The imperial origins and neo-imperial purposes of a misleading mantra
Published in Agora Dialogue on 4 July 2017
On 28 June 2017, the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ was ‘reconvened’ in the luxury Alpine resort of Crans Montana in Switzerland.
In common with what occurred in connection with the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ held in Geneva on 12 January 2017, the ‘reconvened’ version has been accompanied by the widespread dissemination of a simple proposition: that the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ offers ‘the last chance’ to ‘reunify Cyprus’.
Since 1956 – as documented elsewhere in this article – many people have spoken about ‘the last chance’ in relation to the so-called ‘Cyprus problem’. In the year 2017 alone, these people have included the members of various elites such as Matthew Kidd, the British High Commissioner in Nicosia, Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission and Guy Verhofstadt MEP, the former Prime Minister of Belgium who is serving as the President of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament.
In 2017, many writers have also composed articles which refer to ‘the last chance’. Some of these have carried more than a whiff of menace. A good example is an article written by Thomas de Waal, a Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe, as published at carnegieeurope.eu on 3 July 2017. According to this:
‘Mediators who want to extract every ounce of compromise from parties to a conflict have a habit of telling them “This is your best and last chance” and “It’s now or never.” In this case, they may not be bluffing. The Swiss talks, which started on June 28 , have nowhere else to go. … They are almost certainly the final effort to push for a bi[-]communal bi[-]zonal solution to the Cyprus problem, to reunify the island in a loose federation. …
‘So if the deal collapses and the UN pulls back, several bad scenarios could fill the vacuum. The current UN-administered 112-mile buffer zone could become an effective hard border, threatening new incidents of violence. Turkey could step up its de facto takeover of northern Cyprus, perhaps even annexing it de jure.’
(Source: Thomas de Waal, ‘Cyprus and the perils of no Plan B’, Carnegie Europe, 3 July 2017, at http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/71412?lang=en)
Bearing in mind that annexation has been unlawful since the adoption of the United Nations Charter in 1945 (not to mention United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967), it would appear as if the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ has begun amidst a noxious climate characterized by coercion, duress, undue influence or other forms of improper pressure which flow from the post-1974 Turkish occupation, ethno-religious cleansing and colonisation of 36 per cent of the territory and 57 per cent of the coastline of the Republic of Cyprus.
This noxious climate has arisen in spite of the fact that three of the participants at the ‘Conference on Cyprus’, namely Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, are not only Member States of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, all of which are dedicated to the rule of law; all three are also parties to the Treaty of Establishment of 1960. This legal instrument affirms the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole of the Island of Cyprus with the exception of two areas over which the United Kingdom asserts sovereignty.
(Source: Treaty Concerning the Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicosia, August 16 1960, Cmnd 1252 (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1961). Published online at http://treaties.fco.gov.uk/docs/pdf/1961/TS0004.pdf)
For these and for other reasons, the primary aim of this article is to subject ‘the last chance’ to critical analysis. Nevertheless, an important ancillary aim is to explore the imperial origins and neo-imperial purposes of this misleading mantra. Accordingly, this article poses a number of questions relating to whether ‘the last chance’ is a device forming part of a psychological operation backed by crude as well as subtle forms of propaganda.
The abuse and repetition of certain words for naked political ends: ‘the last chance’ in the context of ‘reunification’
For reasons which will become apparent below, this article is the essential counterpart to a previous article composed by the author, which was published by Agora Dialogue on 22 May 2017 and entitled ‘What does ‘reunification’ really mean?’
In his aforementioned article, the author drew attention to the abuse as well as the repetition of various inter-related words such as ‘unite’, ‘reunite’ and ‘reunification’. These words, in common with ‘the last chance’, have been used or abused in support of the proposed transformation of the Republic of Cyprus into a ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’ – in line with the post-1964 demands of Turkey, the post-1974 policy of the United Kingdom (as backed by the United States) and the post-1990 policy of the United Nations Security Council (as reflected in Resolutions such as Resolutions 649 and 750).
In answer to the question ‘What does ‘reunification’ really mean?’, the author reached the following conclusion at the close of his article of 22 May 2017:
‘… ‘reunification’ really means ‘re-division’ laced with something even worse: ‘re-segregation’. And, as the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr pointed out in his celebrated address in Detroit, Michigan, on 23 June 1963, ‘segregation is wrong because it is a system of adultery perpetuated by an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality.’’
(Source: Klearchos A. Kyriakides, ‘What does ‘reunification’ really mean?’, Agora Dialogue, 22 May 2017, http://agora-dialogue.com/2017/05/22/what-does-reunification-really-mean/)
In the light of the above and as a necessary first step in the direction of understanding the true meaning and purposes of ‘the last chance’, the author needs to address an obvious yet interesting question. In the context of ‘the Cyprus problem’, what are the historical origins of ‘the last chance’?
The British imperial origins of ‘the last chance’
In the context of ‘the Cyprus problem’ as it unfolded during the 1950s, ‘the last chance’ appeared to emerge in earnest on 21 December 1956. It did so against a destabilising background formed by sustained British imperialism and a concerted British effort to keep a lid on the armed EOKA insurgency against British imperial rule.
The EOKA insurgency began on 1 April 1955 after the United Kingdom had refused to countenance any possibility of bowing to the political campaign in favour of unitary self-determination via enosis, the proposed union of the then British Crown Colony of Cyprus with Greece. This political campaign had been waged on behalf of 80 per cent of the population of the Crown Colony of Cyprus, all of whom either belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church or considered themselves to be Greek or both.
The United Kingdom refused to entertain the prospect of enosis. This was partly because of a perceived need to protect its own interests and partly because Turkey opposed enosis and the United Kingdom did not wish to upset Turkey. In that latter respect, post-1954 British policy was founded on a remarkable joint British ministerial memorandum, dated 21 July 1954 and composed by the Colonial Secretary, Oliver Lyttleton MP, with his junior ministerial side-kick, Henry Hopkinson MP.
As the joint ministerial memorandum has been declassified, it is possible to identify its central message, which laid bare the scale of the United Kingdom’s willingness to appease Turkey and adopt a rather distasteful approach to the overwhelming majority of the people of its very own Crown Colony:
‘Successive Turkish Governments have made it clear that they would not agree to the cession of Cyprus to Greece. They have sound historic, geographic and other reasons for this. Cyprus was Turkish for 300 years. It has never been Greek. The island is 40 miles from Turkey; it is hundreds of miles from mainland Greece. Geographically it is part of Asia Minor. There is a large minority undoubtedly Turkish in origin. The Greek-speaking Cypriot population is of doubtful ethnic provenance.’
(Source: Memorandum to the Cabinet by Oliver Lyttleton MP, the Colonial Secretary & Henry Hopkinson MP, the Minister of State in the Colonial Office, 21 July 1954, C(54)245, CAB 129/29, National Archives of the UK.)
In an effort to protect British strategic assets, to suppress the EOKA insurgency and to curry favour with Turkey, the United Kingdom tried to find a ‘settlement’ which accommodated Turkey, as well as the United Kingdom, Greece and two categories of people which the United Kingdom consistently described from 1956 onwards as ‘Greek Cypriots’ and ‘Turkish Cypriots’; before 1956, British ministers and colonial officers tended to use various other labels including ‘non-Moslems’ and ‘Moslems’ as well as ‘the Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking parts of the population’, or variations thereof.
The upshot of this British governmental effort burst into the public domain on 19 December 1956. On this date, the then British Colonial Secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd MP, unveiled a set of constitutional proposals embodied within the ill-fated Radcliffe Plan. This envisaged a ‘diarchy’ in which ‘the two communities’ – a phrase effectively ‘given birth’ to by the British in 1956 – would gain a measure of autonomy under sustained British sovereignty exercised by the British Governor of the Crown Colony of Cyprus.
On the very same day, Mr Lennox-Boyd let the cat out of the bag. He announced that the Government of the United Kingdom ‘recognise[d] that the exercise of self-determination in such a mixed population must include partition among the eventual options.’
(Source: Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 19 December 1956, Column 1268. Also see Κλέαρχος Κυριακίδης, ‘Η προέλευση της προτεινόμενης λύσης ΔΔΟ’, Σημερινή, 17 Δεκέμβριος 2016, www.sigmalive.com/simerini/politics/389050/i-proelefsi-tis-proteinomenis-lysis-ddo and Klearchos A. Kyriakides, ‘The Lennox-Boyd statement of 19 December 1956 and the origins of the proposed ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’ in Cyprus’, Agora Dialogue, 27 December 2016, at http://agora-dialogue.com/2016/12/27/the-lennox-boyd-statement-of-19-december-1956-and-the-origins-of-the-proposed-bi-communal-bi-zonal-federation-in-cyprus/)
All of which forms the essential background to what followed.
The ‘birth’ of ‘the last chance’ on 21 December 1956
On 21 December 1956, two days after the landmark pro-Radcliffe Plan and pro-partition statement delivered by the British Colonial Secretary, ‘the last chance’ was born. In so far as the author has been able to ascertain – and to coin a phrase – the ‘Father of the Last Chance’ was Kenneth Robinson. He was the backbench Labour MP for St Pancras North and, ironically, a fierce critic of British policy towards the Crown Colony of Cyprus.
In the context of his call for Archbishop Makarios to be released from ‘exile’ in the Seychelles – where the Archbishop had been detained by the British in the absence of any trial or formal charges – Mr Robinson appeared in the House of Commons to describe the proposed Constitution embedded in the Radcliffe Plan as follows:
‘This is the last chance. It is certainly the last chance that this Government will have of solving the Cyprus problem. They are asking the people of Cyprus to take a big step in accepting this Constitution. Some move forward from their own position is required equally of Her Majesty’s Government. I hope that they will take this last chance.’
(Source: Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 21 December 1956, Column 1618.)
In due course, in March 1957, Archbishop Makarios was released from exile. However, this did not prevent the Radcliffe Plan from biting the dust. Accordingly, not for the last time in history, the ‘last chance’ proved to be no such thing.
The British ministerial ‘baptism’ of ‘the last chance’ in June 1958
As events were to pan out, ‘the last chance’ made a robust come-back in June 1958. On this occasion, ‘the last chance’ received the firm stamp of British ministerial approval. Part of the evidence lies in the US State Department’s minutes of one of the Anglo-American diplomatic meetings attended by Harold Macmillan MP, the then Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in Washington DC between 9 and 11 June 1958.
At one of these meetings, Prime Minister Macmillan commended his new ‘Plan’, which was published a few days later with the title ‘An Adventure in Partnership’, otherwise known as the ill-fated ‘Macmillan Plan’.
According to the aforementioned US State Department minutes, Prime Minister Macmillan told his American guests that his ‘Plan’ offered ‘a chance, and perhaps the last chance, of ending the dangerous situation on the Island.’
(Source: Ronald D. Landa, James E. Miller, David S. Patterson, Charles S. Sampson (eds.), Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958–1960, Volume X, Part 1, Eastern Europe Region; Soviet Union; Cyprus (US Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1993, page 967.)
A few days later, on 19 June 1958, Prime Minister Macmillan formally unveiled his ‘Adventure in Partnership’ during an appearance in the House of Commons. In his words, the ‘Adventure’ envisaged the formation of a ‘partnership between the communities in the island and also between the Governments of the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey.’ (As an aside, this appears to be the very ‘partnership’ which has been on show at the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ since 12 January 2017. The author has described this ‘partnership’ as an embodiment of the ‘Macmillan Doctrine’.)
(Sources: Prime Minister Macmillan, Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 19 June 1958, Columns 1315-1320 at Column 1316 and Klearchos A. Kyriakides, ‘The ‘Intellectual Partition’ of Cyprus, the ‘Macmillan Doctrine’ and the talks held in Geneva in August 1974 and January 2017’, Agora Dialogue, 9 January 2017, at http://agora-dialogue.com/2017/01/09/the-intellectual-partition-of-cyprus-the-macmillan-doctrine-and-the-talks-held-in-geneva-in-august-1974-and-january-2017/ and Κλέαρχος Κυριακίδης, ‘Οι καταβολές μιας διαιρετικής ιδέας: Το «Δόγμα Μακμίλαν» και οι καταβολές της ιδέας ότι η Κύπρος πρέπει να υπόκειται σε έναν «συνεταιρισμό» με «5 μέρη»’, Σημερινή, 29 Ιανουαρίου 2017, www.sigmalive.com/simerini/politics/400437/oi-katavoles-mias-diairetikis-ideas)
A few days later, on 26 June 1958, Alan Lennox-Boyd MP, the British Colonial Secretary, followed in the footsteps of Prime Minister Macmillan – by attending the House of Commons and commending the ‘Adventure in Partnership’. As Mr Lennox-Boyd explained, this ‘Plan’ was ‘based on two main foundations’.
One was ‘partnership’, as defined by Prime Minster Macmillan on 19 June 1958. The other was ‘communal autonomy’ which Mr Lennox-Boyd depicted as ‘the principle on which a community should manage its own communal affairs’; this was a polite way of promoting non-territorial partition, fostering ‘bi-communal’ segregation, undermining integration, blunting majoritarian democracy, precluding unitary self-determination and thereby meeting some of the core demands of Turkey.
It was against this background that the Colonial Secretary said the following:
‘We now have a chance – perhaps it may be the last chance – to heal a wound which is weakening and impoverishing the free world.’
(Source: Statement by Alan Lennox-Boyd MP, Colonial Secretary of the United Kingdom, Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 26 June 1958, Columns 611 to 619.)
This audible British ministerial reference to ‘the last chance’ on 26 June 1958 was no flash in the pan.
To begin with, during the remainder of the House of Commons debate over the ‘Macmillan Plan’ held on 26 June 1958, one other MP weighed in to chant the same mantra. This MP was Desmond Donnelly from the Labour Party. In his view:
‘This, may be, is the last chance for the Greeks; it is the last chance, may be for the Turks to avoid a worsening of relations with the Greeks; it may be the last chance of the island to avoid civil war. It is certainly the last chance of the British Government to produce a successful policy for Cyprus.’
(Source: Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 26 June 1958, Columns 667-668.)
‘The last chance’, as propagated on 8 July 1958
Now that ‘the last chance’ had been ‘baptised’ in public by the British Colonial Secretary, it seemed to resonate with others who latched on to the phrase and started to use it. Thus, on 8 July 1958, ‘a last chance’ or ‘the last chance’ spilled from the lips of three other parliamentarians in the House of Lords.
The first was Lord Winster, a former Labour minister who had served as the British Governor of the Crown Colony of Cyprus from 1946 until 1949. Lord Winster spoke of ‘a last chance’ when he rose in the House of Lords ‘to address’ some remarks to, as he described them, ‘the Greek and Turkish Prime Ministers, to the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, to Archbishop Makarios and to Colonel Grivas.’ To quote the specific warning directed to these men by Lord Winster:
‘They may be facing a last chance; let them face it as statesmen, and not in the capacity of agitators, as, to some extent, they have done heretofore.’
That said, in spite of promoting the ‘Macmillan Plan’, Lord Winster did have the good grace to recognise what was inherently wrong with it and with the divisive philosophy of ‘communal autonomy’ upon which it rested. To quote Lord Winster: ‘In all that I did [as Governor] I aimed at integration. This plan seems to aim at segregation.’
(Source: Hansard, House of Lords Debates, 8 July 1958, Columns 694 & 697.)
Lord Winster’s reference to ‘a last chance’ provoked a similar response from Lord Colyton. As Henry Hopkinson MP, he had previously served as a Conservative Minister of State in the British Colonial Office; in that ministerial capacity, he had already carved his name into Cypriot history for infamous reasons outlined towards the end of this article. He was also one of the co-authors of the joint ministerial memorandum, dated 21 July 1954 and quoted above.
On 8 July 1958, Lord Colyton claimed that: ‘this plan [i.e. the ‘Macmillan Plan’] offers the last chance of finding a settlement to the Cyprus problem. Certainly it is the best chance of reaching a settlement.’
(Source: Hansard, House of Lords Debates, 8 July 1958, Column 748.)
All of which prompted Lord Lloyd, another former Conservative Colonial Office minister, to pitch in by inviting ‘the Greeks’ and ‘Turkish people’, as he described them, to:
‘look the facts in the face for the first time, and then let them pause and think most carefully before they reject what so many people have already said may be the last chance.’
(Source: Hansard, House of Lords Debates, 8 July 1958, Column 754.)
As events were to unfold, the ‘Macmillan Plan’ of June 1958 was spurned. As a result, it did not provide ‘the last chance’. However, the ‘Macmillan Plan’ did form the background to severe inter-communal disturbances and the formation of at least one structure of segregation which was emblematic of a wider Anglo-Turkish effort to foster segregation and other forms of division. This structure of segregation was the ‘Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce’ whose first meeting was held on 15 November 1958, the year in which it was founded.
(See the ‘History of the Chamber’ at www.ktto.net/en/history-of-the-chamber-2/)
The legacy of the ill-fated ‘Macmillan Plan’ of June 1958
The ‘Adventure in Partnership’ envisaged by the ‘Macmillan Plan’ did not get off the ground in the precise way that Prime Minister Macmillan had hoped in June 1958. However, the two British imperial foundations at the core of the ill-fated ‘Plan’ – ‘partnership’ and ‘communal autonomy’ – did form the basis of the Zurich Agreement of 11 February 1959, the London Agreement of 19 February 1959 and the various constitutional and legal instruments brought into force upon the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus on 16 August 1960.
In keeping with the philosophy of division at the heart of the ‘Macmillan Plan’, the ‘bi-communal’ Republic of Cyprus came to rest on various constitutionally-sanctioned structures of segregation, such as separate communal chambers, segregated primary schools and parallel systems of family justice.
In addition, this new sovereign state was imprisoned within a cast iron treaty framework encompassing Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, as well as the Republic of Cyprus. To these extents, therefore, ‘the last chance’ of June 1958 may have helped the British to pave the way towards a ‘settlement’ in February 1959 and its implementation in August 1960.
‘… too close to Hitler’
To all, intents and purposes, ‘the last chance’ went into cold storage upon the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus on 16 August 1960. Three years later, the Republic of Cyprus was plunged into a deeply divisive constitutional crisis and a catastrophic inter-communal conflict, the latter of which resulted in much loss of life and considerable demographic upheaval.
Then, after an unconstitutional coup in Nicosia instigated by junta-ruled Greece on 15 July 1974, Turkey launched two invasions of the Republic of Cyprus: on 20 July; and (a full three weeks after the downfall of the junta in Athens and its puppet regime in Nicosia) on 14 August 1974. As the author has written in his other publications with reference to primary sources, Turkey used these invasions to implement its pre-1974 political aims and military objectives. These rested on maintaining ‘bi-comunal’ division, but supplementing it with ‘bi-zonal’ segregation and a perverse form of ‘federalism’. (See the publications of the author listed at http://agora-dialogue.com/?s=Klearchos+A.+Kyriakides)
As the second invasion of the Republic of Cyprus was in full swing on 14 August 1974, the United Kingdom and the United State struck one of the most extraordinary deals in the history of international relations. Evidence relating to this deal may be found in a declassified British Foreign and Commonwealth Office ‘Record’ of conversation. This was conducted over the telephone at 1.45pm on 14 August 1974 by James Callaghan MP, the then British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, and Dr Henry Kissinger, the then US Secretary of State. To quote from the British ‘Record’ of this conversation:
‘Foreign Secretary [Callaghan]: Henry, if I can put the position in a nutshell, I think it comes to this: that the Turks have got a good case. In my view this can now only be resolved by the creation of a zone. A zone in which they will have autonomy within a federal republic. This could be got by negotiation but in the temper of today, no one can begin to get anything like this. And so you have a military solution for the time being, in which they will police their own boundary. You’ll have a great exchange of population with the Greeks moving out and we’ll then just let diplomacy take over when we see the opportunity once more, to see if we can get a peaceful solution in the island. Now as regards Greece and Turkey, it is Greece who will need massaging because the Turks are too jingoistic, indeed too close to Hitler for my liking. All right?
‘Dr Kissinger: I completely agree with you, Jim. And the tragedy is that it could have worked out that way through diplomacy …
‘Foreign Secretary [Callaghan]: I believe you. Well, goodbye old man and all the best to you with your pre-occupations. …’.
(Source: PREM 16/20, National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew Gardens, Surrey. The author of this open letter traced the original of this document in the National Archives of the United Kingdom after spotting a reference to it in William Mallinson, Britain in Cyprus (I.B. Tauris, London, 2011), pages 67-70. The author hereby records his gratitude to Dr Mallinson.)
As a result of this Anglo-American agreement to do nothing of any substance to stop the second Turkish invasion, Turkey ended up occupying, ethno-religiously cleansing and colonising 36 per cent of the territory and 57 per cent of the coastline of the Republic of Cyprus. In due course, Turkey engaged in further demographic engineering with the evident aim and effect of manufacturing a de facto de-Hellenized, Turkified, de-Christianized and Islamized ‘zone’ in the north of the Republic of Cyprus.
The above unfolded in defiance of the post-1945 legal order as laid down in landmark legal instruments such as the UN Charter of 1945, the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950.
The above also unfolded in the face of a solemn guarantee provided by Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, under Article II of the Treaty of Guarantee, to ‘… recognise and guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus …’.
It is somewhat emblematic of the unconscionable picture painted above that in the aftermath of the second Turkish invasion of 1974, the United Kingdom and the United States effectively co-opted the support of the then United Nations Secretary-General, Dr Kurt Waldheim of Austria. Dr Waldheim was a former intelligence officer in Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht whose questionable wartime activities were largely kept under wraps during his lengthy tenure at the pinnacle of global diplomacy from 1972 until 1981.
(See In The Matter of Kurt Waldheim (Office of Special Investigations, Criminal Division, US Department of Justice, Washington DC, 9 April 1987) and Eli M. Rosenbaum with William Hoffer, Betrayal: The Untold Story of the Kurt Waldheim Investigation and Cover-Up (St Martin’s Press, New York, September 1993).)
For these and for other reasons, the Anglo-American deal struck over the telephone on 14 August 1974 has effectively formed the diplomatic foundation of all post-1974 diplomatic efforts and all post-1990 United Nations Security Council Resolutions in favour of the proposed ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’. (See, in particular, Resolution 649, as adopted on 12 March 1990.)
In the submission of this author, these foundations are not only improper. They are also unconscionable, an affront to the rule of law and at variance with basic democratic values.
More to the point, in view of the subject matter of this article, post-1974 diplomatic efforts have been matched with what appears to be a cocktail of psychological operations and crude propaganda spiced with subtle forms of propaganda. The purpose of this operation appears to be to promote the proposed ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’ and other post-invasion objectives of Turkey. These objectives were helpfully summarized by the British Embassy in Ankara in a declassified letter, dated 25 March 1975. According to the British Embassy:
‘… first of all, the Turks have very largely already attained all they really need in the island. What they lack is[:]
‘(a) the recovery of the Turkish Cypriots still in the south and
‘(b) Greek acquiescence in a weak federal system. …
‘… It is Greek acceptance of the new situation on the island they [i.e. ‘the Turks’] are after first and foremost rather than getting rid of Makarios, however desirable they believe that to be.’
(Source: Letter from W.H. Fullerton, British Embassy, Ankara, to M.C.S. Weston South East European Department, 25 March 1975, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London, paragraphs 2 (i) and (iii), FCO 9/2159, National Archives of the UK, Kew Gardens, Surrey.)
As events were to unfold, Turkey achieved objective (a) on a de facto basis. Since the 1970s, all that has remained is for Turkey to use post-invasion diplomacy with the aim of achieving objective (b), as defined above. (As an aside, the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ appears to be designed, in part, to achieve objective (b).)
The ‘re-birth’ of ‘the last chance’ prior to the ‘separate simultaneous referenda’ held on 24 April 2004
After the Turkish Turkish invasions of 1974 and the Anglo-American deal of 14 August 1974, ‘the last chance’ flickered into life from time to time; this is not the place to explore how, when and why. That said, it may be noted that ‘the last chance’ truly burst to public prominence in the lead-up to the two ‘separate simultaneous referenda’ held on 24 April 2004 over the ill-fated United Nations Comprehensive Settlement, otherwise known as the Annan Plan.
Typical of what appears to have been a pre-‘referenda’ psychological operation designed to promote the Annan Plan was a statement made by one of the Commissioners of the European Union. To quote from a report published by the BBC on 23 October 2003 under the title ‘Cyprus talks ‘may be last chance’’:
‘EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has warned that a new bid to re-unite the divided island of Cyprus could be the last chance of progress for years.’
(Source: ‘Cyprus talks ‘may be last chance’’, BBC News Online, 23 October 2003, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6078382.stm)
The above remarks formed part of a pattern of articles, statements and claims in support of the ill-fated Annan Plan and ‘reunification’ (i.e. re-division and re-segregation). Also part of this pattern was the statement issued on 31 March 2004 by Kofi Annan, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations. On this date, Mr Annan unveiled a substantial part of his ‘final settlement plan’ which, according to the United Nations, stretched over 9,000 pages.
In an accompanying statement, dated 31 March 2004, the United Nations indicated that the word ‘chance’, if not quite ‘the last chance’, was uppermost in the mind of Mr Annan. To quote the salient sentences of the statement:
‘United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today submitted to Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders his final plan to settle the Cyprus problem before its entry into the European Union on 1 May , urging them to “seize this chance for peace” in a reunified nation.
‘… “There have been too many missed opportunities in the past. For the sake of all of you, I urge you not to make the same mistake again,” he said. “Let us seize this chance for peace in a United Cyprus Republic.”’
(Source: ‘Annan submits final settlement plan for Cyprus referenda’, United Nations News Centre, 31 March 2004, at www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=10282&Cr=cyprus#.WViFbBWGPIU)
On 24 April 2004, fate was not kind to ‘this chance for peace’ or, as the author prefers to call it, this recipe for re-division, re-segregation and surrender. This is because the Annan Plan was overwhelmingly rejected by 76 per cent of those who voted in one of the two ‘separate simultaneous referenda’ held on that date.
Accordingly, the Annan Plan became null and void. However, the proposed ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’ survived this electoral kick in the teeth. So, too, did ‘the last chance’.
The re-heating of ‘the last chance’ in 2008
After the demise of the Annan Plan in 2004, ‘the last chance’ seemed to go into cold storage again. However, in January 2008, ‘the last chance’ was, once again, taken out and re-heated.
The year began, in January, with an article in Politico entitled ‘2008 – the last chance for a Cyprus deal?’ With that ‘spot’, a ‘rash’ soon began to appear and to spread. Thus, for example, on 19 February 2008 – on the anniversary of the London Agreement of 19 February 1959 and in the context of a presidential election in the Republic of Cyprus – Hugh Pope of the International Crisis Group wrote an article in which he warned that what lay ahead was ‘The Last Chance for Cyprus, Really’.
A few days later, on 26 February 2008, with Demetris Christofias freshly installed as President of the Republic of Cyprus and with hopes rising that he would cut a deal acceptable to Turkey, The Herald reported that ‘Last night analysts said that both sides are aware that this may be the last chance for Cyprus …’.
Mr Christofias, in his purported capacity as ‘Greek Cypriot leader’ proceeded to issue a number of ‘Joint Statements’ alongside Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, the purported ‘Turkish Cypriot leader’; the author has used the word ‘purported’ as neither office is established, recognized or empowered by the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus.
These ‘Joint Statements’ included one, dated 23 May 2008, which evoked the ‘Macmillan Plan’ and its envisaged ‘Adventure in Partnership’. After all, in this ‘Joint Declaration’, ‘the Leaders’ chose to ‘reaffirm’ their ‘commitment’ to a ‘bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality’, a proposed entity which ‘the Leaders’ described as a ‘partnership’.
(Source: ‘Joint Statement by the G/C leader, Mr Demetris Christofias, and the T/C leader, Mr Mehmet Ali Talat (23 May 2008)’, Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus, at http://cyprus.gov.cy/moi/pio/pio2013.nsf/All/4C6A87770C349A8FC225805600259578?OpenDocument )
In tandem with other developments, the ‘Joint Statement’ raised expectations that a ‘settlement’ may have been lurking around the corner. Indeed, on 23 July 2008, the Guardian joined the chorus by publishing an article entitled ‘Last chance for peace in Cyprus’. Meanwhile, on 27 October 2008, the Voice of America enquired ‘Last Chance to Reunify Cyprus?’
What happened next is that the United Nations appeared to join the chorus. On 20 December 2009 – during the controversial tenure of Alexander Downer as the Special Advisor to Cyprus of the United Nation Secretary-General – Hurriyet published an article with an eye catch title: ‘UN special envoy warns 2009 last chance for peace in Cyprus’.
As events were to unfold during his tenure, Mr Downer came to be closely associated with ‘the last chance’. For example, Mr Downer was invited to Finland in 2010 to be the keynote speaker at a seminar organised by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and by the Finnish Foreign Ministry. Characteristically enough, the seminar was entitled ‘Cyprus: Is this the Last Chance?’
(Sources: Kirsty Hughes, ‘2008 – the last chance for a Cyprus deal?’, Politico, 23 January 2008, at www.politico.eu/article/2008-the-last-chance-for-a-cyprus-deal/amp/ and Hugh Pope, ‘The Last Chance for Cyprus, Really’, 19 February 2008, at www.crisisgroup.org/europe-central-asia/western-europemediterranean/cyprus/last-chance-cyprus-really and Michele Kambas & Dina Kyriakidou, ‘UN wanted to help broker Cyprus deal’, The Herald, 26 February 2008 and Costas Pitas, ‘Last chance for peace in Cyprus’, Guardian, 23 July 2008, at www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/jul/23/cyprus and ‘Last Chance to Reunify Cyprus’, Voice of America, 27 October 2008, at www.voanews.com/a/a-13-2008-07-28-voa5-66822282/374458.html and ‘UN special envoy warns 2009 last chance for peace in Cyprus, Hurriyet Daily News, 20 December 2009, at www.hurriyet.com.tr/un-special-envoy-warns-2009-last-chance-for-peace-in-cyprus-10611602 and ‘UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer to visit Finland’, Press Release 175/2010, 4 June 2010, website of the Foreign Ministry of Finland, at http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=194015&contentlan=2&culture=en-US)
It was in this climate that, in August 2010, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lent his considerable weight to ‘the last chance’. In the view of Prime Minister Erdogan (who, in 2014, became President of Turkey):
‘We did our part at the referendum [on 24 April 2004] but the Greek Cypriot Side did not … [T]herefore no one should expect more from us. It’s the last chance for the Greek Cypriot Side to take necessary steps for an agreement otherwise they will not be able to continue the negotiations with us.’
(Source: ‘Erdogan touches on the Cyprus issue’, ‘Bayrak Radio & Television’, 16 August 2010, at http://220.127.116.11/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10930:erdogan-touches-upon-the-cyprus-issue&catid=5:kktc&Itemid=28)
To use an old English saying, none of these predictions from 2008-2010 was ‘on the money’. Accordingly, not for the first time and not for the last time in Cypriot history, dire warnings proved to be devoid of any real substance. That said, what was not devoid of substance was another development in 2010 – the publication by the International Court of Justice of its Advisory Opinion concerning the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in Kosovo.
The International Court of Justice’s reference to the legally invalid UDI of 1983
In its Advisory Opinion handed down on 22 July 2010, the International Court of Justice referred to the Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council in relation to the legally invalid unilateral declarations of independence concerning ‘Southern Rhodesia’ in 1965, the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ in 1983 and ‘Republika Srpska’ in 1992. In this context, the International Court of Justice issued a number of observations concerning ‘the illegality’ which attached to these declarations of independence. To quote the Court, this ‘illegality’:
‘stemmed not from the unilateral character of these declarations as such, but from the fact that they were, or would have been, connected with the unlawful use of force or other egregious violations of norms of general international law, in particular those of a peremptory character (jus cogens).’
(Source: Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Respect of Kosovo, Advisory Opinion, I.C.J. Reports 2010, page 403 at paragraph 81.)
With these words, the International Court of Justice effectively highlighted the illegal state of affairs manufactured on a de facto basis by Turkey by force after its two invasions of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974.
At the same time, the International Court of Justice effectively reminded the world that international law requires every state and every person to adhere to certain norms and, thus, certain standards of civilized conduct. It was implicit in its judgment that the actions of Turkey and its agents in relation to the Republic of Cyprus were incompatible with these norms.
The ‘Joint Declaration’ of 11 February 2014 and the resurrection of ‘the last chance’
Interestingly enough, ‘the last chance’ was resurrected for the umpteenth time after the election of Nicos Anastasiades as President of the Republic of Cyprus in February 2013. One year later, on 10 February 2014, Hurriyet published a report entitled ‘Foreign Minister Davutoglu: Turkey hopeful for ‘last chance’ on Cyprus’. The report, which was evidently based on information provided from within the Government of Turkey, disclosed the following:
‘Turkish officials stressed that this round of talks constituted the last chance for a united Cyprus as both parties would have to go their own separate ways in the case of the rejection of the final agreement, as occurred in 2004.’
The report in Hurriyet of 10 February 2014 went on to quote some thoughts which had been expressed on the previous day by Ahmet Davutoglu, the Foreign Minister of Turkey: ‘Talks cannot and will not last forever’.
A similar theme was embedded in an opinion piece likewise published by Hurriyet on 10 February 2014. This was entitled ‘Hopes for the last chance in Cyprus’ and it ended with a warning in keeping with so many others: ‘all parties should be careful in order not to miss this last chance for the reunification of the island.’
(Sources: ‘Foreign Minister Davutoglu: Turkey hopeful for ‘last chance’ on Cyprus’, Hurriyet Daily News, 10 February 2014, at www.hurriyetdailynews.com/foreign-minister-davutoglu-turkey-hopeful-for-last-chance-on-cyprus.aspx?pageID=238&nID=62228&NewsCatID=338 and Murat Yetkin, ‘Hopes for the last chance in Cyprus’, Hurriyet Daily News, 10 February 2014, at www.hurriyetdailynews.com/hopes-for-the-last-chance-in-cyprus.aspx?pageID=449&nID=62235&NewsCatID=409)
Exactly day after Hurriyet published the above two reports, the United Nations unveiled the ‘Joint Declaration’ of 11 February 2014, i.e. on the anniversary of the Zurich Agreement of 11 February 1959. In the ‘Joint Declaration’, two gentlemen described as ‘the leaders’ underlined their commitment to a ‘settlement’ which would be ‘based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality’, i.e. as required by Turkey and as endorsed by the United Kingdom, the United States and the United Nations Security Council.
The ‘Joint Declaration’ of 11 February 2014 implicitly acknowledged that the proposed ‘federation’ would rest on segregationist foundations. Thus, instead of referring to ‘citizens’, the ‘Joint Declaration’ spoke of ‘Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots’, as well as ‘Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots’.
In addition, instead of describing each proposed ‘constituent state’ in purely geographical terms, the ‘Joint Declaration’ envisaged the formation of ‘the Greek-Cypriot constituent state’ (in the south where Turkey had procured the removal of almost all members of the Turkish Community of the Republic of Cyprus) and ‘the Turkish-Cypriot constituent state’ (in areas in the north where Turkey had ethno-religiously cleansed almost all members of the Greek Community).
Crucially, the ‘Joint Declaration’ also invoked ‘the relevant Security Council Resolutions’. These include United Nations Security Council Resolution 750, as adopted on 10 April 1992. Resolution 750 effectively endorsed the segregation-based definition of ‘bi-zonality’ set out in a report by the then UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The latter was a senior diplomat hailing from Egypt, a sovereign state not known for its wholehearted dedication to freedom, liberal democracy and human rights. Under his definition of ‘bi-zonality’:
‘… each federated state [of the proposed ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation] would be administered by one community which would be guaranteed a clear majority of the population and of land ownership in its area’.
(Sources: ‘Joint Declaration by the G/C leader, Mr NicosAnastasiades, and the T/C leader, Mr DervisEroglu, on the re-launching of talks on the Cyprus problem (11 February 2014)’, Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus, at http://cyprus.gov.cy/moi/pio/pio2013.nsf/All/C52FF3A70F6974E8C225805600250821?OpenDocument and UN Security Council Resolution 750 adopted on 10 April 1992 (published by the UN online at www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/750(1992) and the Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN Security Council Document S/13780), dated 3 April 1993, at paragraph 11, at: http://repository.un.org/bitstream/handle/11176/53479/S_23780-EN.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y)
Against the background formed by Turkey’s invocation of ‘the last chance’ two days before the publication of the ‘Joint Declaration’ on 11 February 2014, ‘the last chance’ was firmly revived. Indeed, since then, senior ministers in Turkey have effectively acted as ‘salesmen’ pressing for ‘the last chance’ to be seized.
Such ministers have included Ahmet Davutoglu (in his capacity as Foreign Minister until 28 August 2004 and, thereafter until 24 May 2016, as Prime Minister) and Mevlut Cavusoglu (the successor to Mr Davutoglu as Foreign Minister of Turkey). To support this proposition, a sample of evidence is set out in the list of sources below. The author emphasises that this is just a sample.
(Sources: ‘Cavusoglu: last chance to find solution to CyProb’, Sigma Live, 25 May 2015, at www.sigmalive.com/en/news/politics/130040/cavusoglu-last-chance-to-find-solution-to-cyprob and‘Statements by Davutoglu at Esenboga airport prior to his departure for the “TRNC”; He reiterated that the Cyprus current negotiations constitute the last chance for solution’, Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus, 1 December 2015, at www.cyprus.gov.cy/MOI/pio/pio.nsf/d2f0876e1500506ac2257076004d01cb/553cfb1775d05bf1c2257f0e00427f0f?OpenDocument and ‘Cavusoglu to Havadis: “This is the last chance for the solution in Cyprus”’, Famagusta Gazette, 26 September 2016, at http://famagusta-gazette.com/cavusoglu-to-havadis-this-is-the-last-chance-for-the-solution-in-cyprus-p36421-69.htm)
In due course, others joined the bandwagon. These included British Parliamentarians. For instance, in the House of Lords on 15 July 2014 – exactly forty years after the short-lived coup in the Republic of Cyprus and exactly two years before an abortive coup in Turkey – Lord Sharkey, a Liberal Democrat Peer, issued the following prediction:
‘The latest round of negotiations is probably the best chance – perhaps the last chance – of any kind of success.’
(Source: Hansard, House of Lords Debates, 15 July 2014, Column 568.)
Lord Sharkey was not the last British peer to mention ‘the last chance’. On 27 October 2016, Lord Northbrook, a Conservative Peer, recalled his ‘meetings’ of the previous July with a gentlemen whom he described as ‘President Akinci’ i.e. the ‘head’ of the legally invalid subordinate administration of Turkey. This de facto administration had been created in 1983 in the aftermath of what the International Court of Justice effectively described in 2010 as ‘the unlawful use of force or other egregious violations of norms of general international law’.
More to the point, Lord Northbrook recalled that in his aforementioned meeting, Mr Akinci ‘began with these opening remarks: “I tell you very frankly that this is the last chance of our generation for a settlement”. …’.
(Source: Hansard, House of Lords Debates, 27 October 2016, Column 409.)
All of which forms the historical backdrop to ‘the last chance’ supposedly on offer at the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ which began on 12 January 2017 but which was ‘reconvened’ on 28 June 2017.
‘The last chance’ in January 2017
Before the start of the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ on 12 January 2017, elements of the international media and members of various elites appeared to form a chorus in support of ‘the last chance’.
On 11 January 2017, for instance, Al Jazeera and the BBC both broadcast extensive reports which gave prominence to ‘the last chance’. On the same day, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, answered a question at a press conference in Valetta in a way which enabled him to chant a variation of the very same mantra. To quote from his very own press release, President Juncker disclosed that he ‘took a personal interest in the reunification issue of Cyprus.’ President Juncker then seemed to issue a warning:
‘I really do think – without overdramatising what is happening in Geneva – that this is the last chance to see the island being recomposed in a normal way.’
(Sources: ‘Inside Story – ‘Last chance’ to reunite divided Cyprus’, Al Jazeera English Youtube Channel, 11 January 2017, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJp4QSJmwUY and ‘Cyprus peace talks “It’s the last chance for a federation” Mustafa Akinci’, BBC News Youtube Channel, 11 January 2017, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zDit52P9Kw and ‘Remarks by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the joint press conference with Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta’, press release of the European Commission, 11 January 2017, at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-47_en.htm and Jacopo Barigazzi, ‘Juncker: This is the ‘very last chance’ for Cyprus’, Politico, 11 January 2017, at www.politico.eu/article/jean-claude-juncker-this-is-the-very-last-chance-for-cyprus-reunification-talks/)
As events were to unfold, no ‘agreement’ was reached in Geneva on or shortly after 12 January 2017. Since then, no ‘agreement’ has been reached either. Be that as it may, yet another ‘last chance’ arose when the United Nations announced, on 9 June 2017, that the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ would ‘reconvene’ on 28 June 2017.
The ‘last chance’ in June 2017
The prospect of a ‘reconvened’ version of the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ prompted Matthew Kidd, the British High Commissioner in Nicosia, to reheat the decades-old idea of ‘the last chance’.
In an interview given by him to Hurriyet, High Commissioner Kidd referred to ‘the last chance’ in the context of two gentlemen described by that leading Turkish newspaper as ‘Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades’. To quote the reported remarks of High Commissioner Kidd, as published on 17 June 2017:
‘…They [i.e. Messrs Akinci and Anastasiades] both see themselves as offering their generation the last chance to do this.’
(Source: Sevil Erkus, ‘UK ups diplomatic traffic for Cyprus talks’, Hurriyet Daily News (English version), 17 June 2017, at www.hurriyetdailynews.com/uk-ups-diplomatic-traffic-for-cyprus-talks-.aspx?pageID=238&nid=114414)
A few days after British High Commissioner Kidd had spoken of ‘the last chance’, the same phrase was reprocessed by Guy Verhofstadt MEP, a former Prime Minister of Belgium who is now serving as the President of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament. In a letter dated 23 June 2017 and published on the same day, Mr Verhofstadt highlighted ‘the strong conviction’ of an ALDE delegation ‘that the talks scheduled for the next week mark a historic and even last chance for a reunification.’
The letter of Mr Verhofstadt prompted the Famagusta Gazette to publish a report with a title which may have alarmed some of its readers: ‘ALDE Group President warns against dire consequences if last chance for Cyprus reunification fails’.
(Sources: Letter from Guy Verhofstadt MEP, President of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, dated 23 June 2017, published by Mr Verhofstadt on his Twitter account on 23 June 2017 at https://twitter.com/GuyVerhofstadt and ‘ALDE Group President warns against dire consequences if last chance for Cyprus reunification fails’, Famagusta Gazette, 28 June 2017, at http://famagusta-gazette.com/alde-group-president-warns-against-dire-consequences-if-last-chance-for-cyp-p41047-69.htm)
On 28 June 2017, the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ duly began. At this point, others joined a crowded chorus. Not surprisingly, they did so by chanting that the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ offers ‘the last chance’ to ‘reunite’, to ‘reunify’, to achieve ‘reunification’ or to reach a ‘settlement’.
To take one example, on 28 June 2017, Reuters published a report referring to ‘Last-chance Cyprus peace talks’. To take a second example, on 29 June 2017, the US ABC News network carried a report with an even more dramatic title: ‘Turkey warns [that the] Cyprus talks are [the] last chance for reunification’. The ABC report embodied a rather menacing warning issued by Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Foreign Minister of Turkey:
‘This is the final conference. We cannot be negotiating these issues in this way forever.’
To cap it all, on 30 June 2017, up popped President Juncker of the European Commission. In Talinn, the capital city of Estonia, President Juncker trotted out a variation of the line he had previously used on 11 January 2017: ‘this is’, President Juncker opined on 30 June 2017, ‘the last chance for the procedure for the reunification of Cyprus’.
In so far as the author has been able to ascertain, this was the third occasion on which President Juncker has spoken of ‘the last chance’. The first occasion arose in Nicosia, the capital city of the Republic of Cyprus, on 16 July 2015. In answer to a question about the ‘fear of intervention’, President Juncker not only spoke of ‘the last chance’. In an Orwellian flourish, he also gave short shrift to the value of paying too much attention to history; this in spite of the fact that Turkey has invaded the Island of Cyprus on at least three occasions: once in 1570; and twice in 1974. In the process, President Juncker seemed to engage in wishful thinking.
To quote the precise words of President Juncker as they appear in his very own press release dated 16 July 2015:
‘I don’t think that it would be wise to come back again and again to the past.
‘What is of the essence is that those in charge of negotiations and the two communities are courageously looking into the future. This is the last chance. We never had an opportunity like this and we never had such a beautiful moment in history. Now it can be done. If these leaders fail, the next generation will not do the job and so I am strongly insisting that this time a success has to be the outcome of the negotiations …’.
(Sources: Tom Miles, ‘‘Last-chance’ Cyprus peace talks open in Swiss Alps, Reuters, 28 June 2017, at www.reuters.com/article/us-cyprus-conflict-un-idUSKBN19J0UN?il=0and Menelaos Hadjicostis (AP), ‘Turkey warns Cyprus talks are last chance for reunification’, ABC News, 29 June 2017, at http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/rival-sides-dive-deep-security-cyprus-peace-talks-48344716 and Athanasios Athanasiou, ‘Juncker says that this is the last chance for the reunification process’, Cyprus News Agency, 30 June 2017, at www.cna.org.cy/WebNews-en.aspx?a=c000909d217f4640bef59483d990a220 and ‘Press Conference of President Jean-Claude Juncker on his official visit to Cyprus,’ press release of the European Commission, 16 July 2015, at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-15-5391_en.htm)
The United Nations and the ‘best chance’ in 2017
Today, fifty nine years after the then British Prime Minister and then British Colonial Secretary both spoke of ‘the last chance’ in support of the ill-fated Macmillan Plan of June 1958, the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ is unfolding on the very same British imperial foundations as the Macmillan Plan, i.e. ‘communal autonomy’ and ‘partnership’, subject to the addition of various extra layers.
These additional layers include the prospect of legalized segregation via ‘bi-zonality’ and the proposed introduction of a perverse form of ‘federation’ in line with the post-1964 demands of Turkey and the Callaghan-Kissinger deal struck over the telephone on 14 August 1974.
The ‘Conference on Cyprus’ is also unfolding against a background of tyranny in Turkey, a surge of terrorist attacks across the world and a struggle to uphold the principle of integration across various parts of the European Union and the wider democratic world.
More to the point, in view of the theme of this article, the ‘sound-track’ to the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ is being peppered by those very same phrases which, in June and July 1958, echoed around the Houses of Parliament in Westminster in support of the ill-fated Macmillan Plan.
Reference has already been made to British High Commissioner Kidd, Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, President Juncker and others who have mentioned ‘the last chance’, i.e. the very same phrase used by the British Colonial Secretary on 26 June 1958. However, in an interesting twist, a slightly different mantra has been chanted by Mr Espen Barth Eide, the Special Advisor on Cyprus to the United Nations Secretary-General.
Mr Eide has chosen to propagate ‘the best chance’. He did so, for example, on 11 January 2017, i.e. on the day before the start of the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ in Geneva. Mr Eide then recycled ‘the best chance’ on 27 June 2017, i.e. one day before the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ was ‘reconvened’ at Crans Montana. To quote from the official UN statement issued on 27 June 2017:
‘Speaking to journalists in Geneva, Espen Barth Eide, the UN Special Adviser on Cyprus, said that the reconvening of the Conference is “not the last chance” but “the best chance” of reaching an agreement between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots. … After decades of division in Cyprus dating back to 1974, the UN envoy said that this was the “best chance” for successful talks and not the last chance, despite the “risks” and the “tense situation” on the Mediterranean island.’
(Sources: ‘Note to Correspondents: Press Conference by Espen Barth Eide, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Cyprus, 11 January 2017, official website of the United Nations, at www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/note-correspondents/2017-01-11/note-correspondents-press-conference-espen-barth-eideand ‘Upcoming Cyprus Conference ‘a unique opportunity,’ says UN negotiator’, 27 June 2017, official website of the United Nations News Centre, at www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57068#.WVXTeBWGPIU).
In a sense, the decision of Mr Eide to adopt ‘the best chance’ is eye-catching but somewhat unfortunate. After all, as the observant reader may have spotted above, it was Lord Colyton (i.e. Henry Hopkinson) who, on 8 July 1958, commended the ill-fated ‘Macmillan Plan’ as offering ‘the best chance’. In addition, as also noted above, Lord Sharkey used the very same phrase in the House of Lords on 15 July 2014.
In other words, Mr Eide has adopted a phrase – ‘the best chance – which is associated with Henry Hopkinson, one of the most maligned figures in Cypriot history. For at least three reasons, this is problematical, to put it mildly.
The first reason relates to the insulting words in the joint memorandum which Mr Hopkinson co-wrote on 21 July 1954, as quoted above. Therein, to repeat, Mr Hopkinson and his senior British ministerial colleague referred to ‘[the] Greek-speaking Cypriot population’ as being ‘of doubtful ethnic provenance.’
The second reason relates what occurred on 28 July 1954, at a time when Henry Hopkinson was still serving as Minister of State in the British Colonial Office. In that capacity, Mr Hopkinson was given the responsibility of presenting to the House of Commons ‘a fresh initiative in the development of self-governing institutions in Cyprus’.
In answer to a question put to him by James Griffiths MP, a former Labour Colonial Secretary, Mr Hopkinson metaphorically lit a fuse leading to the outbreak of the armed EOKA campaign on 1 April 1955. On 28 July 1954, Mr Hopkinson let slip the following:
‘it has always been understood and agreed that there are certain territories in the Commonwealth which, owing to their particular circumstances, can never expect to be fully independent.’
(Source: Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 28 July 1954, Column 508.)
In spite of his attempt to row back from what he had said, Henry Hopkinson put his finger on what has turned out to be an eternal truth which was applied to the Republic of Cyprus upon its establishment on 16 August 1960.
The third reason is that the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ is unfolding within the spirit of the ‘Adventure of Partnership’ at the heart of the ‘Macmillan Plan’ of 1958, which Lord Colyton favoured. Indeed, the five ‘parties’ envisaged by the ‘Macmillan Plan’ are participating in the ‘Conference on Cyprus’: Greece, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the ‘two communities’.
The echoes of the ‘Munich Conference’ and the Munich Agreement of 29 September 1938
In an ostensible effort to appease Turkey which no longer recognizes the Republic of Cyprus, neither the United Nations nor the United Kingdom has expressly referred to the Republic of Cyprus as one of the participants at the ‘Conference on Cyprus’. In the words of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as expressed on 27 June 2017:
‘The Conference on Cyprus will reconvene [on 28 June 2017] in the Swiss resort of Crans Montana with the participation of the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and representatives of the Guarantor Powers (Greece, Turkey and UK).’
(Source: www.gov.uk/government/news/foreign-secretary-joins-crucial-cyprus-settlement-talks-in-switzerland-offering-full-uk-support Also see the statement published by the European Union on 28 June 2017 at https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/28952/federica-mogherini-crans-montana-eve-conference-cyprus_en and the statement of the United Nations Secretary-General on 30 June 2017 at www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/press-encounter/2017-06-30/secretary-generals-remarks-press-conference-cyprus)
As a consequence, the Republic of Cyprus is not an official participant at a ‘Conference’ where its destiny as a sovereign state may be determined behind closed doors. This in spite of its undeniable status as a Member State of the Commonwealth, as well as the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union.
On the one hand, the conspicuous absence of the Republic of Cyprus from the official list of participants at the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ further indicates, to borrow the words of Minister of State Hopkinson, that this is a Member State of the Commonwealth which is not ‘fully independent’. What brings this unconscionable state of affairs into the realms of neo-imperialism is an undeniable juxtaposition. By contrast, two former imperial rulers of Cyprus, the United Kingdom and Turkey, are participants at the ‘Conference on Cyprus’.
On the other hand, the absence of the Republic of Cyprus from the official list of participants at the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ is, in effect, an adaptation of or throwback to the ‘Munich Conference’. This was held behind closed doors on 29 September 1938 in the absence of Czechoslovakia. However, it gave rise to the Munich Agreement of 29 September 1938, which had severe adverse consequences for Czechoslovakia.
(For further details, see Klearchos A. Kyriakides, ‘‘Democracies Die Behind Closed Doors: The Chilling Parallels Between the ‘Munich Conference’ and the ‘Conference on Cyprus’’, Agora Dialogue, 26 June 2017, at http://agora-dialogue.com/2017/06/26/democracies-die-behind-closed-doors/)
In this regard, it should not go unremarked that on 5 October 1938, Sir John Simon KC MP, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer and an arch exponent of appeasement, defended the Munich Agreement of 29 September 1938 by describing it as ‘the last chance of averting war’. To quote the precise words of Sir John Simon:
‘It seems to me that each Member of the House must ask himself whether, if he had been Prime Minister, he would have rejected the Munich terms last Friday and destroyed the last chance of averting war.’
(Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 5 October 1938, Column 349)
In view of the above, various questions arise in the context of the ‘Conference in Cyprus’ and the proposed formation of a ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’.
First, why have so many politicians, diplomats, journalists and others spoken about ‘the last chance’?
Second, why has ‘the last chance’ been uttered so many times by so many people in so many places in the same breath as ‘reunification’?
Third, is ‘the last chance’ a subtle weapon of propaganda in aid of Turkey’s post-invasion cause, as endorsed by the United Kingdom and by the United States on 14 August 1974 and as endorsed by the United Nations Security Council since the adoption of Resolution 649 on 12 March 1990?
Fourth, is ‘the last chance’ a mechanism forming part of one or more psychological operations designed to manipulate minds or to achieve any other purposes in connection with the proposed ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’?
Fifth, when anybody refers to ‘the last chance’, what does he or she really have in mind? What does he or she really wish to achieve? In whose interests is he or she wittingly or unwittingly acting?
Sixth, if ‘the last chance’ – or, for that, matter ‘the best chance’ – is seized at the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ or elsewhere, who stands to gain? Who stands to lose?
Seventh, if a ‘bi-communal, bi-zonal federation’ is established within the European Union on a bedrock formed of ‘bi-communal’ division and ‘bi-zonal’ segregation, will the rule of law and democracy be enhanced? Or will the Republic of Cyprus and, by extension, the European Union fall under the heavy boots of President Erdogan and bleak shadows cast by the divisive quasi-Ottoman values propagated by Turkey?
In relation to each of the above questions, the reader is invited to draw his or her own conclusions. In addition, the international actors advocating ‘the last chance’ are hereby invited to provide answers.
In the meantime, with all the contents of this article in mind, let us cut to the chase.
What does ‘the last chance’ really mean?
Amid all of the talk about ‘the last chance’ and ‘the best chance’, it is worth reflecting on the root of the English word ‘chance’. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word ‘chance’ owes its immediate origins to the Old French word cheance. In turn, that Old French word is derived from the related word cheoir which means ‘fall, befall’.
(Source: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/chance published by Oxford University Press)
What, then, does ‘the last chance’ really mean? To all intents and purposes, ‘the last chance’ appears to be a mechanism designed to shape minds. More specifically, ‘the last chance’ appears to be a camouflaged invitation to the Republic of Cyprus to bring about its own downfall. It appears to be a cry in favour of legalised ethno-religious division via ‘bi-communalism’ and legalised ethno-religious segregation via ‘bi-zonality’.
Worst of all, perhaps, ‘the last chance’ appears to be a device to rubber stamp mass human rights violations and what appear to be countless crimes, including forced evictions and forcible transfers. As a result, ‘the last chance’ appears to be a device intended to seal the triumph of Turkey at the expense of a small sovereign state at the south-east edge of the European Union and the democratic world of which it forms an integral part.
For these and for reasons, ‘the last chance’ symbolizes a collective capitulation to the divisive ‘bi-communal’ demands, the segregationist ‘bi-zonal’ values and the neo-imperial actions of successive governments of Turkey, including the present one under the authoritarian leadership of President Erdogan.
With the ‘Conference on Cyprus’ possibly on the verge of rubber-stamping ‘bi-communal’ division, facilitating ‘bi-zonal’ segregation, legalizing illegalities and institutionalizing injustice in the south-east outpost of the European Union, the democratic world must grasp an uncomfortable reality: if ‘bi-communal’ division and ‘bi-zonal’ segregation are legalized in one part of the democratic world, this will create an exceptionally dangerous precedent. The formation of such a precedent will mean that ‘bi-communal’ division and ‘bi-zonal’ segregation are legally and morally acceptable in the democratic world.
Any such precedent would be established at precisely the time when Turkey is in the grip of tyranny and when the principle of integration is under sustained attack across so many parts of the European Union and the wider democratic world.
For all of these reasons, the destiny of democracy may hinge upon the outcome of the ‘Conference on Cyprus’. Accordingly, the democracies of the world need to wake up and act before it is too late. Otherwise, the Republic of Cyprus together with democracy, the rule of law and the post-1945 legal order could all be undermined, perhaps fatally.
In this context, let it never be forgotten that the post-1945 legal order was built on the ashes of the Hitler regime in Germany, on the rubble it had generated across so many parts of the world and on the corpses of tens of millions of people, including children.
Finally, it is worth recalling what Adolf Hitler dictated to one of his henchmen, Martin Bormann, as his neo-imperial aspirations were crumbling in February 1945. Hitler claimed: ‘I was Europe’s last chance.’
(Source: Sebastian Haffner (translated by Ewald Osers), The Meaning of Hitler (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts), page 106.)
© Klearchos A. Kyriakides, Larnaca, July 2017
Dr Klearchos A. Kyriakides is an Assistant Professor of Law at the Cyprus Campus of the University of Central Lancashire and the Co-ordinator of its programme dedicated to the Rule of Law and the Lessons of History. That said, all views expressed by the author in his letters, articles and other publications are personal.
In his private capacity, the author is one of the 119 academics and other persons to have signed an open letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and other prominent personalities, dated 21 June 2017. A copy of this open letter has been published by Agora Dialogue at http://agora-dialogue.com/2017/06/21/cyprus-a-call-for-a-new-strategy/
The author declares an interest as a British citizen with roots in Lysi and Petra, two ethnically-cleansed villages in the Turkish-occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus; on a voluntary unpaid basis, he is also an independent academic consultant of Lobby for Cyprus, a non-party-political NGO based in London which campaigns on behalf of displaced persons from the Turkish-occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus.
- The above forms part of a series of articles, open letters and other publications published by Agora Dialogue athttp://agora-dialogue.com/?s=Klearchos+A.+Kyriakides