Grim Legacy of VD for Cyprus: Non Implementation of Self-Determination Created Tragedy: Should the UN Legitimize the Travesty?

Today marks the anniversary of the defeat of Nazism. The 9th of May 1945, Victory Day, marks the date Nazi Germany, bent on subjugating the whole world, was utterly defeated by the Allied Powers. The latter through their commitments signed under both the Atlantic (1941) and the UN Charter (1945) undertook, inter alia, to lead the colonized peoples to self-government and ultimately to self-determination.

The two cornerstone charters agreed for building a better postwar world clearly illustrated the importance of self-government/self-determination in world affairs. On the one hand the Atlantic Charter (14 August 1941) stated, inter alia, self-determination and restoration of self-government to those deprived of it as ideal goals of the post-World War II international order.

On the other hand, the United Nations Charter, in other words the agreed constitution of the new world order (signed in San Francisco, US, 26 June 1945) dedicates a whole Chapter - XI: Declaration regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories – detailing the obligations of the UN member states towards leading their colonized peoples to self-government-self-determination.

In the above described context and more so taking into account that tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots joined voluntarily the anti-Nazi war effort enlisting in the Cyprus Regiment (CR) and the Cyprus Volunteer Force (CVF), the expectation of the islanders was that their overwhelmingly Greek island by culture, language and history, would be granted self-determination after victory in the World War. Time and again through their statements, petitions, protestations, representations to London, the Cypriots made loud and clear that their self-determination was nothing more and nothing less than Enosis: the political union of the three thousand year old Greek island with Greece.

After all, Winston Churchill and his officials, in their effort to enlist the Greek Cypriot patriots in the ranks of the British Army touted the slogan Fight for Freedom, Fight for Greece. Indeed, the Cypriots enlisted in their thousands in the two combat formations of the Cyprus Regiment and the Cyprus Volunteer Force fighting heroically in multiple theaters of war helping thus to defeat Fascism and Nazism. (All of which is amply documented in the author’s seminal book: Cyprus: The Struggle for Self-Determination in the 1940s. Prelude to Deeper Crisis, Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main, 2002). Alas their sacrifices met the intransigence and perfidious attitude of the postwar British governments which not only did not proceed with Enosis, as promised, but occupied Greece smashing the heroic Greek anti-Nazi resistance movement of EAM-ELAS plunging the Greek people into the misery of a deadly civil war. Greece and Cyprus came out of the war on the side of the winners, yet utterly distraught and defeated in achieving their national integration. (Save for the cession of the Italian occupied Dodecanese in 1947). By contrast, Turkey which betrayed its 1939 alliance with Britain (and France), stayed neutral and thus emerged intact from WWII was amply rewarded by perfidious Albion. From the mid-1940s to the late 50s, the British colonialists systematically and consistently upgraded the Turkish minority in Cyprus in their vitriolic alas successful push to frustrate the Greek rightful claim for Enosis. The British colonialists recruited and trained naïve and politically indifferent Turkish Cypriots, fielding them in the 1954 UN General Assembly to counter the Greek government’s first recourse to the world forum. Sadly, the British-American-Turkish machinations at the 9th Session of the UN GA defeated Athens claim to self-determination for the population of Cyprus. The Greek sponsored resolution was voted down. The relevant resolution adopted (814/IX/17 Dec 1954) regrettably read: The General Assembly, Considering, that for the time being, it does not appear appropriate to adopt a resolution on the question of Cyprus; Decides not to consider further the item entitled: Application under the auspices of the UN, of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples in the case of the population of the Island of Cyprus.

That was the beginning of the end for Cyprus, the burial of the principle of equal rights and self-determination for the island’s population. The following year 1955, British duplicity and betrayal of WW II Greek heroism - duly recognized by Winston Churchill’s famous sound bite: We will not say hereafter that the Greeks fight like heroes, but heroes fight like Greeks! - assumed new despicable proportions: under the pretext of discussing ‘security issues in the Eastern Mediterranean’ the British colonialists trapped Athens into accepting an invitation to sit in London on the same table with Ankara, effectively reintroducing Turkey back into the Cyprus frame whereas Turkey resigned once and for all from all title and right on Cyprus under the Greco-Turkish Treaty of Lausanne (1923). Subsequently, British PM Macmillan blackmailed Athens by tabling his tripartite condominium plan which Ankara gladly accepted, promptly appointing its own Turkish governor to take residence in Nicosia. Harold Macmillan neutralized the Greek UN Charter-based demand for Enosis in such a decisive manner that soon after Athens was cornered into settling for a curtailed Cyprus independence with a despicable tripartite guarantor system that once more gave the upper hand on the affairs of the island to British neo-colonialism (see British ‘sovereign bases’ and a host of other military-related facilities) and Turkish expansionism (see Attila operation 1974 which ethnically cleansed the northern part of the island of Greek presence and led to the current dismemberment of the Republic of Cyprus).

What is the current moral conclusion drawn out of the distorted course of the Cyprus question post the 9th of May 1945? What is the responsibility and obligation of the International Community (IC) today? An unfair settlement is a recipe for further disaster. The IC ought to frustrate plans that seek to implement a settlement plan that creates an apartheid regime in Cyprus, where the Greek majority with its long history of sacrifices for freedom and democracy is reduced to second class citizenship because of an unethical and abhorrent favoring of Ankara’s expansionist designs not only on Cyprus but importantly on the entire east Mediterranean region and beyond (see Erdogan’s manipulation of the current refugee crisis).

On this very anniversary of Victory Day 1945, let us remind the UN high officials commissioned by the IC to offer their good offices in the search for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem to revisit the provisions of the UN Charter which they are bound duty to serve!