Relations with Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe

The Republic of Cyprus which was established in 1960 joined the Council of Europe on 24 May 1961 and since 21 September 1961, it has been represented in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), with 3 members and 3 substitute members at the PACE, while 2 members (and 2 substitutes) are for the Greek Cypriot Community and 1 member (and 1 substitute) is for the Turkish Cypriot Community.

On 21 September 1961, Mr. Halit Ali Rıza and Mr. Ümit  Süleyman became a member and a substitute member of the Parliamentary Assembly, respectively. Mr. Rıza’s membership continued until 1 May 1964, whereas Mr. Süleyman’s incumbency ended on 1 January 1963 and Mr. Burhan Nalbantoğlu replaced him as the new Turkish Cypriot substitute member who carried out this duty until 1 May 1964.

A delegation composed of 6 Greek Cypriot parliamentarians from the “Republic of Cyprus Parliament” (which did not represent Turkish Cypriots anymore) was sent to attend the 1964 Spring Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe but the credentials of this delegation were not approved.

Later in 1964, this time a delegation of 4 Greek Cypriot parliamentarians was sent to participate in the Autumn Session of the Parliamentary Assembly, leaving the 1 member and 1 substitute member seats belonging to the Turkish Cypriot community vacant. The Parliamentary Assembly approved the credentials of the 4 Greek Cypriot parliamentarians in the hope that the problem regarding the composition of Cyprus delegation would be solved by the next General Assembly.

However, due to the continuation of the problem, Cyprus lost entirely its representation in the PACE and the representation of the “Republic of Cyprus” at the Council of Europe was limited to the Committee of Ministers. Briefly, the Parliamentary Assembly refused to approve a Cyprus delegation in the absence of Turkish Cypriot parliamentarians even if the seats allocated for Turkish Cypriots are left vacant and demanded the presence of the representatives of both communities for the international representation of the island.

As of 1964, it was impossible for Turkish Cypriot parliamentarians destined for the Parliamentary Assembly to receive their credentials from a Parliament which has turned into an exclusively Greek Cypriot institution and one that they were not members any anymore.

In short, elected representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community were members of the PACE between 21 September 1961 and 1 May 1964. As of today, those two seats are still vacant. On the other hand, it is worth noting that the Greek Cypriot community was, too, not represented in the Parliamentary Assembly between 1964 and 1984.

In the aftermath of the “yes” vote of Turkish Cypriots and the “no” vote of Greek Cypriots to the UN Comprehensive Settlement Plan in 2004, the representation of the Turkish Cypriots  in the PACE was partially improved.  By adopting Resolution 1376 on 29 April 2004, the Assembly paved the way for two elected representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community to be associated with the work of the Parliamentary Assembly.

The Parliamentary Assembly, which adopted Resolution 1376 and still implements it,   is well aware of the fact that the parliamentarians it invites to its work under the title “elected representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community” are members of the TRNC Parliament elected in the elections held in the TRNC and have nothing to do with the Greek Cypriot Administration. Considering, on the one hand, not to harm the international recognition and the personality of the “Republic of Cyprus” and on the other hand, being aware of the fact that the representation of the Turkish Cypriot community is inadequate, the Parliamentary Assembly tries to strike a partial balance, through a paradoxical arrangement, regarding the representation of Cyprus in the Parliamentary Assembly.

With the help of this arrangement, TRNC parliamentarians are able to share the same international platform (even though with unequal status) with the Greek Cypriot parliamentarians. Additionally, despite being under the title of “Turkish Cypriot Community”, this arrangement does not allow the Greek Cypriot Administration to have any say over either the composition of our parliamentary delegation or communication of the delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly but gives TRNC the capability of representation in an international platform.

Another important point to be underlined is that this arrangement proves that elections conducted in TRNC are in line with the standards of Council of Europe and that our elections are free and fair. Therefore, despite all the ambiguities of their status, the association of our parliamentarians with the work of the Parliamentary Assembly should be seen as an approval of the TRNC elections by the Council of Europe which is the guardian institution of democracy, human rights and rule of law.

Parliamentarians associated with the Parliamentary Assembly since 2004:

Mr. Özdil Nami

Mr. Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu

Mr. Mehmet Çağlar

Mr. Hüseyin Özgürgün

Mr. Dr. Ahmet Eti