The "Set of Ideas"

Former President Vassiliou, soon after his election in February 1988, expressed his readiness to meet with the then Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Turgut Ozal, to discuss the international aspects of the Cyprus problem. This offer was rejected by Mr. Ozal. Mr. Vassiliou expressed also his willingness to meet the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, with a view to starting meaningful and result - oriented negotiations. After an initial meeting with Mr. Denktash in Geneva on 24 August 1988, under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, it was agreed to hold an intensive round of meetings on the basis of the high-level agreements with no preconditions. From the outset Mr. Denktash placed preconditions, refused to have an agenda set and discuss options proposed by the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General. In spite of these setbacks Mr. Vassiliou persevered and presented on January 30, 1989, comprehensive proposals aimed at the establishment of an independent, sovereign, territorially integral, non-aligned Federal Republic, which would promote prosperity and unity among the Cyprus people instead of division and hatred1.
In July 1989 a "set of ideas" was presented by the U.N. Secretary-General "as food for thought" in an effort to facilitate discussions leading to the presentation of an outline of a comprehensive agreement by September 1989. The Greek Cypriot side, though not agreeing with all points in these ideas, agreed to use them as an aid to negotiations, but the Turkish side rejected the ideas outright, and through a so-called resolution adopted by the illegal assembly in the occupied part of Cyprus, questioned the mandate of the U.N. Secretary-General and raised unacceptable preconditions for the continuation of the talks amounting to an ultimatum for accepting Turkish positions.
The Turkish government lent every support to the above positions fully backing the intransigent stance of Mr. Denktash. Despite the procrastinations and obstructionist tactics of the Turkish side, the United Nations Secretary-General arranged a new meeting between the then President Vassiliou and Mr. Denktash which took place in New York between February 26 and March 2, 1990.
As soon as the meeting started Mr. Denktash introduced new preconditions aimed at the very foundations of the inter-communal talks. In fact, the U.N. Secretary-General, in a relevant statement on March 2, 1990, clearly places the responsibility for the collapse of the dialogue on Mr. Denktash: "In the course of our discussion Mr. Denktash stated that the term 'communities' be used in a manner that is synonymous with the term ^peoples' each having a separate right to 'self-determination' In the course of the inter-communal talks the introduction of terminology that is different from that used by the Security Council has thus posed more than a semantic problem. Unless acceptable to both sides, any change in terminology could alter the conceptual framework to which all have thus far adhered", the Secretary-General stated.
It should be stressed that the preconditions, raised by Mr. Denktash, were not only contrary to the agreed basis of the negotiations, but were also incompatible with the relevant U.N. resolutions, particularly Security Council resolution 367 (1975) which mandated the mission of good offices of the Secretary General, and contrary to the two high-level agreements of 1977 and 1979, which are the basis of the inter-communal talks. In view of this situation, the Secretary-General felt that the impasse created by the Turkish side raised questions regarding the essence of his mandate of good offices and, therefore, regarding the basis of the talks. Under the circumstances he decided to terminate the talks and report to the Security Council, seeking its guidance. In its relevant resolution 649 (1990), following the Secretary-General's report, the Security Council once more recalled and reaffirmed its previous resolutions on Cyprus and reiterated its support for the two high-level agreements in which the leaders of the two Communities pledged themselves to establish a bi-communal Federal Republic of Cyprus that will safeguard its independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-alignment and exclude union in whole or in part with any other country as well as any form of partition or secession. By reaffirming the high-level agreements, which Mr. Denktash himself has signed, the Security Council clearly rejected the new Turkish demands. Though the Turkish side paid lip service to Resolution 649 (1990), it in fact continued to pursue a policy of demanding a separate right of self-determination for Turkish Cypriots, and claiming that there are two "peoples" and two "states" in Cyprus. These are precisely the positions that resolution 649 was adopted in order to reject. Were such positions to be accepted, it would tend to serve as a dangerous precedent with catastrophic developments in minority problems which exist in many parts of the world. Efforts to break the ensuing deadlock continued and the Cyprus issue was discussed at the June 1990 Summit Meeting between the former President of the United States, Mr. George Bush and the President of the former Soviet Union, Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev. Meanwhile the European Community maintained an active interest in the Cyprus problem. The European Parliament through a resolution adopted on 15 March 1990 by an overwhelming majority, "condemned the actions of Mr. Denktash to attempt to alter the Secretary General's mandate" and urged Member States to "make their voice heard in opposition to the Denktash moves in New York". The European Parliament also called on the Turkish Government to "demonstrate the will and spirit of cooperation with a view to resuming the intra-community negotiations according to international law and the resolutions of the U.N. so as to find an acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem".
The European Community's interest in the Cyprus problem was also reaffirmed during a series of visits the President of the Republic paid to European capitals during the first half of 1990. The community's position vis-a-vis the Cyprus problem became even more explicit after the issuing on June 26, 1990, of the Dublin Declaration by the European Council2. The Dublin decision of the Twelve, to the effect that the Cyprus problem has a direct bearing on the Community's relations with Turkey, was a most significant signal of the Community's determination to intervene substantively for the resolution of the problem. The second half of 1990 was highlighted by the submission, on 4 July 1990 by the Republic of Cyprus of a formal application for full membership of the European Community. There was a strong reaction by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership against the Cyprus Government's decision which manifested itself in provocations and actions aimed at creating tension in the island (Ayios Kassianos incident on 19 July). Steps were also taken to prepare the ground for settlement of the city of Varosha by people other that its lawful inhabitants in flagrant violation of the provisions of Security Council resolution 550 (1984).
The European Parliament unanimously adopted on 12 July a resolution condemning the continuing flagrant violation of human rights in Cyprus by Turkey. The Parliament also welcomed the Dublin Declaration and "called for the Community institutions to adapt their policies accordingly and step up their efforts to promote a just and viable solution to the problem of restoring legitimacy in Cyprus".1 The Security Council which was seized of the situation, through a statement made by its President on behalf of the members, expressed its unanimous concern "over any action which contravenes paragraph 5 of resolution 550 (1984) and paragraph 5 of resolution 649 (1990)".
In September, 1990, the Council of Ministers of the European Community decided without discussion to transmit Cyprus' application to the Commission of the European Communities for consideration, according to the procedure laid down by Art. 237 of the Treaty of Rome.
Furthermore on 1 October 1990 a joint declaration was signed between the Prime Minister of Turkey, who was illegally visiting the occupied areas and the illegal regime in those areas. The signing of the joint declaration, taking place on the very day of the 30th Anniversary of Cyprus' independence, was yet another provocative act calculated to undermine the mission of good offices of the UN Secretary General and was clearly in defiance of Security Council Resolution 649 (1990). The declaration includes provisions for the abolition of passport requirements, for a customs union between Turkey and the occupied areas, as well as other measures which aim at the incorporation of the occupied part of Cyprus to Turkey. They are also intended to encourage and disguise increased colonization of the occupied territory in general and Varosha in particular.
In a series of statements which were brought to the attention of the Secretary General of the United Nations by the President of the Republic in a letter dated 30 November 1990, the Turkish side not only reiterated its partitionist position for the existence of two "peoples" and a separate right to self-determination, but has reached new levels of provocations by an intensification of explicit demands for recognition of a separate state on the territory of the Republic and the promotion of a confederal solution, going as far as to make them a precondition for the resumption of negotiations. The CSCE Summit held in Paris from 19-21 November 1990, which culminated with the signing of the "Charter of Paris for a New Europe", officially confirmed the ending of the era of confrontation and division of Europe and the beginning of a new period of respect and cooperation between nations and commitment to human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The President of Cyprus in his address at the Summit urged the CSCE Member States to turn their attention to the peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem, through the application of international law and the principles of the Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. "For, Cyprus cannot remain", he said, "an anachronism in Europe, the only European country facing occupation by a foreign army, with its citizens denied the exercise of their fundamental freedoms and rights, even the freedom of movement and the enjoyment of property and its demographic structure altered through the massive implantation of settlers".
The Secretary-General of the United Nations in his address at the same forum emphasized that the Cyprus problem is a European problem the solution of which is long overdue and stressed that it is a responsibility of Europe to render all the necessary support to the efforts for its peaceful and definite settlement. The beginning of 1991 saw the escalation of tension in the Gulf. Cyprus welcomed the determination of the international community to solve the crisis, on the basis of the Security Council resolutions regarding the situation in the Gulf, and its concerted efforts for their implementation which led to the withdrawal of all Iraqi troops from Kuwait and the exercise of full sovereignty and authority of the Government of Kuwait on all parts of its territory.
The determination which has been exhibited by the Superpowers to insist on the full implementation of the United Nations resolutions gave a clear message of hope and reassurance to all the small and weak nations of the world. Cyprus hopes that other Security Council resolutions, including those on Cyprus, will also be implemented and complied with, so that justice and peace might be restored in Cyprus as well. Following the resolution of the Gulf crisis, the international community focused its attention on other regional problems, including the Cyprus problem, intensifying its efforts for their peaceful solution.
The United States, which played a leading role in the efforts for the resolution of the Gulf crisis, showed an active interest for the Cyprus problem, which as President George Bush stated, is a problem that he would love to see solved "in keeping with U.N. resolutions". On 14 March 1991, the European Parliament approved a resolution concerning the implementation of U.N. resolutions on Cyprus. The resolution stresses, inter alia, that the international community, which operated extensively for the implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions on Kuwait, should now show "equivalent determination in order to implement all relevant U.N. resolutions on Cyprus by peaceful means".


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Giorgos Zacharia ( 1995-1999.