REVISITING THE GHALI "SET OF IDEAS"
by Zenon Stavrinides (This article first appeared in The Cyprus Review, Vol. 11,No. 1 and is reproduced by permission)
Abstract: On 23 May 2000 President Clerides and Mr Rauf Denktash, representing the Greek and Turkish communities of Cyprus, will be starting another round of talk in New York, under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan, aiming at a settlement of the Cyprus problem. The prospect of a peaceful resolution of this long-festering problem depends on the two sides reaching agreement on a range of subjects. The 'Set of Ideas', presented by the previous UN Secretary-General Dr Boutros Ghali in 1992 and endorsed by Security Council resolution 774, remains the most appropriate framework for a negotiated settlement, despite misgivings by both sides. The article goes through successive chapters of the document and explains the ideas put forward on various subjects; analyses the responses of the two sides where they differ; and in certain cases makes new proposals aimed at a compromise settlement.
The last time the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots conducted serious negotiations for a Cyprus settlement was in the summer of 1992, when the then President of the Cyprus Republic, Mr. George Vassiliou, and the President of the TRNC, Mr. Rauf Denktash, met for a series of talks under the chairmanship of the UN Secretary-General, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali. In August 1992 Dr. Ghali presented a carefully-crafted body of proposals for a settlement entitled "Set of Ideas" (including a map indicating territorial adjustments), which received Security Council endorsement through Resolution 774/92. The negotiating process broke up in the autumn as the campaign for the Greek Cypriot presidential elections went into full swing. Mr. Vassiliou and AKEL, the political party which supported him, presented the "Set of Ideas" to the Greek Cypriot public as a good basis for the search for a just and lasting settlement. Mr. Glafcos Clerides and other presidential candidates argued that the document was unacceptable as it stood because it contained restrictions on human rights and the implementation of the European Union acquis communautaire. Mr. Denktash had already indicated that 9 out of the 100 paragraphs of the document were unacceptable to him.
The winner of the Greek Cypriot presidential elections of February 1993 was Mr. Clerides, who declared his willingness to negotiate, with Mr. Denktash, a settlement based on the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979, the UN resolutions, human rights norms, and the rules of international law (with the acquis communautaire sometimes thrown in). By then, however, the momentum gained during the Vassiliou-Denktash negotiations had been lost, and in the next year the two sides confined their contacts almost exclusively to the creation of a set of Confidence-Building Measures, which again led to nothing. The next UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, revived part of the Set of Ideas and presented it through his Special Representative Mr. Diego Cordobez to Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash in the summer of 1997, when they held two abortive sets of meetings at Troutbeck, New York State and Glion, Switzerland. By then Mr. Denktash was not willing to engage in substantive talks for a Cyprus settlement unless he was recognized as the head of a sovereign Turkish Cypriot state, and unless, further, the Greek Cypriots terminated their efforts to take the Republic of Cyprus into the European Union. Since this was unacceptable to the Greek Cypriots and the United Nations, the negotiating process broke up. Indeed, it is fair to say that during the Clerides years, given the absence of any substantive negotiations for a Cyprus settlement, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities no longer discussed among themselves what a Cyprus settlement could be like in any but the vaguest terms.
Yet it is plain that if a settlement is to be found in Cyprus, the two sides will have to negotiate and finally reach agreement on a range of subjects, some of which may be more important to one side and some to the other. The UN has always recommended to the two sides to show understanding for each other's needs, interests and concerns, and to work in good faith for a compromise settlement through mutual concessions. Mr. Denktash failed to persuade the UN to recognize the TRNC as a sovereign state; but Mr. Clerides failed to persuade the UN that he had a better framework for a comprehensive settlement than the Ghali Set of Ideas, hence the Cordobez document. If the efforts which Dame Ann Hercus, the UN Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative on Cyprus, undertook in the autumn of 1998 to get the two sides on the negotiating table bear fruit, it is highly probable that the "Set of Ideas" will be brought back, if perhaps with some alterations or modifications. It may be noted in this connection that some time after Dr. Boutros-Ghali presented the "Set of Ideas," he asked the two sides to state their respective reactions to each of the various proposals set out in the document. He held discussions with Mr. Vassiliou and Mr. Denktash between 28 October and 6 November 1992 to ascertain their views, and on 11 November he brought out a paper entitled Summary of the Current Positions of the Two Sides in Relation to the Set of Ideas." This paper represents the only attempt ever made by the UN to codify the positions of the two sides on various aspects of a Cyprus settlement, and wherein their points of agreement and disagreement lie. Indeed, it is a fair assumption that the Greek and Turkish Cypriot positions contained in the paper still express the views of the two sides, unless in the meanwhile Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash have put forward different views. So if the Set of Ideas is still the UN frame of reference for intercommunal negotiations, the points of disagreement contained in the Summary indicate the obstacles that need to be removed if a compromise settlement can be achieved in Cyprus.
The Ghali "Set of Ideas"
presents its proposals under a number of headings, including "Preamble,"
"Overall Objectives/Guiding Principles," "Constitutional Aspects of the
Federation," "Security and Guarantees," "Territorial Adjustments," and
"Displaced Persons." The "Preamble" is a short paragraph which was meant
to be uncontroversial, beginning with the words "The leader of the Greek
Cypriot community and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community have
negotiated on an equal footing". This text did not provoke any reactions
in the Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot sides in 1992. As was mentioned,
in 1997 Mr. Denktash took the line that the requirement of equality between
the negotiating parties implied that he should be recognized by the UN
as the president of a sovereign state, as was Mr. Clerides. This would
be unacceptable to Greek Cypriots, as indeed to the UN Security Council,
which back in November 1983 pronounced that the declaration of the TRNC
was illegal. It is to be hoped that the two sides can resume negotiations
and proceed to discuss their disagreements on the various aspects of a
Cyprus settlement, without making initial demands on each other which cannot
The Cyprus settlement is based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty
and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence
and territorial integrity safeguarded, and comprising two politically equal
communities... in a bicommunal and bizonal federation, and ... the settlement
must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form
of partition or secession.
The Greek Cypriot side have long insisted that sovereignty and international personality should be the exclusive properties of the federation as a whole, for they feared that if the federated states were allowed a locus standi under international law, the Turkish Cypriots would be in a position at some point in future to exercise the sovereign right to break away from the federation, declare the Turkish Cypriot federated state to be an independent republic, and as such ask for recognition from the international community and admission to the United Nations.
The Turkish Cypriots'
point of view on the matter is based upon their interpretation of the events
of December 1963, which is that the Greek Cypriot leaders usurped or hijacked
the power of the state against the provisions of the 1960 constitution,
shut the Turkish Cypriots out of the machinery of the state, and got themselves
accepted by the international community as the government of the Cyprus
Republic. Could this not happen again, the Turkish Cypriots ask, if the
projected federal constitution does not grant any sovereign authority to
the federated states? Further, the Greek Cypriots argue that there is at
present only one sovereign state, the Republic of Cyprus, whose northern
sector is under foreign control, and the question is how to reconstitute
this state on federal lines in the context of a peaceful settlement. The
Turkish Cypriots, however, believe the TRNC to be a real, live, sovereign
and independent state, just like the Republic of Cyprus, in which case
the real question is how much of this sovereignty and independence the
two states are going to transfer to a system of joint organs which will
form the federation. Thus the Turkish Cypriot position on the matter is
result of the overall framework agreement will be the establishment of
a bicommunal, bizonal federal republic by two politically equal corporate
bodies from which the sovereignty of the federal republic shall emanate.
The two equal federated states will each freely agree to devolve a portion
of their respective federal powers to the federal government. The Turkish
Cypriot side declares that the essence of its position is that "The federated
states are sovereign insofar as their sovereignty is not limited by the
sovereignty of the federal state."1
Greek Cypriots may abhor
the suggestion that the projected federation will be formed by the union
of two currently existing "corporate bodies," but some of them realize
that the whole idea about sovereignty is that it consists in the possession
of supreme and unrestricted authority to make and enforce laws, policies
and administrative decisions. If the aim of the negotiating process is
the establishment of a bizonal federation, then there will have to be a
division of powers between the federal government and the governments of
the two constituent federated states; and further, in those areas which
come under the jurisdiction of the federated states, the various organs
of each state will exercise due authority without interference from either
the other state or the federal government. Thus, if the essence of the
Turkish Cypriot position were to be re-formulated in some such terms as
"The federated states have unrestricted authority to make laws, policies
and administrative decisions in all areas outside the jurisdiction of the
federal organs, but consistent with the constitution," Greek Cypriots would
have no grounds for objection, for they have already accepted a federal
The federal executive will consist of a federal president, a federal vice-president,
and a federal council of ministers. The president and the vice-president
will symbolize the unity of the country and the political equality of the
There will be a council of ministers composed of Greek Cypriot and Turkish
Cypriot ministers on a 7:3 ratio... One of the following ministries, that
is, foreign affairs, finance, or defence will be allocated to a Turkish
Cypriot minister. The president and the foreign minister will not come
from the same community.
Decisions of the council of ministers will be taken by majority vote. However,
decisions of the council of ministers concerning foreign affairs, defence,
security, budget, taxation, immigration and citizenship will require the
concurrence of both the president and the vice-president.
The president and the vice-president will, separately or conjointly, have
the right to veto any law or decision of the legislature concerning foreign
affairs, defence, security, budget, taxation, immigration and citizenship.
The president and vice-president will have the right, separately or conjointly,
to return any law or decision of the legislature or any decision of the
council of ministers for reconsideration.
With regard to Paragraph 36, the Greek Cypriots adopted the position that "The federal president and vice-president symbolize the unity of the country and should have a universal mandate. They must therefore be elected by federation-wide and weighted universal suffrage. Such federation-wide elections would foster intercommunal harmony." The underlying idea seems to be that when an election for the presidency of the federation is held, any citizen who possesses the usual qualifications, whether Greek or Turkish Cypriot, can put himself forward. Assuming that there are four times more Greek Cypriot than Turkish Cypriot voters, the vote from a Turkish Cypriot voter will count as equivalent to two, or three, or possibly four Greek Cypriot votes (depending on the details of the electoral law). If the person who wins the presidential election belongs to the Greek Cypriot community, a vice-president will have to be elected from among candidates belonging to the Turkish Cypriot community (or vice versa); and again the vote from a Turkish Cypriot voter will count as equivalent to two or more Greek Cypriot votes. The rationale of this system is that candidates for both the presidential and vice-presidential elections will have an interest and a motive to appeal not only to their own community, but to the other too. Although it is most unlikely that, under Greek Cypriot proposals, a Turkish Cypriot could become president, it is worth noting that Mr. Vassiliou won the Greek Cypriot presidential election of February 1988 by a margin of about 1.5%, and Mr. Clerides won the elections of 1993 and 1998 by 0.5% and 1.5% margins respectively: Turkish Cypriot participation in these elections could have made a decisive difference.
The Turkish Cypriot position on the matter of the election of the president and vice-president is as follows: (a) The president and vice-president symbolize the bicommunal nature of the federation and the political equality of the two communities. Therefore, representatives of each community should rotate in the presidency. (b) The rotation of representation of the federation at official occasions overseas would reflect internationally the bicommunal nature of the federation. (c) Election by common electoral roll would negate the historical rights of each community and would be contrary to the bicommunal character of the federation.
The Turkish Cypriot positions
in relation to Paragraphs 38 and 40 of the "Set of Ideas" are as follows:
council of ministers should be composed of an equal number of Turkish Cypriot
and Greek Cypriot federal ministers to reflect the political equality of
the two communities... [It] should function on the basis of consensus.
Greek Cypriots are only prepared to accept the principle of political equality if it means parity of executive and legislative power between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. If the constitution were to stipulate that there should be the same number of Greek and Turkish Cypriot members of the council of ministers, it would deny the Greek Cypriots the satisfaction that there is some acknowledgement of the fact that their community is four times larger than the Turkish Cypriot community. Whenever Turkish Cypriot leaders express the demand for the rotation of the presidency and the equal distribution of ministerial portfolios between the two sides, Greek Cypriot indignation and bitterness suggest that they believe the Turkish side is trying to walk all over them. Not only Greek Cypriot nationalists, but also their more moderate compatriots take the view that if there has to be a numerical formula for the distribution of portfolios, this must be a ratio which to some extent reflects the relative size of the two communities.
Can the disagreement between the two sides on participation in the council of ministers be resolved? It is difficult to see how-but the following possibility could be explored. Maybe it can be agreed that for each of the ten ministries (let us say), there should be one minister, and also one deputy minister who will not be a member of the council of ministers, although he will participate in appropriate ministerial committees. Seven of the ministries should be headed by a Greek Cypriot and three by a Turkish Cypriot, as Dr. Boutros-Ghali suggested; but further, every ministry headed by a minister belonging to one community should have a deputy minister belonging to the other community, in which case there will be seven Turkish Cypriot deputy ministers and only three Greek Cypriot. This system will give the Greek Cypriots the satisfaction that the largeness of their community is acknowledged and is given a higher profile in the executive; while the Turkish Cypriots, with three ministers and ten deputy ministers will feel that their participation in the executive is full and effective. Perhaps a more important advantage is that every ministry will be under Greek and Turkish Cypriot political officials who will be responsible for the formulation and application of policy, and so no ministry will be thought of as being Greek-controlled or Turkish-controlled.
One may wonder why the Turkish Cypriot side
need insist on consensual decision-making in the council of ministers,
given that the Greek Cypriots have conceded the proposal contained in Paragraph
40 of the "Set of Ideas." Sir David Hannay suggested, at some point, that
the executive should function on the principle of "co-decision" by the
president and vice-president. The Greek Cypriots did not like it, but they
might accept it, if it served to persuade the Turkish Cypriots that the
president should be Greek Cypriot and the vice-president Turkish Cypriot.
All universally recognized fundamental rights and freedoms will be included
in the federal constitution.
The freedom of movement, the freedom of settlement and the right to property
will be safeguarded in the federal constitution. The implementation of
these rights will take into account the 1977 High Level Agreement and the
guiding principles set out above.
The freedom of movement will be exercised without any restrictions as soon
as the federal republic is established, subject only to non-discriminatory
The freedom of settlement and the right to property will be implemented
after the resettlement process arising from the territorial adjustments
has been completed. The federated states will regulate these rights in
a manner to be agreed upon during the transitional period consistent with
the federal constitution.
In the autumn of 1992 the Greek Cypriot side accepted these proposals in principle, and added that "these rights and freedoms must be entrenched in the federal constitution and safeguarded by the federation. Their application may be regulated by the federal states, but limitations of these rights contrary to international law and human rights instruments are not acceptable." The Greek Cypriot side fears that the Turkish Cypriots might decide to impose what it considers arbitrary restrictions on the freedom of settlement and property ownership; and so it wants to write these rights into the federal constitution, so that any Greek Cypriots who believe their rights are being denied to them can bring action in the Federal Supreme Court. But exactly how is this course of action going to work in practice?
Let us suppose that following a Cyprus settlement, a group of Greek Cypriot businessmen puts together a large amount of money to buy land in a certain area to the east of Kyrenia which has belonged to Turkish Cypriots since before 1974, with a view to building holiday homes for Greek Cypriots. Let also suppose that the owners of the land are willing to sell but the authorities of the Turkish Cypriot federated state are opposed, and introduce legislation to prohibit the sale to Greek Cypriots, citing reasons of security and public interest. If the Greek Cypriot businessmen file a suit against the Turkish Cypriot authorities in the Federal Constitutional Court, it is possible they will lose-in which case Greek Cypriots may accuse the Court of allowing itself to be influenced by Turkish Cypriot politicians. It is equally possible that the Greek Cypriot businessmen will win the case-and this may provoke anger and indignation among Turkish Cypriots and lead them to use other means, foul or fair, to induce the owners not to sell their land, or to create difficulties for the Greek Cypriot businessmen. It may even be possible for the businessmen to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights; but whatever the outcome of the case, it is likely to cause terrible problems and acrimony between Greek and Turkish Cypriot politicians, officials, and the communities in general. For once Turkish Cypriots come to believe that Greek Cypriots are apt to use their purchasing power to harm their economic and security interests, Greek Cypriots wanting to live and conduct business in the Turkish Cypriot federated state will be antagonized by Turkish Cypriot people, and possibly threatened by them.
The point of this pessimistic thought-experiment is that Greek Cypriots may argue for increased rights for their own people in the north, claiming glibly that such arrangements are "for the benefit of both communities"; however, the brute fact of the matter is that if the Turkish Cypriot authorities judge that such arrangements are not in their own economic and security interests, they will prevent them one way or another. Thus, from this perspective, the only way open to the Greek Cypriot community for achieving effective protection of the rights of Greek Cypriots who wish to live in the north is to persuade Turkish Cypriots themselves-and not the European Court for Human Rights-that they have nothing to fear from them.
It is instructive in this
context to study the Turkish Cypriot positions in relation to Paragraphs
47-50 cited above. They are as follows:
exercise of the freedom of movement without any restriction as soon as
the federal republic is established is accepted provided that by that stage
arrangements for settling property claims will have been agreed. The freedom
of settlement and the right of property will be regulated by the federated
states in a manner to be agreed upon, consistent with the federal constitution
and which preserves the bicommunal nature of the federation. The freedom
of settlement and the right to property will be implemented gradually and
in phases after the settlement process arising from the territorial adjustments
has been completed and following a moratorium for confidence-building.
The federated states, in regulating these rights, will give due regard
to the bicommunality and bizonality of the federation, the need to prevent
intercommunal conflict, their economic interests and the preservation of
These positions clearly indicate that the
Turkish Cypriot side is bent on securing what it calls "the settlement
of property claims" or "exchange of properties and compensation," before
rights of Greek Cypriots are implemented in the north. Thus, for the Turkish
Cypriot side, the matter of the implementation of the three freedoms is
linked to a solution of two interconnected issues of major importance:
first, territorial adjustments and second,
The interconnectedness of the issues is brought out by considering the
Territorial adjustments on the basis of the map would mean that the Turkish Cypriot area will be reduced from 3,355 square miles to 2,613 square miles (equivalent to 29.05% of the island of Cyprus, excluding the British Sovereign Base). The 742 square miles which would be given over to the Greek Cypriot side constitute an area which in 1974 was inhabited by about 78,500 Greek Cypriots-about half of all refugees.2 In the quarter-of-a-century since 1974, some one-third of all Greek Cypriots must have died, but the net increase in population is about 1% per annum. So if the Ghali map is "implemented," about 100,000 Greek Cypriots-surviving refugees and descendants of refugees-will be able to take possession of their homes and properties. How many of these people would actually be willing to exercise their right of return is an interesting question, which no Greek Cypriot governmental or other organization has ever attempted to investigate. It is highly probable that the vast majority of Greek Cypriots from Famagusta and its suburbs (estimated to be about 30,000) would return to recreate the thriving community with its tourist and port-based economy; and so would most of the people of the north-eastern area of Morphou (about 7,500 people) and the surrounding villages (another 5-7,000). But how many people would want, given the opportunity, to return to small peasant communities from which, back in the early 1970s, young men tended to leave in order to seek better-paid work and a better life-style in the towns? The best guess is that if 100,000 Greek Cypriots are given the option of returning to their homes and properties under Greek Cypriot administration, only about half of these would want to return, and most of these will be elderly.
But what would the implementation of the Ghali
map mean for the Turkish Cypriots? Mr. Denktash was dismayed when Dr. Boutros-Ghali
presented it to the two sides, arguing that it would result in 37,433 Turkish
Cypriots having to leave their present homes-homes to which, in many cases,
they had received "title deeds" from the authorities of the TRNC. In fact,
the "Set of Ideas" shows great sensitivity to the needs of Turkish Cypriots
currently in areas which, according to the Ghali map, will come under Greek
Cypriot administration; for it provides that:
74. The Turkish Cypriots who
in 1974 resided in the area that will come under Greek Cypriot administration
will have the option to remain in their property or request to receive
a comparable residence in the area that will come under Turkish Cypriot
administration. Turkish Cypriot displaced persons currently residing in
the area that will come under Greek Cypriot administration will have the
option to receive comparable residence in that area, to return to their
former residence, or to receive a comparable residence in the area that
will come under Turkish Cypriot administration.
It should be noted that if this paragraph forms part of a Cyprus settlement, it is theoretically possible that all 7,500 Greek Cypriots who have a right to live in Morphou will go there, and all Turkish Cypriots who currently inhabit the town (many of whom were born there) will move to "comparable residence in that area." But can Morphou double in size to provide homes and means of livelihood for 15,000 Greek and Turkish Cypriots? It may be possible to build a set of attractive housing estates for a few thousand Turkish Cypriots on the northern edge of Morphou, and persuade the current Turkish Cypriot inhabitants of the town to move there en masse to create the municipality of Yeni Güzelyurt within the Turkish Cypriot federated state, thereby preserving the identity of the community, its connection with the locality, and its inclusion in the Turkish Cypriot federated state. But is it possible to expand by 100% the citrus groves, or offer alternative employment to those Turkish Cypriots who are currently growing citrus? The answer is plain: all agricultural land in and around Morphou is owned by Greek Cypriots, who will want to claim it, if this option is open to them. Here, then, is a very difficult problem whose solution requires considerable ingenuity. It will be less difficult to solve if it turns out that many Greek Cypriots from Morphou do not wish to live there; or that if they do, they lack the skills and the interest to tend their parents' and grandparents' groves and so are willing to give them up in return for compensation. In that case, it may be possible to create a physically and socially united urban center, split into two municipalities of Morphou and Yeni Güzelyurt, and with each belonging to a different federated state, following the same basic idea as Lefkosia-Lefkosha and Ammochostos-Mausa.3
Another very difficult problem is bound to arise if a large proportion of the Greek Cypriot displaced persons, who in 1974 lived in what is to form the territory of the Turkish Cypriot federated state or who are descended from those people (and are estimated to be about 100,000 in number), do wish to return to their homes or properties. Given that (a) the indigenous Turkish Cypriots currently living in the north are estimated to be about 70,000, and (b) the Greek Cypriot side demands that all settlers from mainland Turkey will have to leave, it follows that if all Greek Cypriots return, they will form the majority there. Could the Greek Cypriots form the majority in both the south and the north of Cyprus? Could a situation arise in which the authorities in the Turkish Cypriot federated state find they have a Greek Cypriot population larger than the Turkish Cypriot population? The fact is that both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, as well as the UN and foreign diplomats involved in efforts for a settlement, assume that the majority of the inhabitants of the Turkish Cypriot federated state will be Turkish Cypriots.4 However, a number of Security Council resolutions recognize the right of all displaced persons to return "voluntarily" to their former homes and properties in conditions of safety, and both UN officials and Greek Cypriot officials and politicians are bound to support the implementation of this right.
But the Turkish Cypriots are steadfastly opposed to the return of great numbers of Greek Cypriots to the Turkish Cypriot federated state, and no major power has ever said that it wants to see all Greek Cypriot refugees return to their homes, much less that it intends to lean on the Turks to ensure that this happens. Those Greek Cypriot politicians, including President Clerides, who think that the problem of Greek Cypriot refugees is soluble, must be supposing either that for some reason the Turkish side is suddenly going to withdraw its opposition, or that the prohibition of any but a small number of Greek Cypriot refugees from returning to the Turkish Cypriot federated state would be tolerable to the majority of Greek Cypriot people, if other elements in the package settlement are acceptable.
Let us look at what the "Set of Ideas" has
to say about the refugees from what is to form the territory of the Turkish
Cypriot federated state. The document proposes a system of arrangements
whereby (a) the displaced persons-Greek or Turkish Cypriots-who do not
want to go back to their homes and properties will have a right to obtain
compensation; and (b) the displaced persons who wish to return will have
a right to do so. With regard to the first group the document proposes,
among other things, the following:
76. Each community will establish
an agency to deal with all matters related to displaced persons.
77. The ownership of the property of displaced
persons, in respect of which those persons seek compensation, will be transferred
to the ownership of the community in which the property is located. To
this end, all titles of properties will be exchanged on a global communal
basis between the two agencies at the 1974 value plus inflation. Displaced
persons will be compensated by the agency of their community from funds
obtained from the sale of the properties transferred to the agency, or
through the exchange of property...
The main idea here is clear enough, even though
the mechanics of evaluating properties and funding the provision of compensation
needs careful and detailed working out.5
With regard to the second group of displaced persons, the "Set of Ideas"
states, among other things, that
84. The settlement of those
who select to return will take place after the persons who will be affected
have been satisfactorily relocated. If the current occupant is also a displaced
person and wishes to remain, or if the property has been substantially
altered or has been converted to public use, the former permanent resident
will be compensated or will be provided an accommodation of similar value.
This proposal was accepted by Mr. Vassiliou
as a basis for negotiation, but-predictably-was opposed by Mr. Denktash.
The Turkish Cypriot side theoretically accepted the principle of the refugees
rights of return and property ownership, but in practical terms it dealt
the principle the rejection of a thousand conditions. For one,
most Greek Cypriot properties on the Turkish
Cypriot side have been allocated to Turkish Cypriots. These allocations
created legally valid title deeds... Most of the Greek Cypriot property
currently being used by the Turkish armed forces has been allocated to
Vakfs [religious trusts]... Greek Cypriots who owned property in the Turkish
Cypriot area will be compensated from funds obtained, inter alia, from
the sale of Turkish Cypriot properties on the Greek Cypriot side. At current
value, the Turkish Cypriot property left in the south roughly corresponds
to the Greek Cypriot property left in the north.
Even more significantly, the Turkish Cypriot
position states that:
The option of return will be exercised after
a mutually agreed moratorium. The settlement of those who select to return
will take place after the persons who will be affected have been satisfactorily
relocated. A review mechanism will be established in each federated state
in a mutually agreed manner to determine, upon recourse by the present
owner and/or occupant, whether there are circumstances which preclude relocation
in that particular case. In that event, or if the owner and/or occupant
is also a displaced person or a bona fide purchaser or heir, or
if the residence has been substantially altered; or has been converted
to public use or allocated to public service institutions, Vakfs etc.,
or... [the list of conditions goes on and on], the former permanent owner
will be compensated.
The Greek Cypriots are vehemently opposed to what they consider as Mr. Denktashs attempts to legalize the usurpation of their homes and properties by the Turkish Cypriots. According to Dr. Boutros-Ghali, Mr. Vassiliou insisted, during the proximity talks that preceded the drafting of the Set of Ideas, on the right of return and of the right to property, "while recognizing the need to resolve practical difficulties faced by the Turkish Cypriot side. He stressed that he was opposed to any recognition of massive confiscation of the properties of displaced persons, since it would be contrary to resolutions of the United Nations and human rights instruments."6
The positions of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides reflect the moral beliefs, economic interests and political passions of their respective communities; and of course they are in direct conflict. Further, the Greek Cypriots demand that Turkish mainland settlers-estimated to be about 80,000-should be [leave out sent back,] returned to Turkey. The Turkish Cypriots, however, make a distinction between those Turkish settlers who were given TRNC citizenship, and those who came as seasonal workers with the permission of the Turkish Cypriot authorities or even without it; and they say that while seasonal workers will eventually leave, the former group have as much right to stay permanently in the north as the few hundreds of foreigners who received citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus have a right to stay in the south. There is at present no sign that the Turkish Cypriot authorities will cancel or invalidate their own laws and administrative decisions in order to facilitate negotiations for a Cyprus settlement. So is the deadlock on this issue complete and irrevocable?
It seems that the deadlock is just
that, and no compromise appears practicable, if any considerable
number of Greek Cypriot refugees, with support from the Greek Cypriot authorities,
do actually want to exercise the right of return, and to own and enjoy
the use of their property in the Turkish federated state of Cyprus. What
needs to be investigated, however, is whether they do want that, and will
continue to want that, if and when the political rhetoric which Greek Cypriot
politicians and the media have so loudly produced subsides, and a cooler
assessment of the situation is formed:
It is well known that since the 1960s, if
not earlier, there has been a drift of young people, from the countryside,
where for the most part agriculture could not support a reasonable standard
of living, to the towns, to seek work and better opportunities for advancement.
This trend was intensified throughout the 1960s and early 1970s as a result
of the development of light manufacturing industries, service industries,
and more particularly, tourism, in a number of urban centres. Once young
people tasted the satisfactions of urban life and the challenges of a career
and social advancement, they turned their backs on country life. Even if
the Turkish military intervention and the consequent displacement of the
Greek Cypriot inhabitants of the north had
not taken place, the likelihood is that the countryside in what is to become
the Turkish federated state of Cyprus would not have held many attractions
to keep young people in their villages; and when older people died, the
village communities would gradually have disappeared. (If any evidence
is needed for this hypothetical judgment, one need only take a look at
the countryside in the Paphos district.) Kyrenia, a town of great charm
and considerable potential for tourist development, is a special case;
and if the former Greek Cypriot inhabitants were allowed to return, many
would consider this option seriously. But with the exception of Kyrenia
(whose population in 1974 was about 3,000 Greek Cypriots and 500 Turkish
Cypriots), the villages in the Kyrenia mountain range and the plain of
Mesaoria would not see many of their former Greek Cypriot inhabitants if
they were given the right of return.
People want to live near their places of work,
and a considerable proportion of Greek Cypriot families have more than
one member working outside the home. Let us suppose that following a settlement,
Greek Cypriot refugees are allowed to go back to their former homes; and
a certain family, in which the husband comes from one of the northern villages,
have to consider what to do. Can they find jobs for the husband, the wife,
and the adult unmarried children? Quite possibly the wife will not be coming
from the same village as her husband and cannot be expected to be attached
to it, and the children will not have any experience of, or liking for,
rigors of farming. The chances are that they will want to stay put-where
their jobs, current home and friends are-and at most they will want to
visit the old village a few times a year, and probably sell any land they
may have there.7
Greek Cypriots often appeal to UN resolutions
concerning the rights of refugees, and demand that Turkey and the Turkish
Cypriot authorities implement them. For example, General Assembly Resolution
3212 of 1 November 1974 called
inter alia for "the return of all
refugees to their homes in safety," and Resolution 3395 of 20 November
1975 called for "voluntary return of all refugees to their homes in safety."
But how safe could Greek Cypriots be in Kyrenia or the villages in the
north, in a hypothetical situation in which, put under intolerable international
pressure, the Turkish Cypriot authorities and Turkey were to allow them
in? International pressure has so far done little to bring about reconciliation
and friendship between the two communities of Cyprus, and such contacts
as have taken place between tiny groups of Greek and Turkish Cypriots have
hardly had an impact on the general situation. If a number among the former
Greek Cypriot inhabitants of Kyrenia were to go back there following a
settlement and find a hostile Turkish Cypriot and Turkish population of
13,000, how would they feel? Would they demand that the current occupiers
of their homes be turned out so that they can move in themselves? Is there
a chance of this happening? And if as a result of any disputes intercommunal
violence breaks out, from whom are the Greek Cypriots going to seek protection?
The Turkish Cypriot police force? The Turkish Cypriot courts? UNFICYP?
Besides, if all Greek Cypriots who wish to
go to the north and take possession of their properties were to be permitted
to do so, the same should apply to Turkish Cypriots who wish to go to those
parts of the south, in Larnaca, Limassol, and Paphos, which Greek Cypriots
have used for nearly a quarter of century and turned into lucrative tourist
attractions. Is it so clear that a man who has worked to his bones to make
a good living out of a restaurant in the former Turkish quarter of Larnaca
which was assigned to him by his government after 1974, would be prepared
to simply give it up without a fight to a Turkish Cypriot who happened
to be the son of the former owner?
All these considerations, which are occasionally rehearsed by Greek Cypriots in private, but almost never in public, lead to the conclusion that as long as relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots are bad, few refugees will venture to return to the north, to be dominated by the Turkish Cypriot community, administered by Turkish Cypriot officials, and policed by Turkish Cypriot officers. The forcible creation of mixed villages could cause violent, and even fatal incidents, in which case neither the Greek Cypriot police in the south, nor UNFICYP could afford Greek Cypriots any protection. Therefore, in the circumstances of the protracted Cyprus conflict, there appears to be no better solution to the issue of displaced Greek and Turkish Cypriots than a global exchange of homes and properties between the two communities.8
Some years ago, the argument for a global exchange of Greek and Turkish Cypriot properties was marshaled by Mr. Chris Economides in a study which one can now find on the Internet.9 Mr. Economides cites the First Protocol to the European Convention of Human Rights, which states that "no one shall be deprived of his possessions"; but it adds that the state can expropriate properties "in the public interest." The practice of expropriation of private property by the state to advance the public good on the basis of compensation at market value, in other words compulsory acquisition, is familiar in many modern states, including the Republic of Cyprus. If it is judged that it is in the public interest to avoid the recreation of mixed villages in the foreseeable future for the reason that such projects may cause violence and even the breakdown of public order, there is sufficient justification for effecting the expropriation of all Greek Cypriot properties in the north and of all Turkish Cypriot properties in the south, and exchanging them between the two federated states without compensation. The only exceptions to this radical solution would be churches, monasteries, mosques and cemeteries, which should continue to be owned and maintained by the respective religious authorities, and where religious celebrations will be allowed to take place freely.
Once the exchange of properties takes place,
there will be little incentive for individual Greek and Turkish Cypriots
to buy land for farming or investment in the other community's state. Mr.
Economides suggests that
for an interim period of 10
to 15 years, resettlement and purchase of land in the Turkish Cypriot zone
by Greek Cypriots and in the Greek Cypriot zone by Turkish Cypriots should
be subject to permits by the host federated authorities. Thereafter, when
relations between the two communities will, hopefully, become harmonious,
all restrictions should be abolished.
This seems an eminently reasonable proposal: the Greek Cypriots should accept the need to sacrifice rights which in a better world they would not; and the Turkish Cypriots should appreciate this move and be ready to make similar sacrifices to accommodate Greek Cypriots' sensitivities.
The preceding discussion brings to the fore the point that Cyprus can only become a country in which all its citizens enjoy human rights and a civilized form of life, if there is security for both communities and for the projected federation which is expected to embrace them both. Indeed, the security aspect of the Cyprus settlement is of vital importance in itself, and the key to everything else. Without a political settlement there are no security arrangements; and without security no political settlement is worth very much. The Greek Cypriot community has long been arguing that the best form of security is the demilitarization of the island. Turkish Cypriots are unwilling to contemplate the departure of all Turkish troops-but then, President Clerides did not exactly mean that, as may be gathered from the following evidence.
On 17 December 1993, two months after President
Clerides and the Prime Minister of Greece Mr. Andreas Papandreou signed
the "Joint Defense Doctrine," the former wrote to the UN Secretary-General
Dr. Ghali expressing Greek Cypriot security concerns:
There is no doubt that the massive
presence of Turkish military forces in the occupied part of Cyprus creates
serious anxieties and mistrust amongst the Greek Cypriot community regarding
Turkish intentions. It also imposes on the Government of the Republic the
need to increase the defensive capabilities of the country by purchasing
arms. Further, it makes it necessary to request military help from Greece
and to include Cyprus in the Greek defensive plans. There are also indications
that the above preparations, though entirely defensive in their nature,
are misinterpreted and cause anxiety and mistrust with the Turkish Cypriot
community regarding Greek intentions.
President Clerides went on to propose that
he disband the National Guard and hand over all Greek Cypriot armored cars,
armored personnel vehicles and tanks to UNFICYP; and further, that the
Cyprus government undertake the total cost of "a substantially numerically
increased UNFICYP" which will acquire the right of inspection in connection
with security facilities, on condition that the Turkish side agrees to
the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and the disbanding of the Turkish
Cypriot armed forces.10
And who will form the increased UNFICYP? The answer is implicit in an interview
which President Clerides gave a Turkish Cypriot journalist on 1 February
1996, in which he made the following points:11
A revised Treaty of Guarantee will come into
force under which Greece, Turkey, Great Britain, and a number of additional
countries will guarantee the security, territorial integrity and constitutional
order of the federal republic.
An international force made up of contingents
from the various guarantor powers (including, therefore, a Turkish contingent)
will be stationed in an otherwise demilitarized Cyprus.
The international force will have powers (a)
to ensure that no paramilitary organizations are formed and no arms are
imported in Cyprus, except for arms for which there will be an agreement
and which will be deemed necessary for the purposes of the police forces;
and (b) to intervene on the basis of a decision by the guarantor powers
taken by majority whenever the independence and territorial integrity of
Cyprus face threats either from the two communities or through the violation
of the constitutional order.
This solution has the following advantages:
(a) If there is any tension in Cyprus, this will not be exported to Greece
and Turkey, which as a rule take the sides of their respective communities.
(b) Great Britain will no longer be in the unenviable position of being
in the middle and being accused by the two sides of not fulfilling its
obligations under the Treaty of Guarantee. (c) Any intervention will be
carried out by an international force which will actually be stationed
in Cyprus, thereby preventing any issues about invasion, occupation, withdrawal
of forces, etc., which complicate matters. (b) Greek and Turkish contingents
will continue to be stationed in Cyprus, but they will form part of an
international force, and so any involvement or suspicion or allegation
concerning chauvinistic activities in their respective communities will
be dealt with convincingly.
President Clerides added that "since we wish
to accede to the European Union, the guarantor powers should come from
the EU and other countries." He indicated elsewhere that he would agree
to the Greek and Turkish contingents, manned by about 1,000 troops each.
The Turkish Cypriot side prefers the continuation of something like the
old Treaty of Alliance, even though it wants about 5,000 troops from each
of the "Mother Countries" to be stationed on the island. A compromise between
these two positions does not seem difficult. What is more difficult is
to formulate the terms under which the peacekeeping or guarantor force
can take action. At present UNFICYP soldiers will only shoot in self-defence.
Is President Clerides, and also are troop-contributing countries, willing
to agree that the peacekeepers would be authorized to use force to stop
attacks by armed irregulars of one community against civilians of the other?
And would there be circumstances in which the Greek or the Turkish contingent
would be permitted to go into action on their own? In the mid-1980s, President
Clerides, then in opposition, suggested that if there is information or
an allegation about a breach of security, then the UN Security Council
will send a fact-finding team to Cyprus. If the team establishes that there
is such a breach, the Security Council should undertake effective measures.
If, and only if, this body proves unable to agree on concrete measures
to remedy the situation, the national contingent of Greece or of Turkey
will be able to go into action. This is not a very satisfactory arrangement;
but it recognizes the fact that if there are violent incidents like those
which took place in 1963-64 and 1967, Turkish troops will go in anyway
to protect their kith and kin, whatever the terms of the new Treaty of
We come finally to the proposals of the "Set
of Ideas" under the heading of "Economic Development and Safeguards." The
reason they are considered last is that they contain a reference to the
most intractable aspect of a Cyprus settlement: Cyprus's membership of
the European Union. This section begins, reasonably enough, by stating
A priority of the federal republic will be
the development of a balanced economy that will benefit equally both federated
states. A major programme of action will be established to correct the
economic imbalance and ensure economic equilibrium between the two communities
through special measures to promote the development of the federated state
administered by the Turkish Cypriot community.
The section proceeds to outline proposals
for giving a boost to the Turkish Cypriot economy, and ends up by suggesting
Matters related to the membership of the federal
republic in the European Economic Community [sic] will be
discussed and agreed to, and will be submitted for the approval of the
two communities in separate referendums.
The Greek Cypriot side had long expressed its willingness to offer all possible help to the Turkish Cypriots to bring the latter's economy to the same level as theirs. The controversy between the two sides arose out of their divergent views concerning Cyprus's EU accession. The Greek Cypriot position was stated by President Vassiliou as follows: "... The separate referendums... on matters related to the membership of the federal republic in the European Community should form part of, and be conducted at the same time as, the separate referendums on the overall framework agreement..." In other words, the endorsement by the two communities of a settlement package will have to include an endorsement of the application which the government of Cyprus made in 1990 for accession to the European Community (as it was then).
The Turkish Cypriot side was at the time,
and for many years subsequently, adamant in its opposition to the federation's
joining Europe before Turkey did the same thing. The Turkish Cypriots claimed
to base their position on an article of the Cyprus Constitution of 1960,
but this argument did not impress most European governments. With the passage
of time, the authorities of the TRNC and the Turkish government were dismayed
to realize that their legalistic arguments carried no conviction with the
EU countries. When President Clerides came to power in 1993, he intensified
his drive for EU accession, and persuaded European governments, as well
as the Americans, that Cyprus's EU accession would act as a catalyst for
a Cyprus settlement. However, Greek Cypriot successes in Brussels only
served to harden the official Turkish and Turkish Cypriot line, which now
included the threat to carry out an economic and political integration
of the TRNC and Turkey.
Given that Greek and Turkish Cypriots have
different ideas about what would be a just settlement, and further, that
they both have to agree on a settlement package before Cyprus can re-form
or re-invent itself as a (relatively) united, bizonal, bicommunal federation,
is it possible for the two communities to achieve such a settlement which
each of them willconsider to be really and truly just? This is no more
possible than squaring the circle. The next best thing is for the two sides
to abandon their arrogance and self-righteousness, recognize the limitations
of their power and influence over the other community, try to understand
the legitimate interests and concerns of the other community; and in light
of these factors, proceed with the help of the international community
to elaborate a compromise settlement. The "Set of Ideas" represents the
considered view of the international community as to what would be a fair
and balanced compromise. Any such compromise can only be put into effect
and sustained if the traditional ideas of Hellenism and Turkish nationalism
are marginalized, and a new, Cyprus-centered outlook is developed among
Greek and Turkish Cypriots which respects ethnic autonomy and cherishes
cultural diversity in a common federal homeland. If the Greek Cypriots
accept the Turkish Cypriots' desire to have their own cultural "space"
in Cyprus, if Turkish Cypriots accept the Greek Cypriots' desire to place
the whole of Cyprus within the wider space of the EU; and further, if Greece
and Turkey agree to work in good faith to solve their differences in Cyprus
and elsewhere by peaceful means-all big
ifs-then there is hope for
an honorable and lasting settlement in Cyprus.12