Drawbacks of a Separatist System of Government

The T.M.T. leaders, at the instigation of Turkey, were all along trying to promote a "solution" to the problem aiming ultimately at the island's division. Proposals were put forward for direct partition or for federation envisaging removal of populations and the setting up of two distinct administrations for the purpose of creating separate national and racial areas.
The idea of federation in Cyprus was examined in 1956, when the island was still a British colony, by the eminent constitutional expert, Lord Radcliffe, who, in his "Constitutional Proposals for Cyprus", said the following on the subject: "It would be natural enough to accord to members of a federation equality of representation in the federal body, regardless of the numerical proportions of the populations of the territories they represent. But can Cyprus be organised as a federation in this way? I do not think so. There is no pattern of territorial separation between the two communities and apart from other objections, federation of communities which does not involve also federation of territories seems to me a very difficult constitutional form". The United Nations mediator, Dr. Galo Plaza, was of the same opinion. In his report he said:
"To my mind the objections raised (against federation) also on economic, social and moral grounds are in themselves serious obstacles to the proposition. It would seem to require a compulsory movement of the people concerned - many thousands on both sides - contrary to all enlightened principles of the present time, including those set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…" (S/62555, para. 153). "It is essential to be clear what this proposal implies. To refer to it simply as ‘federation' is to oversimplify the matter. What is involved is not merely to establish a federal form of government but also to secure the geographical separation of the two communities. The establishment of a federal regime requires a territorial basis and this basis does not exist. In an earlier part of this report I explained the island-wide intermingling in normal times of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot populations. The events since December 1963 have not basically altered this characteristic: even the enclaves where numbers of Turkish Cypriots concentrated following the troubles are widely scattered over the island, while thousands of other Turkish Cypriots have remained in mixed villages" (S/62555, para 150). Elsewhere in his report Dr. Plaza stated: "In fact the arguments for the geographical separation of the two communities under a federal system of government have not convinced me that it would not inevitably lead to partition…" (S/62555 para. 154).
"Again if the purpose of a settlement of the Cyprus question is to be the preservation rather than the destruction of the state and if it is to foster rather than to militate against the development of a peacefully united people, I cannot help wondering whether the physical division of the minority from the majority should not be considered a desperate step in the wrong direction. I am reluctant to believe, as the Turkish Cypriot leadership claims, in the ‘impossibility' of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots learning to live together again in peace. In those parts of the country where movement controls have been relaxed and tensions reduced they are already proving otherwise" (S/62555, para. 155).


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Giorgos Zacharia ( © 1995-1999.