Thursday, April 10, 2014

Greek-Turkish Cypriot Dispute

Greek-Turkish Cypriot Dispute
For more information, see:

Case Facts

  • Cyprus had been occupied by Turkey (also known as the Ottoman Empire).
  • In 1875 Turkey transferred its ownership of the land to the United Kingdom.
  • Cyprus remained a British Colony until 1960.
  • By 1960 the population makeup of the island of Cyprus was 80% Greek, 18% Turkish.
  • During the 1950s, Greek nationalists waged a guerilla war with the goal of trying to get the United Kingdom to release Cyprus so Cyprus could merge with Greece.
  • The Turkish minority on Cyprus, however, wanted to secede and merge with Turkey.
  • Britain agreed to release Cyprus. 
  • The prime ministers of Greece and Turkey met in order to determine the fate of the Cyprus.
  • This eventually led to the London accords (The Treaty of Guarantee), where Cyprus became an independent State with a constitution that was designed to protect the rights of both the Greeks and Turks.
  • The Cypriots, however, were not invited to participate in these negotiations or in the development of their own constitution. 
  • After the agreements were signed, various representatives of the Greek and Turkish communities were invited.
  • These were unelected individuals who had no authority, since there was no official Cypriot government at the time.
  • The Treaty of Guarantee contained a provision that said if there was a breach of the provisions, Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom would meet to 'take measures necessary to ensure observance of those provisions."
  • Turkey argued that the provision gave them the right to use unilateral military force in order to protect Turkish Cypriots.
  • Two years later the Cypriot government fell apart.
  • The Greek Cypriots objected to the mandatory slots in the Cypriot Parliament for Turkish Cypriots.
  • Civil disorder came from these events and the country effectively split into two.
  • At this point the United Nations sent in peacekeeping troops.
  • Turkey sent in air support in defense of Turkish Cypriots. 
  • Cyprus and Greece complained to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Greece as well as the Greek Cypriot government both argued that the Turks had no authority to attack.

Was the Treaty of Guarantee a valid treaty?

According to the Vienna Convention of Treaties §2(1)(a), there are three requirements for a treaty:
1.  It must be between States; and
2.  It must be in written form; and
3.  It must be governed by International law.
This also contains the implicit requirement that the treaty was intended to be a binding treaty (as compared to being just a statement).

  • One could argue that the Treaty of Guarantee was not actually a treaty because this document was signed by Cypriots who were without any authority.
  • How could they sign an agreement on behalf of Cyprus, when Cyprus did not officially exist until after the treaty in question was signed?  The signatories didn't represent States.
  • On the other hand, Cyprus had acted as if the treaty was valid for a number of years after the signing of the treaty, and the Cypriots who signed the treaty were later made the heads of State.
  • In this particular case, one could argue that the Cypriots were coerced into the Treaty of Guarantee because they were not the ones who drafted the treaty.  However, they did sign the final version.
Question:  Was the Turkish interpretation of the Treaty of Guarantee permissible?

  • Greece argued that Article 2.4 of the UN Charter Article forbids the use of force to solve international problems.
  • Therefore the Treaty of Guarantee could not be interpreted the way that it was interpreted by Turkey.
  • UN Charter Article 103  holds that any treaty is invalid if the treaty goes against the UN Charter.
  • The US in this case argued that Turkey was enforcing the provisions of the Treaty, and that Vienna Convention of Treaties §27 states that all treaties must be obeyed in good faith.

1 comment:

  1. The Cyprus dispute is the result of the ongoing conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots and the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, over Northern Cyprus, a self-declared state recognised only by Turkey and considered by the international community an occupied part of Cyprus.[1][not in citation given][2][3]

    Initially, with the annexation of the island by the British Empire, the "Cyprus dispute" was identified as the conflict between the people of Cyprus and the British Crown regarding the Cypriots' demand for self determination. The dispute however was finally shifted from a colonial dispute to an ethnic dispute between the Turkish and the Greek islanders.[4] The international complications of the dispute stretch far beyond the boundaries of the island of Cyprus itself and involve the guarantor powers (Turkey, Greece, and the United Kingdom alike), along with the United States, the United Nations and the European Union.[5]

    With the 1974 Cypriot coup d'├ętat's installment of a pro-Enosis (the union of Cyprus and Greece) president and the responding Turkish invasion that same year (formally disapproved by UN Security Council Resolution 1974/360),[6] Turkey occupied the northern part of the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, and later upon those territories the Turkish Cypriot community unilaterally declared independence forming the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), a sovereign entity that lacks international recognition-with the exception of Turkey with which TRNC enjoys full diplomatic relations.

    As a result of the two communities and the guarantor countries committing themselves to finding a peaceful solution to the dispute, the United Nations maintain a buffer zone (the "Green Line") to avoid any further intercommunal tensions and hostilities. This zone separates the Greek Cypriot-controlled south from the Turkish Cypriot-controlled north.


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