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
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
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
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
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
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
On the other hand, they did
sign the final version.
Was the Turkish interpretation
of the Treaty of Guarantee
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.