Cyprus Problem in brief
Another dreadful expression of imperialist aggression in Eastern Mediterranean
A history of foreign interventions, militarisation and nationalism
the multifaceted expression of imperialism in Cyprus
- At the crossroads of three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) Cyprus has suffered since time immemorial from multiple foreign invaders, settlers and occupiers. It was conquered by Hittites, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Franks and Venetians and the Ottomans. From 1878 until 1960, it was put under British colonial rule.
- The imperialist powers of the 20th century USA, Britain and NATO have sought the transformation of Cyprus into an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the Mediterranean (presence of British military bases since 1960, Turkish occupation since 1974) as part of their plans for the “New Middle East”.
- The fostering of the ethnic conflict in Cyprus between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots by the imperialist powers and their local associates paved the way for the Turkish military intervention in 1974.
- For the last 42 years, 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus remains under the illegal military occupation of Turkey.
To the expense of the freedom of all its people, of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Republic of Cyprus has been used by imperialist forces as another tool in effecting the complete strategic rearrangement of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East region; through the redrawing of borders, foreign interventions in the internal affairs of states, the overthrow of “non-friendly” governments and the fostering of religious and ethnic conflicts.
from BRITISH COLONIALISM to independence
with hegemonic foreign guarantees and An ETHNICALLY DIVISIVE CONSTITUTION
The tyranny of the British colonials completed the repression exercised upon the working class by the local bourgeois class. The Communist Party of Cyprus was founded in 1926 having among its primary aims the struggle against exploitation and the liberation from British colonialism through a broad united front of anti-colonial forces of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. In 1941 AKEL –the successor of CPC – was founded to lead the mass political struggle for freedom.
The anti-colonial struggle gradually grew with the increase in popular involvement. During those years Cypriots fought for their independence. Nonetheless at the same time they fought by the side of the Spanish people in defence of democracy and joined the fight of humanity against Hitler’s fascism, realising that these struggles were at the same time part of their struggle for the right of self-determination.
The ten years that followed, 1945-1955, were years of an intense and hard anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist struggle which demanded the right to self-determination and further political freedoms for our people. At the same time these were years of intense class struggle.
In 1955 the anti-colonial struggle took the form of armed struggle. AKEL was in favour of mass political struggle. Despite the heroic self-sacrifice of many young Cypriots, the armed struggle lead the Cyprus problem to dangerous deadlocks. These deadlocks were exploited by the British imperialism in its continuous effort to impose a solution serving its own interests.
Under the threat of partition or even the complete occupation of Cyprus by Turkey, the British imposed the Zurich-London agreements. Agreements that left on the island foreign troops and British military bases and imposed a constitution that did not contribute to the normal co-existence of the two communities. The ethnically divisive nature of the Constitution, facilitated the fostering of ethnic conflict in Cyprus to the benefit of foreign interests. The agreements were sealed with the anachronistic Treaty of Guarantee that put the Republic of Cyprus under the hegemonic control of the three guarantor powers, namely Britain, Turkey and Greece.
Ankara’s expansionist aims and NATO’s plans to convert Cyprus into an unsinkable aircraft carrier of the alliance in the Eastern Mediterranean, threatened the very existence of the young independent Republic of Cyprus.
Within the country, significant forces both within the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities did not believe in independence. They saw it as a transitional stage, the ones towards ENOSIS (union with Greece), the others towards TAXIM (partition). Following the intercommunal conflict of December 1963, Cyprus engaged in a struggle of survival.
The years 1964 – 1974 constituted a decade of struggle for the defence of the independence and unity of the Republic of Cyprus. The failure of Cyprus’s enemies to abolish the independent Republic of Cyprus, led foreign decision-making centres to a policy of undermining Cyprus from within. In these plans the Athens junta and the local extreme right-wing were proven to be willing collaborators. Conspiracies took place for the violent overthrow of Makarios and the fascist illegal organisation EOKA B appeared waging an orgy of terrorism with the assassinations of democratic citizens, abductions, bomb attacks on police stations etc.
TURKISH INVASION IN 1974 AND THE ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF CYPRUS UNTIL TODAY
Unfortunately, when under the orders of the Greek junta and the transatlantic decision-making centres the treacherous tanks moved, on 15 July 1974, the heroic resistance of the democratic forces was not in a position to stop them.
The fascist coup was followed by the Turkish invasion on 20 July 1974. Despite Turkey’s allegations that it was carrying out an intervention under the Treaty of Guarantee, its intervention was an illegal act of aggression. Until today, 40,000 Turkish troops occupy 37% of the territory of Cyprus and turned 170,000 that is 1/3 of the population into refugees in their own country. Around 40,000 Turkish Cypriots were forced by Turkey to move to the northern part of the island, thus completing the segregation. Fundamental freedoms and human rights are being violated. An attempt is carried out to alter the demographic structure of the island by the mass settling of the occupied areas by mainland Turks. It is now estimated that the number of settlers exceeds by far the number of Turkish Cypriots living in the occupied areas. At the same time the illegal usurpation of Greek Cypriots’ properties in the occupied areas makes the property issue one of the burning and most perplexed problems of any solution sought.
The 1963-64 inter-communal conflict and the 1974 Turkish invasion left behind about 2000 missing Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. In the past few years a breakthrough was achieved by the Committee on the Missing Persons and the two communities are working together in collecting information on the fate of the missing persons and proceed with exhumations and DNA identification. This is gradually allowing the families to lay their beloved persons to rest and heal a big wound.
THE CYPRUS PEACE PROCESS
Since 1974, the UN has been trying to facilitate the solution of the Cyprus problem. Numerous UN Resolutions call for withdrawal of Turkish troops and settlers and for the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus as well as the respect of the inalienable rights of refugees to return to their homes and enjoy peacefully their properties. The Makarios – Denktash High Level Agreement of 1977 and the Kyprianou – Denktash High Level Agreement of 1979, the then leaders of the two communities, provide for the transformation of the Republic of Cyprus from a unitary state to a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as this is described by the Security Council resolutions, with two regions, each one to be administered by the respective community. The same Agreements provide for the demilitarisation of the Republic of Cyprus and the respect of fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Cypriots. Nevertheless, these Agreements have never been implemented because of Turkey’s intransigence and its insistence on a solution that will allow it to perpetuate its presence and interests on the island.
THE CURRENT PHASE OF THE NEGOTIATIONS
- During AKEL’s governance with Demetris Christofias (2008- 2013)
As a result of the policies and initiatives undertaken by the ex-President of the Republic Cyprus com. Demetris Christofias, the beginning of substantive negotiations, between the leaders of the two communities of Cyprus on the 3rd of September 2008, was made possible. The negotiations between Demetris Christofias and the ex-Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat lasted for almost 1 and a half year. During this period significant convergences were achieved on certain chapters like Governance and Power Sharing, Economy and EU Affairs. Nevertheless, significant disagreements remained on serious aspects, especially in the Chapters that are related to the Security and Guarantees, the Territorial, the settlers and the Properties issues.
A very negative development occurred in April 2010 with the election of the extreme-right wing and nationalist politician Dervish Eroglu in the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community. His election created even more obstacles in the efforts for finding a solution in the Cyprus Problem as his positions were in favour of a two states solution or partition. Moreover, he renounced the convergences.
- Following the election of right- wing Nicos Anastasiades (2013- present)
The change to the Presidency of Cyprus in February 2013, was not followed by a quick and smooth resumption of the negotiations. Anastasiades position for restarting the negotiations from a zero basis and not from the point of convergences that had been achieved during the previous negotiations’ process proved to be very problematic. Without excluding Eroglu’s blame, Anastasiades position for negotiations from a zero basis was another factor for complicating rather than easing the discussions. Twelve months were wasted unnecessarily in trying to draft a new joint declaration, issued at last in February 2014, to replace the Christofias- Talat joint statements of 2008, despite the fact that they had provided a more in-depth and positive framework.
The resumption of the negotiations was hijacked by Turkey, in the autumn of 2014. Turkey’s issuing of a NAVTEX through which it unlawfully ‘designated’ a large area within the south part of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus, almost adjacent to the Republic of Cyprus’ territorial sea, amounted to a flagrant violation of International Law and of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus. The renewal of its NAVTEX in January 2015 led to the continuation of the justified suspension of the negotiations from the Greek Cypriot community.
The termination of Turkey’s NAVTEX and the assumption by Mustafa Akinci of the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community in April 2015, a renowned pro-solutionist and progressive Turkish Cypriot politician, revived the prospects of entering a new phase regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem. His commitment in restarting negotiations from where they had been left by Christofias- Talat, infused hope regarding the fate of the direct talks that restarted. For as long as Anastasiades was rejecting important convergences, this had a negative impact on the progress of the negotiations. His later acceptance of some core convergences has facilitated the making of some progress.
In the months following the parliamentary elections of 2016, from June onwards, the direct talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have been intensified. Notwithstanding the fact that major problems remain, particularly on the issues of property and territory, the two leaders have committed themselves to the process. Indisputably, a positive outcome on those issues will enable the discussion of the external aspects of the Cyprus problem. Inevitably, the core issues of security, of the anachronistic guarantees, of the removal of the occupying Turkish troops from Cyprus and the issue of illegal settlers cannot be resolved unless Ankara abandons its intransigent stance on the Cyprus problem. Overall, whether Akinci, will act upon his commitments and whether Turkey will at last stop obstructing the finding of a solution to the real benefit of Cypriots, remain to be seen.
THE AKEL POSITION IN BRIEF
- AKEL is struggling for a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem within the framework of the United Nations through substantive bicommunal talks.
- It is to the benefit of our people, of our country, of Turkey, of the region and the international community as a whole to reach a comprehensive solution as soon as possible.
- Taking into account the negative experience of the recent past, suffocating timetables and arbitration should be avoided and the procedure should remain of Cypriot ownership.
- A decent compromise shall be in accordance with the UN Charter, international law principles and the High- Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979. It must comply with the agreed framework for a bicommunal, bizonal, federal state with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship, as it is prescribed in numerous UN Security Council Resolutions.
- The comprehensive solution shall include: the withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces and settlers, the restoration of the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, the respect of the independence of Cyprus, the respect and restoration of the human rights and freedoms of all Cypriots, including the right of all refugees to return to their homes and properties.
- The intensification of the negotiations, provided that the agreed framework for the solution is mutually respected, is supported.
- Under a prudent management, the discovery of natural gas within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Cyprus can prove supportive for the solution. Considering that stability is essential for the unhindered exploitation of the natural wealth, the solution of the Cyprus problem can maximize the respective benefits both for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, as well as for Turkey.
- The rapprochement between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots constitutes an indispensable precondition both for finding a solution and for its viability.
APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY
The upcoming period will be critical for Cyprus. Everyone who is in position to exert influence on the Turkish side to comply with its obligations vis-a-vis the EU and Cyprus -must do so. Solidarity of our friends is now necessary more than ever before in our struggle for reunification of our country and our people.
International Department of AKEL
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
- Feb26 2015-02-26
- Nov13 2014-11-13