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Letter from Lord Ken Maginnis to Baroness Kinnock

The Baroness Kinnock,
Minister of State
Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
Whitehall,
London SW1.

31st December 2009.

Dear Baroness Kinnock,

CYPRUS

I refer to your letter of 7th December in response to my 19th November contribution to the Foreign Affairs and Defence debate on the Noble Address.

I disagree with your view that, “The Cyprus settlement process has at times suffered from too much emphasis on past events and not enough on the future.”  The reverse is in fact the case.  For too long the FCO has preferred to look to the future without any sufficient regard for the past. Their failure to make a fair and balanced diagnosis of the problem has caused the present state of affairs and could, I fear, lead to a “settlement” that would actually make matters worse.

Every time the Greek Cypriots speak in any international forum, they talk of 1974, but when Turkish Cypriots try to remind the world what happened between 1960 and 1974 they are told to stop living in the past.

Like many of my ex-service friends, the UK Government’s attitude to the Cyprus tragedy makes me feel utterly ashamed.  While we are well aware of the military interests that the UK had in Cyprus, these can never justify the treatment that the Turkish Cypriots have had to endure for the past 46 years.

The privileges that the Greek Cypriots enjoy today as “the Government of Cyprus” and as a member of the institutions of the European Union have resulted from a fundamentally immoral disregard by Britain and by the international community of the appalling crimes of the Greek Cypriots and of the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.  The Greek Cypriots have no legal or moral right to those privileges, but they are the result of the events of the past, and they are of immense importance today.

The UK government is fundamentally wrong to regard the Cyprus problem as one for which both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are to blame.

You concede that the atrocities committed against the Turkish Cypriots in the 1963/64 period are well documented, and the detailed research conducted by JD Bowers cannot be simply dismissed as “his opinions.”  May I suggest that you and your officials begin by examining the Greek Cypriot plans for genocide contained in the ‘Akritas’ and ‘Iphestos 1974’ plans, and may I remind you here of just a few of the contemporaneous reports:

On 28th December 1963 the Daily Express We went tonight into the sealed‑off Turkish Cypriot Quarter of Nicosia in which 200 to 300 people had been slaughtered in the last five days.   We were the first Western reporters there and we have seen sights too frightful to be described in print.   Horror, so extreme that the people seemed stunned beyond tears.

On 12th January 1964 the High Commission in Nicosia wrote to London “The Greek (Cypriot) police are led by extremists who provoked the fighting and deliberately engaged in atrocities.  They have recruited into their ranks as “special constables” gun-happy young thugs. …….Makarios assured Sir Arthur Clark that there will be no attack.  His assurance is as worthless as previous assurances have proved.

On 14th January 1964 the Daily Telegraph reported that the Turkish Cypriot inhabitants of Ayios Vassilios had been massacred on 26th December 1963, and reported their exhumation from a mass grave in the presence of the Red Cross and British paratroops.   This harrowing story and many others from that period and 1974 are recounted by the Matron of the Nicosia Hospital, Türkan Aziz MBE, in her memoirs “The Death of Friendship.”

She recalls how Greek Cypriots roamed the hospital wards killing the Turkish Cypriot patients, and how she found the bodies of two Turkish Cypriot boys who had taken refuge in her own apartment. The two sat on chairs exactly where I had left them, but this time they did not rise to greet me with smiles. Dark blood welled through the tattered remnants of their shirts and dripped on the carpet.  Their Greek Cypriot “guard” had vanished, spraying the staircase senselessly with bullets as he left.

On 1st January 1964 the Daily Herald reported:When I came across the Turkish Cypriot homes they were an appalling sight.  Apart from the walls they just did not exist.  I doubt if a napalm attack could have created more devastation.  Under roofs which had caved in I found a twisted mass of bed springs, children’s cots, and grey ashes of what had once been tables, chairs and wardrobes.  In the neighbouring village of Ayios Vassilios I counted 16 wrecked and burned out homes.  They were all Turkish Cypriot. In neither village did I find a scrap of damage to any Greek Cypriot house.”

Where is the evidence to which you refer, Baroness Kinnock, of “… the Greek Cypriots who were also killed during this troubled time”?  Where is there evidence that the Turkish Cypriot leadership were in any way responsible for what had happened?

This merciless attack upon Turkish Cypriot men, women and children was a premeditated act of policy on the part of the Greek Cypriots.  According to Lt. Gen. Karayiannis of the Greek Cypriot militia (reported in  “Ethnikos Kiryx” 15.6.65)“When the Turkish Cypriots objected to the amendment of the constitution Makarios put his plan into effect, and the Greek Cypriot attack began in December 1963 The General is referring to the notorious “Akritas Plan“, which was the blueprint for the extermination of the Turkish Cypriots and the annexation of the island to Greece.  This plan was prepared in 1960 before the new constitution had been given any chance to work, and was published in Patris on 24th April 1966. Its existence is admitted by Glafcos Clerides in “Cyprus: My Deposition” (Nicosia 1989) Vol. 1 pp 212-219.

Where is the evidence that the Turkish Cypriots were responsible for the next merciless attack by Greek Cypriots on Turkish Cypriot civilians in 1967, or for the civil war which erupted between Greek Cypriots in July 1974 and which caused the Turkish intervention five days later?  Let there be no doubt that if Turkey had not intervened, the attacks on Turkish Cypriot men, women and children would have continued until the Turkish Cypriots had been utterly destroyed or expelled.

The Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktas, correctly described the situation as follows:The Akritas Plan destroyed the only compromise ever reached between Greece and Turkey and between Greek and Turkish Cypriots about Cyprus.  It revived bloodshed and hatred.  It thrust Cyprus and its peoples back into the extremes of ENOSIS and partition.  It was bound sooner or later to bring some kind of intervention from Turkey.  This rash, wicked, conspiracy was an act of supreme folly by the Greek Cypriot leaders, who still refuse to admit their wrongdoing.  They continue to accuse others of bringing undeserved disasters upon them, but the truth is that it was they who broke up the bi-communal state and separated the Greeks and Turks from one another.

At no time in or since 1963 did the UK guarantee even the right to life of the Turkish Cypriots, in complete disregard of its obligations under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. It is unacceptable to me and to others who have served to uphold our British moral standards and ethos that the UK, being a guarantor power, stood by and watched these outrages.

NATO did not bomb the Greek Cypriots.  Nobody sought the extradition of their leaders to stand trial for genocide. Instead, the Greek Cypriot leadership were received with respect in London, and in the Commonwealth and the United Nations. The Greek Cypriots were treated as if they were the Government of Cyprus, and the Turkish Cypriot people were treated as a ‘mere community’.

Such a disgraceful response by the British Government and the international community cannot be forgiven or forgotten, even after the passage of 46 years.  It is made worse by the fact that for every day that has passed, until the present day, Greek Cypriots have continued to be treated as if they were the Government of Cyprus, and the Turkish Cypriot co-founders of the Republic of Cyprus have continued to be treated as a mere community.

Since 1963 British policy on Cyprus has been, and still is, to appease the Greek Cypriots and to pressurise the Turkish Cypriots into a settlement acceptable to the Greek Cypriots.  This is a policy of which all British people should feel ashamed.  It is the policy which resulted in the absence of British Ministers from the memorial ceremony in Kyrenia on 8th November 2009 for our 371 troops who died between 1955 and 1959, and for the failure of the BBC to broadcast on radio or television any coverage of that historic event.  You should incidentally be aware that the servicemen who died were not only “soldiers”, but sailors, marines and airmen as well.

The status accorded to the Greek Cypriots as “the Government of Cyprus” has enabled them to exclude the Turkish Cypriots from all the Councils of the world and to place totally unjustified restrictions upon their cultural, economic and political freedom.  These restrictions are possible only because Britain and the international community are willing to give effect to them, and this has to stop.  Further delay is tantamount to facilitating ‘cultural and economic genocide’.

It is no answer to say that “The UK remains committed to supporting the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community.”  This is a totally inadequate response, and even this is being blocked by the Greek Cypriots in exercise of the governmental power that was so ill-advisedly conferred on them.

In 2004 the Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan Plan that Britain, the EU, the US and the UN all regarded as a reasonable basis for settlement. They obtained full membership of the EU nevertheless, and the unjustified privileges accorded to the Greek Cypriots as “the Government of Cyprus” together with Britain’s continued policy of appeasement have made it much less likely that the Greek Cypriots will ever agree to terms acceptable to the Turkish Cypriots, even if the world again regards those terms as reasonable.

Anyone who understands Cyprus knows that the Greek Orthodox Church still has enormous influence on the political life of the Greek Cypriots.  The churches, and educational institutions administered by the Church, are used to incite hatred against Turkish people and the Bishops and priests are actively involved in politics.  They campaigned against the Annan Plan in 2004, and as recently as 25th December 2009 Archbishop Chrysostomos II issued a hard-line statement against a settlement, in which he said “Concessions do not lead to any compromise.”

When Turkish Cypriots call for the removal of the restrictions, the UK Government says that this can only be achieved through a “comprehensive settlement”, but this is just another way of saying that the Turkish Cypriots will continue under restriction until such time as they agree to settlement terms which the Greek Cypriots are determined to impose. It is a thoroughly unprincipled position, which cannot continue.

If there is no settlement by the end of April, the Turkish Cypriots cannot be expected any longer to suffer the restrictions upon them. Therefore, the British Government must prepare to make long overdue amends by giving a lead and taking unilateral action to cease participation in any of the restrictions imposed by the Greek Cypriots upon the Turkish Cypriots.

The British Government can not ignore the views expressed in the opinion poll conducted in Cyprus in November which showed that 60% of Greek Cypriots and 77.9% of Turkish Cypriots favoured a two-state solution.  Britain should abandon its futile attempts to encourage the two peoples of Cyprus into a new partnership which they clearly do not want, and should work for the recognition of two states in Cyprus.  A new federal constitution unwillingly accepted by one or both of the peoples of Cyprus would be much worse than the status quo.

I will place a copy of this letter in the Library of both Houses, together with a copy of your letter of 7th December and of my 19th November speech.

Yours sincerely,

MAGINNIS OF DRUMGLASS

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