Jun 28, 2001

Adjournment: Cyprus: Military Occupation

ADJOURNMENT Cyprus: Military Occupation


28 June 2001


Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12.54 p.m.)—I rise today to raise the issue of Cyprus and the tragic occurrences in that beautiful island in the 27 years since the Turkish invasion, particularly in terms of the expelled Greek Cypriot population, many of the homes of whom are still unoccupied. The Turkish puppet state have introduced settlers from mainland Turkey to occupy these deserted homes. Perhaps the best example of why this is an issue which must be resolved is the voting of Turkish Cypriots themselves, who have voted with their feet. Many of them have left the island since the invasion. Turkey continues to occupy some 37 per cent of the island. They continue to refuse to give information as to the whereabouts and what happened to the persons missing since the invasion.

Contrary to some of the propaganda which comes out from Turkey, the only state which has recognised the puppet regime, the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, is Turkey itself. The United Nations, the US Congress, the European Union, the European Court, the G8 and the Commonwealth have repeatedly condemned the invasion and called for a solution that maintains the unity of Cyprus. Any solution must ensure that there is a single sovereignty in Cyprus, a single international personality and a single citizenship with independence and territorial integrity safeguarded.

Negotiations between the Republic of Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriot community and Turkey have broken down. The United Nations has attempted to restart negotiations but there is much resistance from the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr Denktash. UN resolutions support a negotiated settlement consistent with the principles enshrined in the United Nations charter to which Australia is a signatory. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots must return to the negotiating table immediately. Australia needs to take a leading role in ensuring that legality and international order are restored to Cyprus. Australia plays a role in the peacekeeping force which is there at the moment, but we need to do more. The CHOGM conference which is being held later this year in Brisbane is an opportunity for Australia to pursue these issues.

The European Court of Human Rights, in a recent landmark decision, held that Turkey is illegally depriving Cypriot citizens of the right of return to their properties in the occupied parts of Cyprus. The court has also ruled that Turkey must pay compensation to the individuals concerned. There are many Australian citizens of Cypriot origin who would be able to claim compensation under this ruling but are unable to as they cannot afford to pursue their rights through the European Court. The department of the federal Attorney-General does have a fund to assist these sorts of cases. It is a fund specifically for Australians whose legal rights have been breached abroad and who need financial assistance to pursue these rights. Legal advice is also offered. The federal government should encourage Cypriot Australians who qualify to use this fund to pursue their rights in the European Court as part of Australia’s contribution to their rights as individuals but also as part of Australia’s commitment to social justice on an international level. I hope that the European Union also accepts the government of the Republic of Cyprus as a full member. At the moment some are demanding that the Cyprus issue be solved prior to that occurring. It seems to me that illegal actions on behalf of the Turkish government should not be rewarded and that the government of the Republic of Cyprus should not be punished as a result of that continued illegal occupation.

I am proud to have the Cyprus Community Club in my electorate. I am also proud to represent an electorate in which Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots live in harmony side by side. That is the great benefit of our multicultural nation. We, as supporters of multiculturalism, need to suggest that the whole world needs to live on that basis. Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots need to once again live side by side under the government of the Republic of Cyprus. (Time expired