cyprus cannot be regarded as Turkish Cypriots.

1) The following paragraph of your report, as you correctly indicate, represents the position of Turkey. One, however, would have expected to see, in your report, the position of the Cyprus Government as well, if only, for the purposes of a balanced presentation. Your report states: 
"Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, and contests its right to enter into EEZ agreements or to exploit unilaterally natural resources until there is a comprehensive settlement. It argues that the Greek Cypriot government does not represent the interests of Turkish Cypriots or a united island, refutes Greek Cypriot claims to exclusive sovereignty, saying sovereignty is being negotiated in the current talks, and evokes its status as a guarantor state under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee to protect Turkish Cypriots’ rights".

In saying that Turkey "evokes its status as a guarantor state under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee to protect Turkish Cypriots’ rights", one may be led to the erroneous conclusion that, indeed, this was the role of Turkey as a Guarantor power, which in fact, was NOT the case.

Articles I & IV of the Treaty of Guarantee provide verbatim (the capital letters in the text of the articles, are mine):

ARTICLE I : "The Republic of Cyprus undertakes to ensure the maintenance of its independence, territorial integrity and security, as well as respect for its Constitution. It undertakes not to participate, in whole or in part, in any political or economic union with any State whatsoever. It accordingly declares prohibited any activity likely to promote, directly or indirectly, either union with any other State or PARTITION of the Island".

ARTICLE IV : "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 of 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".

Turkey invoked the above Article IV in order to invade Cyprus but in doing so, she violated both of the above quoted Articles, because what had been declared as illegal, under Article I, ie PARTITION of the island, Turkey went ahead and put it into practice.

Turkey violated Article IV, as regards the conditions under which a guarantor power had a right for unilateral action. The three Guarantor powers had not consulted "TOGETHER with respect to representations or..." . What is more important, however, was Turkey's violation of the SOLE aim of any action, even if it was legitimate.

So, using the pretext of protecting the Turkish Cypriot rights, Turkey invaded Cyprus, in 1974, and applied ethnic cleansing, (long before the term had even been coined as a phrase, during the Yugoslavian crisis). Turkey expelled all Greek Cypriots from their homes and properties, in order to enforce its long pursued policy of partition. The very fact that "partition" had always been some Turkey's aim can be deduced from Article I above, which states: "It accordingly declares prohibited any activity likely to promote, directly or indirectly, either union with any other State or PARTITION of the Island".
Turkey not only proceeded to partition the island but in 1983 declared the occupied part into an INDEPENDENT STATE. One loses count of the number of times Turkey violated the very articles invoked for "justifying" its Invasion of the Republic of Cyprus.

2) Regarding the following paragraph of your report, 
"Greek Cypriot drilling thus provoked a harsh reaction, with Ankara sending ships close to Greek Cypriot installations, signing maritime boundary agreements with the Turkish Cypriots, delineating the continental shelf between the Turkish coast and the north of the island, beginning its own gas prospecting off Cyprus, and announcing it will drill on land in the north on behalf of Turkish Cypriots",
I would firstly comment that "Greek Cypriot drilling" was carried out on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus and NOT on behalf of the Greek Cypriots. Despite being 82% of the legal population of Cyprus Greek Cypriots are regarded as no more than one of the two communities referred to in the 1960 London-Zurich Agreements.
What apparently your Group failed to grasp is the fact that at the root of this crisis lies Turkey's desire to lay a hand on the undersea riches of the region, including those of other countries in the levantine basin. The existence of this natural wealth had been known for decades. Your inference that drilling by Cyprus is to be blamed for Turkey's harsh reaction is fundamentally wrong.
Turkey reacted also in the case of the Israeli drilling and for decades now, hinders the exploitation of undersea resources by Greece in the Aegean. Apparently Turkey's motto is "If I do not get the lion's share of this wealth, nobody should be allowed to get any"

3) Your report finds enough courage to state that: 
"The Republic of Cyprus has a sovereign right to explore and exploit inside its maritime zones, has an acute economic need for new revenues, and can justifiably complain about Turkey’s actions and threats". However, as if trying to diminish the worth of this correct statement, you proceed to add: "Nevertheless, its unilateral start of exploration is a violation of the pledge to share natural resources, and undermines the already fragile reunification talks". 

This latter statement betrays prejudices. The word "unilateral" has no place in the statement, since in all cases, when governments exercise their sovereign rights, such the start of drilling in their own EEZ, they do that unilaterally. The word "violation" is inapplicable as pledges are honoured or not honoured. Mandatory obligations are violated.
Finally the statement "undermines the already fragile reunification talks" is nothing more than an attempt to blame the Greek Cypriot side at the intercommunal talks for the failure, that was obvious from the first day of "election" to the post of the current Turkish Cypriot leader, Dervish Eroglu. Immediately after his "election" Eroglu had said that he would not be the first one to withdraw from the talks, but by his stance he would force the Greek Cypriots to withdraw.

How should any intelligent person interprete "the pledge" to which you refer? Do you mean, by any chance, that the Republic of Cyprus, as rightful owner of the undersea wealth in its Exclusive Economic Zone should subsidise the so called "independent state", declared and maintained by Turkey, in the occupied part of Cyprus? Can anybody cite another example of such unintelligent action by any country, in any part of the world?

Rationality dictates that what your report calls "promises of sharing" nature's gift should come into effect at the time of reunification of the Island.

The following relevant statement in the report is unfair: "Vague Greek Cypriot promises of sharing gas revenues in the future do not satisfy the Turkish Cypriot community".
I take it of course, that by the term "Greek Cypriots", again you mean the Republic of Cyprus.
What you call "vague promises" are not so vague and the time scale as fixed by the phrase "in future" does not mean anything incomprehensible. It simply means "when the occupied part of the island is restituted to the Republic of Cyprus". Then it would be, not only natural, but also an obligation, to proceed with sharing of the wealth in an equitable manner! But, not before reunification. The reference in the report to "the Turkish Cypriot community" is nothing more than a euphemism of the thousands of Anatolian settlers whom Turkey transported to Cyprus, whose view is of no consequence to Cypriots.

4) Your report further down states: 
"Turkey, with its long coastline, has genuine concerns about losing its fair share of any eastern Mediterranean maritime zones as the Republic of Cyprus, and possibly Greece, establish EEZs". 

Even if the truth is anything close to what your report purports, it is logical to ask the question: "Does Turkey expect Greece and Cyprus to give up any of their sovereign rights because Turkey is "genuinely concerned about losing its fair share"?. The phrase FAIR SHARE is anybody's interpretation. Turkey, for one, considers fair share anything which is proportional to the population of the states concerned. This, in the case of Turkey and Cyprus, would yield a ratio of 100:1 in favour of Turkey, of course. 
There is, however, the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, accepted and ratified by more than 160 countries, which lays down rules and regulations for an equitable sharing.Turkey has not accepted and does not accept such Law. Why?

5) Regarding your suggestions for resolving the problem it appears, to me, that not enough due consideration had been given, during preparation of your report, to the various issues raised, as I shall explain below:

a) You support the view that: 
"The Greek Cypriot leadership should commit to share 20 per cent of any net revenue or gas from any offshore hydrocarbon resources with Turkish Cypriots, possibly distributed through a UN-supervised arrangement, as long as both parties remain formally committed to reunification".

I shall refrain from repeating the comment on your reference to "the Greek Cypriot leadership" so as to concentrate on the essence of your suggestion. The application of a policy, such as the one put forward in your report, is a recipe for Turkey to continue paying lip service only, to its commitment to reunification efforts, without in fact doing anything towards that end. In the meantime the Republic would be subsidising the breakaway occupation regime. I think it would be, at least naive, to expect the Republic to consent to such an arrangement. The phrase used for any daily commercial transaction is, "Payment upon delivery". That would make sense.

b)The following suggestion in your report is also quite unrealistic:
"Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus should agree, possibly with third-party mediation, to discuss eastern Mediterranean energy issues, without prejudice to the UN-facilitated talks, or to any official recognition that will follow a settlement. They should study the feasibility of and consider possible cooperation on a gas export pipeline to Turkey, and onwards to Europe, with strong third-party arbitration clauses".
Turkish ambitions of becoming the sole or the main "energy corridor" to Europe are well known. The reasons for such ambitions are not difficult to imagine. A pipeline from the the levantine basin to Turkey would mean the dependence of the gas exporting countries, Israel and Cyprus, and in future possibly Lebanon and Syria, on the political whims of Ankara. Furthermore, Europe itself, as an energy consumer would become solely, or at best, mainly, dependent on Turkey's "Energy Corridor".
It looks to me that none of the countries involved would find such an arrangement attractive, under any circumstances. For Cyprus, the suggestion is doubly objectionable, especially under the reservation stated in your suggestion, ie "without any recognition that will follow a settlement".

c) Finally, the proposal put forward in the report that: 
"Turkey, Cyprus and Greece should agree to take their claims for EEZs in the eastern Mediterranean to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or an arbitral tribunal" should be examined as two separate suggestions. That of an arbitral tribunal is out of question for a start, since one side (Cyprus) in demarkating its EEZ has taken action in accordance with the international law, and the other side (Turkey) choOsing to ignore the existence of the internationally accepted law of the sea, makes unsubstantiated claims that have no legal basis at all. Resorting to arbitral tribunal would tantamount to accepting that the other side may in fact have a legitimate claim.

The other suggestion for a recourse to the ICJ would, indeed, have offered a possibility of resolving not only the problem of delineating the EEZ of the two states , but also many other issues relating to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Such a recourse, however, may only be made by states after they sign an agreement to refer their dispute to the ICJ . By refusing to even talk to the Government of the Republic, Turkey renders such agreement an impossible venture.

In conclusion the work done prior to the preparation of your report that preceded your report , appears not to have delved into the requisite depth of study necessary for resolving a long standing problem.

One thing that needs to be said, is that as presented, the report is one sided, leaning favourably towards Turkey's positions, to the extent that it makes one wonder, whether in fact the actual text had been vetted by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

It is indeed a great pity that in this particular case, your group has not lived upto the expected standard of impartiality.

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