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Shame on Mr Pipe

Reader comment on item: Turkey in Cyprus vs. Israel in Gaza

Submitted by ALD (Hong Kong), Jul 21, 2010 at 11:03

I'll never understand how Mr Pipe's opinion piece on this subject ever had the credibility to be recorded on the hallowed pages of the broadsheet that broke Watergate Scandal … not unless the Washington Post editors have decided to take on the British tabloids at their own game.

No comment betrays Mr Pipe's ignorance more than his reference to Erdogan's claim "that Turkish troops are not occupying northern Cyprus but are there in "Turkey's capacity as a guarantor power"".

Mr Pipe asks "whatever that means" …. "Whatever that means"? Mr Pipe, shame on you! Make the effort to get off your posterior and go to the current Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus and refer to Appendix B which is the Treaty of Guarantee. Article 2 of the Treaty of Guarantee refers to Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom as recognizing and guaranteeing the "independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus". Article 3 of the Treaty of Guarantee provides the Guarantor powers with the "right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs established by the Treaty [i.e. the Constitution]". This, Mr Pipe, is what Mr Erdogan was referring to when he referred to "Turkey's capacity as a guarantor power"!

The Treaty of Guarantee had (and still has) the same legal strength as any other Treaty between 2 or more sovereign states and as such is the legal basis on which Turkey intervened in Cyprus. But Mr Pipe, I can hear you saying to yourself "but all my Greek friends tell me that it was an illegal invasion. Everyone knows that it was illegal". Well Mr Pipe, you may be interested to know that the matter has never been brought before the International Court. The only jurisdiction that has ruled Turkey's intervention as being illegal is the Greek Cypriot courts … hardly a jurisdiction that one could expect to provide an impartial ruling. Especially since the constitutionally mandated independent foreign judges of Cyprus' Supreme Constitutional Court resigned in protest in 1964 leaving the Constitution and Cypriot judiciary to the full unmitigated mercy of the Greek Cypriots ever since.

But why did Turkey feel the need to use its guarantor powers to intervene in the first place? Did Fahri Koruturk suddenly wake up one day and decide that Turkey should annex a third of Cyprus for its own geopolitical ambitions? Or was it in response to what the western media terms "a brief Greek inspired coup aimed at unifying Cyprus with Greece" as if the coup was somehow forced upon the Greek Cypriots by an exogenous force (note the word "reunite" is not used since Cyprus has never been part of Greece)?

No, actually it was the result of more than a decade (i.e. the 1960s) of systematic persecution, isolation and marginalization of a Muslim minority by a Christian orthodox majority (does this sound familiar?).

This started with Makarios' unilateral rewriting of the constitution in 1963, without due constitutional process, to remove 12 provisions that safe guarded key hard won rights of the Muslim minority. Thus Markarios was unilaterally undermining his own constitution and the international treaty under which it was created (hence the 1964 resignation of the independent foreign judges of the Supreme Constitutional Court). This of itself was clearly illegal under the both Cypriot and International law and which, in itself, would have been sufficient grounds for intervention by Turkey under Article 3 of the Treaty of Guarantee.

But Turkey didn't intervene in 1963 and restricted itself to providing minimum necessary force to safeguard the Turkish minority at various flash points during the 60's. This is despite, i) the harassment of the Turkish population so that they didn't feel safe going to their jobs and forced many Turkish villagers to seek sanctuary in city cantons, ii) the encirclement and embargo of whole Turkish villages, and, iii) the summary execution of hundreds of Turkish men, women and children. Indeed it is interesting to note that the 500 Turk Cypriots on the UN sponsored Cyprus Missing Persons List represent a larger portion of their 1970's population than the 1600 missing Greek Cypriots. Could these 500 missing Turk Cypriots have also been the victims of the marauding Turkish Army? – I think not!

You see Mr Pipe it was only at the end of more than a decade of gross violations of human rights by Greek Cypriots culminating in the 1974 "brief Greek inspired coup" that Turkey's patience was finally broken. But your Greek Cypriot friends never talk about the 1960's. This is because they know, if they are being truthful, that they are to blame for their divided country. That they truly believe that the island belongs exclusively to the Greeks and they cannot stand to share the island with Turks who have been there for near on 450 years, which, by the way, dates back to before the Pilgrims jumped on the Mayflower to colonize America.

Mr Pipe, the one thing I do agree with you is that Cyprus cannot be compared to the situation in Gaza. Cyprus has more to do with Kosovo than Israel. Both Cyprus and Kosovo saw the persecution and marginalization of a Muslim minority by a conservative Orthodox majority. In both cases Europe and the UN stood by while Muslims were harassed, dispossessed and murdered. In both cases a foreign power finally took unilateral steps to intervene to protect the minority. The difference is that Kosovo happened in the 1990's when the world had a conscience that extended to the Muslim minority where as in 1974 (indeed to this day) the Turk Cypriots had no one to turn to except Turkey.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

Starting with the fact that tis appeared in the Washington Times, which did not even exist at the time of Watergate, the author has most everything wrong.

Specifically, my reference to the guarantor power indicates the absurdity of the Republic of Turkey pretending to fulfill its treaty obligations by transgressing on those obligations.

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