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Media Watch 2005

22 July 2005
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author:
Comment: The following editorial appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 22 July 2005.
The Geneva Conventions, Turkey's violations, international toleration and Cyprus's inactivity
"Turkey has been found guilty repeatedly by the European Court of Human Rights of the far more serious violation of ethnic cleansing of the Greek Cypriot population of the occupied north of the island, not to mention the even more serious war crimes of mass executions and rapes also attested by the Rights Court."

LAST week, just a few days before the 31st anniversary of the Turkish invasion and occupation, Switzerland, acting in its capacity as the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, asked Israel to dismantle the wall it is erecting to isolate the Palestinian territories.

The Swiss action was requested by the UN General Assembly last year after the World Court ruled that the construction of the wall by Israel was illegal as it violated the Fourth Geneva Convention that governs the treatment of civilians in time of war and occupation.

Now Turkey's violations of the Geneva Conventions in connection with Cyprus are certainly of far graver nature than the building of a dividing wall by Israel.

In this regard Turkey has been found guilty repeatedly by the European Court of Human Rights of the far more serious violation of ethnic cleansing of the Greek Cypriot population of the occupied north of the island, not to mention the even more serious war crimes of mass executions and rapes also attested by the Rights Court.

In the case of the Israeli wall Switzerland was asked to intervene by the UN General Assembly following a decision by the World Court which ruled that the construction of the wall was illegal.

One would have expected that Cyprus would have moved heaven and earth many years ago to seek similar support from the UN General Assembly in an effort to end the unacceptable international toleration of Turkey's continuing war crimes and violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Failing this, Cyprus should have taken action on another tack, by making it clear to its partners in the European Union that it will veto, as it has every right to do, any closer links with Turkey unless Ankara ceases its long-lasting contempt of the European Rights Court by implementing in full the Court's judgements dealing with the rights of the ethnically-cleansed Greek Cypriot refugees.

Surely no self-respecting European could blame Cyprus for insisting, nay, demanding that Turkey acts like a civilised nation by ending its contemptuous treatment of the European Court!

As an added measure, Cyprus could have pointed out that the continuing colonisation of the occupied north by tens of thousands of Turkish mainland settlers is also a gross violation of the Geneva Conventions, and yet another reason why Turkey's accession to the EU should be ruled out as long as this violation continues.

Anniversary thoughts on Turkey's impertinence

THIS reference to Turkey's unpunished, and continuing, war crimes is all the more topical in view of this week's anniversary.

This draws attention to the fact that the shameful international toleration, and partial cover-up, of Turkey's misdeeds has been going on for 31 years!

It is no wonder that the present Turkish government and the Turkish Cypriot leadership are now pretending that it is the Turkish Cypriots who are the real victims of the situation and that it is the cruel and savage Greek Cypriots who must be pressured to end their oppression!

It should be enough to refer to what Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul declared without a trace of guilt or shame during his visit to the occupied north this week when he said that Turkey was "proud" of the situation created as a result of the Turkish invasion and occupation, ignoring the scathing repeated condemnation of this "result" by the various judgements of the European Court of Human Rights.

Gul's lack of shame went to the point where he blamed the Greek Cypriots of not wanting "to live together with Turkish Cypriots," ignoring the simple truth that it is the Turkish side that insists on a settlement based on the continuing separation of the two communities, and that it is his side that refuses to respect the judgements of the Rights Court that order Turkey to allow the Greek Cypriot refugees to return to their homes in the north.

Mehmet Ali Talat, acting like the obedient vassal of Turkey, parrotted Gul by also blaming the Greek Cypriots for the continuing division of the island because of their rejection of the Annan Plan.

Rights are indivisible

In his speech marking the invasion anniversary Talat said one thing that would solve the Cyprus problem overnight if applied equally to both communities. He thanked Turkey for its action, that led to the partition of the island, and added that "the Turkish Cypriots want all their fundamental rights and nothing more."

This is exactly what the Greek Cypriots want. Talat should realise that respect for fundamental human rights is a universal concept and that it would be inconceivable for either Cypriot community to enjoy any specific right that is denied to the other one.

The Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan Plan primarily because it ignored the fundamental human rights of the Greek Cypriots by rejecting the judgements of the Rights Court in an effort to legitimise the war crimes and other illegal actions of the Turkish occupation regime.

It is time that the Cyprus government, and all the political leaders, concentrated on this aspect of the Cyprus problem, which for some inexplicable reason has not been given the primacy it deserves.

Put simply this aspect is that any settlement must be based firmly on respect for human rights, treating Greek and Turkish Cypriots as equal citizens without either community given special privileges, as the Annan Plan does in the case of the Turkish Cypriots."