Opinion of GreekNews
Cyprus is entering a new crisis. The future of the Greek Cypriots is at stake. Prime Minister Karamanlis, haunted by the ghost of his uncle and the Zurich settlement, declared: “the decision is theirs to make. We did battle at Lucerne. We stand next to them, we support them”. That’s not good enough, compared to what Turkey did for the Turkish Cypriots.
To suggest that the Greek Cypriots will decide in a referendum is a cruel joke. When did the Cypriots decide for themselves? Did they decide in 1958-59? Their choice in 1959 was: the Zurich solution or partition, between Greece and Turkey. It’s like a thief putting a gun on your back, telling you “your money or your life”. That is your choice, your own free will. Hand over your money or you are dead. The Zurich solution was political partition. In 2004, forty three years later, the Greek Cypriots are faced with the same choice: the Annan Plan or no solution. Is there a difference between Zurich and Lucerne? Yes, the Annan plan is worse.
Lucerne was the culmination of the settlement set in motion in 1959. The Greek Cypriot leadership was trapped in New York into a series of diplomatic maneuvers, with no exit. Kofi Annan’s 5th and final proposal was put in their hands on April 1, an appropriate day, fools day? The only choice for the Cypriots is to approve or reject the plan. Ankara is celebrating, the Greek Cypriots are mourning.
The Greek Cypriot leaders were at a disadvantage. Turkey occupies 37% of Cyprus since 1974. The occupied north has been Turkified, with 120,000 settlers from Anatolia. 200,000 Greek Cypriots were evicted by the invading Turkish armies. The powers that be, the Anglo-Americans, and the controlling forces at the United Nations, were on the side of Turkey. The Greek Cypriots had to pay the price.
The Turkish side insisted on a two-state solution to legitimize the de facto partition of Cyprus, strengthened the bizonality of the Turkish Cypriot “constituting” state, guarantee the military presence of Turkey (and Greece) in Cyprus after Turkey is a member of the EU, the continued presence of the 120,000 colonizers, and political equality at all levels of the central “federal” government.
The Greek side was not expecting an ideal solution. Every compromise in the negotiations revolved around the political realities (Ertogan’s term) created by Turkish invasion and occupation. The Greek side accepted a bizonal federal solution in 1977, with a political structure which would be stable, functional, and unifying. It tacitly accepted the reality of the settlers, but only those who had families in Cyprus could stay. It wanted an adjustment to the territorial division in the Annan Plan to accommodate the maximum return of Greek Cypriot refugees to their homes. These were not unreasonable demands. Reason had no place at Lucerne, nor with the UN functionaries.
What did the Greek Cypriots get at Lucerne, to justify a “yes” vote for the referendum?
The Turkish Cypriots are about 80,000-90,000 or 10% of the population of Cyprus, if the settlers are not included. In 1960, they were 18%. Many Turkish Cypriots left, to avoid the economic hardships of the occupation and the dictatorship of Denktash. The Greek Cypriots are 90% (including Armenians, Maronites, and others). These historical facts were disregarded by the US and British mediators and Annan and his men at Lucerne.
Why? The balance of power was not on the side of the Greek Cypriots, nor Greece. US and UK wanted to meet Ankara’s demands in Cyprus and Turkey’s accession to the EU. Turkey is their window into the Islamic world where the greatest oil reserves of the world are situated.
Unfortunately Greece is not that important in Washington’s calculations. Greece is also in need of stability, put an end to the conflicts in Cyprus and the Aegean. Athens even took the lead to promote Turkey’s accession into the European Union. It accepted the Kofi Annan plan as the basis for negotiations, on the premise that all will be well in the end. This is the logic in Athens, from Simitis to Karamanlis. It made sense, to anyone with goodwill, who sees the world with tinted glasses. Reality is something else. If the Kofi Annan Plan on Cyprus reflects Athen’s rapproachment with Ankara, is this the precedent for an Aegean settlement?
Good will towards Ankara, London, and Washington unfortunately didn’t bring favorable results Two states will exist parallel with each other, on the basis of political equality (proportional representation at the lower house and the increase in the presidential council aside), the settlers/colonizers will stay in Cyprus with full citizenship and political rights, the Turkish army will remain even after Turkey is a member of the EU. The settler-refugee issues were left hanging, to be sorted out on the basis of the 67% (Turkish)-33% (Greek) ratio allowed in the Turkish Cypriot state by the Annan plan.
It is clear that on the vital issues (territory; settlers/colonizers; and occupation army), the Greek Cypriots got very little at Lucerne. The portion of Karpasia (canton) to be inhabited by Greek Cypriots will be land-locked. So are those villages at Morphou. One can imagine the Karpasites, whose lives have been connected with the sea, will look at the sea from a distance because they will be landlocked. These villages will be enclaves or cantons, surrounded by Turkish Cypriots and settlers from Anatolia.
The political and territorial partition was based on what Ertogan referred to “the realities on the ground”. It was expected, but not the monstrosity of a solution offered as “final”. Kofi Annan, Alvaro deSoto, Thomas Weston acted were with the purpose to dispose of the Cyprus problem and secure Turkey’s accession into the European Union. This was understood, but why do the Greek Cypriots have to pay the price?
Cyprus will be in EU, not Turkey, on May 1st. The Greek Cypriots should vote NO to this monstrosity of a settlement plan.
The lure of cash to those who will abandon their homes permanently, the flooding of Cyprus with dollars and euros to buy votes, and the threats of worse to come if the Greek Cypriots say NO to the referendum are not enough to sell one’s conscience and country.