Very briefly, according to the prevalent Greek Cypriot narrative, the functioning of the state organs with “Greek Cypriots only” started out of “state necessity” with the events of 1963/1964. Since then Greek Cypriots are internationally recognised as representing the government of the Republic of Cyprus (RoC). There has been no interruption in the UN membership of the RoC and the Greek Cypriot run RoC has been admitted to the EU in 2004. North Cyprus is part of RoC territory, illegally occupied by Turkey, and the TRNC is a “puppet state” of Turkey. Any solution to the Cyprus question has to be based on the sole legitimacy and continuity of the RoC. Greek Cypriots are by far the majority and principles of democracy dictate that they are entitled to more say in running the island. On the subject of natural gas exploration, the decisions and actions of the RoC within its EEZ fall squarely within its sovereign rights, which are in full conformity with international law, as these are recognized by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, of which the RoC is a state party.
According to the prevalent Turkish Cypriot narrative the formation of a regime founded on the unilateral usurpation of rights specifically reserved to the Turkish Cypriot people contravenes the obvious intent of the Zurich Agreement, the 1960 Constitution and the Treaty of Guarantee. The Greek Cypriot regime is neither the government of the “RoC” originally recognized by the community of nations in 1960, nor the legitimate successor of that government. They cannot therefore speak on behalf of the whole island or legitimately exercise sovereign powers that devolved upon the RoC in 1960. International recognition cannot excuse or confer legitimacy upon the violations of both domestic constitutional law and international treaty law through which the Greek Cypriot regime usurped the name as well as the government of the RoC. If the creation of the TRNC is “legally invalid” because it is “incompatible with the 1960 Treaty concerning the establishment of the RoC and the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee”, the Greek Cypriot “usurpation” of 1963/1964 is equally invalid. The relationship of the two communities is not one of majority and minority and the Turkish intervention is the direct result of the 1963/1964 and 15 July 1974 coups. In any case, the practical consequence of the usurpation of 1963-1964 has been the emergence of parallel administrative, judicial and legislative organs for each of the two peoples and the Greek Cypriot regime cannot exercise sovereign control over the Turkish Cypriot people and North Cyprus.
But these narratives look backwards and only help maintain the status quo. If we are serious about “escaping” from the hold of the unacceptable status quo and vision the establishment of a new cooperative relationship between the two politically equal communities of the Island as outlined in the 11 April 2014 Joint Declaration, then we need to rise above the narratives and obsessions of the past, look ahead in full view of today’s needs and realities and behave in a way that is compatible with this new vision.
M. Ergün Olgun
Former Turkish Cypriot Negotiator