Human Rights Laws, Not Guarantees, Should Be Basis of Reunited Cyprus

human rights cyprus

The old monarchical system of placing guarantees on European territories started in the Middle Ages. The Kings and Queens of Europe wanted to control other territories or colonies by using guarantee treaties. Britain had a guarantee over Poland in the early 1900s. When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, Britain acted on its guarantee. WWII and the deaths of millions of people followed.

There were many more causes of WWII other than the treaty over Poland. The weakness of the Weimar Republic, the humiliation and poverty of the German people after WWI. Hitler’s opportunistic and pathological obsession with the supremacy of the Aryan race. His dictatorial need to conquer other territories. The amoral criminals who made up his government.

But it was the system of monarchical guarantees that dragged so many countries into the conflict. That spread the war around the world. Like trees in a forest, the countries under guarantee burned in the global war.

It should be obvious that the system of guarantees and monarchical alliances triggered two world wars. So the fact that Cyprus has three guarantor powers should be sending up red flags to anyone with any sense. Britain, Greece and Turkey all have historical ties to Cyprus. But in the case of political guarantees, the tie becomes a chain. These countries think they can control Cyprus. Force an entire independent country to fall in line with their foreign policies.

In the case of Greece and Turkey, the foreign policies diverge. They conflict. The two NATO countries are regional rivals. They split Cyprus along ethnic lines back in the 1970’s, with Britain’s help – remember divide and rule? They split Cyprus with the ‘it’s us or them’ mentality.

London, Athens and Ankara cannot make local laws or govern the island. It’s 2016, not 1950. Governance is the responsibility of the local political and legal systems. Instead of guarantees in a reunited Cyprus, there should be strong human rights laws. Laws against hate speech, against racism, extremism, lack of equality and discrimination. Everyone needs to get clear on what will land them in jail when it comes to human rights abuses.

This means that each citizen, no matter their ethnic background, has equality. It means that the law, not foreign governments, will guarantee human rights and security. Nobody is above the law. Nobody is more equal than someone else.

The process of modernising the thinking and political paradigms in Cyprus must start. With all due respect to our long history, moving forward means leaving parts of it behind. The parts that don’t work. The parts that destroy community trust. The parts that say that some are more equal than others. The parts that foster the victim mentality. The parts that encourage master-slave systems.

To this writer, the system of guarantees is one of the parts to leave behind. The interested countries can make alliances and new treaties with the reunited Cyprus state. Treaties that Cyprus will enter into as an independent country, not as an ex-colony.

The upcoming conference in Geneva on January 12th includes the three guarantors plus the European Commission and UN. Turkey doesn’t want to give up its guarantorship but it’s the only power that wants to hang onto the past. The UK and Greece don’t hold with the guarantees anymore. They want to let go of the past.

In the worst case, Turkey will go to war to keep its grip on the island. In the best case, cooler minds will prevail and Erdogan will agree to drop Turkey’s guarantees over Cyprus. This could move Turkey back on its EU course. And leave Cyprus’ leaders to sort out their problems as EU citizens. Turkey has a lot to lose if it doesn’t let go of the past. European allies, its future as an EU country, and its status in the international community.

The conference is likely to be volatile, we are talking about different cultures and ways of seeing. But one principle prevails – international human rights should guide the way towards constitutional change in Cyprus.