Legally invalid: Turkey’s subordinate regime in occupied Cyprus

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November 15, 2019 lobbyforcyprus

On 9 November 1989, the world marked the fall of the Berlin Wall. That was a seismic event that led to the unification of Germany. At the time, Turkey was already in occupation of the north of the Republic of Cyprus, having previously invaded and ethnically-cleansed it in two phases in 1974. Thirty years on, the Berlin Wall has been consigned to history, but Turkey continues to occupy the north of Cyprus. Worse still, Turkey has become subject to the autocratic regime of President Erdogan whose authoritarianism has spilled over into the Turkish-occupied north.

Since an illegal unilateral declaration of independence purportedly made in the Turkish-occupied north on 15 November 1983, thirty six years ago today, Turkey has tried to conceal its illegal occupation behind a facade – the so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (‘TRNC’). However, the ‘TRNC’ has been – and remains – nothing other than the illegal subordinate regime of Turkey. As such, Turkey remains the occupying power and the state responsible for the illegal carve-up of Cyprus.

The United Nations has roundly condemned both the ‘TRNC’ and the illegal ‘declaration of independence’ under which it was purportedly established. UN Security Council Resolution 541 (1983) describes that ‘declaration’ as ‘legally invalid and calls for its withdrawal’; the same Resolution also ‘Calls upon all States to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity’ of the Republic of Cyprus. UN Security Council Resolution 550 (1984) goes further by calling upon all states ‘not to recognise the purported state of the “Turkish Republic on Northern Cyprus” set up by secessionist acts’; it likewise ‘calls upon’ all states ‘not to facilitate or in any way assist the aforesaid secessionist entity’.

In an Advisory Opinion relating to Kosovo, dated 22 July 2010, the International Court of Justice referred to the illegal declarations of independence by ‘Southern Rhodesia’ in 1965, by the ‘TRNC’ in 1983 and by ‘Republika Srpska’ in 1992. The Court explained that ‘the illegality’ of each of these of these ‘declarations’ had ‘stemmed not from the unilateral character of these declarations as such, but from the fact that they were, or would have been, connected with the unlawful use of force or other egregious violations of norms of general international law, in particular those of a peremptory character (jus cogens).’ (See Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Respect of Kosovo, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 2010, page 403 at paragraph 81.)

In other words, the ‘TRNC’ is a product of mass illegality and mass inhumanity. Even so, the United Nations has done nothing of any substance to reverse what Turkey has de facto achieved in the occupied north of Cyprus. Instead, the United Nations has appeased Turkey. The United Nations has done so by overseeing decades of negotiations under the misnomer of ‘reunification talks’. These have been designed to establish a ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’, an absurd entity which would disguise segregation under the cloak of ‘bi-communality’, supremacism under the cloak of ‘bi-zonality’ and discrimination under the cloak of a fake form of ‘federalism’.

On 9 November 2019, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke at an event to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall. She stated that ‘No wall that keeps people out and restricts freedom is so high… that it cannot be broken down.’ One wonders if Chancellor Merkel’s words apply to the barricades and razor wire ‘walls’ that de facto segregate Cypriot citizens in their own country. The irony of Chancellor Merkel’s words was no doubt not lost on those refugees and forcibly displaced Cypriots who continue to yearn for their right to return and thereby reclaim their homes as well as other properties. After all, it was with German-purchased arms that Turkey invaded Cyprus and it is with German-purchased arms that Turkey continues to enforce its occupation.

The fall of the Berlin Wall signalled the end of east and west Germany. It also led to the creation of a united Germany. By contrast, Cyprus remains partitioned, segregated and under the spiked heels of Turkey. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the time has come for the world to stop appeasing Turkey and to start dismantling its illegal occupation together with the illegal regime which sustains it.