In the process, however, the Cypriot Turks -- equal founders of the Republic of Cyprus -- were left outside the loop by this UN decision. The result of this was that only one particular group of founders of this republic, the Cypriot Greeks, began to be accepted as the legitimate governing force on the island. Ever since March 1964, the tour of duty of the UN peacekeeping force has been extended every six months in coordination with the Cypriot Greek government.
And so the 1968 Beirut meetings between late Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktaş and former Greek Cypriot leader Glafkos Klerides were aimed at healing the wounds created by this UN decision. And the truth really is that this decision didn’t correspond with the national legal regulations, nor with (naturally) the Cypriot constitutional structure, nor with international treaties. The multi-ethnic republic, which started out with two basic founding peoples (and thus, with two fundamental ethnic groups), was now left with one single and homogenous people, a situation whose legitimacy was being supported by the UN decision. According to the conditions in place at the time, in order for the UN Security Council to be able to send the peacekeeping force to Cyprus, there had to be an invitation from a legitimate state or government on the island. Deposed Prime Minister İsmet Inönü referred to this decision as a “political victory.” It is safe to say that in line with the conditions in place at the time, this decision had been forced or even coerced. However, despite the occurrence of so many events since that decision, the fact that the decision itself is still in implementation shows that its function is nothing other than to serve the continuation of the status quo in Cyprus. In any case, it was under the above-described conditions, in the wake of the fall of the Inönü government in Ankara and the vacuum that arose because of the assassination of the US president, that the Turkish Cypriot community really separated out from the various institutions of the island republic, with this problem continuing onward until today.
This problem really erupted in the months of July and August 1974, in the wake of the coup that brought down the government of first Greek Cypriot leader Makarios III, when Turkey was left with no other option -- within the framework of guarantor rights -- than to intervene on the island in order to prevent Cyprus from falling under the direct control and influence of Athens. Actually, the impression that somehow there were talks aimed at straightening out this situation and constructing some sort of partnered state was completely misleading. The correct conceptual reading of the problem in Cyprus occurs only when you start to add to the calculations at hand the fact that there is a need to rework and straighten out the injustices and illegalities that were created over the years by the decision taken by the UN in 1964. To put it another way, when trying to figure out the solution, one should see the problem in the correct context: A combination of this illegitimate decision made in 1964 as well as repercussions of the status quo, which came about in the post-1974 period.
A lack of effort at the negotiation table
As for current Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and all of the leaders before him, the self-confidence lent by this status quo situation has translated into a lack of effort at the negotiation table. So as a result of a perception that limits us to aiming to straighten out the post-1974 situation with Cyprus, we have been transported to a point that has us focusing on barren and incorrect points that generally have to do with property and possessions. When in fact, the larger issue at hand is that a UN Security Council decision has given a UN member state greater legitimacy over previous Turkish-Greek agreements, and this legitimacy has been gained unjustly, despite all sorts of constitutional-legal statutes and internationally based alliances. And we are faced with the reality that, in order for this to be clearly and fairly understood, the issue as a whole must be approached from the point of 1964 onward. The clock is ticking, and meanwhile, the Cypriots of the south end of the island treat the matter as though the Turkish Cypriots came suddenly out of nowhere and grabbed their homes and land. However, it is the Cypriot Turks who have lost their state for 48 years, basically being treated as “haymatlos,” or “stateless,” during this time. Beyond the fact that the problem is simply not viewed this way by many, it is also treated as though the Cypriot Turks not only created the issue but also emerged somewhat victoriously from the situation. It is simply not possible not to protest this perception, though.
And so the Greek Cypriots, with this highly-questionable status of legitimacy, voted “no,” when they rejected the United Nations April 24, 2004 referendum, and despite this, the European journey, which had begun with the full acquiescence of the Turkish Cypriots, came to an end with the acceptance of Greek Cyprus into the EU on May 1, 2004. And so the EU perpetrated its own giant injustice on the matter. The journey made by Cyprus toward EU membership had in fact begun back in the first years of the Cypriot Republic, with the approval and permission of the Turkish Cypriot leader. But nowadays, not a single EU state wishes to ask anything about this. And furthermore, the Greek Cypriots are set to take over the rotating presidency of the EU in July 2012. And at the same time, while neither the EU nor the UN give Turkish Cyprus the respect it deserves, the northern half of the island continues to be held under isolating measures and embargoes. One week ago, the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) called for the UN and the EU to lift the unfair embargoes and isolating measures on northern Cyprus. And despite the fact that Turkish Cypriots have made their resolution for a solution clear to all, the state in which they are partnered is held under pressure and discrimination by others.
There is some purpose to observing the approaches of the two leaders who came together for talks on Jan. 22-24, 2012, under the watch of the UN General Secretary. In light of all the above-mentioned realities, it is quite natural that Greek Cypriot leader Christofias would keep his stance firm and his face firmly turned toward the enduring status quo on the island. We can only hope the United Nations, for its part, adds to its own calculations the reality of the disequilibrium created by its own doctrines and approaches over the years. The fact that even someone who has spent his whole life working in the hope that these two societies could come back together now affirms the UN must first change its methods is a glimpse into just how serious the situation is. But my belief at the same time is that even an announcement from the UN that it has closed its mission office on the island -- without even pulling out the peacekeeping force -- could function as a helpful lever toward finding a solution on Cyprus. I suppose if this happened, one could not claim the only purpose served by the UN on the island was toward a lack of solution and upholding the status quo. Despite the resolute and fair stances adopted by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and Special Representative for Cyprus Alexander Downer, it is not at all difficult for Christofias to run away from all this business. Just to start implying that the general parameters on Cyprus might change could be enough to soften Christofias. In fact, it could even lead to a change in approach on the part of the political elite of southern Cyprus. And of course, a topic for a later article on this matter is, beyond the role played by the UN on the island, the negative effect created by the EU in Cyprus and the hindrances to a solution caused by its unconstructive stance in general.
*Associate Professor Mehmet Hasgüler is an instructor at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University.