Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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Letters

To: Prime Minister David Cameron
05 December 2011
Britain’s obligations to Cyprus
Dear Prime Minister Cameron

Following your recent meeting with Turkish president Gül I would like to raise the following points which I hope you will take into consideration with regard to what has been described as this current ‘Golden Age of British-Turkey relations’. 

Despite proclamations by president Gül in your press statements of 22 November about “democracy, freedom, and the rule of law”, Turkey continues to violate these very same principles through its illegal occupation of the northern third of the Republic of Cyprus. I would like to remind you that Britain, as a guarantor power of the Republic of Cyprus has a legal obligation to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus. As I am sure you are aware, Turkey contravenes UN resolutions which call for the removal of all its occupation forces in Cyprus, an end to its policy of colonisation and for the refugees to have the right to return. Britain’s special relationship with Turkey should not mean that Britain neglects its responsibilities in Cyprus.  

As a strong supporter of Turkey in the EU, surely Britain must stress to the Turkish government that it must abide by the EU’s requirements for membership. Turkey, a candidate state, has no right to dictate the terms of EU membership and it has an obligation to recognise all EU members in accordance with the protocols it has signed with the EU. It is not for Cyprus to in effect, cede territory to Turkey, so that Ankara abides by its own agreements with the EU – which are a prerequisite for membership. 

You stated that Turkey is a ‘like-minded partner’ of Britain, but is this truly the case? Surely Turkey does not meet British and EU values regarding democracy and human rights such as freedom of speech, respect for minorities, religious freedom or the right to demonstrate. Turkey continues to obliterate the European cultural heritage of occupied Cyprus through its destruction of religious sites. In recent months unprovoked violent attacks were made on peaceful Turkish Cypriot demonstrators who oppose Ankara’s policies in Cyprus by the ‘police’ force in occupied Cyprus, which is not under civilian control but under the direct command of the Turkish military. This is hardly democratic. According to a recent BBC report, Turkey has more imprisoned journalists and writers than either China or Iran. 

I hope that through your special relationship with Turkey, you make clear your support for Cyprus’ sovereign right to explore for oil and gas in its Exclusive Economic Zone and urge Turkey not to continue its provocative acts. Cyprus has acted in accordance with the UN convention on the Law of the Sea and Turkey has no right to question agreements between Cyprus and its neighbours which are not even opposite or adjacent to Turkey’s coastline. 

Is it not in Britain’s and the EU’s strategic interest that Turkey becomes a country that respects human rights, international conventions and the rule of law? Is it not imperative that Britain uses its relationship with Turkey to compel Ankara to behave like a responsible democratic country rather than one which has been able to ride roughshod over the human, moral and legal rights of Greek, Turkish and all other Cypriots? 

Prime Minister Cameron, we call on the British government to urge Turkey to end its illegal and immoral occupation in Cyprus and allow the Cypriots to determine their own fate in a truly reunited island – one that is free of Turkish occupation troops. Only a law abiding, democratic Turkey can be regarded as a worthy partner of Britain and a country that meets all of the standards required for full membership of the EU. 

I look forward to your response on the above points.