Sixth Round of Talks

In view of the Turkish Cypriot side's refusal to honour the commitment it had formally undertaken at the fifth round of the Vienna talks to submit concrete proposals on all aspects of the Cyprus problem and since, in the absence of these proposals, no substantive and meaningful talks could take place, the U.N. Secretary-General was reluctant to convene a new round of talks.
In January 1977, Mr. Denktash asked to meet the late President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios, in his capacity as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. The President of the Republic, in his earnest desire to find a peaceful solution, agreed to such a meeting under the auspices of the United Nations. The first meeting took place on 27 January 1977 in the presence of the then Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General in Cyprus, Mr. de Cuellar, and a discussion was held during which it was ascertained that on basic points serious differences existed. A second meeting took place on 12 February 1977 in the presence of the U.N. SecretaryGeneral who came to Cyprus for this purpose. During the meeting it was agreed that the inter-communal talks would resume in Vienna at the end of March 1977 under the auspices of the Secretary-General.
Guidelines1 were also agreed containing, as the U.N. Secretary-General said, the basic elements for meaningful negotiations on the territorial and constitutional issues. In the meantime the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General in Cyprus held consultations with the two sides regarding the next round of talks. During these consultations assurances were given by the Turkish Cypriot side that at Vienna it would not limit itself to merely commenting on the Greek Cypriot proposals on the territorial issue but would meaningfully negotiate any proposals. The sixth round of inter-communal talks was held in Vienna between 31 March and 7 April 1977. But again, despite its undertaking, the Turkish Cypriot side limited itself to rereading the same document which Mr. Denktash read at the fifth round of talks in Vienna in February 1976 and which contains merely general and nebulous principles and comments. No substantive negotiations on specific areas or percentage of territory were carried out. The Turkish Cypriot side failed once again to submit any proposals that would form a basis for a settlement.
On the other hand the Greek Cypriot side went to Vienna fully prepared for negotiations. It put forward comprehensive proposals on the territorial issue, accompanied by a map, as well as on the constitutional aspect, envisaging the setting up of a federal state under which the Turkish Cypriot side would be entitled, within the federal laws, to administer its own affairs under federal concepts.
Considering there were serious misgivings about federation, particularly in view of Dr. Plaza's report in which he had excluded this form of government as a solution to the Cyprus problem, acceptance of a federal system was a major and painful concession for the Greek Cypriot side.
Yet the Turkish Cypriot leadership not only rejected the Greek Cypriot proposals on the territorial aspect but refused to submit any proposals of their own, limiting themselves to merely repeating the vague principles of the past. Moreover, the Turkish Cypriot proposals on the constitutional aspect were contrary to the Makarios-Denktash guidelines since they were not compatible with the concept of a federal state, but aimed at destroying the unity of the country with provisions for divisions in all aspects of life, including economic planning and monetary policy.
Following the negative attitude of the Turkish Cypriot side, the intercommunal talks remained in abeyance for almost a year. In January 1978, the U.N. Secretary-General had consultations with the two sides in Cyprus and with Ankara and it was agreed that the Turkish Cypriot side would submit concrete and substantive proposals to him on both the constitutional and territorial aspects, and the U.N. Secretary-General, after consulting with the parties, would then decide whether the proposals could form a basis for negotiations and would convene a new round of talks. The long-awaited proposals were submitted by the Turkish Cypriot side, after a delay of three months, in April 1978. However, they did not afford any basis for meaningful and substantive negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem as envisaged in the U.N. resolutions on Cyprus.
On the constitutional aspect the Turkish proposals were contrary to the obligations to submit proposals for the establishment of a federal state. The documents submitted by the Turkish Cypriot side provided for partition instead of the creation of a federal republic. They emphasized the setting up of two separate states with the right to sign separate treaties with other countries. Each state would also have its own legislative assembly, central bank and defence force. On the other hand, the federal assembly, which would be equally represented by both communities, would have very limited powers. On the territorial aspect the Turkish proposals contained no commitment for giving up any area occupied by the Turkish forces. They only suggested certain areas from which the Turkish occupation forces could withdraw and these amounted to just a little over 1% of the whole area of the island. For propaganda purposes they also suggested that the buffer zone come under the control of the Greek Cypriot side. As regards Varosha, the new town of Famagusta, it was made clear that it would remain under Turkish Cypriot control and only a small number of Varosha hotel owners and other businessmen - not exceeding five thousand - would be allowed to return to an enclaved area of the town to operate their business. The aim of the Turkish Cypriot side was to use Greek Cypriot expertise and know-how for operation of the town's tourist industry. These people could easily be expelled when they served their purpose. It would certainly be another case of enclaved Greek Cypriots.
The Turkish proposals were thus rejected by the Greek Cypriot side and the U.N. Secretary-General confirmed in a statement that the gap between the two sides was still very wide.
In the meantime, as a further contribution to peace efforts, the then President of the Republic, Mr. Spyros Kyprianou, proposed the total demilitarization and disarmament of the island and the setting up of a joint Greek and Turkish Cypriot police force on the basis of the population ratio, under the direction and control of an international police force of the United Nations.
In putting forward this proposal formally, the then President, Mr. Kyprianou told the U.N. General Assembly Session on Disarmament on 24 May 1978, that this offer was Cyprus' offer to its people and to the world and that it aimed at removing the causes of the island's problem and at easing tension in the region, in the interests of world peace. Although this proposal was applauded throughout the world, the Turkish Cypriot leadership not only failed to respond but threatened a few months later to declare UDI in spite of the strong reaction this had provoked among the Turkish Cypriots. As a result the Cyprus problem reached an impasse and Turkish intransigence continued to be the stumbling-block to a settlement.


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Giorgos Zacharia ( 1995-1999.