In a very emotional 52 minute speech the President called on people to say a loud NO
NICOSIA.- Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos called on the people of Cyprus to say a ”loud no” in the referendum of April 24 to be held in the Greek Cypriot side, simultaneously with a referendum in the Turkish Cypriot side, on a Cyprus settlement plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
President Papadopoulos gave his position Wednesday night, in a live televised proclamation, during which he explained that the consequences of accepting the Annan plan would be ”heavier and more oppressive” than those of its rejection.
He added that he received an internationally recognised state and could not deliver a ”community”, noting that by evaluating all the facts with calmness and objectivity and with a total sense of the historical significance of the moment and the weight of his responsibility, he was ”sincerely sorry” because he could not accept and sign the Annan plan.
The public reacted positively on the president’s rational. Opinion polls suggest the Greek Cypriots will reject the plan. Telephone polls by two TV stations on Wednesday night suggested over 80 percent of Greek Cypriot voters would say no.
One of Papadopoulos partners, Socialist Party EDEK, decided on Good Friday, to back the President’s Decision. 107 members of the Central Committee voted against the plan, while 16 yes.
AKEL was meeting for 2 days, Friday and Saturday. More than 65 members of the Central Committee spoke. The Polit Bureau decided in favor of the plan, with 10 members in favor, 4 against, 2 abstain and two blank.
On the other hand, UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan expressed his disappointment, with a written statement, issued early Thursday, in Geneva. US Secretary of State, Kolin Powel called Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, requesting Greece to encourage the Greek Cypriots to vote in favor of the plan. So far, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis leans towards letting the Greek Cypriots to make up their own minds without external interventions.
PASOK President and former Foreign Minister, George Papandreou rushed to convene his party’s executive committee five hours earlier than Papadopoulos speech. PASOK decided unanimously to favor the plan.
President Papadopoulos said ”every people forms its own history,” adding that ”the people of Cyprus is called on, each one of us separately and collectively, to write the history of the future of Cyprus.”
He noted that ”our homeland is going through dramatic times in its long history through the centuries,” which will affect the future generations. He said ”the decisions we take today form and determine the fate of the generations to come.”
President Papadopoulos expressed certainty that the political leadership of the island and each citizen separately was ”fully aware of the seriousness of the decision we are called upon to take in the referendum of April 24.”
He pointed out that the decision was up to ”the people of Cyprus alone” and expressed hope that ”our foreign friends will respect the people and the Republic of Cyprus and understand that interventions and pressure insult the dignity of the people of Cyprus, are against the provisions of the UN Charter and in the end are unproductive.”
The Cypriot President said various assessments emerged from examining the Annan plan provisions, both short-term and long-term, and called on all ”to function in a spirit of mutual respect, without fanaticism.”
He said ”safeguarding our unity is a high duty to our country” and whatever the outcome of the referendum ”we must respect it and the next day must find us united and strong.”
AGAINST PEOPLES’ INTERSTS
President Papadopoulos then explained his views regarding the Annan plan, stressing that this was not an effort to impose his opinion. ”The final decision always was and is yours,” he told the people of Cyprus. He said that following the UN-led talks in Burgenstock, Switzerland, from which the final Annan plan emerged, he examined the text and evaluated it with ”the sole criterion to serve the interests and rights of the people of Cyprus as a whole, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.”
”This is what my conscience tells me. This is what the office of President of the Republic demands,” he added.
He pointed out that when he was elected President a year ago, he took on the commitment ”to struggle with all my might, on every level, to achieve improvements to the then version of the Annan plan, aiming at making it more functional and thus more viable.”
President Papadopoulos elaborated on the events that led to the Burgenstock talks and the policy of the Greek Cypriot side at the talks. ”We confined ourselves to the minimum but very important aim of reuniting our country and our people. We sought institutional changes that on the one hand strengthened the functionality of the solution and on the other hand created the preconditions for the reunification of institutions and functions,” he said.
Due to the negative stance of the Turkish side and the tolerance shown by the UN, substantive talks did not take place, the President said, noting that the UN chief drafted the fifth Annan plan without the prior consent of the parties.
President Papadopoulos said this fifth and final Annan plan contains improvements that ”do not meet the minimum demands we had submitted on the functionality of the plan, the readiness to implement it the day after the referenda, the substantive reunification of our country in the economic, public finance and monetary sectors.”
He said he did not wish to go into a detailed analysis of the plan, as this would take place over the next few days leading up to the referendum of April 24, but referred to some points that caused concern, such as the functionality of the solution.
He said the Greek Cypriot side’s proposals covered the functionality of the presidential council, the courts, the EU cooperation agreement, legislation, Central Bank, common monetary and fiscal policy, reduction of period to regain property, reduction of transition periods, management structure of federal government, election of parliamentary body members, decision making legislation and mechanisms, territory, missing persons, to name a few.
”I wish to stress with emphasis that all our demands that were submitted will full arguments were within the parametres of the Annan plan and did not remove rights granted to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots through the Annan plan,” the President pointed out.
On the other hand, ”the Turkish side submitted 11 demands that adversely affect the interests of the Greek Cypriots and which are all adopted in the final text of the Annan plan,” he said.
”Now we are called upon to judge if the final Annan plan meets the minimum aims we set. With objectivity and a sense of responsibility, we are called upon to judge if the reunification of our country is achieved in a federal state that will be functional, viable, will safeguard fundamental human rights and will create conditions of security and economic welfare for both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. If the Annan plan provisions, as they have been definitively been formed, allow us to participate actively in the EU and to utilise the subsequent benefits,” he said.
He added that even with the most flexible judgment, the final Annan plan ”does not meet the minimum aims we set” but furthermore gives reason for concern.
The Cypriot President noted that the Turkish Cypriot community gains all the fundamental demands it sought ”24 hours after the referenda.” He said the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of the island’s northern third are erased, the Turkish Cypriots obtain equal participation in the new federal state, while the Greek Cypriot expectations from a painful compromise are left hovering without guarantees and projected into the future, depending solely on the goodwill of Turkey to meet its obligations.
Among other adverse points, the Cypriot President noted that, according to the Annan plan, all Turkish settlers remain in Cyprus, as do Turkish troops, the cost of compensating displaced persons is shifted to the Greek Cypriot side, the refugees that return under Turkish Cypriot administration do so in a way that does not provide any security.
”The final Annan plan does not satisfy the Cypriots but fully satisfies Turkey’s aim to control Cyprus,” he stressed. Regarding the economic aspects of the Annan plan, the President said it is doubtful that the proposed solution will be viable, while Cyprus’ activities within the EU are jeopardised.
”In other words, the Annan plan does not dissolve the de facto division but on the contrary legalises and deepens it. So the question is not if we want a solution and reunification of our country. Because to this question our answer is ‘yes’. The real question is if the Annan plan brings about the reunification or if it prolongs the division and this with our consent and signature,” he added.
The Cypriot President pointed out that ”the Annan plan does not lead to the reunification of the two communities but instead promotes the permanent division with limitations in movement, settling, right to property, exercising political rights,” among other points.
”They are asking us to accept these adverse adjustments in spirit of compromise. They are telling us that a solution could not emerge if there were no such painful compromises and that a solution must be found. However, there are matters of principle and human rights where the ‘middle solution’ is not the right answer,” he said.
Papadopoulos said that it was reasonable to wonder what would happen if the people voted ”No” in the referendum.
”If the people with their vote reject the plan, in one week the Republic of Cyprus will become a full and equal member of the EU. We will achieve a strategic aim that we mutually set to upgrade and politically safeguard the Republic of Cyprus,” he pointed out.
He added that ”we will not stop striving for a solution of the Cyprus problem,” noting that ”history does not end on May 1.”
Addressing the Turkish Cypriots, he stressed that the aim is ”a solution that will serve their interests as well,” noting that the proposals he made at the talks and the measures to support the Turkish Cypriots ”are proof of this.”
”The guarantee of the sincerity of our orientation is our accession to the political system of and the principles of the EU. This guarantee covers the Turkish Cypriots in a trustworthy manner, as well as security needs of Turkey,” he added.
The Cypriot President said his aim is to serve the interests of the people of Cyprus ”and nothing else,” adding that ”the final decision was and is yours, your decision will be expressed in the referendum of April 24.”
”Evaluating all the facts with calmness and objectivity and with a total sense of the historical significance of the moment and the weight of my responsibility, I am sincerely sorry because I cannot accept and sign the Annan plan as it finally emerged,” he said.
He added that ”I received an internationally recognised state and I cannot deliver a ‘community’ without a right of speech internationally and seeking a guardian, and all this with empty, deceiving expectations, with the unfounded illusion that Turkey will honour its commitments.”
”Greek Cypriot people. On the scales of a YES or NO, the consequences of a YES will be heavier and more oppressive. I call on you to reject the Annan plan. I call on you to say a loud NO on April 24. I call on you to defend your right, dignity and history. With a sense of responsibility before history, the present and future of Cyprus and its people, I call on you not to hypothecate the future in the political will of Turkey. To defend the Republic of Cyprus by saying NO to its dissolution. To join for a new and more hopeful course of the reunification of our country through the EU”, President Papadopoulos concluded.