This set of three articles on the Annan Plan was written before the referendum in which the Cypriots unequivocally and rightly rejected the Annan Plan. Following the referendum, the Greek Cypriots were subjected to a barrage of unfair criticism from the anglophone and European press and assorted politicians and diplomats for exercising their democratic right to reject a “solution” which would have been disastrous for them.
On Monday 18 November after a three-hour-long meeting the National Council of Cyprus agreed by a majority vote to accept the Annan Plan as a basis for negotiations towards a settlement of the “Cyprus Problem”. The Turkish side’s response was to ask for more time because the leader of the Turkish Cypriots Rauf Denktash was recovering from heart surgery in New York, and the Turkish government was still in transition after the recent elections.
Annan has set a very tight deadline for resolving the Cyprus Problem. He wants an agreement before the European Union summit on 12 December, when the leaders of the European Union will meet in Copenhagen to decide on enlargement, including the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. The Summit will also decide what to do about Turkey’s membership aspirations, and Turkey is hoping that it will be given a date for the start of membership negotiations. Clearly Annan is hoping that Turkey’s European Union aspirations will make it more flexible over Cyprus, and, no doubt, he is also calculating that at this delicate stage, the Greek Cypriots will not want to jeopardise their accession to the European Union by turning down his proposals.
The Turkish side is complaining loudly about the tight schedule, since it would prefer the outcome of the European Union summit regarding its European future not to be dependent on its response to the Annan Plan, which most Turkish commentators seem to regard as not favourable enough to their side. However Turkish intransigence on Cyprus would give the European Union one more excuse, if it needs any more, to leave Turkey knocking at the door.
The Annan Plan can be read in English or Greek at the Cyprus News Agency web site at http://www.cna.org.cy/. It is a long document, containing much that is controversial. I intend over the next few weeks to express some personal views on the Plan, which, on a first reading, seems to contain a lot of concessions to Turkish intransigence, and little that will gladden the hearts of Greek Cypriots.
A Turkish Victory
In many respects, my view of the Plan is the same as that of the journalist Mehmet Ali Birand, who recently published a column in the Turkish Daily News (16 Nov. 2002) with the title “In Cyprus Turks Have Won”.
Commenting on the Annan Plan he wrote that “the Cyprus that is going to be built anew is going to be a Turkish victory”, and describes the Plan as a proposal of “historic importance” which “gives the Turkish side its rights”. He then elaborates as follows:
“In 1974 the Greek Cypriots had ‘lost’ on a de facto basis. Now, these losses are being put down on record legally. Denktash’s dreams have been fulfilled….. We should be crying out, celebrating the victory, rather than wailing.”
It follows from what he says that the Greek Cypriots, the majority indigenous population of Cyprus, should be wailing!
Ironically, the most positive provision of the Annan Plan is Article 35, which provides for the possibility of amendments to the proposed constitution. This is an improvement on the 1960 constitution, which was foisted on Cyprus by Britain, Turkey, and Greece. That constitution was “carved in stone” in the sense that it offered no mechanism for change of its “basic articles” whereas the Annan Plan does at least have the advantage of allowing for change in response to future developments or stalemates.
To be accepted, amendments to the constitution would have to be approved by a separate majority in a referendum in each component state. However the need for a separate majority means that 50% plus one of the Turkish Cypriots—at most a mere 10% of the total population of Cyprus—will be able to block any changes to the constitution. This hardly represents a victory for democracy.
… and the Worst
The worst aspect of the Annan Plan is its frequent insistence on political equality between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. For example, the preamble to the Foundation Agreement requires that the two sides acknowledge that their relationship “is not one of majority and minority but of political equality”. This is pure Denktash-speak, and is indicative of just how much the Annan Plan represents an attempt to appease Denktash. In Denktash’s ultra-Turkish-nationalist mindset, Turks, the former rulers of Cyprus, are too good to be “just a minority”. They are too good to be “ruled by the Greek-Cypriots”. So exalted are they in his eyes that they are entitled to force 200,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and ancestral villages, entitled to take over some of the best real estate in Cyprus at gunpoint, and entitled to demand that the Greek Cypriots accept this state of affairs and accept that each Turkish Cypriot should have four times more say in the governance of Cyprus than each Greek-Cypriot.
Majorities & Minorities
The Greek Cypriots are at least 80% of the legitimate population of Cyprus. If one takes into account reports that more than half of the population in the occupied territory is made up of Turkish soldiers and illegal settlers then the Greek Cypriots may in fact be as much as 90% of the legitimate population of Cyprus.
Whatever the precise figures, what is certain is that a minority is a minority is a minority! It makes a nonsense of all principles of justice and fairness to allow a minority to impose partition by force on the majority population of a country and then expect that majority to endorse this fait accompli with its signature. To further expect that majority to sign away its rights as a majority and grant political equality to the minority is totally absurd, yet that is exactly what the Greek Cypriots seem to be expected to do by Mr Annan. The fact that just about every commentator seems to be blind to the absurdity of such a plan is testimony to the power of the forces that are aligned against the Greek Cypriots and the extent to which these forces control the debate about Cyprus.
One would have hoped that the Secretary General of the UNO could have come up with a plan for Cyprus that espoused democratic principles, and reflected both demographic realities and principles of fairness and justice. But perhaps one should not expect too much from an organisation which is struggling to remain both relevant and independent in the face of US pressure to toe the line. We all know which way the USA leans when it comes to Cyprus, and given the USA’s need to use bases in Turkey to invade Iraq, we would be foolish to expect it to lean in any other direction. Once again Cyprus is a pawn in Great Power politics, and the rights of the Greek Cypriots are about to be sacrificed by those who control this particular game of chess.
PS: It should come as no surprise that, according to the US State Department Special Co-ordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, the USA strongly supports the Annan Plan.
The Annan Plan begins with a short document called “Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem”, which is made up of four articles relating to five Appendices:
Appendix A: Foundation Agreement
Appendix B: Measures to accompany and facilitate the finalisation process
Appendix C: Treaty between Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom on matters related to the new state of affairs in Cyprus
Appendix D: Matters to be submitted to the United Nations Security Council for decision
Appendix E: Requests to the European Union with respect to the accession of Cyprus
The Appendices contain not just a series of numbered articles but also Attachments and draft Annexes, which can be quite substantial. For example, the whole of the Constitution is a draft Annex to the Foundation Agreement, which is itself a draft Annex to Appendix C!
Signatories to the “Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem” would be Clerides “for the Greek Cypriot side” and Denktash “for the Turkish Cypriot side”, and in signing they would be accepting, amongst other things, the “main articles” of the Foundation Agreement (Articles 1-13), and a specific boundary between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot “component states”. Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom would also sign to indicate their agreement.
The Finalisation Process
Following the agreement of all parties to the Comprehensive Settlement, which is supposed to take place by 12 December 2002, the “Finalisation Process” would begin. Effectively the signing of the Comprehensive Settlement would mark the beginning of what may be an irrevocable course which could only be brought to a halt without political and diplomatic cost by an adverse referendum. During the period of the Finalisation Process, the main activity of government would be negotiation of the draft Annexes, and the two leaders would be expected to “restrict their activities, and the activities of their authorities, to business strictly indispensable for the functioning of their authorities”.
The Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiators would have to finalise all of the draft Annexes by 28 February 2003. The final agreed form of the Foundation Agreement would then be submitted to the populace for approval in separate referenda on 30 March 2003.
The percentage of the vote that would be required for acceptance of the Agreement is not stated. My view is that for something as important as this it ought to be at least 67%. (In the 1960 constitution, non-basic articles could only be amended by separate majorities of two thirds. This agreement constitutes an “amendment” of all the articles of the 1960 constitution, basic or otherwise.)
One wonders whether Turkish settlers in the occupied territory would be able to vote in the referendum. It would be scandalous indeed to have the future of Cyprus dependent on the vote of illegal settlers, but this may well be what happens.
There is a sly catch built into the process envisaged by the Annan Plan. The referenda would tie approval of the Foundation Agreement to the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, so that a rejection of the Foundation Agreement would also be a rejection of European Union membership. This is unfair to the citizens of Cyprus and would tend to create the misleading impression that the Foundation Agreement has to be accepted if Cyprus is to join the European Union. The two issues should be separated, otherwise, in the event of a rejection, the Republic of Cyprus would have to immediately hold a second referendum on the issue of European Union accession.
In fact given the timing proposed by the Annan Plan and the way it incorporates accession to the European Union, it almost seems as if the Plan is a last ditch attempt to tie Cyprus’ accession to the European Union to a settlement with (read “capitulation to”) the Turkish Cypriots. When one considers that the Greek Cypriots have precious few cards to play in their negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots and that membership of the European Union would finally give them not the upper hand but a better hand, the hasty moves by the United Nations Secretary General to forestall a situation where the Greek Cypriots would be able to take a tougher stand in support of legitimate rights seem downright mean-spirited.
If either one of the referenda fails to endorse the Foundation Agreement, the whole package would automatically become null and void. Otherwise, the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, along with Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, would sign Appendix C which would then be registered as an international treaty with the United Nations.
More or less the whole package proposed by Annan is contained in Appendix C, which, when finalised, would include the Foundation Agreement and Constitution, as well as articles reaffirming the 1960 Treaties of Alliance and Guarantee.
With regard to the latter, once again Turkey would have the right to take action unilaterally in Cyprus (read “invade”) in order to restore the constitution (read “impose a new order by force”), just as she did in 1974!
Personally, I can see no reason why Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom should be signatories to anything other than an acknowledgement that they recognise Cyprus to be an independent state over which they have no claim. The Treaties of Alliance and Guarantee have been nullified by the actions of these three signatories, who have often acted against the best interests of the Cypriots. Turkey violated the Treaty of Guarantee by invading and partitioning the island instead of restoring the constitution it was sworn to protect, and continues to violate that treaty to the present day. Britain demonstrated that her signature as a guarantor was worthless when she did not even put up a symbolic resistance to the Turkish invasion, and Greece (admittedly while under the rule of a US-sponsored junta led by a US-sponsored lunatic) tried to depose the elected President of Cyprus in order to install a puppet government that would agree to the dismemberment of the island republic. History has shown that Cyprus would be better off without the treaties of Alliance and Guarantee.
The British Bases & Demilitarisation
The Annan Plan is silent on the issue of the British military bases but given that the Treaty of Establishment is reaffirmed in the Foundation Agreement itself, where it is stated that it will apply mutatis mutandis (i.e., with due alteration of details), it would seem that the United Kingdom will continue to retain sovereignty over 99 square miles of Cyprus as well as fairly extensive rights outside of the bases where these are deemed necessary for the effective use of the bases.
The continued existence of the bases, and the provision for contingents of Greek and Turkish troops on the island envisaged by the Treaty of Alliance do not sit well with the demilitarisation of Cyprus which the Annan Plan proposes. In Article 6 of the new constitution it is stated that the “common state and the component states shall be demilitarized”, that there shall be “no paramilitary or reserve forces or military or paramilitary training of citizens”, and “all weapons, except licensed sporting guns, shall be prohibited”. Also, Cyprus is “not to put its territory at the disposal of international military operations other than with the consent of Greece and Turkey”.
The same article goes on to state that its provisions are “without prejudice to the provisions of the Treaty of Establishment, the Treaty of Guarantee, the Treaty of Alliance”!
Presumably this means that if Britain wanted to allow its military bases to be used for international military operations it could do so, regardless of the views of the Cypriots, Greece or Turkey, whereas the Cypriots would not have a similar freedom of action.
It would be better to completely demilitarise Cyprus, and by this I mean no British bases, and certainly no Greek or Turkish troops; only UN peacekeepers for as long as they are considered necessary. My reasoning is that since Cyprus is not in a position to defend itself successfully against any determined invader, it would be better if it simply relied on the continuation of a relatively stable international order, and the goodwill of the nations in the region.
As for the British bases, even if it was deemed by the government of Cyprus that their presence was desirable, their status should not be that of sovereign British territory by God-given right. This is a colonial relic that must be put aside. Britain should have to negotiate with the government of Cyprus for the right to have bases in Cyprus, and be indebted to Cyprus for the granting of such a right.
The point from where this picture was taken (Dherynia in 1998) was about as close as Greek Cypriots could get to Varosi (the modern part of Famagusta). When Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and her troops marched on Famagusta, the Greek Cypriots of the city fled to safety. They have never been allowed to return, but nor has Turkey dared defy international opinion and introduce settlers into the city, consequently it has become a ghost town—a testament to the bloody-mindedness of the leaders of the occupying forces. The last time I set foot in Famagusta, in 1972, it was a bustling harbour town and Cyprus’ premier seaside tourist resort.
The number of Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus has fallen from 120,000 in 1974 to 88,000 in 2000, as a result of the emigration of approximately 55,000 Turkish Cypriots. Over the same period 115,000 Turkish nationals have been settled in the occupied territory.
Last September, in his preliminary report on the “colonisation by Turkish settlers of the occupied part of Cyprus” to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Finnish rapporteur Jaakko Laakso noted that “although Greek Cypriots constituted over 78% of the total population in 1973, and 77% in 1992, they now stand for 76%, due to the inflow of Turkish settlers”. According to Laakso this “creates a real threat that in the long-term the considerable increase in the numbers of the Turkish-speaking population might be used for a justification of the inordinate claims of the Turkish side regarding territorial arrangements and political powers in a final settlement of the Cyprus problem.” He needn’t have used the phrase “in the long-term”.
Despite the seriousness of the issue, the Annan Plan has nothing at all to say about settlers! What the Plan does offer is a set of measures that, in combination, would probably grant most of the settlers Cypriot citizenship. This is entirely unacceptable. Turkey ought to be held responsible for the repatriation of all the settlers it has exported to Cyprus.
If the Annan Plan comes into force, the following will be considered citizens of Cyprus:
Any person who held Cypriot citizenship in 1960 and his or her descendants;
Any 18 year old person who was born in Cyprus and has permanently resided for at least seven years in Cyprus;
Any person who is married to a Cypriot citizen and has permanently resided for at least two years in Cyprus; and
Minor children of the persons in the above categories who are permanently residing in Cyprus.
As a result of “b” and “c”, some of the children of Turkish settlers and any settlers married to Turkish Cypriots will be granted Cypriot citizenship.
The remaining settlers could gain Cypriot citizenship through a special measure which allows for “persons whose names figure on a list agreed by the parties to the Comprehensive Settlement” to be considered citizens of Cyprus. These persons will be listed with their spouses and children, “unless there are specific reasons preventing such spouses and children from being considered citizens of Cyprus”.
Any settlers not covered by the above provisions could acquire citizenship by naturalisation, since any foreigner over 18 who has legally resided in Cyprus for at least seven consecutive years may apply for Cypriot citizenship. The word “legally” should exclude settlers from this provision, but, since the Annan Plan implicitly recognises the legitimacy of the Turkish Cypriot administration, I doubt that the requirement for legal residence will prove an obstacle to the naturalisation of settlers.
It should also be borne in mind that Cyprus will be expected to extend to Turkish nationals the same rights as are extended to the citizens of Greece. Thus Turkish nationals would be able to reside in Cyprus as if Turkey too were a European Union country. However the Annan Plan does limit the number of Turkish nationals residing in Cyprus to 10% of the “number of resident Cypriot citizens who hold the internal component state citizenship status of the Turkish Cypriot component state”. A similar limit will also apply to Greek nationals.
Property in Areas Subject to Territorial Adjustment
Owners of property in areas that are to be given back to the Greek Cypriots will be entitled to reinstatement of their property. However they will have to wait for the Property Board to determine that the property is “eligible for reinstatement”, and reinstatement will take place only when the current user has been “relocated”. Reinstatement will be “no later than three years after entry into force of the Foundation Agreement”.
Alternatively, owners can claim “compensation” from the Property Board at “current value” in exchange for the title to their property.
“Current value” means the value of the property at the time of dispossession, “plus an adjustment to reflect appreciation based among other things on increase in average sale prices of properties in Cyprus in comparable locations in the intervening period”. The increase will be calculated “on the hypothesis that events between 1963 and 1974 had not taken place, i.e. not take into account depreciation in values due to those events”. If possible it will be “based on comparable locations where property prices were not negatively affected by those events”.
Property in the Turkish Cypriot Component State
Only some of the Greek Cypriots who own property in the Turkish Cypriot component state will have their property “reinstated”, the rest will be compensated at “current value”.
Claimants will have to wait at least three years after the Foundation Agreement enters into force for their property to be reinstated if it is vacant, and at least five years if it is occupied.
The percentage of property that will be reinstated will be limited to a figure yet to be agreed, and eligible claimants will be “awarded reinstatement based on priority in descending order of age, until the agreed levels are reached”.
Property will not be reinstated if it is “required for military purposes”, if it has been “significantly improved”, if it is being used for “public benefit purposes”, or if it is being used by “dispossessed owners” or “subsequent purchasers from dispossessed owners”.
Notice that reinstatement is seen not as a right, which it undoubtedly is, but as an “award”.
The Return of Refugees
Given the decision to allow the Turkish Cypriots to keep approximately 28% of Cyprus (even though they now account for only 11.6% of the legitimate population), the proposed border between the two component states has been drawn in such a way as to allow as many Greek Cypriots as “possible” to return to their homes and villages (in theory). However, the great majority of refugees will find that their homes are in the Turkish Cypriot component state, and that only a fraction of them will be allowed to return.
For these latter refugees, the Annan Plan envisages a very slow rate of return spread over 20 years, and only up to a limit of one third of the population of the Turkish Cypriot component state. Thus in the first year only 1% would be allowed to return, then 4% by the fourth year, 7% by the seventh year, etc. These percentage limits would also apply at municipality and village level (with some exceptions).
Priority will be given to those “to whom properties have been reinstated by order of the Property Board, and their families; second to other persons who were inhabitants of the relevant municipality or village before 1963 or 1974 respectively, and their families; and third to the heirs of either category of persons.”
Each component state would have the right to limit the exercise of political rights at state level to those holding its citizenship, and residence in the component state would not automatically bestow political rights in that state.
However any Cypriot citizen “who has been resident in a component state for any seven consecutive years shall be entitled to apply for the internal component state citizenship status of that component state”.
This last provision is not clarified. Would the authorities be obliged to grant citizenship status? Under what circumstances could they refuse it?
Compensation for Loss of Use of Property
In May 2001 the European Court of Human Rights judged in the case of Cyprus v. Turkey that with regard to the homes and properties of displaced Greek Cypriots, Turkey was guilty of a continuing violation of Articles 8 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and Article 1 of Protocol 1.
These judgements were made because Turkey refuses “to allow the return of any Greek-Cypriot displaced persons to their homes in northern Cyprus”; because “Greek-Cypriot owners of property in northern Cyprus were being denied access to and control, use and enjoyment of their property as well as any compensation for the interference with their property rights”; and because Turkey was not providing Greek-Cypriot displaced persons “any remedies to contest interferences with their rights”.
Also, in the case of Loizidou v. Turkey, the European Court of Human Rights found that “denial of access to property in northern Cyprus was imputable to Turkey”, and ordered Turkey to pay compensation of 320,000 Cyprus pounds to Titina Loizidou for the loss of use of her property.
With these two judgements, Turkey has been forced into a corner. It is liable to be faced in the near future with a flood of lawsuits at the European Court of Human Rights brought by displaced Greek Cypriots. These lawsuits could prove very costly indeed for Turkey… or they would if the Annan Plan didn’t come to the rescue. The Plan states that claims for compensation for loss of use of property will be “considered by the component state from which the claimant hails” (To what end, one wonders.) and further dictates that the “common state and the component states shall… request the European Court of Human Rights to strike out any proceedings currently before it concerning affected property.”
So much for property rights!
But the issue is not just about property and financial compensation. The decisions of the European Court of Human Rights point in one direction only. All displaced Cypriots have the right to return to their homes. The Annan Plan wants to take that right from them.
Following the referendum, the backers of the Annan Plan, led by Britain and the USA, used the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Plan to pull off a propaganda coup whereby the blame for the continuing division of Cyprus was apportioned to the Greek Cypriots. The acceptance of the democratic principle that the will of the people who would have to live with the consequences of the Annan Plan had to be respected seemed to count for nothing with most commentators. Nor did the facts that:
on the Turkish Cypriot side Turkish settlers, whose presence constitutes a war crime, were allowed to vote;
even the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish settlers “yes” vote did not reach the two thirds majority required by the 1960 Constitution of Cyprus;
taking the vote of both sides as a whole, in sum more Cypriots voted against the plan than for it.
Most commentators also chose not to consider that the Cypriots may have had very good reasons for rejecting the “reunification” offered by the Annan Plan. However, some few commentators did have the sense to see that the Annan plan was deeply flawed, and were principled enough to say so publicly, even if anglophone and European media ignored them or played down their statements. I give here two exemplary quotes from Alfred de Zayas, professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and formerly a senior UN official:
I consider the Annan plan to be fundamentally flawed. To put it in common language I consider that plan to be a non-starter. It is so incompatible with international law and international human rights norms that it is nothing less than shocking that the organisation would bend to political pressure and political interest on the part of my country of nationality [the USA] and Great Britain, in order to cater for the interests of a NATO partner.
I think it is not salvageable, quite honestly. I think it cannot be saved, and if it were saved I think it would be a major disservice not only to the Cypriot people but a disservice to international law; because everything that we at the UN have tried to build over 60 years, the norms of international law that have emerged in international treaties, in resolutions of the Security Council, would be weakened if not made ridiculous by an arrangement that essentially ignores them, makes them irrelevant or acts completely against the letter and spirit of those treaties and resolutions. 
This is a slightly revised version of a set of three articles on the Annan Plan which appeared in Neos Kosmos English Weekly (Melbourne) 25 Nov., 2 & 9 Dec. 2002. The Annan Plan under discussion here is Annan Plan 1 which was made public on 11 November 2002. This first draft-proposal version underwent numerous revisions before being put to a referendum. The final form of the Plan, Annan Plan 5, was quite different in many details, and much worse for the Greek Cypriots. (See Claire Palley, An International Relations Debacle: The UN Secretary-General's Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus 1999-2004. [Hart Publishing, 2005.])
When one thinks about it, the Annan Plan could be seen as an effort to change the constitution of Cyprus so that Turkey is no longer in violation of the Treaty of Guarantee. Wouldn’t it be simpler to force Turkey to honour the Treaty instead?
From the Cyprus Weekly, 14 September 2005.
Accessed from http://alfreddezayas.com/Interviews/cyprusweekly.shtml on 16 September 2011.
See also http://alfreddezayas.com/Articles/cyprussettlers.shtml