Cyprus’ UN ambassador has called on Turkey to step aside so that Cypriots could reunite after Ankara accused Nicosia and Athens of not wishing to reach a settlement, with sides giving their own account of events amid an emotionally charged weekend for Greek Cypriots.
Permanent Representative Ambassador Andreas Hadjichrysanthou has written a letter to the UN Secretary General accusing Turkey of denying the island a chance to “exist as a State in its own right.”
“It is high time that Turkey stepped aside and allowed Cypriots to reunify their country as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as set out in relevant resolutions of the Security Council, instead of trying to turn the Turkish Cypriot community into a strategic tool to control decision-making in a reunited Cyprus under the guise of accusations of a lack of readiness to share power and wealth,” Hadjichrysanthou wrote.
Hadjichrysanthou’s letter came after Ankara criticized Nicosia and Athens over statements made about Turkey’s operations on Cyprus, where Turkish troops landed on the island in summer 1974 following a short-lived Greek-inspired coup and have remained ever since pending resolution of a conflict between the island’s two communities.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias wrote on Twitter over the weekend that the Cyprus Problem was still an “unresolved issue of illegal occupation” and called for a resolution based on a federal model.
The Greek FM said the Cyprus Problem was still an ‘unresolved issue of illegal occupation’ with Turkey responding they had to intervene after the Greek coup to stop bloodshed on the island
But the Turks argue the Greeks have not been sincere about seeking a federal solution.
"Greece & Greek Cypriots never showed the necessary will for a permanent settlement on the Island,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry wrote on Twitter, adding that “Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan Plan in 2004, and left the table in Crans-Montana in 2017.”
In another tweet, Ankara took issue with Dendias’ terminology on the events of 1974, arguing Turkey had to intervene after the Greek coup to stop bloodshed on the island.
“Greek Cypriots violated the 1960 Constitution and destroyed the partnership Republic in 1963,” the Turkish tweet said, referring to the period succeeded by escalated intercommunal violence that prompted the establishment of UN peacekeeping force in 1964.
But Hadjichrysanthou accused Ankara of “inventing” an “excuse for secession because this is what is dictated by its own strategic interests.”
Cyprus’ UN ambassador said in his letter that Cyprus’ emergence into statehood in 1960 was “as a unitary State with one people, the Cypriot people, irrespective of ethnic origin.”
"Cyprus is not divisible for any reason and on any grounds, including those fabricated by Turkey,” Hadjichrysanthou said.
The long holiday weekend was emotionally charged for Greek Cypriots, as it marked 48 years since Turkey carried out a second phase in the operation, viewed by Turks as a “peace operation” and by Greeks as an “illegal invasion.”
July and August 1974
A week after 15 July 1974, when the coup took place on the island, Turkish troops landed on the island on July 20, bringing an end to the junta in Athens three days later.
Subsequent rounds of peace talks in Geneva failed to yield results when Greek Cypriot Glafcos Clerides, who became Acting President after the coup failed, declined in August to accept Turkish proposals, with the Greek Cypriot leader asking for time to fly back to consult with his community and Ankara hurrying things up and insisting on an answer.
Two map-based plans conceding 34% of territory into Turkish hands were presented to Greek Cypriots on August 12, with one version resembling the basis of what is now known as the Green Line and the other map securing cantons for Turkish Cypriots throughout the island.
Just hours after Clerides declined in the early morning of August 14, Turkish troops launched the second phase.
According to Greek Cypriot then-negotiator Christos Iakovou, Clerides had three options, to accept Turkish proposals and be branded a traitor, decline and let chips fall as they may, or go to Greece and ask for help.
Athens, which was badly shaken by events and the fall of junta, refused to get involved.
The Cyprus Problem remains unresolved, with Greek Cypriots living it the south in the Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots residing in the north which is not recognized by any country except Turkey.