Letter by the President of the Republic, Mr Glafkos Clerides to the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktash (22/10/96)
Nicosia, 22nd October, 1996
Mr. Rauf Denktash
Nicosia

Dear Mr. Denktash,

This is a reply to your long letter of 24 pages, of the 22nd September 1996, which purported to reply to my short letter of 2 1/2 pages of the 11th September 1996 and also an answer to your recent letter of October the 17th.

My letter of the 11th September dealt with the brutal murders in cold blood of Tasos Isaak and Solomos Solomou on the 11th and 14th of August and raised certain issues that needed a reply. Regrettably, your purported reply ignores the issues I raised in my letter of the 11th September and moves to other issues.

May I draw your attention again to the fact that Tasos Isaak was brutally murdered by blows on the head while lying helpless on the ground and that the photographic evidence I sent to you with my letter, clearly shows persons in the uniform of your “police force” delivering blows, with what appear to be wooden or iron bars, to the head of the victim.

May I also draw your attention to the following extract of my letter of the 11th September:

“There is indisputable photographic and other evidence that in the case of the murder of Solomos Solomou, which occurred on the 14th August, Mr. Kenan Akin, a settler from Turkey, was aiming his pistol towards the direction of the victim and Mr. Ertal Emanet, “Police Chief Inspector and Commander of Special Forces”, was actually firing his weapon at the victim. Present at the time were also Attila Sav “Chief of the Turkish Cypriot Police”, Lieutenant General Hassan Kountaksi, Commander at the time of the Turkish Forces in Cyprus and Major General Mehmet Karli, Commander of the 28th Infantry Division. Mr. Kenan Akin was made “Minister of Agriculture and Forest” on the Turkish side 3 days after the murder of Solomos Solomou.

You will realise that, in so far as the Greek Cypriot community is concerned, a murder committed before so many officials and with the participation of some of them, cannot be washed away by a meeting between us and by an appeal for calmness.”

I wish also to draw your attention to the fact that these horrible murders not only created universal outrage and received condemnation but also caused the international community to demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

Despite the deep emotions resulted by these dastardly crimes, I refrained from any action that would have exacerbated the situation and, on the contrary, I made a statement pointing out to the people that we were committed to seek a solution of our problem by peaceful means through intercommunal talks.

I feel I need to draw your attention to the fact that no condemnation, regret, or sorrow has been expressed by you or any one on behalf of your side for these barbaric murders. On the contrary, public statements were made which sought to justify them or excuse them. I am certain that it did not escape your attention that I expressed sorrow before the U.N. General Assembly for the subsequent killing of a Turkish soldier and the wounding of another for which you blamed the Greek Cypriot side, despite the fact that an independent inquiry carried out by the Authorities of the British Sovereign Base Areas established that there was no conclusive evidence that the crime was committed by Greek Cypriots.

I can assure you that it gives me pain to have to revert to the subject of the murders of Tasos Isaak and Solomos Solomou committed by your side on the 11 and 14 of August. I feel, however, duty bound to do so not only because there has been no condemnation of these inhuman crimes by your side but because of the subsequent barbaric murder of Petros Kakoullis on October the 13th, a local family man who was out in the fields after rain collecting snails and who was shot three times by Turkish soldiers, the last shot was fired at him while lying on the ground mortally wounded.

These inhuman crimes could not have been perpetrated without orders from the Turkish Cypriot Leadership and the Turkish Government to shoot and kill Greek Cypriots who enter the buffer zone or the area under Turkish control and it shows beyond doubt that this policy has reached a point that certain organized elements on your side feel free to shoot to kill Greek Cypriots with impunity, in blatant disregard of any notion of humanity and legal order.

The fact that your side has ordered to shoot and kill is also born out by the murders in cold blood of National Guard’s men, who entered the buffer zone unarmed, and were shot dead by Turkish soldiers. In particular the murder of Stelios Panayi demonstrates the inhumanity of the crimes, because Turkish soldiers prevented the U.N. Peace Keeping Force from approaching the point where he was lying mortally wounded by firing over their heads until the victim died.

For easy reference I quote herein below their names and the dates of the murders:

1) Michael Sofocleous, from Mamonia, murdered on 9th April 1976, at St. Kassianos.

2) Christakis Georgiou, from Prastio, murdered on 21st September 1982, at Kaimakli.

3) Tryfon Tryfonos, from Lagoudera, murdered on 18th December 1983, at St. Kassianos.

4) Charalambos Charalambous, from Xylofagou, murdered on 28th May 1988, at Athienou.

5) Evagoras Evagora, from Paliometocho, murdered on 31st July 1988, at St. Kassianos.

6) Athanasios Cleovoulou, from Zakaki, murdered on 8th April 1993, at Kaimakli.

7) Stelios Panayi, from Kythrea, murdered on the 3rd of June, 1996, at St. Paul’s area in Nicosia.

I think it is pertinent to draw your attention to how we dealt with a Turkish Cypriot, Mr. Erkan Egmez, who on the 7th October 1995 tried to enter, through the buffer zone, in the area under our control, carrying a large quantity of illegal drugs. He was arrested and taken into custody. While in custody, he complained that at the time of his arrest he was inhumanely treated and lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman. The police admitted that they used force to arrest him, but alleged that he offered resistance to the arrest. The Ombudsman, after hearing eleven witnesses, published a report stating that excessive force was used by the police. The Attorney General entered a Nolle Prosequi and as a result Mr. Ergan Egmez was released and returned safely to the Turkish side. If we had a policy of shoot to kill Turks crossing the buffer zone, Mr. Erkan Egmez would not have been alive to tell his story.

I noted with great regret and disappointment that again in the case of the third murder i.e. the murder of Petros Kakoullis, there was no condemnation or expression of regret and that in your public statement you have sought to justify this inhuman murder, attributing the killing to the fact that “Greek Cypriots have not come to accept that there exists a line of division in Cyprus”.

With regard to the information contained in your letter of the 17th of October i.e. that the villagers of Avgorou have sworn revenge for the brutal murder of their co-villager, the correct facts are as follows. The brother-in-law of the victim and the son of the victim during the funeral enraged by this horrible crime shouted that they will kill any Turk who comes to their side. The necessary precautionary measures have been taken.

With regard to your request to disarm the “militia” I wish to inform you that the “militia” have been in existence for some years, that they all have their arms and uniforms at home and that no Turkish Cypriot or Turk from Turkey was ever attacked, wounded or killed by them.

I wish also to refer you to my proposal which you rejected i.e. that both sides should pull their forces some miles from the buffer zone, your side towards Pentathaktilos and my side towards Troodos, leaving the buffer zone in the hands of the U.N. Peace keeping Force.

With regard to proximity talks by the military with the good offices of the UNFICYP Commander I am ready to authorise the military of my side to proceed to proximity talks to address all the issues in para. 6 of resolution 1062 (1996).

It is not difficult for me to understand why in your letter of 24 pages of the 22nd September and in your letter of October the 17th you found no room to address the issues raised in my letter of the 11th September and why you chose to deflect attention to other issues. I do not intend to be drawn from the issues I raised in my letter of the 11th September, which have remained without an answer, to long discussion by correspondence of the contents of your letter of the 22nd September. I will only deal summarily with one or two misconceptions of yours.

You stated in your letter of the 22nd September “The Greek Cypriot leadership would rather retain the title of `The Government of Cyprus’ than to condescend to share power with the Turkish Cypriot ex partner.”

The answers to the above misconceptions can be found in what I have stated before the General Assembly on the 26th September 1996 and in what the Secretary General reported to the Security Council regarding the cause of failure to make progress.

I quote herein below what I stated before the General Assembly on the 26th September, 1996, for easy reference.

“Mr. President,

We are encouraged by the rekindled interest and more active engagement of the international community in the Cyprus problem, as witnessed by the appointments of Special Representatives from interested countries, including the appointment of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Professor Han Sung-Joo. We welcome all initiatives set out to reinforce the United Nations in the search for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus question.

Various United Nations resolutions and the United Nations Secretary-General, himself, have declared the present status quo in Cyprus as unacceptable, a view shared by the international community.

The time has come to make a further determined and sustained effort to solve the Cyprus problem. To that end the Government of the Republic of Cyprus will be working earnestly and with imagination with the United Nations Special Representative and with all other supporting his efforts to prepare the ground for negotiations on the main outstanding issues.

Any settlement of the Cyprus problem should be based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty, an international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded and comprising of two politically equal communities, as described in the relevant Security Council resolutions, in a bicommunal and bizonal federation, and that such settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession.

The security of both communities is a crucial issue which would help the finding of a solution and it will be necessary to devise effective guarantees, demilitarisation and an international force to be stationed in Cyprus. Demilitarisation represents an important contribution to this settlement.

We are prepared to embark on face to face negotiations in 1997 once the ground has been sufficiently prepared to ensure success.”

The reason why no progress has been made towards a solution in the last few years is clearly stated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in a number of his reports to the Security Council and in some Security Council Resolutions. In order to refresh your memory I quote some of them herein below.

Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to the Security Council, 19th November 1992, document S/24830.

Para. 45 “However, some of the positions voiced by the Turkish Cypriot side are, in a fundamental way, outside the framework of the set of ideas.”

Para. 47 “I have found that the positions of the Turkish Cypriot side are fundamentally at variance with the set of ideas under three broad headings: (a) the concept of the federation; (b) displaced persons; and (c) territorial adjustments.”

Para. 61 “First and foremost it is essential that the Turkish Cypriot side adjust its positions in particular on the concept of federation, displaced persons and territorial adjustments, when the joint meetings resume in March 1983…”

Security Council Resolutions 789 of the 25th November 1992.

Para. 6 “Calls upon the Turkish Cypriot side to adopt positions that are consistent with the Set of Ideas on those issues identified by the Secretary-General in his report, and for all concerned to be prepared in the next round of talks to make decisions that will bring about a speedy agreement.”

The answers to the false charges you make in your long drawn letter of the 22nd September, 1996 that the Greek Cypriot side does not have the willingness to share power with the Turkish Cypriot side, and that the failure to make progress is due to the fact that the Greek Cypriot side changes the agenda to avoid a solution, can be found in the report of the Secretary-General of the 30th May, 1994, document S/1994/629, paragraphs 52, 53.

For easy reference I quote extracts of that report herein below.

“52. It is now 30 years since the Secretary-General was first asked to use his good offices in Cyprus. Nineteen years ago the Security Council, by resolution 367 (1975) of 12 March 1975, requested the Secretary-General to undertake a new mission of good offices with the representatives of the two communities on an equal footing. Since then, the Security Council has repeatedly reaffirmed the good offices mandate and has given, in resolutions and presidential statements, detailed guidance for its implementation. For almost two decades, our efforts have enjoyed the support of the Security Council, and a number of conceptual advances have been registered towards an agreed settlement in Cyprus. But the status quo on the island, which the Security Council has repeatedly declared to be “unacceptable”, has not changed. Nor is it likely to change on an agreed basis as long as there is, both on the island and in the region, a lack of political will for much change.”

“53. For the present, the Security Council finds itself faced with an already familiar scenario: the absence of agreement due essentially to a lack of political will on the Turkish Cypriot side….”

In order to rest your suspicions as to why we do not respond to your calls for further face to face talks and prefer to have a preparatory stage, I wish to inform you that this is because we do not want to have another failure to produce a solution, particularly since the Secretary-General in his report to the Security Council S/1994/629 attributes the failure to make progress to lack of political will of your side.

The answer to the question why we wish to involve others in the solution of the Cyprus problem can be found in para. 62 of the above stated report of the Secretary-General, which I quote herebelow:

“62. A decision by the Security Council on any of the above options could be preceded by some form of international consultations or deliberations. Various possibilities have been mentioned in this regard: an international conference; a visit to the island and neighbouring countries by a commission composed of all or some of the members of the Security Council; a further visit to the area by my Special Representative.”

The reason why we wish to join the European Union is that it will be beneficial to both Communities, a fact established by the “Commissions’ Opinion on the Application by the Republic of Cyprus for Membership” which stated:

Para 46. “The Commission is convinced that the result of Cyprus’s accession to the Community would be increased security and prosperity and that it would help to bring the two communities on the island closer together”.

With regard to your accusation that Greek Cypriot Enosis thugs in 1963 were killing Turkish Cypriots may I remind you that at the same time Turkish Cypriot partitionist thugs of the T.M.T. were killing Greek Cypriots. We could exchange lists of casualties of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, killed, wounded and missing, both for that period and for the period from 1963 to 1996. In such a case your side will be the winner. I do not think, however, this would be a constructive way to approach a solution to the Cyprus problem. One of course may ask who fired first. On this let me quote from Volume I of my book “My deposition”, page 223. You often quote only the passages in which I criticise the Greek Cypriot side for its mistakes.

“Field Marshal Lord Carver, Commander from February 1964 of the Joint Truce Forces, which had the task of keeping the armed groups of both sides apart, on information which he obviously had received from British intelligence, reported the events stressing “whatever may be the real truth, certain facts stand out: that both sides had armed bodies of men ready to go into action immediately …” He also states: “There are undoubted indications that the Greeks did not plan to bring matters to a head until June 1964 and there are strong suspicions that the Turks knew this and decided to force the issue before the Greeks were ready”. With the exception of the allegation that the Greek Cypriots had fixed June 1964 as the date on which they planned to bring matters to a head, these statements of Field Marshal Carver correctly sum up the situation.”

Regarding violent crimes committed by both communities, I at least, had the decency to express my regret and sympathy for the pain and suffering of the Turkish Cypriot Community. Let me remind you what I stated at the London Conference 1964 though you could find it in volume 1 of “My deposition”, page 239.

“It is a matter of great regret to us that discussion of the problems of Cyprus which culminated in the present situation takes place after the recent tragic events which caused pain and suffering to the people of Cyprus. It would have been better if reason had prevailed at an earlier stage and we had had a conference before the events which have preceded it. I fully sympathise with the feelings expressed by Mr Denktash about the loss the Turkish community has suffered, but I would have liked him with all sincerity to have expressed sympathy for the many deaths and sufferings which the Greeks have also suffered”.

I also expressed the sorrow of the Greek Cypriot side before the Council of Europe for the pain caused to the Turkish Cypriot Community and on the 26th September, 1996, I expressed sorrow before the United Nations General Assembly for the killing of one Turkish soldier and the wounding of another. I am sorry I have to close this letter without recollecting any condemnation, any expression of sorrow or remorse by your side for what the Greek Cypriots have suffered through all these years.

I wish also to remind you that in all my letters, except that of the 11th September, 1996, I addressed you as “Dear Rauf” and ended with “Yours sincerely”. Not being a hypocrite I could not end my letter of the 11th September and this one with “Yours sincerely”, knowing that the policy of shoot to kill was the result of a joint decision of the political leadership of your side and Turkey.

(Glafcos Clerides)