It is important to have a knowledge of the recent history of the island of Cyprus and the historical background of the Cyprus problem in order to understand the scope of relations between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and the Republic of Turkey. With no doubt, the relations between the two countries dates back to the emergence of the presence of the Turks on the Island, long before the establishment of the TRNC.
The common history of the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots on the Island had been shaped by the desire of the Greek Cypriots to unite the Island with Greece, namely “Enosis” and the counter demand of the Turkish Cypriots which is namely “taksim”.
At the end of the 1950’s, the Greek Cypriot side realized that it will not be possible to achieve “Enosis” in spite of Turkey and therefore raised the idea of independence of the Island which they perceived as a stepping-stone to achieve “Enosis”. Eventually, the 1960 Republic of Cyprus was established under the guarantorships of Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom based on the partnership of the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots with equal status.
The 1960 partnership Republic was a short-lived one due to the difficulties created by the Greek Cypriot side. The partnership Republic was destroyed with the campaign of violence initiated by the Greek Cypriot side towards the Turkish Cypirots on December 1963. Since December 1963, both sides have been ruling themselves separately.
During the difficult years between 1963 and 1974, the Republic of Turkey was the main supporter of the Turkish Cypriots in their struggle. Turkish Cypriots managed to survive during these years with the firm financial and moral support of Turkey.
Turkey intervened in the Island in 1974, in accordance with her rights and obligations under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, in the wake of a coup d’ėtat carried out by the Greek junta in Cyprus, which sought to annex the Island to Greece. The timely intervention of Turkey not only prevented the Island’s annexation to Greece but also embedded the roots of democracy over the Island and created a peaceful, stable and safe environment for the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkish military presence on the Island is the most important factor which provides the safety of the Turkish Cypriots until a just and viable settlement is reached between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sides.
The Republic of Turkey, which had proven its support to the Turkish Cypriot people in all stages of the Cyprus problem continued its moral and financial aid to the Turkish Cypriots after the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The Republic of Turkey is with no doubt the most important supporter of the TRNC in every field, which is not recognized by any other country. Following the proclamation of the TRNC, the main aim had been the improvement of the relations between the TRNC and the Republic of Turkey deriving from historical and cultural ties. Another major aim had been the establishment and development of official relations between the two States based on mutual trust, respect and cooperation. In terms of the solution of the Cyprus problem, foreign policies of two countries have always been conducted in close cooperation and harmony. The Republic of Turkey has always strongly supported the negotiation processes on the Island.
Existing strong historical, cultural, religious, linguistic and national ties between the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish peoples naturally reflects on the relations between the TRNC and the Republic of Turkey in a strong and constructive manner. It is generally possible to summarize the relations between the two countries as natural allies who protect the rights and interests of each other in every field and who spare no effort to improve mutual relations.
The Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Lefkoşa and the Embassy of the TRNC in Ankara, together with its Consulate-General in İstanbul and the Consulates in İzmir and Mersin undertake the usual diplomatic and bureaucratic relations of their countries. In addition to this, the restrictions on the daily lives of the Turkish Cypriots resulting from the isolation imposed on them are intended to be overcome through cooperation agreements and protocols on various fields signed between the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot Ministries.
In this respect, Turkey is acting as the only bridge connecting the TRNC and the Turkish Cypriots with the rest of the world on humanitarian and vital issues. Even the basic human rights of the Turkish Cypriots such as transportation, telecommunication and postal services are provided through Turkey.
Many protocols have been signed between the TRNC and the Republic of Turkey to regulate the existing trade and economic relations. The Trade and Payment Protocol was the first to be signed among these documents in 1975. This Protocol was signed with the aim of strenghtening the economic and trade relations between the two countries. The Protocol also aimed at solving the import and export problems faced by the TRNC in cooperation with Turkey.
Until 1994, trade and economic relations between Turkey and the TRNC were under the scope of the Joint Economic Commission meetings. Republic of Turkey had taken some precautionary measures in order to overcome the economic problems in the face of the decision of the European Court of Justice dated 1994 which seriously hit the TRNC economy. It was attempted to offset the decrease in the exports of the TRNC due to this decision through the increase of exports to Turkey.
In 1997, the formation of a Partnership Council between the TRNC and Turkey on economic and financial matters was decided. The Council also aimed to work on cooperation in the fields of security, defence and foreign policy. Relations between the two countries was also intended to be shaped through this Council under the title of “Joint Economic Area”.
On January 1998, an agreement titled “State Aids in Investments” was signed between the two countries. This agreement was followed by the Trade and Economic Cooperation agreement signed in February 1998 and Agreement on Additional Easements to Citizens of Both Countries which was signed in 1999.
The Republic of Turkey made utmost contribution in order to ease, to a certain extent, the difficulties faced by the Turkish Cypriots arising from the restrictions. Until these restrictions were to be removed, the aim was to provide the TRNC with the opportunity to trade with the whole world, Turkey and European countries in particular, under the best possible circumstances and to open to the international system.
In order to overcome the growing structural and economic problems resulting from the the banking crisis in the TRNC which occured at the begining of 2000, economic development programmes were adopted as of 2000 and Economic and Financial cooperation protocols were signed to enable Turkey’s financial and technical support to these programmes.
The Cyprus Issue and the Relations in terms of Foreign Policy:
The political solution to be found to the Cyprus problem is the key factor to protect the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey on the Island and to further these rights on a solid foundation. Continuation of the strong and independent existence of the Turkish Cypiots is a must to reach this end result and the relations between the TRNC and Turkey are organized accordingly.
The Republic of Turkey has always been the major supporter of the Turkish Cypirot side on the negotiations which have been ongoing for many years between the two sides in order to reach a just and viable settlement which would protect the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey also has been strongly supporting the negotiation processes on the Island. The constructive approach demonstrated and the proposals put forward by Turkey during the negotiation processes are the indicators of Turkey’s support to the negotiations on the Island.
Moreover, Turkey also shown its moral support at all times to Turkish Cypriots to protect their rights and interests both at the negotiation table and in the international platform.
The policies which are formulated to end the unjust isolations and to make the voices of Turkish Cypriots to be heard in the international arena are conducted by two countries in close cooperation.
As was the case in previous negotiation processes, the Turkish Cypriot side has shaped its constructive and proactive policies towards the solution of the Cyprus problem in the shortest possible time together with Turkey and continues its cooperation with Turkey in order to reach the desired outcome from the current negotiation process.