Memorandum from the Lobby for Cyprus
1. For more than two centuries, Turkey has
earned the dubious distinction of having the worst human-rights
record of any modern country. It has killed and otherwise mistreated
every one of its minority peoplesboth Christian and Muslim.
While its current oppression is directed at its Kurdish populationwhich
began in 1927 with the enactment of restrictive anti-Kurdish lawsit
is still continuing its cultural oppression of its Armenian, its
Assyrian and its Greek populations. Currently, the Turkish government
is seeking a proposed amendment of its constitution that will
prevent any "non-Muslim" entity from acquiring non-movable
property, in effect preventing, in this specific case, the Christian
Churches of acquiring any property, and, it intends to make the
decision retroactive to presently owned property acquired after
1936. This attitude stands in defiance of Western concepts.
2. Nowhere is Turkey's defiance of Western
standards more evident than in Cyprus. Despite more than one hundred
United Nations resolutions asking Turkey to cease its illegal
occupation of 37 per cent of the island of Cyprus, Turkey has
maintained its hold on the territory with an army of 35,000.
3. Because the Republic of Cyprus is moving
closer to satisfying the requirements for membership in the European
Unioncurrently it has signed 25 of the 29 Chapters of the
acquis communautaireTurkey has cynically urged Rauf
Denktash, the leader of the Turks in the occupied north, to resume
talks with the President of Cyprus, Glafcos Clerides, thus giving
the impression of reasonableness with this is, in reality, a delaying
4. Turkey's contempt of all Western standards
is most obvious in the continued defiance of both the Council
of Europe and the European Court on Human Rightsdefiance
unparalleled in the 50-year history of the Court. This is in the
matter of Loizidou v Turkey. This landmark case was debated for
seven years and in 1998, the court found against Turkey on all
seven key points.
5. We will not go into the details of the
case (and its seven points) but suffice it to say that the Court
decided that it was Turkey (with its army and officials) which
had deprived Mrs Titina Loizidou of access to, and the enjoyment
of, her property in Kyrenia, in the occupied north. The Court
indicated that her enforced absence from her property had not
deprived her of her ownership of the property and it instructed
Turkey to meet with Mrs Loizidou to discuss compensation. Turkey
did not do so in the six-month time period, and the Court imposed
a finecomprising both pecuniary and non-pecuniary damagesof
the equivalent to $800,000. In imposing this penalty, the Court
said that the damages were not compensation for loss of her property
but for the non-access and, further, it included interest payments.
6. Not only has Turkey refused to abide
by this decision, but also it has publicly declared that it would
defy both the Council of Europe and the Court. Despite an on-going
series of "resolutions" from the Committee of Ministers
of the Councileach with language stronger than the previous
resolutionTurkey has continued its defiance.
7. Turkey's persistent defiance to the decisions
of the Court has been recognised by the Council of Europe in its
21 December 2001 report"Implementation of decisions
of the European Court on Human Rights"when it recognised
"the special case of Turkey, concerning which 193 cases are
still before the Committee of Ministers, including 56 which raise
major issues . . ." It is, therefore, obvious to everyone,
including the Council and the Court that Turkey's continuing defiance
sets a very dangerous precedent in that other countries can cite
Turkey's defiance when they decide to ignore Court decisions.
This, therefore, endangers the authority of the Court.
8. The Council of Ministers has asked each
Member State to urge Turkey to comply, but to no avail. For its
part, Britain has limited its actions to "requests"
that Turkey comply.
9. It should be noted that on the strength
of the precedent-setting Loizdou decision, the Republic of Cyprus
brought 14 separate cases against Turkey, and the Court on Human
Rights found, on 10 May 2001, for Cyprus in all 14. There are
literally hundreds of cases in the pipeline, all reflecting one
or another aspect of the 1998 decision.
10. The Committee should note that in 1995,
Turkey agreed to comply with four conditions in exchange for its
admission to the Customs Union of the European Union. It has not
fulfilled any of these conditions.
11. The Committee should also note that
after the Helsinki decision to put Turkey on the path for accession,
Turkey announced, within a week of the decision, that it still
has demands on Eastern Thrace, that it still has demands on the
Aegean Islands, and that it will not leave Cyprus.
12. Whatever else one may say about Turkey,
it has to be admitted that it is consistent. It will agree to
any demand or request and will then ignore its agreement. It did
so during the nineteenth century, it did so during the twentieth
century, it is doing so in the twenty-first century.
13. The argument has been presented that
Turkey "is and has been a loyal ally" of the West. It
is fair to note that such "loyalty" has been rewardedvery
well rewardedby the billions of dollars' worth of financial
and military aid, over the years. And, it is fair to ask, "What
kind of `loyal ally' will blackmail and threaten its allies?"
The reference is to the discussions surrounding the six-monthly
negotiations for the use of its Incirlik airbaseduring
which Turkey threatens to withdraw NATO access "unless .
14. It has also been suggested that Turkey
is a "bastion of secularism in a Muslim world." An "example"
of this "secularism" is the fact that 502 Christian
churches and monasteries (including a tenth century Armenian monastery
in Kyrenia) have been demolished, desecrated or converted into
Mosques, stables, and public toilets.
15. In summary, we request that the tragic
events of 11 September in the United States not colour or distort
the picture of the real Turkey.
16. We will leave to others to discuss and
comment upon Turkey's lack of an independent judiciary, the undue
influence of the military, the lack of freedom of speech, the
continuing torture in jails and prisons, and other shortcomings
in the matter of human rights and basic freedoms.
Lobby for Cyprus