By Mehmet Sukru Guzel
In 1948, the British government offered to give Cyprus a new constitution with self-administration. It was a kind of genuine autonomy in favor of Greek Cypriot majority. There was no prospect of a change in the international status of the island as a British colony. Nevertheless, it was rejected by both the Turkish and Greek sides. Greek Cypriots wanted self-determination that is union with Greece, not self-administration. Turkish Cypriots also opposed to such a demand. Therefore, the inter-communal struggle was triggered by its own momentum (Çalışkan, 2019).
The Turkish Cypriots mounted a powerful political campaign. Turkish Cypriot leadership organized a meeting with 15,000 people, which made a great impression on the motherland press and youth, to condemn the rising demand for Enosis on 28 November 1948. Turkish Cypriots had publicly expressed that they would contest the idea of Enosis whatever it might cost. Meanwhile, Fazıl Küçük, the communal leader, sent a telegram to the president and prime minister of Turkey claiming that:‘‘Fifteen thousand Turkish Cypriots decided unanimously to reject the Greek demand for the annexation of Cyprus by Greece. They believed that annexation would result in the annihilation of Turks’’ (Çalışkan, 2019).
On 5 December of that 1950, the archbishop and the ethnarchy council took their agenda to the people, announcing a plebiscite on enosis for the middle of January 1950. Through this plebiscite, Greek-Cypriots would be given the chance to express openly their unyielding desire for union with Greece. The plebiscite’s organizers hoped that an overwhelming “yes” vote would clearly demonstrate the unified desire of the Greek-Cypriot population to the British government. At the same time, it was hoped that the result would draw criticism of British colonialism from all over the world. A communique issued by the ethnarchy council on 27 January 1950 proudly announced that 215,108 of the 224,744 Greek-Cypriot voters – almost ninety-six percent – had signed their names in support of union with Greece (Novo, 2010).
1. DECOLONIZATION OF CYPRUS BY THE UNITED NATIONS
On 16 August 1954, Greece requested on the agenda of the UN General Assembly’s ninth session that: “Application, under the auspices of the United Nations, of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples in the case of the population of the island of Cyprus“. The General Assembly by his resolution 814, as recommended by First Committee, A/2881, adopted by the
Assembly on 17 December by 50 votes to none, with 8 abstentions that:” The General Assembly, “Considering that, for the time being, it does not appear appropriate to adopt a resolution on the question of Cyprus, “Decides not to consider further the item entitled ‘Application, under the auspices of the United Nations, of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples in the case of the population of the Island of Cyprus’” (UN Yearbook 1954, 1955, p.94- 96).
One year after, Greece demanded on the tenth session of the UN General Assembly for the consideration of the decolonization of Cyprus on more time. The General Committee on 21 September 1955 discussed the question of the inclusion of the item on the agenda. The Chairman invited the representatives of Greece and Turkey to participate in the discussions. The representative of the United Kingdom stated that: “his Government had invited the Greek and Turkish Governments to a conference in London to examine the question of Cyprus, despite the fact that it was exclusively a British responsibility. The conference had led to no agreement, but the United Kingdom was convinced that a solution could be worked out if negotiations could be pursued in an atmosphere free of political activity. The United Nations was not competent to deal with this matter. Turkey had assigned the island to Britain in 1878, and British sovereignty over it had been confirmed by the Lausanne Treaty in 1923 to which Greece was a party. Greece was now seeking to establish its own sovereignty over Cyprus through a campaign of incitement to violence and subversion. The United Nations would be taking a dangerous course if it supported such ambitions.” By 7 votes to 4, with 4 abstentions, the General Committee decided to recommend to the General Assembly not to include the decolonization question of Cyprus oin its agenda. The General Assembly adopted by 28 votes to 22, with 10 abstentions, the recommendation of the General Committee. No decision was taken in 1955 for the decolonization question of Cyprus (UN Yearbook, 1955, 1956, p.77-78).
On 13 March 1956, Greece requested the General Assembly to put the question of decolonization of Cyprus on the agenda of its eleventh session. In an explanatory memorandum, the Greek Government ascribed the breakdown of negotiations between the Governor of Cyprus and the Cypriot leader, Archbishop Makarios, to the refusal of the United Kingdom Government to recognize the right of self-determination of the people of Cyprus. On 12 October 1956, the United Kingdom proposed a new item, entitled “Support from Greece for terrorism in
Cyprus“, for the agenda of the eleventh session of the General Assembly. In an explanatory memorandum, the United Kingdom charged Greece with inciting and materially supporting terrorism in the island over a considerable period. It added that by 6 November 1956, terrorist organizations in Cyprus had murdered 196 persons, of whom 114 were Cypriots. The obvious objective of terrorism was not to secure democracy but to secure the annexation of Cyprus to Greece by force. This objective had not been disguised by Athens Radio. The time had thus come for the United Nations to consider this external attempt to change the status of Cyprus by force and subversion. On 14 November, the General Assembly considered a recommendation from its General Committee to merge the Greek and British complaints into a single item for inclusion on the Assembly’s agenda. The General Assembly by resolution 1013, on 26 February 1957 as recommended by First Committee, A/3559, by 57 votes to 0, with 1 abstention adopted that: “Having considered the question of Cyprus, “Believing that the solution of this problem requires an atmosphere of peace and freedom of expression, “Expresses the earnest desire that a peaceful, democratic and just solution will be found in accord with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and the hope that negotiations will be resumed and continued to this end.” (UN Yearbook 1956, 1957, p.121-124).
On 12 July 1957, Greece requested that the question of Cyprus be included oin the agenda of the twelfth session of the General Assembly under the title “Cyprus: (a) Application, under the auspices of the United Nations, of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples in the case of the population of the island of Cyprus; (b) Violations of human rights and atrocities by the British Colonial Administration against the Cyprians“. A Greek explanatory memorandum of 13 September 1957 stated that no progress had been made since 26 February 1957—the date of the last Assembly resolution on the Cyprus question (1013 (XI)—towards a solution of the main problem. The Turkish representative also noted, that the terrorists in Cyprus, had consistently committed crimes against the Turkish population, and against Greek Cypriots who opposed annexation by Greece. The Greek Government’s wish to annex Cyprus was expressed in its first request for United Nations intervention in Cyprus when the words “union with Greece” and “self-determination” were used interchangeably. The final goal of Greece obviously remained the total annexation of Cyprus (UN Yearbook 1957, 1958, p.73-75). During the debates of the twelfth
session of the UN General Assembly, no decision was adopted on the decolonization problem of Cyprus.
During the year 1958, the question of decolonization of Cyprus was brought to the attention of the United Nations in various communications from Greece and Turkey and was again discussed by the General Assembly at its thirteenth session. On 15 August 1958, Greece asked that the question of Cyprus to be included in the agenda of the General Assembly’s thirteenth session. On 28 September, the Assembly decided to include the item on its agenda and referred it to the First (Political and Security) Committee. The UN General Assembly adopted resolution 1287, as submitted by Mexico, A/L.252, without objection, on 5 December 1958, as: “The General Assembly, “Having considered the question of Cyprus, “Recalling its resolution 1013(XI) of 26 February 1957, “Expresses its confidence that continued efforts will be made by the parties to reach a peaceful, democratic and just solution in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations” (UN Yearbook, 1959, p.72-76).
With the authorization from the General Assembly by the resolution 1287, Turkish Prime Minister Menderes and Greek counterpart Karamanlis met in the Zurich on 5 January 1959 and formulated the independence of Cyprus without Enosis or Taksim. After the declaration of a joint notification in 11 February, Turkey (Prime Minister Menderes), Greece (Prime Minister Karamanlis), United Kingdom (Prime Minister Macmillan) and leaders of Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities (Archbishop Makarios III for Greek Cypriots and Dr. Fazıl Küçük for Turkish Cypriots) met in the Lancaster House of London on 19 February 1959. The draft version of the constitution (including the treaty of the establishment4, the treaty of alliance5 and the treaty of guarantees6) was accepted. On 23
- Treaty of establishment recognized that the island became an independent republic except for two sovereign areas. It was the basic structure of the republic including 27 articles (Basic structure of the Republic of Cyprus).
- Treaty of alliance (six articles) provided the station of Greek (950 officers) and Turkish military
contingent (650 officers) on the island. They would be under joint command and be responsible for the training of the proposed Cyprus Army. The agreement also recognized two sovereign British bases and use of Famagusta harbor by the British on the island.
- Treaty of guarantee (four articles) pointed out that Greece, Turkey, and Great Britain would guarantee
the independence, territorial integrity, and security of the Republic of Cyprus, the provisions of the basic articles of the constitution (Article 2). Treaty of guarantee agrees not to participate, in whole or in part, in ‘‘any political’’ or ‘‘economic’’ union with any state whatsoever. Article 4 pointed out that any of the guarantor nations should consult each other and act jointly in the event of a constitutional break-down. If joint action is not possible, any of guarantors was allowed to act unilaterally.
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