1979 Kyprianou-Denktas Communiqué

Cyprus Table of Contents

In early 1979, President Kyprianou was persuaded by his political advisers to resume talks with Denktas, and Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, then undersecretary general of the UN, called the two to a meeting in Nicosia in June. The two intercommunal negotiators, Minister to the President George Ioannides for the Greek Cypriots and Üit Süleyman Onan for the Turkish Cypriots, pursued talks aiming at a communiqué stating the broad agenda for further talks. This process stalled temporarily when Greek Cypriots sought to give the Varosha issue priority above all other issues. On May 18 and 19, the two leaders held a second summit that led to the successful conclusion of a ten-point agreement that called for a resumption of talks on all territorial and constitutional issues; placed priority on reaching agreement on the resettlement of Varosha; stated the parties' commitment to abstain from actions that could jeopardize the talks; and, envisaged the demilitarization of Cyprus. The agreement also repeated past statements about guarantees against union with any other country, partition, or secession. The ten points were largely a tactical means to secure further negotiations and did not resolve any substantive issues. One more meeting was held in June 1979, but the talks were then suspended until August 1980.

The UN-established common ground on which the talks resumed was a four-part agenda addressing, on a rotating basis, the resettlement of Varosha under UN auspices, initial practical measures to promote good will, constitutional issues, and territorial issues. The talks, conducted in Cyprus under the chairmanship of the UN secretary general's Special Representative on Cyprus, Ambassador Hugo Gobbi, continued without a major breakthrough and were temporarily suspended for the spring 1981 parliamentary elections on both sides of the island. In August and October 1981, the two sides made substantive presentations, which were welcomed as signs of commitment to compromise, but which also revealed the serious gap in the two sides' concepts of a solution.

The Turkish Cypriot proposal, submitted in August 1981, named four fundamental principles: a bicommunaand bizonal federal republic shall be established, but the two federated states will not form a unitary state; the Turkish Cypriot community will be regarded as an equal cofounder with the Greek Cypriot community and all government institutions will be staffed on a fifty-fifty ratio; the federal or central government will not be so strong as to imperil the independence of its component states; and the three freedoms of movement property, and settlement, will be restricted as set out by the 1977 guidelines. The proposal identified as "federal matters" six functions, including foreign affairs; foreign financial affairs; tourism and information; posts and telecommunications; federal health and veterinarian services; and, standards of weights and measures, patents, copyrights, and trademarks. The Turkish Cypriots also submitted two maps, one defining a proposed boundary line between the two federated states and one focused on Varosha in particular. The Turkish Cypriot proposal treated the federal concept narrowly, limiting federal authority.

The Greek Cypriots submitted their proposal on October 1, 1981. It contrasted sharply with the Turkish Cypriot proposal, with a heavy emphasis on the unity of the island and the powers of the federal republic. The plan's six principles included the indivisibility of the territory of the federal republic; the federal republic as sole subject of international law, to the exclusion of the provinces; and the use of the federal legislative and executive powers to ensure Cyprus's economic reintegration. The Turkish Cypriots considered this proposal merely an elaboration of a 1977 Greek Cypriot plan.

Despite the failure to make headway on the core political issues, this phase had one notable achievement: the agreement on terms of reference for a Committee on Missing Persons, consisting of representatives of the two communities and an international participant designated by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The committee's first meeting was held on July 14, 1981. The committed met sporadically throughout the 1980s, and new proposals to invigorate its work were discussed in early 1990. The work of the committee was hampered by sensitivity about exchanges of dossiers and information. Sensitivity areas included security matters and religious questions, such as whether graves should be disturbed.

By late 1981, UN officials and other supporters of the settlement process had concluded that the talks needed new stimulus. Secretary General Waldheim issued an evaluation of the negotiations in November, in what he called a "determined effort to lend structure and substance" to the negotiating process. The evaluation identified major points of "coincidence and equidistance" in the two sides' positions and proposed that the contemplated republic's executive authority be exercised by a federal council composed of six ministerial functions, corresponding roughly to the narrow Turkish Cypriot concept. Waldheim also suggested a bicameral legislature, provincial chambers, and a territorial compromise in which the Greek Cypriot side would administer at least 70 percent of the island.

The settlement process in the early 1980s was affected by the need for President Kyprianou to establish his credibility and demonstrate his loyalty to the national cause after the death of the charismatic Makarios. To many observers, it appeared that Kyprianou had less room for maneuver and was less inclined, by political preference or capability, to put forth new strategic positions. The election of a socialist government in Athens in October 1981 may also have affected the attitudes of the parties; Greek Cypriots welcomed Greek prime minister Andreas Papandreou's desire to "internationalize" the Cyprus problem, which effectively gave Greek Cypriots some breathing room in the intercommunal process. Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriot leaders were developing new formulas and concepts of their own, and generally disapproved of efforts to internationalize the issue.

On November 15, 1983, after months of speculation, Rauf Denkta declared Turkish Cypriot statehood, on the basis of the universal right to self-determination. His proclamation, which cited the United States Declaration of Independence, declared the establishment of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"). The move was not intended to block progress toward creating a federal republic, Denktas said. Rather, the assertion of the political identity and equality of the Turkish Cypriots would, in his view, enhance prospects for a new relationship between the two sides of the island. He also pledged that the new state would not join any other state, meaning Turkey.

The move was widely condemned by Western powers and the UN. The secretary general considered the declaration contrary to past Security Council resolutions and at odds with the high-level agreements of 1977 and 1979. The United States urged nonrecognition of the entity and joined a nearly unanimous Security Council resolution (541) which called for reversal of the declaration. (Jordan voted no; Pakistan abstained.)

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress