B Explanatory memorandum,
by Mr Hörster
1 Cyprus is one of the last countries
in Europe, and the only one in the European Union, that remains divided.
Ever since the outbreak of the conflict between the Greek and the
Turkish Cypriots in the early 1960s, the Assembly, along with other
international actors, has actively sought to facilitate conditions
that would contribute to finding a solution and has adopted a number
of reports on various aspects of the problem.
2 Therefore, rather than attempting to rewrite the history of
the Cyprus conflict, I will focus on the latest developments and
prospects for a future solution. As regards the past, I refer to
previously adopted Assembly resolutions and recommendations, as
well as to my previous memoranda on the issue (June 2007 and April 2008).
3 The present report follows my fact-finding visit to Cyprus,
which took place from 15 to 19 June 2008. I express my sincere thanks
to the delegation of Cyprus to the Assembly and to representatives
of the Turkish Cypriot community for their help and co-operation
both before and during the visit.
4 It is to be stressed from the outset that the current situation,
and especially the atmosphere which prevails in Cyprus today, radically
differ from those that were in place after the failure, in April
2004, of the previous major international attempt to solve the problem,
known as “the Annan Plan”. The dialogue between the two communities,
which was in a stalemate since 2004, has now restarted and gained
momentum. In spite of substantial and deep-rooted differences between
the two sides on a number of key parameters of the settlement, there
seems to be political will on both sides to achieve the reunification
of the divided island. The process brings hope to Cypriots, but
remains fragile and needs to be encouraged and supported by the international
The purpose of this report is:
- to reaffirm basic principles to be followed in the Assembly’s
involvement in the settlement of the Cyprus issue;
- to take stock of the latest developments in and around
- to look at what the Assembly, and the Council of Europe
as a whole, can offer to facilitate a just and viable solution for
2 Basic principles for the Assembly’s
I believe that our efforts
should be based on some key principles:
- ownership of the process: though the international community
may facilitate the settlement, the prime responsibility for finding
mutually acceptable solutions on core issues (for example, territory,
property issues, security guarantees, etc.) lies with the Cypriots
themselves. The Assembly should abstain from being involved in these
- positive approach: the Assembly must remain evenhanded
and seek to play a positive role in bringing the parties closer
- looking forward, not backwards: instead of digging into
history in search of justice, the Assembly should look into the
future and concentrate its efforts on finding common ground that
would contribute towards a lasting solution, and on mutually acceptable
practical steps that would create the proper conditions for attaining
- coherence of international involvement: the United Nations
is, and must remain, the main framework for all international efforts
to facilitate a solution; the Assembly, along with other international
actors (for example, the European Union), should contribute to,
and support, the UN action, but not attempt to replace it.
developments in Cyprus (March-August 2008)
7 Since the failure of the Annan
Plan (April 2004), the negotiation process remained in deadlock
until February 2008.
8 The new President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Christofias,
elected in February 2008, declared the settlement of the Cyprus
problem as his priority and called for contacts with the Turkish
Cypriot community to be resumed immediately. Mr Talat, the Turkish
Cypriot leader, congratulated Mr Christofias on his election and expressed
his readiness for a new start in the inter-communal dialogue.
The two leaders held their first meeting on 21 March 2008
under the auspices of the UN, and agreed in principle to start fully-fledged
negotiations within three months, provided that the conditions were
ripe for the new talks.Note
They also agreed to implement an
earlier decision to set up a number of working groups, to deal with
the core issues of the future settlement, and technical committees
to solve practical problems resulting from the division of the island.
Additionally, Mr Christofias and Mr Talat agreed to meet as and
when needed ahead of the start of their formal negotiations.
Six working groups and seven technical committees were established
on 26 March and started work on 22 April, with United Nations’ facilitation.
These bodies are as follows:
- governance and power-sharing;
- EU matters;
- security and guarantees;
- economic matters.
- technical committees:
- crime/criminal matters;
- economic and commercial matters;
- cultural heritage;
- crisis management;
- humanitarian matters;
11 Another symbolic result of the first meeting of Mr Christofias
and Mr Talat was the agreement to open a pedestrian crossing point
at Ledra Street in the main commercial district of Nicosia. The
Ledra crossing was opened on 3 April 2008.
On 23 May, Mr Christofias and Mr Talat held their second official
meeting, and issued a joint statementNote
a common vision for the future of the reunified Cyprus: a bi-zonal,
bi-communal federation with political equality, which will have
a federal government with a single international personality, as
well as a Turkish Cypriot constituent state and a Greek Cypriot
constituent state of equal status.
13 The two sides have expressed different approaches to the timing
of the process: while the Turkish Cypriots insist on the opening
of formal talks as soon as possible, the Greek Cypriots underline
the need to prepare the ground in the working groups. Both sides
want to minimise the risk of failure.
The two leaders met once again on 1 July 2008 and made a first
review of the work of the working groups and technical committees.
They also discussed the issues of single sovereignty and citizenship
which they agreed in principle. Details of their implementation
will be discussed during the fully-fledged negotiations.Note
15 The results achieved so far in the working groups and technical
committees are uneven. In the working groups, the major stumbling
blocks are issues related to security (including the role of guarantor
powers), territory and property, while some progress has been achieved
on other matters. Deep-rooted differences between the two sides
on these key elements of the future settlement will require inevitable
compromise solutions at the political level.
16 The work of the technical committees has been more successful.
On 20 June, representatives of the two leaders announced a series
of measures aimed at easing the daily life of Cypriots across the
island, which include educational programmes in connection with
cultural heritage; steps on road safety; easing the movement of
ambulances between the two sides; the establishment of a Cyprus
joint committee on health; co-operation for island-wide assessment
of all major waste streams; and agreement on environmental education.
On 25 July, Mr Christofias and Mr Talat met once again and
announced that they would start fully-fledged negotiations under
United Nations auspices on 3 September 2008, with the aim of finding
a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem, which will
safeguard the fundamental and legitimate rights and interests of
Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.Note
agreed solution arising from the talks would be put to separate,
simultaneous referenda. The two leaders also assessed the results
of the work conducted in working groups and technical committees,
and approved an additional set of 16 measures in the areas of the environment,
cultural heritage, crisis management and crime and criminal matters.
18 It must be emphasised that a genuine will to achieving the
reunification of Cyprus may also be felt among representatives of
NGOs and civil society on both sides of the dividing line. Moreover,
many NGOs work on a bicommunal level; contacts are also maintained
between the political parties from the two sides.
19 In conclusion, the latest developments in Cyprus inspire reasonable
optimism. For the first time in recent years, and despite fundamental
disagreements between the sides on a number of key issues, conditions
seem to be better than ever before for achieving substantial progress
in the settlement process of the Cyprus problem.
20 The current momentum in the peace process is based on the
strong political will and personal commitment demonstrated by the
two leaders, President Christofias and Mr Talat. However, it remains
fragile and the leaders have to face the difficult heritage of mistrust
and deal with internal opposition on their own sides. At times,
some statements made, and steps taken by the sides, as well as varying
interpretations of agreements reached between the two leaders, revive
mutual suspicions about the real intentions of the opposite side
and thus damage confidence.
21 Moreover, while President Christofias seems to enjoy the overwhelming
support of Greek Cypriots, Mr Talat could soon face a considerable
drop in his support, unless significant results are achieved in
terms of restoring the confidence of the Turkish Cypriot community
in the process that has so far failed to substantially improve their
22 Nonetheless, both leaders understand the importance of keeping
the process ongoing and remain committed to reuniting the island.
Their political will and courage must be welcomed and given full
23 The United Nations responded promptly to the new atmosphere
in Cyprus by stepping up its involvement in accompanying the process
between the two sides. Mr Lynn Pascoe, UN Under-Secretary-General
for Political Affairs, visited Cyprus twice (in late March and in
June) in order to set up practical arrangements for the UN’s support.
24 Mr Pascoe also visited Greece and Turkey in April. Both parties
confirmed their commitment to reaching a comprehensive settlement
of the Cyprus problem under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General
and their willingness to support and engage fully and in good faith
to achieve that goal.
25 On 17 April 2008, the President of the UN Security Council
issued a statement welcoming the 21 March agreement and expressing
the hope that the preparatory process would “build trust, momentum
and a sense of common interest in the search for a just and lasting
On 13 June 2008, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1818 (2008)
on the situation in Cyprus, in which it welcomed the
progress made by the two sides and urged the parties “to build on
the present momentum and continue their efforts to identify to the
greatest possible extent areas of convergence and disagreement,
while preparing options where feasible on the more sensitive elements,
and to work to ensure that fully fledged negotiations can begin
expeditiously and smoothly, in line with the agreement of 21 March and
the joint statement of 23 May”.
27 The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, announced, in his report
to the UN Security Council on 2 June 2008, his intention to appoint
a special adviser in order to help the parties move forward in their
28 On 14 July 2008, the UN Secretary-General appointed Mr Alexander
Downer, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, as his
Special Adviser on Cyprus. During their meeting on 25 July, Mr Christofias and
Mr Talat welcomed the appointment of Mr Downer and said they looked
forward to working with him and the UN team in the coming period.
On 29 July, Mr Downer visited Nicosia and separately met Mr Christofias and
role for the Assembly and the Council of Europe?
29 As I mentioned earlier, I do
not consider it appropriate for the Assembly to be involved in issues
which belong to the core of the settlement, and are currently under
consideration in the working groups. These issues require bold political
decisions and therefore must be negotiated between the two parties
30 At the same time, at a further stage of the process, when
the United Nations deploys its good offices’ mission, it would be
suitable – and even necessary – to offer the Council of Europe expertise
in support of the process in its areas of excellence (for example,
on constitutional arrangements). Moreover, any future settlement
agreement must comply with Council of Europe standards in the fields
of human rights (including the case law of the European Court of
Human Rights), democracy and the rule of law.
31 As in almost every conflict, mutual mistrust between the parties
involved is one of the main obstacles to finding a solution, for
which rebuilding confidence is a key component. The same is to be
said for Cyprus.
32 A United Nations-led survey carried out in 2007 showed that
87% of Greek Cypriots and 90% of Turkish Cypriots had no contact,
either professional or personal, with people living in the other
community. In the same survey, 83% of Greek Cypriots and 65% of
Turkish Cypriots agreed that inter-communal contact is essential for
paving the way for a united Cyprus tomorrow.
33 The lack of interfaith contacts is another issue that may
cause concern. As a recent study by the European University of Cyprus
shows, two out of three Greek Cypriots have never had a close friendship
with a person of a different religion.
34 It is in this particular area, I believe, that the Assembly,
and the Council of Europe as a whole, should focus their efforts:
to help re-establish contacts, multiply channels of dialogue and
build trust and confidence between the two communities.
The participation of representatives of the Turkish Cypriot
political forces in the work of the Assembly, based on Resolution 1376 (2004)
, already contributes to this goal. It provides a framework
for developing a dialogue between politicians from the two communities
of Cyprus. Such a dialogue offers the possibility to spell out mutual
concerns and dispel misunderstandings, thus creating better conditions
for substantive discussions on practical aspects of the settlement.
36 Both parties should be encouraged to make full use of the
opportunities offered by their work in the Assembly, not to limit
it to discussions on political aspects of the Cyprus problem, but
to encompass issues related to everyday life of their communities.
37 The recent visit by the Council of Europe Commissioner for
Human Rights to Cyprus offered an opportunity to address the issue
of human rights on the island as a whole, across the dividing line.
NGOs in the Turkish Cypriot community complain of the lack of attention
to their work from European institutions, referring, inter alia, to the recent visit
to Cyprus by the CPT (“Human rights in Cyprus stop at the Green
Line”). It needs to be stressed in this context that the Turkish
Cypriots, who are citizens of Cyprus, a Council of Europe member
state, continue to bear the consequences of many years of international
isolation. There is a growing concern that this situation might
affect their European choice.
38 Ongoing Council of Europe projects aiming at confidence-building
in Cyprus must be given full political support. Two of them should
be particularly highlighted.
39 The European Forum Cyprus is a new project funded both by
the European Commission (under the financial aid instrument for
the Turkish Cypriot community) and the Council of Europe. Its objective
is to facilitate a continuing sustainable dialogue among about 20
young leaders (politicians, NGO leaders, journalists, etc.) between
the ages of 28 and 40 from the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities
primarily about challenges of importance for the entire island and
not only about the Cyprus issue. The main aim for the coming years
is to strengthen a pan-Cypriot conscience among the younger generations
40 Bilateral co-operation in history teaching between the Council
of Europe and Cyprus started in 2003. During the period 2004-06
it brought together history educators from all Cypriot communities
and provided a basis for common work on the use of new methods in
teaching history, such as multiperspectivity, in accordance with
Recommendation Rec(2001)15 on history teaching in twentyfirst century
Europe. It aimed primarily at strengthening reconciliation trends
and thus stability in Cyprus. Building on this experience, the Council
of Europe started in 2007 to prepare a joint programme with the
European Commission to “Support new trends in history teaching for
reconciliation and stability in Cyprus”, which should be mainly
financed by the EU reconciliation measures package.
41 Moreover, a joint Council of Europe/EU project on protecting
cultural heritage in Cyprus is now under consideration. The issue
is of high importance for promoting intercultural and inter-religious
dialogue between the two communities.
42 Furthermore, the Council of Europe’s experience in a number
of areas such as human rights, the fight against intolerance, protection
of minorities, law enforcement matters, including the fight against
trafficking in human beings, education, gender equality and contacts
between young people, could be made available and contribute to
solving the practical problems of the two Cypriot communities. Among
the areas where the Council of Europe contribution might be helpful
for co-operation between the two sides, the following could be considered.
43 Humanitarian issues remain highly emotional on both sides.
The Committee on Missing Persons has recently achieved some progress
as regards exhumation, identification and return of remains of missing persons.
This work must be continued and supported. At the same time, NGOs
representing relatives of missing persons believe that the mandate
of CMP should be extended to include investigation of circumstances of
deaths. According to these NGOs, an important number of missing
persons are believed to have been transferred to Turkey. Whether
or not these assumptions are true, full co-operation of the Turkish
authorities, in particular the army, is essential to establish the
fates of the missing persons.
44 Education is an essential human right. Children and young
people from the northern part of Cyprus should not be victims of
the division of their country. While the inclusion of Turkish Cypriot
universities in the Bologna Process seems to be impossible under
the current terms (intergovernmental co-operation), other forms
of cooperation and exchanges of students and teachers could be found
while avoiding contentious political issues.
45 Contacts between young people. New generations of Cypriots
from both communities have never lived in a united Cyprus and are
used to living in a divided one, thus their interest in solving
the Cyprus issue is weak. It is necessary to develop attractive
forms of bi-communal events (sports, culture, social events) where
young people could meet and establish continued relationships.
46 Support of bi-communal civil society projects. A number of
NGOs have developed activities involving representatives of the
two communities. Such initiatives need to be encouraged and supported
through networking with other civil society organisations at the
47 Developing contacts and co-operation at local level. Such
co-operation has existed between the two parts of the divided capital
city of Nicosia through the years, even when political contacts
between the two communities were at their lowest point. Now the
two sides are working together and have joint projects in the framework
of the Master Plan Nicosia, which ensures a co-ordinated development
of the two parts of the city (including a new sewage processing
plant and rehabilitation of buildings in the Buffer Zone for bi-communal use).
Establishing some form of partnership between Greek and Turkish
Cypriot towns and villages (with possible patronage by other European
cities) could be a means of building working relations between communities
at the local level.
48 Law enforcement. The lack of contact, let alone cooperation,
between law enforcement agencies from both sides creates situations
where law offenders from one side find a safe haven on the other
side. For their part, organised criminals from the two parts of
the island benefit from this situation for all sorts of traffic
(for example, drugs and human beings). Ad hoc arrangements must
be found (possibly under the umbrella of an international body)
to make such co-operation possible regardless of the issue of recognising
the status of co-operating parties.
49 Illegal migration. Co-operation between the two sides is required
in order to control migration and prevent illegal migrants from
entering EU territory through the Green Line.
50 Water management. Both sides of the island are facing the
common problem of an increasing shortage of water resources. However,
for the moment, both are studying separate solutions. A common approach
to this problem could be more efficient and would pave the way for
closer co-operation in other areas of common concern.
51 There is now a new political
situation in Cyprus, where the leaders of the two Cypriot communities, President
Christofias and Mr Talat, demonstrate a strong commitment towards
reaching a settlement. It offers the best opportunity in many years
to end the division of the island. This opportunity must not be
52 The ongoing political process in Cyprus has already produced
some encouraging practical results that are beneficial for all Cypriots.
With the opening of fully-fledged negotiations between the two communities under
the auspices of the UN Secretary-General, the process has now entered
into a new stage, where difficult compromises will have to be found
on fundamental aspects of the settlement.
53 In order to maximise the chances of success, the two sides
must confirm their readiness to reach compromises by adopting additional
confidence-building measures. The political forces and civil society
on the two sides should be encouraged to provide full support to
the process and to refrain from any action which could undermine
54 All external actors involved, including the three guarantor
states (Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom), must intensify efforts
to support the negotiations and to create trust and confidence between
the two Cypriot communities.
55 The Council of Europe’s expertise and experience in the areas
of its core activities should be fully used, on the one hand, in
the negotiation process and, on the other hand, in order to facilitate
practical co-operation between the two communities, thus contributing
to creating the atmosphere of mutual trust.