The New Phase of the Cyprus Issue
The New Phase of the Cyprus Issue
published November 30, 2008
After a period of inactivity, the Cyprus Issue comes again to the
front. The recent meetings between the Greek Cypriot President
Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat create a new framework
within which we can examine, once again, some parametres of the 34
years-old unsolved Issue.
While doing that, we must have in mind one fundamental thing: that the
so-called "Annan Plan" is no longer active and cannot be regarded, in
any case, as a solution plan. It was in April 2004 when the Greek
Cypriots expressed their undoubted and strong will, with a 76% "No"
vote in the referendum. That decision of the people of Cyprus was clear
and must be always fully respected by all sides who are involved in the
Issue. However, on that point, we must focus our attention to some
specific vested facts which derive by the procedure that had been
agreed and followed until the final rejection of the Annan Plan in 2004.
Firstly, the participation of the Republic of Cyprus in the
negotiations for the Annan Plan contributed significantly to the
successful and undisturbed Cyprus" affiliation with the European Union.
If the then Greek Cypriot leadership under President Papadopoulos
wasn"t participating in the U.N.-mandated negotiations procedure for
the Kofi Annan Plan, it is possible that the Republic of Cyprus would
face problems towards its European route. Therefore, we can say that
the expectation for Cyprus E.U. membership was the moving wheel for the
acceptance of the Annan Plan as the base of future negotiations, as it
was agreed in New York in 2003.
Secondly, the negotiations for the Annan Plan featured the significance
of the Republic of Cyprus, a globally-recognized state entity which
consist the official representative of the island in international
organizations. On the other hand, the Turkish Cypriots have their own
administration but, as long as they want, they can benefit from the
E.U. membership of the Republic of Cyprus. That because, practically,
the European status has been suspended for the north part due to the
unsolved Issue but theoretically, the Republic of Cyprus represents the
whole island. Therefore Turkish Cypriots, being citizens of the
Republic of Cyprus, must have the right to make use of the E.U.
priviledges. That creates a de facto recognition of the Republic of
Cyprus" state entity by both the Turkish Cypriot side and Ankara itself.
Thirdly, the participation in the Annan Plan negotiations necessitated
the exploration and review of many aspects of the Cyprus Issue (legal,
political, economic, social, military, administrative etc.) within the
solution of a Bizonal bicommunal Federation. The Greek Cypriot side had
the opportunity to review the negative and positive points that such a
solution includes. The result was the rejection of the Annan Plan
because of its political and legal weaknesses. But its base remained
the frame within which future negotiations will take place - that is a
model of a bizonal bicommunal Federation which must be fully compatible
with EU legal and political standards.
Fourthly, it is clear that since 2004 the Cyprus Issue has passed to a
new stage. That has to do with the agreement according to which the
people of Cyprus (Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots) will have the
final word in accepting or rejecting solution proposals. Therefore, the
Issue has now become, more than ever, a matter of internal sovereignty,
focusing on the will of the people of Cyprus to reach a fair settlement
and reunify their island. Nonetheless, that does not mean that the
Cyprus case is not an issue of international diplomatic importance and
a problem created by the savage Turkish military invasion of 1974. On
the contrary, these sensitive matters (Military Occupation, Missing
Cypriots, Human Rights etc) must be fully respected by those who design
solution proposals and settlement packets.
What is the conclusion? That the secret key which can open the door of
a settlement to the issue is in the hands of the Cypriots. That became
apparent with the failure of the sophisticated and complicated Annan
Plan to convince the vast majority of Cyprus" people that it was a
really fair compromise. Therefore, no matter what Athens, Ankara,
London or Washington want, the reunification of Nicosia is in the hands
of the Cypriots, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. They will
put the limits of a compromise and for that a strategic plan is needed,
far from arid nationalisms that lead nowhere. And, as far as I am
concerned, President Dimitris Christofias has the potential - with the
continuous support of Athens and the E.U. - to create such a positive
strategic framework and work along with his counterpart for Cyprus
reunification, in favour of the island"s citizens. Its not easy at all,
but its also not impossible.