1977 Makarios-Denktas Accords

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After intensive efforts by Waldheim, Makarios and Denktas met on January 27, 1977, the first meeting between the two men since the Turkish Cypriots had withdrawn from the government of the republic in 1964. By then Makarios was leaning toward negotiation on the basis of a bizonal federation, provided that there be some Turkish Cypriot territorial concessions. He continued to insist on a strong central government and freedom of movement for all Cypriots. He demanded 80 percent of the territory, proportionate to the size of the Greek Cypriot population, but indicated that he might accept 75 percent if it included Varosha, the formerly prosperous tourist area of Famagusta to which 35,000 Greek Cypriots wanted to return. Denktas apparently indicated readiness to consider about 68 percent.

On February 12, 1977, the two men met and agreed on four guidelines. The first was that Cyprus would be an independent, nonaligned, bicommunal federal republic. Second, the territory under the administration of each community was to be discussed in light of economic viability, productivity, and property rights. Third, questions of principle such as freedom of movement and settlement, rights of ownership, and certain special matters were to be open for discussion, taking into consideration the fundamental decision for a bicommunal federal system and certain practical difficulties. Finally, the powers and functions of a central government would be such as to safeguard the unity of the country.

This achievement raised hopes among Cyprus's foreign friends that a settlement could be reached. These hopes were dashed when President Makarios, the central figure in the Greek Cypriot community, died of a heart attack in August 1977. Spyros Kyprianou, his successor, pledged to adhere to positions he believed Makarios would have taken.

Over time, it became clear that Kyprianou enjoyed less political room to maneuver than his predecessor, partly because of the growing political strength of the refugees and displaced persons. Kyprianou found in this group a ready-made constituency, and he embraced their advocacy of their right to return to homes and property and their call for a permeable border and unimpeded free movement and unrestricted settlement. This position sharpened differences with the Turkish Cypriot advocacy of a tightly controlled border and guarantees that the ethnic balance established by the de facto partition would remain undisturbed.

In April 1978, a new set of Turkish Cypriot proposals was made public, but was quickly rejected by the Greek Cypriot negotiator, Papadopoulos, who objected to both the proposals constitutional and territorial aspects. Kyprianou dismissed Papadopoulos in June over disagreements.

Later in 1978, external powers tried their hand at a Cyprus proposal. President Jimmy Carter had convinced a slim majority in the United States Congress to lift the arms embargo imposed against Turkey because of its intervention on Cyprus; Carter pledged to renew diplomatic efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem. The United States then worked with Britain and Canada to launch a new settlement plan. The twelve-point plan (often called the ABC plan because of its American, British, and Canadian sponsorship) proposed a biregional, independent federal republic. The state's constitutional structure would conform to the Makarios-Denkta guidelines of February 1977, as well as to pertinent clauses of the 1960 constitution. There would be two constituent regions. The federal government would be responsible for foreign affairs, defense, currency and central banking, trade, communications, federal finance, customs, immigration and emigration, and civil aviation. Residual functions would rest with the two regions. A bicameral legislature would be established, with the upper chamber evenly divided between the two communities, and the lower one divided on a population-ratio basis. The Council of Ministers would be jointly selected by the president and vice president, one of whom would be a Greek Cypriot and the other a Turkish Cypriot. On territorial issues, the plan envisioned significant Turkish Cypriot geographic concessions, although the size and locale of the two regions would take into account factors such as economic viability, security, population distribution, and history. The plan addressed the refugee issue, and called for essentially a demilitarized republic and withdrawal of all foreign forces except for an agreedupon contingent.

The Republic of Cyprus government objected to many points in the plan, largely because it preempted various positions of the two sides. The Greek Cypriot foreign minister said he would have preferred an agenda that did not go into so much detail. Other Greek Cypriot forces, including the church and some political parties, also opposed the plan. In the Greek community, only Glafkos Clerides urged its acceptance as a basis for talks. Turkish Cypriots also formally rejected the plan as an overall settlement package.

However, the ABC plan stimulated further efforts toward a settlement, and the UN Security Council acted quickly to resume intercommunal talks, on the basis of an agenda that combined the Makarios-Denktas guidelines with some aspects of the allied plan.

Two other effects of the American initiative should be noted. The plan was the last American-drafted proposal for Cyprus and convinced some in the Western policy community that even a fairminded effort had little chance of winning Cypriot acceptance. Second, it reinforced Cypriot anxiety about having solutions imposed from outside. By the early 1990s, many features of the initiative remained part of the UN-brokered negotiating effort, but Cypriots remained committed to writing their own plan.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress