NICOSIA, NORTH CYPRUS. (TRNC) By Imran Adil. Near East University, Nicosia

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Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus [TRNC] is an island state located in the Eastern Mediterranean 60 km from Turkey. It is a small country with only an area of 3355 sq km and a population of 210000. However, it offers a great variety in terms of flo

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At the outset I would like to give some information concerning the Cyprus issue. The island was the part of Ottoman Empire for almost four centuries. When the Ottoman Empire entered the World War I on the side of Germany and emerged defeated, the island became part of the British colonies. In 1960, Cyprus became independent when the republic of Cyprus was founded in accordance with the international treaties based on the political and sovereign equality of the two national peoples- The Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots. In 1963, the Greek Cypriot partner attacked the Turkish Cypriot partner with the aim of annexing the island to Greece [Enosis]. As a result the 1960 partner ship republic was destroyed.

The Cyprus question began in 1963 when the Greek Cypriot side launched a military campaign with the aim of uniting the island with Greece and forcibly appropriated the title of the Republic of Cyprus in which the two peoples were equal partners. As a result, The Turkish Cypriot people were left stateless; had to endure Kosovo like massacres; live as refugees and under severe embargoes. This unfortunate situation continued until the Turkish peace operation in 1974, which came in the aftermath of a coup d ' etat, carried out by the Greek junta and its Greek Cypriot collaborators in the name of uniting the island with Greece.

Following the Turkish peace operation, in accordance with the Voluntary Populations Exchange Agreement concluded between the two sides in August 1975, the Turkish Cypriots voluntarily moved to the north and the Greek Cypriots voluntarily moved to the South of the island. In 1975, the Turkish Cypriot people, who had been administering themselves since the destruction of the partnership republic, established the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus, which in 1983, led to the creation of the TRNC.

Since 1968, the two sides have been negotiating, on and off, in order to reach a settlement in Cyprus to no avail. Whilst the Greek Cypriot side desires a settlement which will make Cyprus a Greek island with a Turkish minority, the Turkish Cypriot side resists such a set up and wants a settlement on the basis equal power-sharing. The wrongful treatment by the international community of the Greek Cypriot administration as if it is the Government of the Republic of Cyprus has encouraged the Greek Cypriots to insists on being the "boss" in the island and thus to reject equal power-sharing with the Turkish Cypriots. The Greek Cypriot administration using its usurped title of the "Government of Cyprus" imposed inhuman embargoes on the Turkish Cypriot people n every field, ranging from political representation in international for a to travel, trade, sports etc. In addition to this, acceptance of the Greek Cypriot administrations' membership application by the European Union as a new member on behalf of whole "Cyprus", further bolstered the Greek Cypriot ambition of making Cyprus a Greek island and led to the failure of the negotiation process between the two parties.

It was in this atmosphere that the Turkish Cypriot president Rauf Denktas took the initiative at the end of 2001 to commence the direct talks between the two sides. Direct talks began, in the presence of UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor of Cyprus, Alvaro De Soto, in January 2002, which continued for over a year until the Hague meeting. During this process, the Secretary-General presented a plan which was followed by two revised versions as a result of demands by both sides for changes. Both sides had intensive talks over the plan but the two sides were not given the necessary time to negotiate the plan which consisted of hundreds of pages of legal jargon, therefore it was not possible to reach an agreement and the talks have come to end.

When one objectively reviews the plan, it would be seen that while meeting the basic requirements of the Greek Cypriot side, the plan fell short of addressing the legitimate demands and concerns on vital issues such as sovereign equality of the two sides, the continuation of the 1960 system of guarantees without any alterations, the issue of bi-zonality and the settlement of property issues through global exchange and compensation.

Despite the negative attitude of the Greek Cypriot administration and the failure of the talks, the Turkish Cypriot side put forward, on 2 April 2003, proposals in order to overcome the way to a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus. Unfortunately, the Greek Cypriot side without oven considering the said proposal rejected them the very same day.

Although the said proposals were turned down by the Greek Cypriot administration at once, the TRNC Government, aware of the fact that the severe lack of confidence between the two sides has been blocking the settlement, decided, on 21 April 2003, that crossing between the TRNC and Southern Cyprus would be permitted. This decision to facilitate crossings has shown that the two peoples living under their own sovereign Government can establish good neighborly relations.

However, the Greek Cypriot authorities continue to discourage both Greek Cypriots and tourists from crossing over the TRNC. They do not allow tourists to stay overnight in North Cyprus and threaten those who choose to stay with legal action and fines. People who buy consumer good from Turkish Cypriot shops in North Cyprus are faced with difficulties on their way back to South Cyprus.

Despite the fact that the Turkish Cypriot side has declared its readiness to continue to work towards a settlement on the basis of the equal sovereignty of the two peoples and bi-zonality, the international community has given the upper hand to the Greek Cypriot side since the beginning of the Cyprus question and it is this asymmetry in status and imbalance in addressing the concerns of the two sides that has led to numerous failed attempts on the part of the UN to settle the Cyprus issue. I hope that the Greek Cypriot leadership will change its rigid stance towards the TRNC in the period ahead, without further delay.

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