Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, the Turkish Cypriot leader, cried in his bed on the night of November 14, 1983, when Rauf Denktash staged his coup and declared «UDΙ» in the Turkish occupied north Cyprus. Apparently, this is what he told my good friend and colleague Erdal Guven who included it in his book about Mehmet Ali Talat.
I was told a different story by the then leader of CTP (Turkish Republican Party, Talat’s Party) Ozger Ozgur. The late Ozger Ozgur gave me a TV interview about a week before his death and I remember that he cried when he referred to the role played by Talat during those difficult moments. Later on Talat, with valuable assistance from Ferdi Sabit Soyer, staged their own little coup in the party and pushed aside Ozgur and took over the party themselves. They went on to serve, both of them, on «TRNC governments». Talat’s tears, apparently dried very fast. And today he is staunch supporter of the continuation of «TRNC». Old Ozgur would turn in his grave listening to all this from Mr. Talat. And Talat himself knows this.
In 2008 I dedicated one of my programmes on CyBC TV («Anoiktoi Fakeloi») on how «TRNC» was declared. I had then interviewed Rauf Denktash on how he did it. What he described had all the features of a regular coup. Both against the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots, but also against Turkey and in particular Turgut Ozal, the then Turkish Prime Minister. As we approach yet another «TRNC» anniversary, I thought I would reproduce here Denktash’s interview and hope that Mr. Talat reads it. But I also hope that those who are desperately try to convince the Cypriots and the rest of the world about how much they care about the T/C, read it. And remember that it was essentially a coup. And a coup is a coup, no matter what expediencies are served by saying something else.


Q-1 A short narration describing the moves taken and the preparations carried out from the moment the decision to go ahead with UDI was taken until the declaration was made.

Denktaş- First of all ours was not a UDI; it was the decision of the Turkish partner, forcefully ejected from the partnership and left stranded in enclaves for eleven years; who had tried to save the 1960 partnership by calling for a return to normality while setting up its own Transitional Administration while Makarios was declaring the Constitution dead and buried.

If UDI is to be referred to at all, it should be used to describe the break-away of the Greek Cypriot partner from the Partnership State established by virtue of international Agreements. The fact that they managed to use the title of the State they had destroyed-thanks to big power politics- does not change this reality.

The decision to establish a proper state was by the Turkish Cypriots who, having been ejected from the partnership state, had been ruling themselves for twenty years from 1963 onwards and saw no hope of a settlement as long as Greek Cypriot partner was treated as the legitimate Government of Cyprus. Unless the equilibrium or balances of the 1960 Agreement were protected and maintained there was no hope that Greek Cypriot leadership would agree to a new partnership. WE were saved by the Turkish Peace Operation at the eleventh hour; a population exchange agreement had been implemented in preparation for a bi-zonal bi-communal federal agreement; talks had continued on this issue only for Mr. Kyprianou to declare that he never believed in a federal settlement and that he was proud he honored the will and testament of Makarios, namely using the stolen title of “the Government of Cyprus” for proceeding to Enosis; we saw that the exercise for setting up a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation (for which we had strived since 1977) was not the aim of the Greek Cypriot leadership and yet we continued talking until 1983; finally we saw that Greek Cypriot side had no intention whatsoever to settle the problem by re-establishing a new partnership subject to better guarantees so that what happened would not happen again. That is how, a partner people, denied its rights for twenty years and left stateless had to cover itself by declaring its independence. We did not break-away from a unitary state; we, as co-founder partners, were thrown out of the partnership and kept out for twenty years. What could we do except declare our independence and thus re-establish the balance between the two sides.

UDI is breaking away from a unitary state by force or otherwise. We did not break away from any lawful state. We were thrown out of a Partnership State in which we had guaranteed rights as equal co-founder partner and we were asked to submit to minority rights. It is after attempting for twenty years to settle the problem and further six years trying to re-establish a bi-zonal ,bi-communal federation that we decided to declare full independence in order to keep and maintain the balances established by the 1960 Agreements. These were the internal balances between the two co-founder parties and external balances between Turkey and Greece. It is forgotten that the Greek attempt to unite Cyprus with Greece was a direct affront to the Greco-Turkish balance established at Lausanne where both Turkey and Greece had left Cyprus to the British as part of this balance. The attempt to unite the island with Greece was therefore a matter for Turkey also which had the double duty of saving us from annihilation.

Don’t forget that we had declared a Federated State back in 1975 and had called upon the Greek Cypriot side to do the same and thus talk powers and functions of the central government, boundaries, settling the property questions etc. We were taken to the Security Council to be reprimanded and the so-called Cyprus Government rolled on with Vasiliou succeeding Kyprianou and then be succeeded by Clerides. Time wasted? WİTH Makarios from 1963 to 1974, with Kyprianou from 1977 to 1983, another five years with Vasiliou and ten more years with Clerides. In the meantime Turkish Cypriots had to live, survive and develop. What we offered for settlement in 1975-76 on wards naturally no longer holds. And what are the two leaders talking about now? Bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. Why insist that it will not be between already existing states and waste more time?

Furthermore Mr. Hristofias is playing exactly the same game played by Mr. Kyprianu back in 1986 when Mr. Cuellar invited us to NY to sign the Agreement on which we had worked for months. Mr. Cuellar and everyone else thought that an accord now existed but all of a sudden Mr. Kyprianou sent a letter demanding things which were not matter of bargaining at the talks. These were the Guarantees and stationing of national contingents and “restrictions on freedoms of settlement, ownership etc “having regard to Turkish Cypriot difficulties”. This is what the Secretary General reported to the Security Council:

To-day Mr. Hristofias is exactly on the same line stating that no guarantees are needed and that the freedoms mentioned above cannot and should not be restricted. So bi-zonality becomes a joke while Turkish Cypriots are asked to forego the Guarantees which saved them form annihilation.

This long introduction was necessary in order to let you know that in any new settlement “the state of affairs” established by the 1960 Agreements, namely the internal and external balances I have outlined above, are of paramount importance together with the Guarantees. While I was in great pains trying to accommodate Greek Cypriot demands during the talks while taking care of these balances, Mr. Kyprianou, each year in September, used to go to the non-aligned conference, take a resolution contradicting everything which was on the table, then proceeded to the UN General Assembly addressing the Assembly in similar vein and coming back and wasting time with me by pretending to negotiate. In 1982 I warned him not to do this and to concentrate on the talks. In the meantime I explained to the Turkish Government that unless we acquired a status of equality and allowed Greek Cypriot side to circulate as the legitimate Government of the whole island there was no hope of a fair and balanced settlement and that we had to declare our independence and then sit at the table. By the time Kyprianou flew to the non-aligned conference Turkey was also convinced that there was no other way of motivating the Greek side to sit and talk sense than to declare our own independence. I had warned Kypriaou publicly that if he came back again with a non-aligned resolution contradicting what we were talking at the table he would find us in a new status. So, when Kyprianou flew to the non-aligned and got his resolution we began our efforts here for gaining support for independence. This involved talking to friends in the opposition parties also while our people went around the villages telling the people that Kyprianou was closing all doors for a fair settlement. Finally I had to prepare Dr. Kuchuk whose immediate question was “is Turkey with us?”. Yes, this time Turkey had no alternative because it was clear that Greek Cypriot side would not be motivated otherwise. All that Turkey wanted from us was that we should make it clear that we were ready to continue the talks for a federal settlement. This we accepted.

Kyprianou came back with Churchilian victory sign asking us to sit and talk under the resolution he had got from the non-aligned. I sent directives to our people in London, NY and Washington to await news from us before they opened sealed envelopes which contained announcements of declaration of independence.

On 14th November I gave a dinner to the leaders of all parties together with their associates. About midnight when dinner was over I told them that we would be declaring our independence next day and I explained the reasons. If we wanted a balanced settlement we should establish the balance by this declaration so that Greek Cypriot leaders understood that Turkish Cypriot status was to continue to be that of an equal co-founder of any new partnership and that there was no chance we would accept them as the government of Cyprus. Those in the opposition opposed the idea and asked me whether Turkey had consented. I told them the decision was ours and that we had sufficient support for passing a resolution next day. If they opposed the declaration then they should consider their position in the parliament. Next day they all voted in favour of the declaration. Thousands of people had gathered around the Parliament. The decision was taken very enthusiastically by the people who later voted for the Constitution with a magnificent margin.

Greek Cypriots complained and I was at the Security Council within the week telling “the fives” that they should use this declaration of ours for motivating Greek Cypriots to come to the negotiating table on terms of equality. They did the contrary saying that they recognize only one government in Cyprus etc. Result? More lost years and increased difficulty in the way of settling the problem.

Q-2 What was Turkey’s role in the decision, given that you are on record saying that Turkey did not support the idea?

Denktaş- Turkey wanted nothing but a settlement and gave all her support to the negotiations. I always pointed out that Greek Cypriots had achieved what they had set out to achieve, namely to be regarded as “the government of Cyprus, the people of Cyprus”. The term “Cypriot” meant for them “the Hellenes of Cyprus”- a way of deceiving the world that there was a nation of Cypriots. They would not readily give this up and re-establish a guaranteed partnership unless they saw the danger of permanent separation. Security Council Resolutions gave them all they needed. We had to establish our equality . It took time for Turkey to come to this point. Mr. Kyprianou’s intransigence helped.

Q-3 You talked of declaring a separate state from 1974 onwards. Why the decision was taken at that particular moment?

Denktaş- I believe this question has already been answered. I will explain again. The 1960 Agreements were made for outlawing Enosis and its counter reply double enosis or taksim. When the Partnership was destroyed for Enosis, Turkish side should have raised Taksim immediately in order to keep and maintain the balance for talking to each other more sensibly; in other words we aimed at a better guaranteed compromise. But that did not happen with the result that Clerides was able to say publicly: the world is recognizing us as the Government of Cyprus in spite of the fact that we have no Turkish Cypriot vice-president, no Turkish Cypriot ministers or parliamentarians, so why should we make compromises? They will either accept what we offer or they will have to leave”.

In 1975 when Makarios was to be sent back to Cyprus as “the President of Cyprus” I again sought to have the north declare independence. Turkey did not agree. That is why we declared Federated State. I invited the Greek side to do the same and let us talk boundaries, central government powers etc. The Security Council again encouraged Greek Cypriots to continue as the Government of Cyprus. Had they had any sense and had supported me, the problem would have been settled back in 1975 or 1976.

Q-4 At that time other T/C leaders alleged that you have practically blackmailed them into supporting your decision. Why would they have alleged something like this unless it was true?

Denktaş- Had this been true, one has to ask, how did they bow to blackmail? What happened was that by the morning of the 15th they saw the full and enthusiastic support of the people and voted for the declaration unanimously. But they had ties with Akel, as you know, so they had to find excuses to save their faces vis a vis the old comrades.

Q-5 Reports in the T/C press since suggested that the T/C did not show much enthusiasm or trust in TRNC. Why was that?

Denktaş- As an experienced journalist you must also know that this is not true. Nearly 70 per cent of the people voted for TRNC. And during the Referendum for the Annan Plan the people were told by Mr. Talat himself that voting for the plan would bring recognition to TRNC and would enhance it in addition to other promises by USA, British, EU and UN diplomats. And to-day our national polls indicate that 60 percent of people if not more would vote for TRNC if an Annan like plan was put to the vote.

Q-6 You said at the time that the UDI would have helped efforts to find a permanent solution. However, 25 years later there is no recognition and no solution. If anything, things have become more complicated. Do you still believe it was a wise move? Especially as this move was condemned by the rest of the world at the UN?

Denktaş- Declaration of independence, after the failure of talks coupled
With the clear intention of the Greek Cypriot leaders to press for the utter Hellenization of Cyprus, left us with no other option. If Greek Cypriot partner by itself claimed to be “the State of Cyprus” we, as the ex-Turkish Cypriot co founder partner, had to achieve a similar status taking care of our share in the independence and sovereignty of Cyprus in which, under the 1960 Agreements, we had equal share. This we did and it is because of the existence of TRNC, now 25 years old enjoying all the faculties of a democratic state, that Greek Cypriot side has not been able to complete its illegal course towards complete Hellenization of the island. Recognition is not essential for the existence of a state; non recognition of it is injustice to the people who were left with no alternative but to declare their independence. In the case of TRNC one of the main reason for non recognition lies in the fact that Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leadership gave undue importance to the continuation of the inter-communal talks even after the declaration of independence. It is a sad story that even after the Referanda of 2004, when Greek Cypriot side came out with a resounding NO, we did not say “from now on we shall talk with the other side on conditions of two states” and instead gave much and undue importance to the removal of the embargoes. As to the resumption of the talks on the 1977-79 basis all I can say is that the two sides are really joking with each other while Greek Cypriot leader is playing for time while the Turkish Cypriot side is still trying to prove its sincere adherence to a peaceful settlement pointing out that Greek Cypriot side is not! This will take Cyprus nowhere. Turkish side cannot accept the conditions so bluntly put forward by Mr. Christofias. A fair, just and permanent settlement needs acceptance of realities and not relying on a false title (Govt of Cyprus- The Republic exists theory) but on facts, namely that the partners have fallen apart and two establishments have come about which cannot be wiped off the map of Cyprus.

In a conflict like the one we have in Cyprus the key to a solution lies in treating the parties to the conflict on absolute equal terms. It is here that everything went wrong from the beginning when the guilty party was treated as “the legitimate Government of Cyprus” in complete disregard of the events on the ground and in utter defiance of the Rule of Law. Big Power interests so ordained and they all thought that Turkish Cypriots would not be able to survive under the conditions prevailing during 1963-74 period; no one (including the Greek Junta) believed that Turkey would or could one day militarily intervene in Cyprus.

In 1977 when I asked Makarios whether he owned any mistake he had made in the past, his immediate reply, in the presence of Waldheim, was “yes, I always knew that the Colonels in Greece were fools, but I never thought that they would be mad enough to stage a military coup in the island, not knowing that this was a clear invitation to Turkey to intervene”.

I had expected him to say something to the effect that he had hurried in amending the constitution and that Akritas Plan was wrong or something like that. No, he had only one mistake and that was about the Greek Junta.


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