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Media Watch 2005

15 July 2005
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Alex Efthyvoulos
Comment: The following editorial appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 15 July 2005.
Palley brands Annan Plan a "fiasco''
"The Annan Plan is "a fiasco'' designed specifically to legitimise the consequences of the Turkish invasion and occupation of north Cyprus... Palley is categorical in rejecting the plan even as a basis for negotiation... UN Secretariat's conduct on the Cyprus negotiations... "exceeded proper limits... The Secretariat sought to mislead the international community through the Secretary-General's Reports and briefings it prepared, so as to pressure a small state effectively to accept the consequences of aggression by a large neighbouring state allied to two permanent members of the Security Council''... the continuing perseverance of the United States and Britain, who are regarded as the real authors of the plan... "a significant opportunity to reach an agreed settlement was lost as a result of the conduct of the UN Secretariat, advised by the USA and the UK''... the long-standing UN policy of seeking to balance Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot interests "was abandoned in pursuit of extraneous aims''... "The UN Secretariat's behaviour and that of some permanent members of the Security Council should worry persons concerned with conflict-resolution issues wherever they may arise"... concerned by the slanted portrayal of the talks by the UN Secretariat, "an institution which the world presumes to be authoritative and impartial''... "Annan... would not have wished his name to be historically associated with such departures from international law and human rights standards... Annan's call to other states to end the "isolation" of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state "is beyond the scope of the Secretary-General's good offices mission and is also in direct contravention of Security Council resolutions and international law.""

What's the point of sticking to it?

The Annan Plan is "a fiasco'' designed specifically to legitimise the consequences of the Turkish invasion and occupation of north Cyprus.

That is the considered view of Claire Palley, the Constitutional Law adviser to Cypriot governments since 1980. She makes this statement this in her book - 'An International Relations Debacle' - a detailed and scholarly account of the controversial plan's conception and the subsequent strong-arm efforts by the UN Secretariat and other interested foreign parties to ensure its imposition on the Greek Cypriot side.

Palley is categorical in rejecting the plan even as a basis for negotiation arguing that what is needed is comprehensive negotiation rather than revamping of certain of its elements. She adds that "mere tinkering would result in another damaging failure to agree.

She charges that the UN Secretariat's conduct on the Cyprus negotiations from late 2002 and especially in March 2004 during the failed Burgenstock talks, and on what had transpired, "exceeded proper limits."

"The Secretariat sought to mislead the international community through the Secretary-General's Reports and briefings it prepared, so as to pressure a small state effectively to accept the consequences of aggression by a large neighbouring state allied to two permanent members of the Security Council.''

Her strong views take special significance in view of the persistence by both the Cyprus and Greek governments to accept the plan as a basis for discussion.

This was reiterated both by President Papadopoulos during this week's meeting of the National Council, and the new Greek ambassador Dimitris Rallis during the presentation of his credentials last week.

Palley, a British legal expert, has been responsible for advising four Cypriot presidents, Kyprianou, Vassiliou, Clerides and Papadopoulos, on international law and human rights issues and on what can and cannot be accepted as part of a settlement.

The question that arises (in view of her rejection of the plan, coupled to its equally overwhelming rejection in the Greek Cypriot referendum), is why this 'fiasco' is still accepted as a 'basis' for discussion instead of being cast into the waste paper basket.

Real authors
One can understand the continuing perseverance of the United States and Britain, who are regarded as the real authors of the plan, as well as of Annan himself, in browbeating the Greek Cypriot side into accepting the plan as the only acceptable basis for a settlement. What is hard to understand is the position of many Greek Cypriot leaders, including President Papadopoulos, who continue to declare that the plan can still be taken as a basis for discussion, as reportedly reiterated during this week's National Council meeting.

Palley minces no words in her conclusion that "a significant opportunity to reach an agreed settlement was lost as a result of the conduct of the UN Secretariat, advised by the USA and the UK.''

She explains that this was because the long-standing UN policy of seeking to balance Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot interests "was abandoned in pursuit of extraneous aims.''

Palley expresses the hope that the book "will cause international opinion-shapers to reflect on the need for comprehensive negotiations, rather than re-vamping of selected elements of the Annan Plan, Version V as put to referenda on April 24, 2004.''

She further warns that "any re-consideration should not be unduly delayed."

In her foreword, written months before the recent development of the rejection of the EU Constitution by France and the Netherlands and the growth of feeling in the EU against Turkey's membership, she warned that "if difficulties emerged with Turkey's EU application or governments changed, Turkey could well lose interest in resolving one of the world's most protracted conflicts, seriously destabilising the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean."

Evidence
Palley says the theme of her book "is not merely related to a small island Republic, whose problems are unfortunately considered an international nuisance."

She says: "The UN Secretariat's behaviour and that of some permanent members of the Security Council should worry persons concerned with conflict-resolution issues wherever they may arise. Decision-makers need to be alert as to what happened in the Cyprus process. Otherwise they risk facing similar complications.''

She says she decided to write her book because, as a person fully acquainted with the basis on which the talks were conducted and the various proposals made by all the parties involved, she became concerned by the slanted portrayal of the talks by the UN Secretariat, "an institution which the world presumes to be authoritative and impartial.''

Her objective was to present the actions of the parties concerned "more accurately and in correcting errors and misrepresentations in the Secretariat's Report (dealing with developments since early 2004), which if not set right, will harm future prospects for achieving a settlement.''

She notes that it is unfortunate that the UN involvement "has been personalised by having attributed to it the Secretary General's name.''

She partially absolves Annan of blame, saying that he "has been the foremost international public servant who, had he been more closely involved in the details, would not have wished his name to be historically associated with such departures from international law and human rights standards."

Palley says Annan, nevertheless, had the duty to ask, when proposals came to him for decision, whether the Secretariat was being well served "by this proposed or current action by its personnel" - pointing an accusing finger at Alvaro de Soto as the UN official responsible for the conduct of the talks.

Unlawful objective
She is also strongly critical of Annan's May 28, 2004 Report to the Security Council.

She says the "fulsome praise'' of the Report for the Turkish Cypriot side "was designed to secure an unlawful objective, namely to recommend, on the basis that the Turkish Cypriots had undone any rationale for pressuring and isolating them," that Turkey's subordinate local administration in occupied Cyprus should be given the economic attributes of an independent state without formally recognising it. That entity would then be able to function so that there would be no incentive to move to reunification of Cyprus.''

Palley concludes that "this tactic was an attempt to bypass a jus cogens rule of international law, which forbids recognition of the fruits of aggression.''

She adds that Annan's call to other states to end the "isolation" of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state "is beyond the scope of the Secretary-General's good offices mission and is also in direct contravention of Security Council resolutions and international law.''

She says this "continues to have serious adverse consequences by reason of encouraging States to embark on such measures, which will in turn encourage the beneficiaries ( the breakaway state) not to pursue an overall Cyprus settlement, but will instead facilitate the `TRNC' remaining separate and effectively independent, both economically and politically.''"