The single sovereignty

15 January, 2014 | Posted By: Andrestinos Papadopoulos

By Dr Andrestinos N. Papadopoulos, Ambassador a.h.

Much has been said, during the last three months about the question of the single sovereignty of the future federal state of Cyprus. It proved to be the main obstacle which did not allow the two parties to agree on a joint communiqué, clearly defining the framework within which a solution to the Cyprus problem will be sought. Hence, the delay in starting the intercommunal talks. The delay is due to the stance of the Turkish Cypriot side which claims that the sovereignty should belong to the two component states. The reason is quite obvious. They want to have a separate sovereignty so as to be able to withdraw from the federal state with this sovereignty, at any time.
The notion of sovereignty was introduced in the political science by the French Jean Bodin in his famous work ‘De la Republique’ (1577) and ever since developed a lot. He defined the sovereignty as the “summa potestas,” ie. “the absolute and permanent power within a state.” Many definitions followed, particularly within the framework of the German Empire, until the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), when it was recognised to the Prince the right to declare war and conclude peace. The French Revolution overthrew the absolute power of the Prince and established that the sovereignty belongs to the nation. This is also reflected in the Constitution of the U.S.A. which states: “We, the people of the United States…” In the Federal States, the internal sovereignty, according to many writers, is limited to the “jurisdiction” or the “competence” of the federal province. This, for example, is the case with the Canadian Constitution.
In view of the above, what the Turkish Cypriots demand is not a full sovereign state of Cyprus. This position undermines not only the international personality of the Cypriot state, but also its independence. As defined by my professor, Paul Guggenheim, in his work ‘Traite de Droit International Public’ (Tome I, p. 174) in the politicolegal sense “the independence is identical to the state sovereignty.” The state is either sovereign or non-sovereign and its sovereignty is indivisible. This position was defended by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his ‘Contrat Social’ (1762) and by the famous professor Oppenheim who defines the sovereignty in the strict and narrowest sense of the term as “implying independence all round, within and without the borders of the country,” (Oppenheim’s International Law, Vol. I, p. 119).
As always, the right is with our side. However, the right of the strong, upon which the other side is based, explains the lack of political will to solve the Cyprus problem. Consequently, the President of the Republic rightly insists to have clearly defined in the joint communiqué the principles on the basis of which a solution to the Cyprus problem will be found. Even if we exhaust all our good will, we should not allow the creation of a new “jurisprudence” about sovereignty, which will be based on the unacceptable position of the Turkish Cypriots, instead of the international law.