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Statement Of The American Hellenic Institute On The Proposal For A Cyprus Settlement Submitted By The U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
December 3 , 2002 No. 55/02 (202) 785-8430

Statement Of The American Hellenic Institute On The Proposal For A Cyprus Settlement Submitted By The U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan

AHI recognizes that the ultimate decision on the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's proposal for settlement of the Cyprus problem rests with the people of Cyprus and their elected representatives and the people of Greece and their elected representatives. AHI's responsibility is to analyze the proposal from an American point of view of what is in the best interests of the U.S.

The agreement recently proposed by Secretary-General Annan for the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem is an even more complicated version of the 1959-1960 London-Zurich agreements imposed on the Greek Cypriots during the Cold War. As currently written, the proposal is undemocratic and unworkable. It also violates key United Nations (U.N.) resolutions and the European Union's (EU) democratic norms and acquis communautaire. The U.S. should be the champion of democratic norms throughout the world, not sham constitutions like the one proposed. Especially now, when our war on international terrorism makes it tempting to subordinate timeless principles to immediate needs, we should be wary of the new Cyprus proposal which elevates expediency over the rule of law. For reasons noted below, the new proposal does not deserve the U.S.'s backing as the basis for settlement of the Cyprus problem.

1. The proposal is undemocratic

The parliamentary system essentially creates a minority veto. The proposal creates a bicameral legislature referred to as Parliament which consists of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. The Senate shall be composed of 48 members with 24 members from each component state. The Chamber of Deputies shall also be composed of 48 members elected on a proportional basis. However, each component state is guaranteed to have a minimum of one-fourth of the seats of the Chamber of Deputies. (Constitution Art. 20)

Laws are enacted by majority vote of each house of Parliament as long as at least one-fourth of the senators from each component state comprises the majority vote in the Senate, thus creating a veto power for the 18% Turkish Cypriot minority. The following key matters require a vote of 2/5 of the senators from each component state (Constitution Art. 23):

  1. Ratification of international agreements on matters within the competence
    of the component states,
  2. Ratification of treaties, adoption of laws concerning airspace, continental
    shelf and territorial waters of Cyprus,
  3. Adoption of laws concerning citizenship, immigration, and taxation,
  4. Approval of the budget of the common state,
  5. Election of the Presidential Council.

Regardless of the composition of the Parliament, each component state in effect has 1 vote on fundamental laws. No fundamental laws can be enacted unless both of the component states consent to any such law. This means that although the Turkish Cypriot component state will compromise 18% of the population of Cyprus, it will have a weighed vote equal to the vote of the Greek Cypriot component state which will compromise 80% of the population. This arrangement is clearly undemocratic and a recipe for stalemate.

The minority veto that is embodied in the Parliamentary voting procedure is also present in the Presidential Council which exercises the executive power of the component state, Constitution, Art. 24. The Presidential Council is composed of 6 members who are elected by the Parliament with the super majority vote of the Senate. The Presidential Council shall effectively make decisions by a majority vote, however, each such a majority must compromise at least one Council member from each component state. Again, political paralysis in the exercise of executive power is the likely result of this arrangement.

The proposal strengthens the minority vetoes of the ill-advised 1959-1960 agreements, which vetoes led to the breakdown of the Cyprus constitution. The minority veto is undemocratic and therefore repugnant to core U.S. values. Institutionalizing the minority veto in Cyprus will open the door for similar demands in other places where one ethnic group is outnumbered by another, e.g. Kurds in Turkey, Arabs in Israel, Hungarians in Romania, Turks in Bulgaria, Albanians in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbs in Kosovo, Greeks in Albania, and minorities in Africa, Asia, and North and South America. It will also put the U.S. in the unseemly position of justifying its support of a minority veto in some places while reviling it in others. Rather than supporting undemocratic norms, the U.S. should promote with consistency and vigor the democratic policy espoused for Cyprus by Vice President George H.W. Bush on July 6, 1988:

"We seek for Cyprus a constitutional democracy based on majority rule, the rule of law, and the protection of minority rights."

2. The proposal is unworkable

It is useful to recall that the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research issued an analysis of the 1959 London-Zurich agreements, calling them dysfunctional. It predicted problem areas that were manifested in 1963. (See Buraeu of Intelligence and Research Publication no. 8047 "Analysis of Cyprus Agreements," July 1959.) The minority veto, which the new proposal would institutionalize, was a key reason for the failure of the complicated 1959-1960 agreement. The new proposal is even more complicated than the 1959-1960 agreements and creates the conditions for continuous squabbling, disagreements and deadlock. It is micromanagement at its worst.

3. The proposal violates key U.N. resolutions

The proposal violates on its face important U.N. resolutions which guarantee the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus. Among these are:

  • U.N. Security Council resolution 186, March 4, 1964;
  • U.N. General Assembly resolution 3212 of November 12, 1974, adopted by the U.N. Security Council resolution 365 of December 13, 1974;
  • U.N. Security Council resolution 367, March 12, 1975; and
  • U.N. Security Council resolution 541, November 18, 1983.

4. The proposal undermines the Foundation Agreement

The Supreme Court shall consist of an unspecified number of judges with an equal number of judges from each component state appointed by the Presidential Council, (Constitution, Art. 34). This provision contradicts the Foundation Agreement which states that the Supreme Court shall consist of 9 judges, 3 from each component state and 3 non-Cypriot judges, (Foundation, Art. 6). The Court is empowered inter alia to interpret the documents compromising the proposal and to resolve deadlocks in the institutions created by the proposal. Decisions are made by a simple majority. The Court is an unelected oligarchy that will in effect have the power to legislate under the guise of interpreting the documents of the proposal and resolving institutional deadlocks. Ultimately, assuming the structure of the Court as set forth in the Foundation Agreement, it is likely that 3 non-Cypriots will make the fundamental legislative decisions for the common state abrogating its sovereignty and independence.

5. The proposal subverts property rights

One of the most pernicious effects of the illegal Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus is that rightful owners of real property that is located in northern Cyprus have been and continue to be excluded from their real property by the Turkish military. The Plan proposes a highly complicated, ambiguous and uncertain regime for resolving property issues. However, the proposals are clearly based on the principle that real property owners can ultimately be forced to give up their property rights and abide by whatever regime us created by the Plan for property issues.

In June 1999, officials of the Republic of Cyprus commissioned a legal opinion entitled "Legal Issues Arising from Certain Population Transfers and Displacements on the Territory of the Republic of Cyprus in the Period since 20 July 1974." That opinion was prepared by 10 experts in international law. The basic conclusions of that legal opinion are as follows:

  1. A. Forced population transfers effected on a discriminatory basis are unlawful under international law whether such transfers occur between or within a state and whether they occur during peacetime or war,
  2. B. It is unlawful to seek to maintain a situation arising from forced population transfers by legal or other measures that prohibit the return of the displaced population,
  3. C. Compulsory exchanges of property belonging to affected persons are unlawful if the purpose of the exchanges is to legitimize a situation arising from force population transfer,
  4. D. Any compulsory exchange scheme even if contained in a treaty would have to be independently scrutinized under the European Convention on Human Rights and, by implication, would be illegal despite being in a treaty if the scheme was found to violate the right of persons to use and enjoy their rightful property, (see Article 1, Protocol I Article 14 of the Convention).

To the extent that the transfer of property regime set forth in the proposal provides for any forcible exchange of property, that regime violates both the Convention and international law. Any attempt by the common state or the component states to implement any such regime would render them liable to the affected property owners.

6. Supporting the proposal requires the U.S. to follow a double standard

The proposal by its silence expressly disregards the reason for the current Cyprus situation: the Turkish army invaded the island on July 20, 1974 and renewed its use of force on August 14-16, 1974, three weeks after the legitimate government of Cyprus had been restored on July 23, 1974. The invasion violated not only the U.N. Charter (Art. 2 (4)), but also U.S. laws the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (as amended), the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Act, and the NATO Treaty. The invasion displaced 180,000 Greek Cypriots and was accompanied by murder, rape, and theft of property by the Turkish army (see European Commission on Human Rights report of July 10, 1976, not officially published until January 1979 after consideration by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe).

The new proposal silently ignores these historical facts and imposes no obligation on Turkey, either directly or through its puppet regime in northern Cyprus, to rectify the losses of life and property or to account for violations of laws and treaties. In the face of the proposal's silence regarding Turkey's role in creating the current state of affairs, the U.S. must apply a double standard to support the proposal. The proposal also requires the U.S. to turn its back on brave Turkish citizens struggling for human rights and real democratic reforms. Support of the proposal is inconsistent with President George H.W. Bush's September 9, 1990 condemnation of aggression made in the context of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait:

"We must demonstrate beyond any doubt that aggression cannot and will not pay."

* * * *

"No peaceful international order is possible if larger states can devour their smaller neighbors."

Likewise, the U.S. must not ignore the wisdom of the Eisenhower Doctrine, articulated by President Eisenhower on October 31, 1956, during the Middle East crisis:

"There can be no peace without law. And there can be no law if we were to invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us and another for our friends."

7. The proposal fails to demilitarize Cyprus

Because the proposal allows for a significant number of Turkish troops to remain on the island under expanded intervention rights, supporting the proposal requires the U.S. to ignore the U.N.'s requirement for a full and true demilitarization of Cyprus (see unanimous U.N. General Assembly resolution 3212 of November 1, 1974, adopted by the U.N. Security Council resolution 365 of December 13, 1974). The anachronistic 1959 Treaty of Guarantee has no place in the post-Cold War era and new millennium.

By ignoring the above considerations the U.S. will passively tolerate for Turkey a standard of conduct the U.S. aggressively condemns elsewhere. The perceived need for Turkey's cooperation in the war against international terrorism does not justify such a double standard. Rather than abandoning the bedrock American principles of democracy and the rule of law, the U.S. should withhold its support for the new Cyprus proposal.

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) was founded in 1974 following Turkey's illegal invasion and occupation of 37.3% of Cyprus. AHI is a membership organization with members throughout the nation. AHI's core mission is to promote American values and the rule of law in U.S. foreign policy and to strengthen relations between the U.S. and Greece and Cyprus as being in the best interests of the United States.

This memorandum follows a meeting and discussion of the U.N. Secretary-General's proposal by the AHI advisory committee which is composed of the following members: Kostas Alexakis, Nick Chimicles, Van Coufoudakis, Nick Karambelas, James Lagos, James Marketos, and Ted Spyropoulos. Executive Director Nick Larigakis, Serge Hadji-Mihaloglou and Gene Rossides also participated.

For additional information, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at 202-785-8430 or at For general information on AHI, please view our website at