On the 47th Anniversary of the tragic invasion of Cyprus by Turkey the President of the Association of Rizokarpasso Mary Karaolis and Committee Members Andreas Gavrielides, Nicki Elia and Maria Demetriou delivered the following Resolution to the UK Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street:
Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
10 Downing Street
London, SW1A 2AA
Dear Prime Minister
This month marks the 47th anniversary of the second phase of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus which resulted in Turkey increasing its occupied area following the first phase of the Turkish invasion on 20th July 1974 from 3% of the Republic of Cyprus (a narrow corridor between Kyrenia and Nicosia) to 36% with Turkish forces occupying the northern part of Cyprus which included Rizokarpasso. Rizokarpasso had nearly 4,000 Greek Cypriots prior to the 1974 Turkish invasion, they have now been reduced to 250 enclaved Greek Cypriots, who on a daily basis are denied basic human rights, and the properties of the Rizokarpasso refugees or those killed have been occupied by settlers from Turkey. The illegal occupying regime still dictates what books can be used by the enclaved children in Rizokarpasso schools and which teachers can be sent by the Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Education to teach in the Rizokarpasso schools. Church services are now allowed but permission has still to be applied for beforehand. These atrocities have been highlighted in the media as well as the recent Foreign Office Independent Review on Persecution of Christians. It is 47 years since Turkey signed the Third Vienna Agreement, 2nd August 1975, but Turkey has not only failed to abide and respect the Agreement but still violates its provisions.
The 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the continued occupation of Cyprus by over 40,000 Turkish troops and over 200,000 illegal settlers from Turkey violates human rights, fundamental freedoms and social justice and the very principles at the heart of democracy. Turkey’s continued occupation is in flagrant violation of International Law and of the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions including General Assembly Resolution 3212 (1974). Furthermore, it is in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids an occupying power to transfer parts of its own population into the territory it occupies.
The steady influx of illegal Turkish settlers imported from Turkey is designed to demographically change the character of the island. The gradual transformation of occupied Cyprus is quite obvious: all Greek street-names and symbols of Christianity including Hellenic landmarks are being desecrated; erased or renamed and replaced by Turkish artefacts. The steady cultural and religious changes are in fact causing distress and dismay to secular Turkish Cypriots. In the last year alone, we have seen 10,000 Turkish Cypriots demonstrating on the streets and recently a number of Turkish Cypriot political leaders refused to attend events during President Erdogan’s visit to the occupied part. After 47 years, most Turkish Cypriots, now feel they are forced to accept Islamic religious practices and to follow Erdogan’s theocratic obsession. They are afraid their cultural Cypriot roots as a secular EU Cypriot community, will soon vanish overwhelmed by Islamic fundamentalism.
Turkey time and again has interfered in Cyprus’ affairs. Turkey’s rhetoric is clear that it intends to continue to take unilateral actions and use its military power so that Turkey, itself, benefits from Cyprus’ natural resources. The latest announcement by the illegal regime backed by Turkey is to open Varosha, contrary to UN Security Council Resolutions. President Tayyip Erdogan has personally announced that a permanent base for Turkish unmanned drones at Lefkonico airport will open and that a naval base will be established by the Turkish Armed Forces in Famagusta.
UK bases in Cyprus have been used for global security reasons, therefore, it is important that powerful nations and international bodies act with integrity to stop Turkey from threatening and violating the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, which is an EU state, a member of the UN and of the Commonwealth and is a democracy that provides stability, support and refuge in a volatile region. The UK is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a leading member of NATO and of the Commonwealth, a member of the Council of Europe and has sovereign bases on the island: no other state has such vested historic, cultural, strategic and national interests in Cyprus. The UK also has historic treaty obligations to defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. I quote from PM Margaret Thatcher’s telegram 305 of 15.11.1983 to Turkey’s President Kenan Evren, in response to the illegal regime’s UDI: “AS A GUARANTOR POWER UNDER THE 1960 TREATY OF GUARANTEE THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT DEPLOR THIS ACTION ON THE PART OF THE TURKISH CYPRIOT AUTHORITIES. IT IS CLEARLY INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE 1960 TREATY OF GUARANTEE. IT CAN ONLY COMPLICATE THE ALREADY DIFFICULT TASK OF REACHING A SETTLEMENT IN CYPRUS ACCEPTABLE TO THE PEOPLE OF BOTH COMMUNITIES AND THE ACTIVITIES OF THE UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL TO ACHIEVE SUCH A RESULT ……. AS PRESIDENT OF ONE OF THE SIGNATORY STATES OF THE TREATY OF GUARANTEE TO DO YOUR UTMOST TO SECURE A REVERSAL OF THIS ACTION”. Therefore, we were appalled that Britain tried to water down the UN Security Council response to Turkey’s latest disregard of UN resolutions and international law regarding Varosha, as well as the renewal of the UNFICYP mandate. The UK Government has frequently talked about being a “force for good”. This is a laudable ambition, but if it is to mean anything, it must be translated into clear action – there must be clear condemnation of Turkey’s actions and continued occupation of the northern part of Cyprus; the UK must be willing to consider and apply all measures and actions to Turkey if they do not reverse their illegal actions, e.g. sanctions on Turkey or Turkish Government Officials. To be a force for good, the UK must be willing to stand up for, and defend, UN Resolutions and International Law.
We believe that Turkey’s role as a NATO member should be reviewed. Turkey mistreats its minorities, violates freedom of speech, restricts the media and press. We believe that Turkey should comply with International Law and abide by the values upheld by the UN, NATO, and the Council of Europe of which Turkey is a Member State. Furthermore, we believe a negotiated solution for Cyprus should encompass:
a) The reunification of the island and people of Cyprus.
b) The removal of all Turkish troops from Cyprus.
c) The repatriation to Turkey of over 200,000 illegal settlers in Cyprus.
d) The return of all properties to their lawful owners.
e) The return of all the refugees to their homes and properties in safety.
f) The abolition of the anachronistic Guarantor Status held by other countries.
g) The full and effective investigation of the fate of all the missing persons.
Thank you for your time and consideration and look forward to your response.
Mrs Mary Helen Karaolis OBE BEd(Hons) MA NPQH FCollT
President of the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain
on behalf of the Executive Committee and Members of the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain