Turkey has an obligation to proceed with the implementation of the Third Vienna Agreement, Acting Government Spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos has stressed, adding that Ankara must also end its military occupation of the Republic’s northern areas.
Invited by CNA to comment on reports in the Turkish Cypriot press that planning is underway for the members of the Maronite community to begin returning to their villages in the Turkish occupied areas, he said “we should wait to see if they will go ahead with what they have said they would do, namely allow Maronites to return to their villages.”
“We need to wait and see if they will go ahead with their pledges, ie to demilitarise the maronite villages and allow the Maronites to return. It is Turkey’s obligation to proceed with this action according to the Third Vienna Agreement which it has never implemented,” he told CNA.
Papadopoulos said that Turkey should take similar steps with regard to refugees from the Karpass peninsula and the rest of the refugees as well. “This action does not lift the illegality and the violation of international law that exists as Ankara’s occupation continues,” he said.
Turkey, he pointed out, cannot be absolved by merely allowing the Maronites to return to their homes. “It must end the occupation and allow all refugees to return to their homes”, Papadopoulos stressed.
In remarks to CyBC at Pedoulas village on Thursday, President Nicos Anastasiades clarified that Maronites were never prohibited from returning to their communities in the north.
With the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, the Maronites had to choose to belong either to the Greek Cypriot or the Turkish Cypriot Community. The Maronites opted to join the Greek Cypriot Community.
Following the Turkish invasion in 1974, the Maronites became refugees and the four Maronite villages namely Kormakitis, Karpashia, Asomatos and Agia Marina Skyllouras lie in the Turkish occupied area of the island.
At the end of the second phase of the Turkish invasion in August 1974, about 20,000 Greek Cypriots and Maronite Cypriots living in villages and townships primarily in the Karpass Peninsula of northeast Cyprus and in villages west of the city of Kyrenia remained behind the ceasefire line. These persons are known as the “enclaved”.
On 2 August 1975, at the conclusion of UN sponsored intercommunal talks the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash respectively, reached an agreement known as the “Third Vienna Agreement” addressing important humanitarian aspects affecting the lives of the enclaved.
The agreement provided that Greek Cypriots at present in the north of the island were free to stay. They were to be given every help to lead a normal life, including facilities for education and for the practice of religion as well as medical care by their own doctors. They were entitled to free movement in the north of Cyprus.
The Third Vienna Agreement however was violated by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot regime. Since 1974, the enclaved have endured conditions of hardship and oppression because of their ethnicity, language and religion.