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The Cyprus Problem: The American Hellenic Institute Calls for a Realistic Approach Based on the True Issues


June 16, 1998 No. 25/98


The Cyprus problem has been on the international agenda since Turkey's illegal 1974 invasion. In the face of Turkish intransigence, twenty-four years of negotiations have failed to produce a settlement. Nearly ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a similar physical barrier still separates the two communities in Cyprus.

The absence of progress damages important national interests of the United States in the Eastern Mediterranean. The time has come for a realistic approach in which the U.S. engages the true issues.

Negotiations have failed to produce a settlement because of the faulty approach adopted by the U.S. since 1974 that Cyprus is a traditional diplomatic problem where 'meet-in-the-middle' negotiations involving compromises by each side can solve the problem. Despite compromises made by Cyprus, Turkey has not reciprocated. To break the deadlock, the U.S. must follow a realistic approach based on the fundamentally clear and straightforward issues underlying the Cyprus problem. These are:

1) The Cyprus problem is one of aggression and illegal occupation by Turkey.
2) The Republic of Cyprus is the victim of Turkey's aggression and illegal occupation.
3) For 24 years, Turkey has violated the will of the United States and the United Nations to cease its illegal occupation of Cyprus and not to recognize or give any other assistance to the illegally occupied areas. Instead it has reinforced its forces there and illegally sent Turkish settlers there.

The United States bears a national responsibility for the Cyprus tragedy. Speaking publicly in Nicosia on November 11, 1997 Ambassador Richard Holbrooke described U.S. actions in 1974 as "shameful." At a Capitol Hill conference on Cyprus on June 10, 1998 Ambassador Tom Boyatt, the State Department's Cyprus desk officer in 1974, stated that "a Cyprus solution is possible if the U.S. steps up to its responsibilities and remembers its own guilt. So we have a redemption factor here."

4) In 1974 the U.S. encouraged the illegal coup against President Makarios by the Greek junta leader General Ioannides.
5) In July and August 1974 the U.S. encouraged Turkey to invade Cyprus and then to seize a further 33% of the island.
6) In its illegal 1974 invasion Turkey used arms supplied by the U.S.
7) Following the invasion the U.S. failed to apply to Turkey the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act mandating the immediate halt in U.S. aid to an instigator of aggression.

The time has come to restore these essential facts to the center of policy. Turkey is overwhelmingly responsible for the Cyprus problem by its aggression and illegal occupation. Instead of a barren process of negotiation which allows Turkey to deny this fact and the U.S. to divert attention from the real issues, the Administration should now:

8)MState that it is ending its current approach and that future talks will take place on the basis of restoring the status quo ante and the rule of law as it applied before Turkey's 1974 illegal invasion.
9) Identify Turkey as the responsible party for the Cyprus problem.
10) Demand that Turkey complies immediately with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
11) Demand an immediate restoration of constitutional government for all of Cyprus based on majority rule, the rule of law, and protection of minority rights.
12) Demand an immediate withdrawal of the illegal Turkish occupation forces from Cyprus.
13) Insist on the immediate demilitarization of the island, including the possibility of a NATO force to supplement the UN peacekeeping forces.
14) Institute a realistic diplomatic approach including coercive measures against Turkey such as sanctions and denial of assistance from the international financial institutions in the event of Turkish non-compliance or any further violation of international law in Cyprus.
15) Support Cyprus' sovereign right of self defense, a basic rule of international public law enshrined in the UN Charter, including its purchase of the S-300 anti-aircraft defense system.
16) Recognize that Mr. Denktash is not the key, but that attitudes in Ankara, where under the Turkish constitution the Turkish military controls foreign policy and national security, are decisive. Consequently the Administration should concentrate its efforts on the Turkish military.
17) Pressure Turkey to abandon its military-dominated approach to Cyprus.
18) Condemn Turkey's measures to incorporate the occupied areas of Cyprus in violation of the UN Charter and Security Council Resolutions.
19) Initiate a critical review of U.S. policy toward Turkey and, if Turkish intransigence continues, apply a coercive strategy of sanctions.