Let us accept, arguendo, that you are partly right in your perception of the Cyprus Problem; that indeed, in its first decade (1964-1974), it started out as an issue of bi-communal conflict. Still, the Turkish invasion of 1974 was not simply “a tragic turn” to this conflict, as you called it, quite inappropriately, I dare say.
In historical terms, the Turkish invasion was a game-changing milestone, which metamorphosed the Cyprus Problem into an issue of an entirely different order than it used to be prior to 1974: no longer an internal clash between two ethnic groups cohabiting on the same island, but a de facto partition of a sovereign state by another.
In legal terms, it was, and it remains, a major breach of international law: first of the Zurich-London agreement of 1960, then of a whole array of UN resolutions and international court rulings, and now of the European Acquis Communautaire. As you are well aware, the initial infringement was further aggravated in 1983 by the unilateral declaration of the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”), which the USA, justly so, has never recognised.
Finally, still in the terms of international law, the Turkish occupation became a bona fide war crime by way of Turkey’s settlement policies, which were put into effect as soon as the fighting stopped and continue to this day. This last fact alone provides irrefutable proof that the occupying power’s intention in Cyprus is not, unfortunately, to keep the peace.
All legal subtleties aside, the Turkish occupation of Cyprus constitutes, above all, a continuing violation of fundamental human rights, as defined by the UN charter, the Maastricht Agreement and many other international treaties and declarations. These injustices are inflicted by the Turkish army as much upon Greek- as upon Turkish-Cypriots. The latter reality, the oppression of the Turkish-Cypriots by the overwhelming presence of the occupying army and the settlers, is often spun as “the isolation of Turkish-Cypriots from the rest of the world” and thus it is indirectly blamed on the Greek side and the international community. In actual fact, it is the result of nothing else than the perpetuation of an illegal and inhuman political status quo on the island, of which Turkey alone is responsible.
Please allow me to express the opinion that the Cyprus Problem, which may have started out as a matter of bi-communal dissension, is indeed, contrary to your understanding, essentially and principally a question of invasion and occupation. The renewed effort to resolve the problem, which we all hope will eventually be brought to fruition, stands to gain the utmost, if the USA, of all great powers, does not turn a blind eye to this simple historical, legal, political and humanitarian fact.
Dr Antonis K. Petrides (MPhil, PhD Cantab)
Assistant Professor of Classics at the Open University of Cyprus