By Eugene Rossides
Dear Mr. President,
I am pleased to inform you that the major Greek American membership organizations are calling for serious changes in the Annan Plan in the interests of the U.S. to make the Plan democratic, workable, financially viable and just. The organizations are the Order of AHEPA, the Hellenic American National Council, the Cyprus Federation of America, the Panepirotic Federation of America, the Pan-Macedonian Association of America and the American Hellenic Institute. Their joint statement on the Cyprus problem follows:
“Turkey’s 1974 invasion of the sovereign Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish army’s continuing occupation of 37.3 percent of the island with the illegal use of U.S. arms are violations of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the UN Charter, article 2 (4), the North Atlantic Treaty, and an affront to the international legal order, and a continuing threat to regional stability.
There is no legal distinction between Turkey’s 1974 aggression against Cyprus and Iraq’s 1990 aggression against Kuwait. The Cyprus problem is one of aggression and occupation by Turkey. Viewed objectively, Turkey in 1974 committed war crimes in Cyprus.
Then Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger bears the major responsibility for the Cyprus problem because he encouraged and supported Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus on July 20, 1974 and Turkey’s second wave of aggression on August 14-16, 1974, three weeks after the legitimate government of Cyprus had been restored.
Kissinger violated his oath of office by failing to halt immediately arms to Turkey as required by U.S. law and refused to denounce Turkey’s aggression, as Britain and most other nations did. As Ambassador Thomas Boyatt, the Cyprus Desk Officer in 1974, has stated, the U.S. bears a moral responsibility to redress the situation.
We support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in a state with a single sovereignty and international personality, incorporating the norms of a constitutional democracy embracing key American principles, the EU acquis communautaire, UN resolutions on Cyprus, and the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.
Annan Plan needs serious changes in the interests of the U.S.
The “Annan Plan,” submitted by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the fall of 2002 as the basis for a settlement is regarded by Cyprus, Greece and the international community as a basis for negotiations. As currently written the Annan Plan is undemocratic and unworkable. It needs serious modifications to make it democratic, workable, financially viable, just and compatible with American values and the EU’s acquis communautaire and democratic norms, the European Convention on Human Rights and key U.N. resolutions.
It is in the interests of the U.S. to press for such changes for a settlement that will last and which could be a useful model for other international problems including Iraq.
The Annan Plan is a more complicated version of the 1959-1960 London-Zurich agreements imposed on the Greek Cypriots by the British during the Cold War.
The British had the primary influence in drafting the proposal, with U.S. acquiescence. The Annan Plan perpetuates the undemocratic features and ethnic divisions of the London-Zurich agreements. The Cold War is over yet the British continue their policy of setting one ethnic group off against another.
The Annan Plan is harmful to U.S. efforts to build democratic institutions in Iraq because it tries to rationalize a system based on ethnic separatism with a weak central government. The U.S. has rejected any such solution for Iraq.
The U.S. should in its own best interests be the champion of democratic norms throughout the world, not obvious undemocratic constitutions like the one proposed. The U.S. should support changes in the Annan Plan to make it democratic, workable, financially viable and just.
The Annan Plan would foster division and strife. Secretary-General Annan himself should seek changes in the plan because the interests of the UN are served only if the plan is democratic and viable.
The proposal is undemocratic.
The parliamentary system under the Annan Plan creates a minority veto for the 18% Turkish Cypriot minority. The following key legislative matters among others would be subject to the Turkish Cypriot veto:
1. Adoption of laws concerning taxation, citizenship and immigration;
2. Approval of the budget; and
3. Election of the Presidential Council.
This arrangement is clearly undemocratic, a recipe for stalemate and harmful to all Cypriots.
The minority veto is also present in the Presidential Council which exercises the executive power of the component state. Political paralysis in the exercise of executive power will be the result.
The Annan Plan vetoes exceed the minority vetoes of the London-Zurich 1959-1960 agreements, which vetoes led to the breakdown of the Cyprus constitution.
Is the U.S. prepared to propose the Annan Plan’s minority veto provisions for the 20% Kurdish minority of 15 plus million in Turkey? Is Turkey prepared to give its Kurdish minority rights it seeks for the Turkish Cypriots? What about the Arab minority in Israel, Turks in Bulgaria, Albanians in FYROM, Greeks in Albania and minorities in Africa, Asia and North and South America?
The U.S. position in support of the British maneuvered Annan Plan is, frankly, an embarrassment to our foreign policy. Rather than supporting undemocratic norms, the U.S. should promote with vigor the democratic policy espoused for Cyprus by Vice President George H.W. Bush on July 6, 1988: “We seek for Cyprus a constitutional democracy based on majority rule, the rule of law, and the protection of minority rights; “ and by presidential candidate Governor Bill Clinton in 1992: ” A Cyprus settlement should be consistent with the fundamental principles of human rights and democratic norms and practices.”
The proposal is unworkable.
It is useful to recall that the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research called the 1959-1960 London-Zurich agreements dysfunctional. It predicted the problem areas. The Annan Plan is even more complicated and creates conditions for continuous squabbling, disagreements and deadlock.
A report by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Intelligence and Research on the London-Zurich agreements concluded “[The Cyprus settlement] also endeavors to codify in detail the position and rights of the two communities instead of relying on constitutional custom as other countries have done in similar situations. There are dangers inherent not only in the comparative rigidity of the structure of the new state but also in the detailed codification of community rights which will tend to perpetuate rather than eliminate the communal cleavages.” (BIR Intelligence Report No. 8047, July 14, 1959 p.22). The same criticism and danger applies to and is inherent in the Annan Plan.
The proposal subverts property rights
One of the most pernicious effects of the illegal Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus is that the rightful owners of real property there continue to be excluded from their property by the Turkish military. The Annan Plan proposes a highly complicated, ambiguous and uncertain regime for resolving property issues and is based on the principle that real property owners can ultimately be forced to give up their property rights which would violate the European Convention on Human Rights and international law.
In 1996 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held in Loizidou v. Turkey that persons who held title under the laws of the Republic of Cyprus to real property in occupied Cyprus were the only rightful owners of that property and that Turkey was responsible for those rightful owners being excluded from their real property. Since that decision, the ECHR has issued three more decisions upholding that decision and Turkey has paid a substantial judgment in Loizidou.
The proposal fails to fully demilitarize Cyprus
There is no need for Turkish or Greek soldiers to remain in Cyprus. The U.S. should insist on full demilitarization now.
The proposal does not provide for the return to Turkey of the 100,000 illegal Turkish settlers in the occupied area.
Central to a proper solution is the return of the 100,000 illegal Turkish settlers to Turkey.
The proposed territorial adjustment is clearly unfair
The two proposed maps—A 28.6% and B 28.5% reward Turkey, the aggressor and penalize the Greek Cypriots, the victims. The Turkish Cypriots comprise 18% of the population and have title to about 14% of the land. A map proposal should provide for no more than 18% under the Turkish Cypriots.
The proposed maps are contrary to the policy enunciated by President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Helsinki on September 9, 1990 when they condemned Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait and declared “that aggression cannot and will not pay.”
The U.S. should seek changes in the Annan Plan to reflect U.S. values and interests
The Cold War has been over for more than a decade. Turkey’s March 1, 2003 “no” vote against helping the U.S. did occur and we should not forget it! And Turkey’s attempt to extract more billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, a veto on U.S. Iraqi Kurdish policy and access to Iraqi oil also occurred! As one senior administration official said, Turkey’s actions are “extortion in the name of alliance.”
The U.S. Special Coordinator for Cyprus, Ambassador Tom Weston, should be seeking changes in the Annan Plan to make it democratic, workable, financially viable and just. The U.S. bears the major responsibility for Turkey’s aggression and should now be willing to stand up and hold Turkey accountable for its aggression by calling for:
1. Turkey’s armed forces and settlers to leave Cyprus now;
2. Turkey to pay damages for all the destruction and loss of life she caused;
3. Turkey to pay to all property owner’s the losses they have suffered from Turkey’s occupation of their property since 1974 as Turkey was forced by the Council of Europe to pay Titina Loizidou under threat of expulsion; and
4. Turkey to pay for the costs of resettlement of the Greek Cypriot refugees.
To achieve a settlement, the U.S. should apply forceful economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Turkey, including sanctions if necessary, to get Turkey to remove its 35,000 armed forces and its 100,000 illegal colonists from Cyprus.”
***Gene Rossides, founder of AHI, is a former Assistant Secretary of Commerce