Main Page :- Articles :- European Commission of Human Rights - Cyprus v. Turkey - Commission Report, 10 July 1976


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Chapter 1 - Background of events

6.       Cyprus was under Turkish rule from 1571, when it was conquered by the Turks from the Venetians, until 1878, when it came under British administration. It was annexed to the British Crown in 1914 and, after Turkey had under the Treaty of Lausanne of 24 July 1923 [3] recognised this annexation, made a Crown colony in 1925.

7.       In 1931 serious disturbances arose in Cyprus in connection with the demand for union with Greece (enosis) put forward by the Greek Cypriots (about 80% of the population). After World War II the enosis movement was resumed by the Greek Cypriots under the leadership of Archbishop Makarios, but the Turkish Cypriots (about 18% of the population) rejected a union with Greece and proposed the continuation of British rule or the island's partition.

In 1955 the London Conference of the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom failed to produce a solution. In Cyprus emergency measures [4] were introduced by the British authorities in order to suppress the guerilla activities of EOKA (National Organisation of Cypriot Struggle) headed by Colonel Grivas, a former officer of the Greek army.

The United Nations General Assembly, seized of the Cyprus question as an issue of self-determination since 1955, repeatedly urged the parties concerned to find a solution through negotiation.

8.       The proposal, accepted by Archbishop Makarios, that Cyprus should become an independent state eventually led to negotiations and, at the Zurich Conference (1959), to an agreement between Greece and Turkey, subsequently accepted by the United Kingdom and the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities (London agreement) [5].

The following instruments resulted from the agreements:

-         the Treaty of Establishment of 16 August 1960 [6] setting up the Republic of Cyprus and providing that its territory shall comprise the island of Cyprus with the exception of the military bases of Dhekhelia and Akrotiri (which remained under British sovereignty);

-         the Treaty of Alliance of 16 August 1960 [7], in which Cyprus, Greece and Turkey undertook to resist any attack or aggression directed against the independence or territorial integrity of Cyprus; it further provided that a tripartite headquarters should be established and that military contingents should be stationed on the territory of the Republic, the Greek and Turkish contingents to consist of 950 and 650 officers and men respectively;

-         the Treaty of Guarantee of 16 August 1960 [8], in which Cyprus undertook to maintain the constitutional order created, and in which Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom guaranteed this order and the independence and integrity of Cyprus.

9.       Under the Constitution of Cyprus of 1960, provided for in the above agreements, executive power was vested in a Greek Cypriot President (since 1960 Archbishop Makarios) and a Turkish Cypriot Vice-President (Mr. Kütchük, succeeded by Mr. Denktash). Decisions of the Council of Ministers, composed of seven Greek and three Turkish Cypriots, were binding on the President and Vice-President who could, however, exercise a veto in matters relating to security, defence and foreign affairs. Of the members Of the House of Representatives 70% were to be elected from the Greek and 30% from the Turkish Cypriot community, and the civil service was to consist of 70% Greek and 30% Turkish Cypriots.

10.       In 1963 violent disturbances broke out between the two communities in Cyprus resulting in losses of life and property on both sides. The administration ceased to function on a bicommunal basis. There were further outbreaks of intercommunal violence in 1964, 1965 and 1967.

A United Nations peace-keeping force (United Nations Force in Cyprus - UNFICYP) was sent to the island in 1964 and attempts were made by United Nations representatives to mediate (Plaza Report of 1965). These attempts having failed, intercommunal talks under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General began in 1968 and continued until July 1974. These talks brought progress in some respect but no final agreement was reached.

11.       On 6 July 1974 President Makarios made public a letter he had sent on 2 July to General Ghizikis, head of the new regime in Greece since November 1973. In this letter he charged EOKA-B, an illegal organisation which since 1972 had been conducting a terrorist campaign against his Government, and officers of Greek nationality in the Cypriot National Guard with an attempt on his life, instigated by Greek Government agencies. General Denissis, commanding officer of the Cypriot National Guard, having been called to Athens on 13 July, a coup d'etat took place in Cyprus under the leadership of other Greek officers on 15 July 1974 and, as a result, President Makarios had to leave the island on 16 July.

12.       In Turkey the National Security Council met on 15 July 1974. The Council of Ministers decided on the following day to convene both Houses of the National Assembly on 19 July. In a note to the United Kingdom Turkey called for joint British-Turkish action under the Treaty of Guarantee to protect the independence of Cyprus and announced that, if this did not take place, she would proceed unilaterally as provided for by the Treaty. Conversations followed in London on 18 July between the Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit and Foreign Minister ad interim Isik and United Kingdom Foreign Minister Callaghan, but no agreement on a joint action was reached. Large troop movements began towards the south and west of Turkey. On 19 July the Grand National Assembly (Chamber and Senate) met in closed session in Ankara, it alone having authority under the Turkish Constitution (Art. 66) to order dispatch of armed forces abroad.

On 20 July 1974 Turkish army units were landed in the Kyrenia area of Cyprus with naval and air support. The purpose of this operation was stated in a Government communiqué of the same day [9] in the following words:

"A coup d'etat has been carried out in Cyprus by both the Greek contingent stationed in the Island and the unconstitutional Greek National Guard which is under the complete command and control of officers from the mainland Greece. Since the forces involved in the coup are the military units under the direct command of a foreign State, the independence and the territorial integrity of Cyprus have been seriously impaired as a result of this action. The present situation in the Island, as has emerged from the coup, has completely darkened the future of the independent State of Cyprus. In these circumstances it is hoped that all States which are favouring the independence and the territorial integrity of Cyprus will support Turkey in her action aimed at restoring the legitimate order in the Island, undertaken in her capacity as a State which guaranteed the independence of Cyprus under international treaties.

After having fully evaluated the recent events which took place in the Island and in view of the failure of the consultations and efforts it undertook in accordance with the Treaty of Guarantee of 1960 as one of the guarantor powers, the Government of the Republic of Turkey has decided to carry out its obligations under Article 4/2 of the said Treaty, with a view to enable Cyprus to survive as an independent State and to safeguard its territorial integrity and the security of life and property of the Turkish community and even that of many Greek Cypriots who are faced with all sorts of dangers and pressures under the new Administration.

The purpose of our peaceful action is to eliminate the danger directed against the very existence of the Republic of Cyprus and the rights of all Cypriots as a whole and to restore the independence, territorial integrity and security and the order established by the basic Articles of the Constitution. Turkey, in the action she undertook as the Guarantor Power shall act with the sincere desire of cooperation with the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in the Island in the restoration of conditions of security. On the other hand, because of the above-mentioned aim of the action, those Greek Cypriots who are wholeheartedly attached to the independence of Cyprus and to the rule of democracy in the Island, need not be concerned. Turkey's aim is to restore security and human rights without any discrimination whatsoever among the Communities.

Our purpose in Cyprus, a bicommunal State, is to get the intercommunal talks to start as rapidly as possible in order to restore the situation prior to the coup and the legitimate order. But it is natural that we cannot consider as interlocutor the present de facto Administration which seized power by the use of brutal force and which is not representative of the Greek Cypriot Community.

Following the restoration of constitutional order, Turkey will strictly abide by what is required from a guarantor power which fulfilled its treaty obligations."

By 22 July 1974 the Turkish army units landed in the Kyrenia area had joined up with Turkish military units already posted or dropped by parachute in the northern part of Nicosia.

13.       Following Resolution 353 of the United Nations Security Council of 20 July 1974 [10] a cease-fire was agreed for 16.00 hours on 22 July, but the area of Turkish military action continued to be extended up to 30 July 1974, when it formed a rough triangle between the northern part of Nicosia and pointed approximately six miles west, and six miles east of Kyrenia.

The coup d'etat having failed, Assembly President Clerides took office as acting President of Cyprus on 23 July 1974.

The First Geneva Conference of the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, meeting as Guarantors under the Treaty of Guarantee, opened on 25 July 1974 and on 30 July issued a declaration [11] convening a second conference on 8 August.

14.       The Second Geneva Conference was abortive and the Turkish forces on 14 August 1974 resumed their armed action with, according to their General Staff, over 20,000 men and 200 tanks. At 17.00 hours on 16 August a cease-fire was declared. The Turkish forces had by then reached a line which runs from Morphou through Nicosia to the south of Famagusta; in two areas, Louroujina and west of Famagusta, they advanced beyond this line.

On 7 December 1974 President Makarios returned to Cyprus.

15.       The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe established a working group on Cyprus on 5 September and adopted Resolutions 736 and 737 on 15 September 1974. The working group visited Cyprus from 12 to 14 December. On 27 January 1975 the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Recommendation 756, related to matters dealt with in the report made on Cyprus by the Committee on Population and Refugees [12]. From 10 to 13 March the working group visited Ankara and Athens and on 10 April the Political Affairs Committee submitted a Report on Cyprus and a draft Recommendation [13], which was unanimously adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly on 24 April 1975. On 9 January 1976 the Political Affairs Committee submitted a Report on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean with a draft Resolution on the situation in Cyprus [14], which was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly on 30 January.

16.       The Security Council of the United Nations from the very beginning of the "explosive situation" in Cyprus in July 1974 acted continuously. Hundreds of letters of the responsible leaders of the two communities were sent-to the Security Council, written communications of concerned member States of the United Nations dealt with the situation and Special Reports of the Secretary General on developments in Cyprus were submitted to the Security Council [15].

Action of the United Nations comprised:

-         Security Council Resolutions 353 [16], 360 [17], 361 [18] and further resolutions (concerning inter alia the extension of UNFICYP);

-         General Assembly Resolutions 3212 - XXIX [19], 3395 - XXX [20] and 3450 - XXX [21];

-         Resolutions 4 (XXXI) [22] and 4 (XXXII) [23] of the Commission on Human Rights;

-         intercommunal talks held under the auspices of the Secretary General [24].

17.       Intercommunal talks led by Mr Clerides and Mr Denktash, took place intermittently between September 1974 and February 1975. On 20 September 1974 agreement was reached on exchange of prisoners and detainees, completed on 31 October. Following an agreement of 11 November 1974 the evacuation to the south of Cyprus of persons held in the remaining two detention centres of Voni and Gypsou was completed by the Turkish authorities on 28 November. On 17 January 1975 a sub-committee on humanitarian issues was established.

On 13 February 1975 a constituent assembly set up by the Turkish Cypriot community declared the area north of the demarcation line [25] to constitute a Turkish Federated State of Cyprus and on 8 June a constitution for it was promulgated.

Further intercommunal talks were held in Vienna in April, June and July/August 1975. They led to an agreement allowing all Turkish Cypriots in the south of the island to move to the north, permitting Greek Cypriots in the north to stay or go to the south and, in this connection, providing for Greek Cypriot priests and teachers to come to the north and for 800 Greek Cypriot families to be reunited there [26]. The following intercommunal talks in New York were adjourned in September 1975 without result and sine die, but further talks were held in Vienna from 17 to 21 February 1976. In April 1976 written proposals on the various aspects of the Cyprus problem were exchanged between the two communities. Since then no further meeting has taken place between the two representatives of the communities in the talks, who are now Mr Papadopoullos and Mr Onan.

18.       The Cyprus problem has many facets and elements - international and national, political, social, psychological, economic, humanitarian. Therefore the problem of human rights protection raised by the present applications is only one element amongst a complexity of elements.

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[3] League of Nations Treaty Series, Vol. 28, p. 12 (No. 701). Art. 20 of the Treaty stated: "Turkey hereby recognises the annexation of Cyprus proclaimed by the British Government on the 5th November, 1914".

[4] These measures were the subject of Application No. 176/56 - Greece v. United Kingdom - see Yearbook of the European Convention on Human Rights, Vol. 1, pp. 128, 130.

[5] Following this agreement proceedings in Application No 176/56, and in a further application brought by Greece against the United Kingdom (No. 299/57), were terminated - see Yearbook, Vol. 2, pp. 174 et seq.

[6] United. Nations Treaty Series, Vol. 382, p. 10 (I No. 5476).

[7] United Nations Treaty Series, Vol. 397, p. 289 (I No. 5712).

[8] United Nations Treaty Series, Vol. 382, p. 4 (I No. 5475), reproduced at Appendix III to this Report.

[9] Published in the special issue "Cyprus" of the Turkish quarterly review "Foreign Policy" (Ankara, 1974/75), pages 224-225.

[10] Appendix V to this Report.

[11] Appendix IV to this Report.

[12] Council of Europe Doc. 3566 (Rapporteur Forni).

[13] Council of Europe Doc. 3600 (Rapporteur Karasek).

[14] Council of Europe Doc. 3708 (Rapporteur Karasek .

[15] A collection of relevant UN documents is available in the case file.

[16] Appendix V to this Report, of para. 13 above.

[17] Appendix VI.

[18] Appendix VII.

[19] Appendix VIII.

[20] Appendix IX.

[21] Appendix X.

[22] Appendix XI.

[23] Appendix XII.

[24] See para. 17 below.

[25] See para. 14 above.

[26] Cf para. 178 below.