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Media Watch 2005

20 May 2005
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author:
Comment: The following leader article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 20 May 2005.
Commissioner Rehn's fumbled words
"He avoided pointing out... that this "free movement" is anything but that as the Turkish side continues to restrict the right of Greek Cypriots to return to the north and to regain their properties, a right recognised by the Human Rights Court of the Council of Europe that has found Turkey guilty repeatedly on this count and ordered not only to recognise the refugees right to return, but also ordered it to compensate them for the loss of use of their properties all these years... While speaking of the "isolation" of the Turkish Cypriots, he avoids any reference to the fact that this "isolation" was imposed as a sanction by the UN Security Council. This sanction called on all UN member states to observe it as long as Turkey continued to reject the Security Council resolutions demanding the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops and mainland settlers, and the return of the ethnically cleansed Greek Cypriots refugees to their homes in the north... Rehn has clearly failed to grasp, or deliberately ignores, the very valid reasons for which the Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan Plan so overwhelmingly -- first and foremost the permanent division of the island on a racist basis, with permanent restrictions on the refugees right to return and to regain their property, in violation of the decisions of the Rights Court, and the fundamental principles of the EU acquis."

Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for Expansion delivered a lengthy and inspired speech at the end of his visit to Cyprus last Friday, extolling the vision and statesmanship of Robert Schuman and Konrad Adenauer, the two leaders who laid the foundation of the great fraternity of today's European Union. He aptly described this achievement as based on a "lesson drawn from centuries of conflicts, divisions and hatreds".  The people of Cyprus have been suffering for just as long, just as much as their European brethern in this respect, and regretfully continue to do because of the enforced partition of the island.

Rehn said that the creation of the EU came about because the people of Europe realised that "there was only one option left: peace - but not just any peace but peace through unification." 

This was a clear indication by Commissioner Rehn that it is time that the Greek and Turkish Cypriots also got over their past differences by also working for "peace through unification." He added that "the Cypriots have also proved that the two communities can live peacefully together," as a result of the opening of the Green Line crossing points.

"Thousands of people cross the line daily. There is free movement of EU citizens," Rehn said.

He avoided pointing out however that this "free movement" is anything but that as the Turkish side continues to restrict the right of Greek Cypriots to return to the north and to regain their properties, a right recognised by the Human Rights Court of the Council of Europe that has found Turkey guilty repeatedly on this count and ordered not only to recognise the refugees right to return, but also ordered it to compensate them for the loss of use of their properties all these years.

This is hardly surprising of course as in his lengthy speech Commissioner Rehn avoids any mention of Turkey's primary role and responsibility for the continuing partition of the island.  While speaking of the "isolation" of the Turkish Cypriots, he avoids any reference to the fact that this "isolation" was imposed as a sanction by the UN Security Council. This sanction called on all UN member states to observe it as long as Turkey continued to reject the Security Council resolutions demanding the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops and mainland settlers, and the return of the ethnically cleansed Greek Cypriots refugees to their homes in the north.

He could have referred to this as the other "isolation" for which Turkey is fully responsible, and which is maintained in violation of the UN resolutions!

Rehn refers to the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriots, saying that "this was a disappointment for those who thought that a comprehensive solution was within reach. But in a democracy, the vote of the people must be accepted and their concerns taken into account. We must now turn to the future and draw the lessons from this setback.

"However it would be a mistake to throw away years of patient work. The Annan Plan may be amended and improved, but still it constitutes the framework for a settlement as it addresses all the core issues such as property, territory, security, and the institutions of a united island.''

It is a pity that Commissioner Rehn has clearly failed to grasp, or deliberately ignores, the very valid reasons for which the Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan Plan so overwhelmingly -- first and foremost the permanent division of the island on a racist basis, with permanent restrictions on the refugees right to return and to regain their property, in violation of the decisions of the Rights Court, and the fundamental principles of the EU acquis.

Why was it so difficult for Commissioner Rehn to declare that the EU supports a settlement of the Cyprus problem based on full respect of the EU acquis and human rights, without any derogations, so that all Cypriots can feel equally proud of being full and equal citizens of the great fraternity, where they will be able to live in peace and security without the weird undemocratic provisions of the Annan Plan.

As Rehn himself said the people of Europe realised that peace could only result from one option - "peace, but not just any peace, but peace through unification." The Greek Cypriots feel the same way, peace through a true unification of the country, and the citizens, and not one that legitimises the consequences of the Turkish occupation and enforced partition."