Cyprus Essay, Research Paper
A TIME TO REMEMBER
Experience cautions us that irreparable damage could be done by those who somehow seem to regard Cyprus as a dazzling intellectual challenge and fail to put human faces behind the issues. Of one thing we can be sure: They will not be around when their ill-conceived paper glory is blown away in the storm that is bound to follow.
It has been 35 years since the stationing on the island of a UN peace-keeping force that could prevent neither a secret invasion by Greece nor the continuation of the entire range of faits accomplis created by force over the next 11 years.
Founding Member of the Cyprus Foundation
It was September, still warm in daytime, but a welcome cool descended on the central plain by nightfall. The window panes had cracks in them and there were bullet holes on the walls. The house was on what used to be the northern edge of the Turkish quarter. No one had lived on the second floor since it had come under gunfire from a tall and ugly building down the street occupied by Greek Cypriots. I was the first tenant after many years.
When I began, in this way, to live in Northern Cyprus more than twenty years ago, my neighbor was an elderly lady who had not seen the sea for eight years after 1963. In the afternoon, she sat on the porch in the shade of the lemon tree in her garden and watched over her grandchildren. Nalan han?m and her family had survived those traumatic years in caves, in tents and in enclaves into which Turkish Cypriots had been squeezed, leaving behind loved ones, homes and property, and a peaceful life. She always felt living on an island without a glimpse of the Mediterranean around her had been the worst punishment of all. This experience alone seemed to symbolize in her mind the unforgotten fears, abuse, desperation and isolation of those years. She recalled how she had ventured to the northern shore and stared at the sea for the first time after so many years, feeling the cool breeze on her face. The policy of doing away with Turkish Cypriots was by that time being pursued through severe economic sanctions, this time to squeeze them out of the island. She was then, like the rest of her people, still a hostage in her own homeland. She did not stay there long, but returned to the safety of the Turkish quarter in Lefko?a.
Despite all the dark memories of those years, she could still be considered lucky. Lucky to have survived and to have tasted the new freedom. But there were many others who could not make it, like the mother and her three children lying dead in a bathtub. One can’t make out the face of the mother, certainly a young woman, but the faces of the children, a seven-year-old and a three-year old and their six-month baby brother, are clearly visible. So are the bloodstains on the bathtub where they had taken refuge on Christmas Eve, 1963. Sixty-four bullets were found in the bathroom, more than 15 for each of them. The father, a medical doctor, was on duty at the hospital that night. The house, a simple structure in a garden on the comer of the street, was, like other Turkish homes, unprotected.
Now there are orange trees in the garden where the children must have played, and tall palm trees cast their shadow on the house as the evening approaches. I don’t suppose they were there 36 year ago.
There are also children of all ages, and their mothers, lying in Murata?a and Sandallar. The entire population of two villages on the way to the eastern coast. The strong sunlight reflects from the white marble. The negetation has overgrown to cover some of the names, but you can still read them, with the age marked beside each name. Their surroundings are open, peaceful countryside, green until May, turning to golden yellow thereafter. A stark contrast to the blind hatred that has created this massacre. The guide points out the mound where the bodies were discovered 25 years ago.
Cemeteries of victims and martyrs mark the land, as they mark the long and lonely struggle of Turkish Cypriots against tyranny of the worst kind. The Turks of Cyprus have won that struggle by resisting and refusing to be suppressed for over a decade when the world simply watched. They have survived, they have endured, but at great cost. Lives and families have been shattered, never to be restored. For many others lost throughout the years, there is actually no place you can visit. They have all gone, as have over a hundred Turkish villages. It is not difficult, not difficult at all, to understand what the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the State of Turkish Cypriots, represents for them; their existence and future as a free people, a people who do not want to be subjected to the abuses of the past under the indifferent gaze of an uncaring world.*
This is a good time to remember, because one can sense, once again, a temptation to approach Cyprus along familiarly irrational lines, like making a secret wish while blowing out the candles on an anniversary cake. I know it is not the innocence of a child, but rather a streak of shared sins that have fed this impulsive attitude throughout the years. Sins of feigned deafness and structured ignorance.
Some say now that the Cyprus problem has gone on for too long. This is certainly no new discovery. But one wonders, while stating the obvious, could they also be implying that peace on the island – the only peace Turkish Cypriots have known – has gone on for too long as well ? A peace to which they have not, in all fairness, contributed much, so perhaps it has subconsciously become part of the problem they perceive ?
Sometimes unhappiness is expressed more bluntly with what is called the “status quo’- the existing state of affairs -which has saved the Turkish Cypriots from being daily objects of premeditated and unhindered ethnic cleansing, long before the term became fashionable through the agonies of Bosnia and Kosova. Unhappiness, perhaps, with a status quo that is not based on Greek hegemony in Cyprus?
One fears that all this persistence in having another go to reinstate as far as possible a fallen past might indicate an incurable difficulty in coming to terms with the basic elements of a situation that has evolved dramatically over the past four decades. Such zeal may end up in actually failing to resolve any of the real issues. But where would it leave the two peoples of the island and their respective states? Where would it leave their motherlands and stability in The Eastern Mediterranean? Experience cautions us that irreparable damage could be done by those who somehow seem to regard Cyprus as a dazzling intellectual challenge and fail to put human faces behind the issues. Of one thing we can be sure: They would not be around when their i11-conceived paper glory is blown away in the storm that is bound to follow. They would hardly care that what is at stake is not Latin phrases of international diplomacy but human lives.
How long is “too long”, and what exactly is “the problem” that has gone on too long ? Any good student of Cyprus will recognize these as important, even crucial questions. The difficulty in determining the right point to start counting from also defines the true nature of the problem.
Putting aside the 1950’s, the last decade of colonial role, the final years of which saw an international contractual arrangement leading to the independence of the island, with Turkish and Greek wings of a joint state, parliament, government, judiciary and administration, there are nearly four decades of background to be reckoned with. The incontestable starting point of the problem lies in 1963 when the state of affairs – The status quo – created and guaranteed merely three years ago – was unilaterally destroyed through the use of force by one of the two partners, namely the Greek Cypriots, to be replaced by a fait accompli based on a continuous use of force and violence against the Turkish Cypriots.
If you think the problem has gone on for too long, isn’t it time to tell the Greeks of Cyprus that they are simply a Greek Cypriot State in the south of the island, just as there is a Turkish Cypriot State in the north? Isn’t it time not to treat the Greek Cypriots for what they are not and to treat the Turkish Cypriots for what they are?
It is sadly ironic that those expressing unhappiness with the status quo today are not on record for having taken a position against the destruction of the status quo on which Turkish Cypriot lives and rights depended or for having opposed, in any manner ; that might have made a difference, the fait accompli which put these in grave jeopardy during the decade that followed December 1963. They seem to have chosen instead to uphold political expediency, to go along with the fait accompli.
This is the situation that prompted Dr. Christian Heinze, who had witnessed first hand the events leading up to the total collapse of the Republic of Cyprus (of 1960-63 as opposed to the Greek Cypriot entity masquerading under the same name), to write in 1964 his famous article on “The Atlantic Significance of the Cyprus Conflict,” in which he highlighted the failure and the weakness of the Western community of nations in adopting any clear opinion and attitude towards the Cyprus conflict, in particular with regard to the political and legal responsibility for events in Cyprus.
Dr. Christian Heinze was the assistant to the president of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Cyprus, Professor Ernst Forstoff, who resigned in the summer of 1963 when the Greek wing of the joint government embarked upon a publicly declared policy of non compliance with the decisions of the court, rendering it impotent, and officially sanctioning a continuous violation of the constitution.
Dr. Heinze wrote in 1964 that “it is a mistake to think that any lasting solution of the problem can be achieved without previous appraisal of the conditions in Cyprus from the point of view of a concrete conception of order, and such an appraisal can only be adequate if it takes into consideration the historic development which led to the present situation. Anyone who shrinks from an evaluation of conditions in Cyprus under such an historically and politically substantiated conception of order will at best achieve an armistice, but not peace in Cyprus and between the neighboring countries.”
No such appraisal of the conditions in Cyprus was ever made. The Western community of nations, to which Dr. Heinze refers, has continued to shrink from such an evaluation of the circumstances that led to the situation of 1964 and the years beyond. Can that be one of the fundamental reasons why the same community of nations now perceives a problem, something they failed to do in 1964, as Dr. Heinze wrote his article, when the problem was acute and certainly short-lived enough to be dealt with? The Turkish side, therefore, is hardly at fault when it refers to the background of the past 36 years and the realities that stem from that background.
But it is difficult to say the same for those who have not listened or cared, who have not even given the Turkish side a fair hearing, a dangerous trend that, unfortunately, still persists.
That is why we have all this history (one would usually say “behind us”) remaining with us in Cyprus.
It has been 36 years since the Turkish Cypriots were made the targets of shooting practices by secret armies, gangs and paramilitary units formed to carry out extermination plans, The victims of abductions, burnt homes and villages, of enclaves and ghettos that were created and where they were kept under siege, of an inhuman embargo placed on an entire people of forced ejection by a state, government and administration in which they were one of the founding partners.
It has been 35 years since the stationing on the island of a UN peace-keeping force that could prevent neither a secret invasion by Greece nor the continuation of the entire range of faits accomplis created by force over the next 11 years, during which time the law of the jungle prevailed against Turkish Cypriots and the culprits were permitted to impersonate e lawful authority.
It has been 25 years since the Greek military coup on the island, which installed as president a terrorist gunman who was to lead its full and fast annexation to Greece.
It has been 25 years since the peace operation that Turkey, 11 years after 1963, had to undertake alone, as a guarantor power, when the second guarantor power was the culprit itself and the third guarantor power was content to stand by and watch the final blow being delivered to the Turkish Cypriots and what remained of the independence of the island, so long as its sovereign bases remained intact. ‘
It has been 24 years since the Turkish Cypriots were willing to transform their unquestioned autonomous administration into a federated state in the hope that a federal republic could be worked out between the two parties on the island.
It has been 16 years since they declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus when they saw that there was no change in the Greek Cypriot mentality, that there was, in fact, no Greek Cypriot objective but to salvage at least politically the fait accompli of 1963 with the lingering hope of somehow reversing the clock back to pre-1974.
It has been 13 and seven years respectively since the Greek Cypriot rejected two extensive draft agreements for a federal settlement, and two years since the European Union, which did not mind joining in the embargo against the Turkish Cypriots, took a fatal step by agreeing to open accession negotiations with the Greek Cypriots under the name of Cyprus, in unperturbed disregard of international law, destroying along the way the parameters for a federal settlement, while knowing perfectly well that the Greek Cypriots are incapable of representing anything but themselves and speak only on behalf of their Greek Cypriot state in southern Cyprus.
It has been nearly a year since the Turkish Cypriots proposed a two-state Cyprus confederation.
It is difficult to recall anything proposed by the Greek Cypriots, any sign of regret for what they have done, including planning and trying to accomplish the extermination of the Turkish Cypriots, or any sign of willingness to reconcile and make up for the wrongs of the past.
Now, one may ask those who have been unhappy with the status quo in Cyprus,
“Since when did you reach the illuminating opinion that the Cyprus problem has gone on too long, and at what stage at the past four decades did you start to take an interest in the status quo in Cyprus?”
Obviously, too late to be meaningful, and only after the Turkish Cypriots no longer had to suffer under the fait accompli of 1963. One wonders whether it would have been the same if the positions of the two parties had been reversed. How, do you suppose, things would have turned out, for example:
If the Turkish Cypriots had overthrown the constitutional order safeguarded under international treaties?
and if this had gone on for eleven years?
if Turkey had staged a coup to annex the island?
and Greece had to intervene to protect Greek Cypriots and the independence of the island?
If the Turkish Cypriots had continued to pass themselves off as the Cyprus government?
and the Creek Cypriots were left with no other option but to set up their own state?
Such “ifs” and “ands” add up to a much longer list of troubling questions. These are worth pondering as Dr. Heinze had done at a very early stage of the problem, right after the Greek Cypriots had overthrown the constitutional order safeguarded under international treaties, after “the Greek Cypriot coup d’etat aiming at the forcible suppression of the Turkish Cypriots “, “the violent attempt of the Greek Cypriots, ” which could not “be justified politically or historically. ”
In discussing the attitude of the Western countries and the action taken by the United Nations, he starts by noting that “it is of course understanda6/e that many European hesitate to range themselves against the Greek point of view in a matter which the Greek government describes as one dear to the national heart of its people. ” Nevertheless, he cautions the Greeks that they “must fear that those who support them in the Cyprus conflict may be just as ready on the next occasion to ignore Greek rights and to drop the Greek cause in the same way as they have ignored Turkish rights in the Cyprus conflict. For this reason it is these very allies whom they have been able to gain in the Cyprus conflict who will, in the long run, be of least use to them. ”
He concludes his analysis on the Greek bias of Western countries by emphasizing that “today it becomes apparent that the difficulty of solving the Cyprus conflict is greater after the action of the United Nations than it was before. The Western states have not gained anything by postponing a statement of their opinion and attitude but have only given the ruling group of Greek Cypriots the opportunity of continuing to pursue their campaign of suppressing the Turkish Cypriots. The delay has, in particular: not furthered the cause of peace, since the advantages which the ruling Greek Cypriots have gained in the filed of diplomacy and home politics through the intervention of the United Nations has been utilized to strengthen their fighting power considerably… ”
In 1986, Dr. Heinze added two footnotes to his article of 1964. Both concern the idea of a return to status quo ante, the state of affairs created in 1960, before this was overthrown in 1963. Both would be pertinent to note here, as they reflect the considered opinion of a direct witness to the collapse of a joint republic:
“At the time when the article was originally written there still existed some hope of returning to the agreements reached in I959/60 securing the rights of the Turkish people of Cyprus. The uncompromising, forceful strife, however; during the following decade on the part of the Greek governments in Greece and Cyprus for complete domination of the island leading to eventual “Enosis” finally brought about the ultimate consequence of the division envisaged at the end of the article of 1964; the only remaining remedy for the oppression and deprivation suffered by the Turks of Cyprus through the loss of their lawfully acquired human and political rights. The sorrows and injustices brought about by the resettlement associated with such a remedy are therefore the direct result of the Greek policy, in addition to the failure of the Western community of nations to uphold their responsibility not only of standing for the binding force of contract but for the Cyprus constitution as well. ”
“The sections of the article of 1964 which dealt with returning to a revised constitutional status quo ante were based on hopes existing al that time, that no longer appear to be viable. A new Cyprus subsequent to the establishment of Greek and Turkish States in the South and North of the island respectively, will have to be constructed on the basis of existing realities; consequently, a new arrangement will have to be found. It is one of the objects of the search for such an arrangement to compensate and correct, as jar as possible, all losses and injustices incurred since 1963 ”
To create a New Cyprus, as Dr. Heinze visualized, there are certain things that would have to be put right, such as, in the first instance, telling the Greeks of Cyprus to slop impersonating the Republic of Cyprus and passing themselves of as the government of Cyprus. Only then could one hope for a new beginning based on the recognition of existing realities, the “Greek and Turkish States in the South and North of the island respectively,” which need a peace agreement to put the past behind them once and for all. Perhaps even the European Union could help by declining to play the role of Trojan horse on behalf of the Greek Cypriots. If you think the problem has gone on for too long, isn’t it time to tell the Greeks of Cypriots that they are simply a Greek Cypriot State in the south of the island, just as there is a Turkish Cypriot State in the north? Isn’t it time to wake them up and to ask them to shed their pretensions? Isn’t it time not to treat the Greek Cypriots for what they are not and to treat the Turkish Cypriots for what they are ?
Nalan Han?m passed away after I left the island. Her family now lives on the northern shore in a new house overlooking the sea that she had been denied. On a clear day in autumn, when the western wind blows away the haze of the Mediterranean, you can see across to the Turkish shore. Her grandchildren have grown up for 25 years in the newfound peace and freedom of Northern Cyprus. They represent the first generation of Turkish Cypriot children who have been spared the horrors of 1963-1974.
That tall and ugly building down the street is long gone. On the same spot, there is now a modern, white building complex housing a government office of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the State of Turkish Cypriots, the symbol of their hard-won existence and future as a free people. To protect and preserve forever.