Possible recognition of the north by Turkey’s satellite states or close allies would violate UN Security Council resolutions and international law, a law expert said on Wednesday after reports that Ankara is working towards recognition of the breakaway regime.
According to Aristoteles Constantinides, associate professor of international law at the University of Cyprus, one cannot rule out such a possibility but the Republic of Cyprus may impose countermeasures and utilise its EU membership as the bloc can exert pressure through various means.
According to reports, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, and the Tripoli-based government of Libya are among those reportedly ready to recognise the breakaway regime in the north.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is pushing for a two-state solution for Cyprus, said this week that it was time to make the world, “accept the reality of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.
Last Sunday, during his visit to the north, Erdogan had also announced that the new Turkish Cypriot leader, Ersin Tatar, would soon visit Azerbaijan.
Tatar said earlier this week that he would step up his efforts to promote northern Cyprus abroad. He pointed out that strong relations existed between the north and Azerbaijan and that he hoped that this relationship would be further strengthened.
Daily Kathimerini, citing well-informed sources in Ankara, reported on Monday that Azerbaijan is not going to be the only foreign destination that will receive Tatar “as a head of state” in the near future.
“There are many countries with which Turkey currently has close relations. And these states could contribute to the effort to promote Turkish Cypriots in the international arena,” the sources told the daily.
But Constantinides told the Cyprus News Agency that from a legal point of view, the Republic of Cyprus is adequately shielded, at various levels. He explained that there are UN Security Council resolutions, such as 541 of 1983, as well as general international law, which afford strong legal protection.
“All countries are obliged not to recognise entities that have been created as a result of serious violations of mandatory provisions of international law,” he said, adding that this was violated during the 1974 Turkish invasion.
“The pseudo-state was declared on territory illegally occupied by Turkey, as a result of the Turkish invasion,” he said, pointing to the international community’s obligation to avoid recognising this state of affairs. This obligation, he added, stems from international law, while “Security Council resolutions come on top of that to impose a similar obligation in a much more eloquent, formal and unambiguous manner.”
Constantinides did not rule out the possibility of some countries, considered to be Turkey’s satellites, “crossing the Rubicon” and recognising the north.
In the case of Azerbaijan, he said, recognition would weaken its legal position on Nagorno-Karabakh, although Baku emerged strong after the recent military operations in Southern Caucasus, with the contribution of Turkey.
As for Libya, he said that the government in Tripoli may be internationally recognised, however “there is a strong sense of a temporary setup” due to developments in the country.
Nicosia may also mobilise international organisations to counter efforts for recognition, such as the Commonwealth – where Pakistan is also a member – or the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Constantinides said. He pointed to the leading role Egypt plays in the OIC, as well as to Nicosia’s improved relations with key OIC countries, such as Saudi Arabia.
Apart from its response on a bilateral level, or in coordination with Greece, he also pointed to EU leverage, which could take various financial or diplomatic forms.
Nicosia, he said, may also take recourse to the International Court of Justice against countries proceeding to recognise the north.
As for a possible response on the part of the UN Security Council, Constantinides said that a statement reaffirming previous resolutions is likely, as was recently the case with Varosha.