UK Prime Minister, 31 October 2007

Dear Mr Prime Minister, May we commend you on your recent commitment, alongside the Prime Minister of Turkey, to help end the isolation of Cypriots living in the occupied north of Cyprus. This is a worthy goal shared by everyone devoted to restoring the human rights and dignity of the island’s long-suffering people as a whole.

With this in mind, we trust you reminded Mr Erdogan that it is of course Turkey who maintains over 40,000 troops on the island, in breach of dozens of UN Security Council resolutions that call for their immediate and unconditional withdrawal. We trust also you reminded him that it is of course Turkey who, in disregard of international law, has brought in tens of thousands of Turkish citizens to change the demography of the island and complicate any future settlement. In the occupied north these settlers now outnumber indigenous Cypriots, many of whom were compelled to leave the island in search of a better life. We trust that you made it clear to Mr Erdogan that the reversal of these two factors – entirely in the hands of Turkey and her military – is the only effective and practical way to end the isolation of Cypriots in the occupied north. Of course, it would also do wonders for Turkey’s problematic EU accession progress. Mr Erdogan would have benefited from hearing all this from a valued partner like the UK.

In any event, you’re surely aware that, as a guarantor of Cyprus’s territorial integrity, the UK is obliged to press Turkey to end her occupation of Cyprus. The validity of the sovereign bases at Dhekelia and Akrotiri is otherwise put in question, seriously undermining the UK’s strategic interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. With this in mind, we question the appropriateness of referring to the political entity in the north of the island as the ‘TRNC’, albeit in inverted commas. This is an illegitimate entity whose proclamation in 1983 was roundly condemned by the international community, including the UK, as seriously damaging efforts to solve the Cyprus problem. Perhaps this reference was an unfortunate oversight, in which case the UK’s strategic interests would best be served by retracting.

We also question the appropriateness of promoting direct commercial, economic, political and cultural contacts with Turkey’s self-declared regime in the north, against the express wishes of the internationally-recognised government of the Republic of Cyprus – a fellow Commonwealth country and EU partner – which has legitimate fears that the upgrading of the occupied north may further undermine efforts to reunify the island. Reunification on a just and viable basis remains the express wish of the vast majority of the indigenous Cypriot people taken as a whole and this wish ought always to be respected. Furthermore there are no contacts that cannot be constructed adequately under the auspices of the legitimate authority over the territory of Cyprus. Only the presence of Turkey’s overwhelming occupying forces in the north prevents this.

While we understand the Labour government’s desire to maintain good relations with an important regional power, this ought not be at the expense of the UK’s vital strategic interests in Cyprus itself, nor at the expense of international law and, perhaps most importantly, this country’s international standing and dignity.

As a final note, the interests of the Labour party may not be served by alienating some 300,000 UK citizens of Cypriot origin, many of whom were, or are descended from, subjects of the British Empire when it was the colonial power on the island. UK Cypriots are natural Labour supporters and hold the balance of power in a number of key marginal constituencies in north London and elsewhere. UK Cypriots are furthermore now a well-established, resourceful, fully integrated and influential constituency within UK society whose views need to be fully reflected in the formulation of UK government policy, at home and abroad.

Cypriot Academy

President of the Republic of Cyprus, 13 March 2007

Your Excellency, We wish to congratulate the government of the Republic of Cyprus for the positive step taken to remove the barrier in Nicosia at Ledra Street. We hope there can be further goodwill gestures on both sides of the present divide, paving the way to our homeland’s eventual reunification.

As another bold step in the cause of national healing, but at no expense to the security of any Cypriot, may we also suggest a dignified gradual withdrawal of the flag of Greece from crossing points, public buildings, places of education and perhaps even worship in the government controlled areas of Cyprus.

Whilst appreciating the strong attachment to the flag of Greece among some compatriots, use of this flag in Cyprus has unfortunate associations with the EOKA B extremists who in 1974 sought to oust President Makarios, murder his supporters and forcibly annex our island to the military dictatorship that was then Greece.

Sadly, in the eyes of many, the national flag of Greece has come to represent the intolerant face of Hellenism in the Republic of Cyprus, a state which, with all legitimacy, prides itself as an independent and modern European nation, able to embrace and represent Cypriots of all backgrounds.

De-emphasising the flag of Greece in Cyprus will send the right message, not only to those who belittle our state by referring to its unoccupied territory as ‘Greek Cyprus’, but, importantly, to our compatriots in the north. And, who knows, they may in return be encouraged to remove their own symbols of division, including the offensive blot on our island’s landscape at Pentadaktylos.

Cypriot Academy

International Herald Tribune, 4 December 2006

Sir, It was alarming to read an International Herald Tribune comment calling for the collective might of the EU to press free Cyprus to settle and accept Turkey’s idea of reunification. An idea already democratically and overwhelmingly rejected for being, in the people’s considered view, anything but. An idea that would, in reality, legitimise ethnic cleansing and entrench apartheid.

Exactly what sort of pressure do you have in mind when decades of international pressure on Turkey to remove her massive occupying army from the northern third of the island has proved entirely fruitless?

Are you proposing economic sanctions? Military intervention? For pity’s sake, the long-suffering people of this tragic little island deserve to know what plans the international community now has for them.

Cypriot Academy

Embargoed!, 24 May 2006

In response to a request from Embargoed!, a Turkish Cypriot human rights organisation, to comment on its activities

Dear Embargoed!, Cypriots from all communities have suffered, especially those in and from the north of the island.

No right-minded person can condone this suffering, whether it is from violence, persecution, military occupation, ethnic cleansing, denial of freedoms, expropriation of property, enclaving or isolation.

The ultimate causes of this suffering are self-destructive animosity between the two principal communities of Cypriots, exacerbated by divisive and manipulative intervention by outsiders.

The world has done nothing for Cypriots who have suffered. It has done nothing for Cypriots who were ousted from their ancestral homes in the north and it will do nothing for Cypriots now economically isolated in the north.

Being a majority gave the upper hand to one community at first. Outside military force swung the balance the other way for a while. Legal realities now seem to be in the ascendancy.

Tit for tat. Seeking to right a wrong with another wrong. Game theoretical posturing – who has more to gain by not budging?

We expect the world to understand our pain while refusing to understand that of our compatriots.

So the world will continue to do nothing. Until the Cypriots realise that the only ones who can do something, the only ones who care, are the Cypriots themselves. By coming together and showing the world that they are one people with one homeland and one destiny.

Cypriot Academy

Friends of Cyprus, 8 January 2006

Dear Friends of Cyprus, 2006 is a critical year for Cyprus. Without a settlement, despite its EU obligations, Turkey is unlikely to take steps amounting to recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. Without normalisation of relations, the Republic of Cyprus may have little alternative but to veto continuation of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations. A regrettable scenario that would make a settlement even more remote.

In exercising its veto, the Republic of Cyprus may find itself on weak ground unless it has been seen to be making every effort to put forward pragmatic proposals to rectify the UN settlement plan rejected in April 2004. In everyone’s interests, an acceptable settlement for Cyprus needs to be presented.

The Cypriot Academy was encouraged by the results of Alexandros Lordos’s recent surveys of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots regarding the terms of a future revised peace plan. These surveys show that changes can be made to the UN plan which would render it acceptable to the Greek Cypriot community, and no less so to the Turkish Cypriot community, in respect of key contentious issues such as security arrangements, property rights and dealing with settlers.

We would like to suggest the following way forward, perhaps to be instigated or encouraged by Friends of Cyprus:

    • A small working party of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots is assembled to draft the necessary changes to the UN plan indicated by the findings of Mr Lordos’ surveys.

    • The revised plan, with a clear summary of its key provisions and of the changes from the previous plan, is tested in further surveys of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to establish its acceptability.

    • As necessary, additional modifications are made to reflect feedback, until the revised plan is confirmed as acceptable in surveys of both communities.

    • Endorsement of the revised plan is sought from the government of the Republic of Cyprus and ideally the Turkish Cypriot administration, before going back to the UN and finally to the electorates of both communities.

This approach would represent a ‘bottom up’ approach whereby the Cypriot people would have shaped the settlement (albeit starting from the basis of the original UN plan), as opposed to the failed ‘top down’ approach whereby the Cypriot people had a plan thrust upon them on the eve of EU accession.

We would hope that necessary funding would be readily forthcoming for the further surveys required.

The Cypriot Academy would be grateful if these suggestions were given serious consideration by Friends of Cyprus and by others copied with this message, and stands ready to assist in any way it can.

Cypriot Academy

Washington Times, 15 September 2005

In response to an editorial calling for Turkey’s EU entry talks not to be held hostage by Cyprus

Sir, The Turkey-Cyprus issue is indeed complex and needs greater regard from respected journals such as the Washington Times if it is to be resolved to the satisfaction of the Cypriot people, taken as a whole. And it has to be if Turkey’s European future is to be secured and a crisis between Islam and the West avoided.

The government of Cyprus is the sole and official government of the island. The Turkish Cypriot ‘state’ is not recognised by any country other than Turkey – nor can it ever be if we are to prevent rogue states from invading other nations, ethnically cleansing them of their inhabitants and changing their demography. These are legal realities that cannot be swept away for the sake of what is now perceived to be geopolitical expediency.

Please understand, the overwhelming majority of the people of Cyprus rejected the UN-brokered settlement plan because suddenly, after decades of Turkish intransigence, a last-minute botch was presented that was aimed at exonerating Turkey for her crimes, just before Cyprus – having met all the accession criteria – joined the European Union. Not letting Cyprus in because more than a third of her territory remained occupied by a massive foreign army, in breach of dozens of UN Security Council resolutions, would have been unreasonable.

The plan was rejected because it sought to restrict the rights of Cypriots to have their property restored and to settle freely within their own homeland. It would have entrenched a repulsive system of apartheid on a tiny island and legitimised the presence of foreign occupation troops in perpetuity. No freedom-loving people in Europe, or the world, would have accepted a settlement like that – except perhaps through desperation of a kind faced by Cypriots in the north under foreign military rule.

Cyprus has been held hostage by Turkey for more than 30 years, and the world has done nothing. Now that she is safely in the European Union, who can blame her for wanting to hold Turkey’s entry talks hostage until justice is done? She doesn’t have a massive army or powerful friends to take back what is rightly hers. Unlike Kuwait, the only oil she has is made from olives.

It’s time to focus on freeing and reuniting this wonderful little nation once and for all. Cyprus can show the world that having Muslim neighbours is not a threat but an enrichment. And that has to be good for Turkey, Europe and America.

Cypriot Academy

President of the Republic of Cyprus, 2 September 2005

Your Excellency, The Cypriot Academy has noticed that the President of the Republic of Cyprus often makes statements about protecting the interests of Cypriot Hellenism.

We appreciate the deep emotional reasons for this, but we are concerned that such statements can be misconstrued as representing a one-sided, one-community stance by a government which asserts, with all legal and moral justification, that it is the only legitimate authority over the entire territory of Cyprus.

Such statements lend credence to those who seek to entrench division and who belittle the Republic of Cyprus by referring to its free territory as ‘Greek Cyprus’ and to its legitimate government as the ‘Greek administration’. This terminology has unfortunately been picked up by respectable international newspapers and is very damaging.

There can only be one Cyprus for all its people, whether they have affinity to Hellenism or any other cultural tradition forming part of the rich blend of heritages that ultimately make us all Cypriot.

The Cypriot Academy proposes another term that, in the context of Cyprus, is more appropriate and inclusive than Hellenism. That term is Gibreismos, ie Cypriotism. And we would encourage its use by those who seek unity.

Cypriot Academy

Green Lanes Gazette, 18 April 2005

In response to a letter complaining about the defacing of local posters advertising north Cyprus as a holiday destination

Sir, I’d like to address Chetin Ahmet’s letter from a Cypriot rather than ‘Greek’ or ‘Turkish’ perspective, in a bid to enlighten the wider community about this irritating Cyprus problem that appears to have reared its ugly head again – this time on the streets of north London.

Gross injustices have been perpetrated on the people of Cyprus through centuries of foreign oppression. The latest is twofold:

    • Cypriots in the north of the island, under foreign occupation since 1974, are isolated from the international community and unable to enjoy EU rights, freedoms and benefits.

    • Cypriot refugees, prevented from returning to their ancestral homes by a 35,000-strong foreign army, have to endure seeing their stolen property advertised as a holiday destination.

The culprit: Turkey, a country which itself wants to join the EU.

Previous culprits...

    • The Ottomans, of whom Mr Ahmet may be a descendent – or else a descendent of indigenous Cypriots who, due to oppressive Ottoman rule, felt compelled to relinquish their Orthodox Christian faith.

    • The British, who then inherited Cyprus and whose divide and rule policies in the post-war period triggered ethnic strife between Christian and Muslim that continued throughout the 1960s after Cyprus had gained notional independence with an unworkable constitution.

    • The Greek military junta, propped up by the CIA, which, in 1974, supported a small band of nationalist thugs to depose the democratically elected president of Cyprus in an abortive attempt to impose union with Greece.

    • Turkey again, who reacted brutally, invading the northern part of the island, ethnically cleansing it of its Christian population and propping up a puppet regime there ever since.

    • Most recently the US/UK, who, in an attempt to absolve Turkey of its crimes, thrust the so-called Annan ‘peace’ plan on the Cypriot people days before the free part of the island was to join the EU. Far from reunifying the island, the plan sought to entrench apartheid and was soundly rejected by the vast majority of the Cypriot people taken as a whole.

Yes, Cypriots have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of foreign oppression. It is time for them to come together and stop blaming each other for crimes perpetrated on them by others.

It is time for Turkey, Greece and Britain, so-called guarantor powers of Cyprus’s territorial integrity, to realise the terrible harm they’ve done in the past and let the Cypriot people be the sole guardians of a shared European future. Free at last.

Cypriot Academy

Financial Times International Edition, 23 December 2004

Sir, Thank you for publishing Osman Streater’s letter decrying Cyprus’s right to exist as a nation, its flag, its language and its people. Such ill-natured, ill-informed external swipes are exactly what is needed to encourage Cypriots to come together and discover, forge and celebrate a unique and common identity. And that, of course, is the key to a lasting Cyprus solution that will, in turn, help Turkey’s own EU aspirations.

Anyone who has been to the island will know that Cyprus has a heritage and cultural richness so much more than merely ‘Greek’ or ‘Turkish’. Just as Switzerland is so much more than merely French, German or Italian; just as Britain is so much more than merely Anglo-Saxon, Norman or Celtic.

Some may find the Cypriot language coarse; others acknowledge that it is closer to that of Homer.

Some may find the flag bland; others can appreciate the symbolic beauty of a golden island, resting on olive branches, representing peace and reconciliation between peoples of differing faiths.

And as for all the men thinking they are Adonis? As they get older, many look to Zeno of Citium, the famous Cypriot philosopher, as a role model. Years of foreign oppression leads to Stoicism.

Freeing and reuniting this wonderful little nation once and for all will show the world that having Muslim neighbours is not a threat but an enrichment. And that has to be good for Turkey.

Cypriot Academy

UN Secretary General, December 2002

At the end of 2002 the Cypriot Academy commented on an early version of the UN settlement plan for Cyprus, known as the Annan plan.

Originally, the Annan plan was dismissed out of hand by the then Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, backed by Turkey’s military. While the EU would have preferred a solution on Cyprus before admitting it as a member, given Mr Denktash’s stance, Cyprus was granted an accession date with or without a solution.

With time running out before Cyprus’s EU accession in May 2004 and with the realisation of what that could mean for Turkey’s own EU aspirations, the Annan plan was resuscitated. The desire of the Cypriot people to see a settlement for their divided homeland was taken for granted, even though aspects of the Annan plan were essentially divisive. So the final revisions to the plan were focused on accommodating Turkey’s hitherto intransigent military. The plan ended up enshrining rights for Turkey to maintain troops in Cyprus in perpetuity and to intervene in the affairs of the whole island.

The ‘final’ Annan plan (a veritable door-step) was hurriedly put before the Cypriot people in April 2004. The majority of Cypriots (taken as a whole) exercised their democratic right to reject the plan, although Cypriots in the north understandably supported it to end their isolation. In the event, Cyprus joined the EU on 1 May 2004 with Turkey’s military still occupying over a third of the island’s territory.

We believe the majority of Cypriots rejected the Annan plan not because they reject a solution to their island’s division. They rejected the plan because it failed adequately to encompass the fundamental human rights and freedoms that the European family stands for and to which the Cypriot people aspire.

For what they’re worth, our comments on the early Annan plan are set out below. Our comments were ignored, and an opportunity to heal our island’s wounds was sadly missed.

Dear Mr Secretary General, We wish to congratulate you on behalf of the Cypriot Academy for developing such thoughtful and comprehensive proposals for the reunification of Cyprus.

The Cypriot Academy is a voluntary body dedicated to the advancement of Cypriot culture and achievements in an international environment, and to engendering identity, pride and unity among Cypriots of every background.

We enclose comments from the Cypriot Academy on certain aspects of your proposals that we believe merit consideration. These comments emanate from taking a pan-Cypriot perspective rather than any particular community stance.

Whilst we welcome the UN plan overall as a basis for healing the divisions of the Cypriot homeland, there must be care not to legitimise restrictions to fundamental freedoms – restrictions that would not be tolerated in any other civilised country, least of all within the EU.

History would surely judge the UN harshly if it were to institute apartheid in Cyprus so soon after this repugnant system was swept away in South Africa.

Sharing territory between two communities of Cypriots for administrative purposes is no doubt reasonable. However any restrictions on movement for humanitarian and pragmatic reasons must be seen as an interim measure on the path towards the full integration of the Cypriot people in a free and unified country – a country where there is no discrimination or segregation on the basis of race, creed or colour.

We thank you for your kind consideration.

Cypriot Academy

Enclosed comments on Annan plan:

Whilst welcome overall, the UN settlement plan for Cyprus is inconsistent with UN resolutions on Cyprus and with EU principles of freedom of movement and settlement.

UN resolutions call for the withdrawal of foreign armed forces and the voluntary return of refugees, and condemn actions taken to change the demography of the island. Suspending the enforcement of these resolutions as part of a solution to the Cyprus problem may be justifiable on humanitarian and practical grounds; but any such suspension should be for the minimum period necessary, which period should be explicit in the plan. Furthermore, there should be more in the plan to encourage the return of Cypriots who have left the island, particularly since 1974, with a view to restoring the demographic balance prevailing before 1974.

In determining rights of residence and return, the plan is discriminatory as to the ethnic and/or cultural background of Cypriots, segregating them by the labels ‘Greek Cypriot’ or ‘Turkish Cypriot’. Again, the application of restrictions and discrimination with regard to residence or return may be justifiable on humanitarian and practical grounds; but any such restrictions should apply for the minimum period necessary, which period should be explicit in the plan. The plan should not serve to institute apartheid in Cyprus, less than a decade after such a repugnant system was swept away in South Africa.

The plan envisages Cyprus’s integrity and independence continuing to be guaranteed by countries whose record in this connection is discredited. Greece, under a military regime, tried to force union with Cyprus; Turkey perpetrated an illegal military occupation of the northern part of Cyprus; and the UK failed to use its power and influence, not to mention military bases, to defend Cyprus. The original guarantor powers cannot be relied upon. The security of Cyprus and its people should be guaranteed by transnational bodies such as the UN, EU and/or NATO.

The plan fails to recognise adequately the need to affirm a common, indivisible Cypriot identity, perhaps to be expressed through the swearing by all Cypriot citizens of an oath of allegiance to the state of Cyprus, its people, flag and constitution. This is something that certainly the USA would understand. ‘Special’ ties of Cyprus with other countries – historic or colonial – should be played down. Cyprus, as an independent, peaceful and democratic country, should maintain good ties with all peace-loving nations. Fundamentally, Cypriots should be able, indeed encouraged, to consider themselves first, foremost and simply ‘Cypriots’, on an equal footing with all other nations and beholden to none.

(Detailed comments on appendices omitted.)


© Cypriot Academy