- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 6, 2004

A historic opportunity was lost in Cyprus, and no amount of rhetoric can distort this fact or exonerate the Greek Cypriot leadership from responsibility.

The Turkish Cypriots accepted the recent United Nations Plan for a settlement (the Annan Plan) not because they “loved” or agreed with every aspect, but because they showed the courage and maturity to take the leap of faith asked of them by the international community. Furthermore, prior to the referenda, they were literally promised the world for a “yes” vote — integration with the international community through the lifting of the isolation, European Union membership with all its economic, social and political benefits, etc. Instead we have witnessed the unilateral entry of the Greek Cypriot side into the EU while the Turkish Cypriots remain left out in the cold. Today, we can’t help ask ourselves the cynical question: “Does any good deed remain unpunished?”

In his recent article in The Washington Times (“Cyprus: the way forward,” Oct. 26, 2004), Tassos Papadopoulos claims “the Greek Cypriots did not vote against the solution or the reunification of Cyprus. They rejected this particular plan.” U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the plan’s architect, disagrees. In his report of May 28, 2004, he observed “what was rejected was the solution itself rather than a blueprint.” (Security Council document S/2004/437 dated May 28, 2004, paragraph 83.) Mr. Annan is not alone in his assessment, as numerous other American, European and international observers have criticized the intransigence of Mr. Papadopoulos’ administration.

The Greek Cypriot leader’s claim that “the plan satisfied most, if not all, of Turkey’s demands and those of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, but failed to address the legitimate security and other concerns of Greek Cypriot voters” is remarkably self-righteous. I suggest he reads the lengthy section in the above-mentioned report titled “improvements largely inspired by Greek Cypriot concerns.” Mr. Papadopoulos’ presentation totally ignores the heavy sacrifices the Turkish Cypriots would have had to make under the plan: Nearly a quarter of the Turkish Cypriot territory would have been ceded to the Greek Cypriot side; a quarter of the Turkish Cypriot population would have been dislocated (some for the second, third and even fourth time); tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots would have flooded the North; and Turkish troops would have withdrawn within a reasonable time frame to a symbolic level of 650, and even that would be subject to periodic reviews with a view to complete withdrawal.

All this in return for a life as equal human beings with a fair share in a legitimate, bicommunal partnership state, whose government the Greek Cypriots unconstitutionally usurped in 1963. But even this was too much for the Greek Cypriots who regard us as a mere “minority” in a “Greek Cyprus” and as second-class citizens.

The “functionality” argument is all too familiar to us. It was under this slogan that the Greek Cypriot leadership, which also included Mr. Papadopoulos, willfully destroyed the bicommunal Cyprus government of 1960 by force of arms to annex the island to Greece (enosis). This slogan may no longer be used today, but the Greek Cypriot ambition to dominate the island continues. In fact, this is the subtext in Mr. Papadopoulos’ argument about “a functioning state structure,” in which sheer numbers, not a system of checks-and-balances, will prevail.

Before calling Mr. Annan an “arbitrator,” Mr. Papadopoulos should remember it was the two leaders (including himself) who authorized the secretary-general through the agreement reached in New York on Feb. 13, 2004, to “fill in the gaps” in his plan, if the two sides failed to agree on it. His ex-post-facto criticism of the finalized plan, therefore, is contrived and misleading.

Mr. Papadopoulos’ overtures to “engage in renewed efforts” is nothing but a ploy to absolve himself of responsibility for the rejection of the plan and to divert attention from the issue of lifting the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. Experience shows only this will give the necessary motivation to the Greek Cypriots for genuine reconciliation on the basis of political equality.

OSMAN ERTUG

Representative

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

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