Greek-Turkish Cypriot Dispute

  • Cyprus had been occupied by Turkey (technically the Ottoman Empire). In 1875 Turkey transferred ownership of the land to the UK.
  • Cyprus remained a British Crown Colony until 1960.
    • By that point, the population of the island was 80% Greek, 18% Turkish.
  • In the 1950s, Greek nationalists waged a guerilla war to try to get the UK to release Cyprus so it could merge with Greece.
    • The Turkish minority on Cyprus wanted to secede and merge with Turkey.
  • Britain agreed to release Cyprus. The prime ministers of Greece and Turkey met to determine the islands fate.
    • This eventually led to the London accords (aka the Treaty of Guarantee), where Cyprus became an independent State with a constitution designed to protect the rights of both Greeks and Turks.
    • The Cypriots themselves were not invited to participate in the negotiations or in the development of their constitution. However, after the agreements were signed, representatives of the Greek and Turkish communities were invited to join in.
      • Technically these were un-elected persons with no authority, since there was no official Cypriot government at the time.
  • The Treaty of Guarantee had a provision that if there was a breach of provisions, Greece, Turkey, and the UK would meet to 'take measures necessary to ensure observance of those provisions."
    • Turkey argued that gave them the right to use unilateral military force to protect Turkish Cypriots.
  • The Cypriot government fell apart two years later.
    • Greek Cypriots objected to the mandatory slots in the Cypriot Parliament for Turkish Cypriots.
  • Civil disorder erupted and the country effectively split in two.
    • The UN sent in peacekeeping troops.
  • Turkish sent in air support in defense of Turkish Cypriots. Cyprus and Greece complained to the International Court of Justice.
    • Greece, and the Greek Cypriot government argued that the Turks had no authority to attack.
  • Was the Treaty of Guarantee a valid treaty?
    • According to the Vienna Convention of Treaties 2(1)(a), there are three requirements for a treaty:
      • It must be between States
      • It must be in written form
      • It must be governed by International law.
        • That also contains the implicit requirement that the treaty was intended to be a binding treaty (as opposed to just a statement).
    • One could argue that the Treaty of Guarantee was not a treaty because it was signed by Cypriots that did not have any authority.
      • How could they sign an agreement on behalf of Cyprus, when Cyprus didn't officially exist until after the treaty was signed?
        • The signatories didn't represent States.
      • On the other hand, Cyprus acted as if the treaty was valid for years after the signing, and the Cypriots who signed the treaty were later made the heads of State.
    • In this case, one could argue that the Cypriots were coerced into the Treaty of Guarantee because they were not the ones who drafted it.
      • On the other hand, they did sign the final version.
  • Was the Turkish interpretation of the Treaty of Guarantee permissible?
    • Greece argued that the UN Charter Article 2.4 forbids the use of force to solve international problems. Therefore the Treaty of Guarantee could not be interpreted the way Turkey interpreted it.
      • See UN Charter Article 103, which holds any treaty invalid if it goes against the UN Charter.
    • The US argued that Turkey was enforcing the provisions of the Treaty, and that Vienna Convention of Treaties 27 states that all treaties must be obeyed in good faith.