Open letter to Prime Minister of England

The Rt Honourable Prime Minister
Theresa May MP
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

15 November 2017

Dear Prime Minister

Your speech in London on 13 November 2017

I have read with interest the transcript of your meaningful and timely speech which was delivered on 13 November 2017 to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London.

I agree with you that the United Kingdom has the capability to overcome the difficulties and challenges ahead not only due to the Brexit negotiations but also due to the wider challenges facing the world today.

I would only correct one point, however. You claimed that “Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea was the first time since the Second World War that one sovereign nation has forcibly taken territory from another in Europe”. This is misleading. On 20 July and 14 August 1974 respectively, Turkey launched two invasions of the Republic of Cyprus, a European sovereign state and a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the Council of Europe. *Since 2004, the Republic of Cyprus has also been a member of another European institution, the European Union.)

As a combined consequence of its two invasions, Turkey occupied, ethno-religiously cleansed and forcibly took 36 per cent of the territory (and 57 per cent of the coastline) of the Republic of Cyprus. All these years later, Turkey continues to occupy this territory.

These two Turkish invasions were carried out with what amounted to collusion with the then British Government led by Harold Wilson (the Prime Minister) and James Callaghan (the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary). Both consciously refused to stop the Turkish invasion forces and to honour a British guarantee to the Republic of Cyprus. By the actions and omissions of this Labour Government, the United Kingdom breached its moral and legal responsibilities deriving from the Treaty of Guarantee which had been signed by Sir Hugh Foot, for the United Kingdom, in Nicosia on 16 August 1960.

For the record, I refer a High Court judgment in the case of Catlin v Cyprus Finance Corporation (London) Ltd [1983] Q.B. 759, as delivered by Mr. Justice Bingham (the great judge who later became Lord Bingham of Cornhill and a future Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice and Senior Law Lord). The words of Mr Justice Bingham reveal the true nature of what Turkey accomplished by force in 1974 and how human beings suffered as a consequence:

“‘In the summer of 1974 the Turkish invasions of Cyprus took place. The consequences for the plaintiff and her children were catastrophic. All their property was in the area of Famagusta which was sealed off by Turkish troops; the flat they were living in was bombed and their furniture badly damaged. After six months under canvas in a refugee camp on one of the British Sovereign Bases, she and the children were able to return to Famagusta by courtesy of the Turkish occupying forces and they have since then been living in the flat of a German lady dispossessed by the troubles. Their own flats remain inaccessible and may in any event be uninhabitable…”

With characteristic precision, Mr Justice Bingham correctly referred to the Turkish invasions and the Turkish occupying forces. He did so at a time when so many people were misleadingly talking about the Turkish “intervention” and the Turkish “Peace Operation”, the latter of which was a phrase used by the Turkish Prime Minister on the day of the first invasion. Mr Justice Bingham also used correct terminology in the very year in which the de facto authorities in the Turkish-occupied area purported to make a ‘Unilateral Declaration of Independence’. This UDI was made on 15 November 1983, exactly thirty four years ago.

I commend your stance in defining the British spirit and the fundamental values of fairness, justice and human rights. However, these values have been consistently denied to the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, a sovereign state built on territory which had previously been a British Crown Colony. I regret to say that your misleading comment of 13 November 2017 has added insult to this long-standing injury.

In the interests of fairness and justice, I hope that you will immediately apologise and retract your misleading assertion that “Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea was the first time since the Second World War that one sovereign nation has forcibly taken territory from another in Europe”. I also hope you will clarify that, in 1974, 29 years after the end of the Second World War, Turkey launched two invasions of the Republic of Cyprus and that Turkey proceeded to occupy, forcibly take and ethno-religiously cleanse a substantial proportion of its territory, which is situated in Europe.

I look forward to hearing from you, so that the public record may be corrected.

Yours respectfully

Fanoulla Argyrou



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