Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
Print this page Print Bookmark and Share
Media Watch 2004

28 April 2004
Source: Providence (Rhode Island) Journal
Author:
Comment: The following leader article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 30 April 2004.
Why Cyprus said No
"...Secretary-General of the United Nations appears so abysmally ignorant about this basic tenet of the Cyprus problem, or of the dreams, the feelings and the perfectly legal demand of the Greek Cypriot population... and is forced to depend too much on the advice of intermediaries like Messrs Hannay and Weston, whose objective is not the upholding of UN principles and respect for human rights and international law, but the defence of their national interests... what is right is not the cumbersome plan whose basis is the circumvention of the basic Security Council resolutions calling for an end to the Turkish occupation and the return of the refugees."

Kofi Annan’s latest remarks on Cyprus indicate more clearly than ever that he has yet to grasp the most fundamental aspect of the Cyprus problem.

In his comments on Monday on the rejection of his lopsided and controversial plan by the Greek Cypriots in Saturday’s referendum, he had the temerity to argue that he hoped that “after they (the Greek Cypriots) have had a chance to think, they will reach the conclusion that reunification is to the best interest of the Cypriots, and they may pick up what is left and see where to go in the future.’’

For a man who has been so actively involved in the Cyprus problem, to the point that the UN reunification plan bears his name, it is astounding that he feels that the Greek Cypriots are against reunification.

It is the Greek Cypriots, more than anyone, who have been hoping, praying and working all these years for a just settlement based on the UN Security Council resolutions that demand the reunification of Cyprus as a single state, the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and settlers, and above all the return of the refugees, something that is not possible without reunification.

Proclaimed a saint
Kofi Annan would have been proclaimed a saint by Greek Cypriots if his plan had been based on the implementation of these Security Council resolutions instead of his pretence that they do not exist.

All those powers accusing the Greek Cypriots of voting No because they are allegedly opposed to the reunification of the island ignore the fact that the Greek Cypriots have been living with one dream all these years since the 1974 invasion and the consequent ethnic cleansing of the Greek Cypriot population of the Turkish-occupied north.

This dream has been summed up by the simple slogan “I don’t forget’’ - three words that express the wish of every Greek Cypriot to regain the lost homesteads and ancestral homes in the occupied north, where hundreds of generations of their forebears had been living for thousands of years.

This continuity is proved by the Greek names of the Greek Cypriot towns and villages.

These have remained unchanged since the days of Homer, who mentioned some of them, until the contemporary savage, and illegal, Turkish move in the wake of the invasion to rechristen them with new names, using Turkish words, like “new so and so,’’ in a desperate attempt to wipe out the historical continuity linking these communities with their inherited culture and ancient traditions!

Abysmally ignorant
One may well ask, how dare Annan insult the Greek Cypriots by insinuating that they do not realise that the reunification of Cyprus is good for all the people of the island.

It was even more astounding and insulting that the UN Secretary-General went on to declare condescendingly that “they’’ - the Greek Cypriots that is - “may wish to pick up what is left and see where we go from here.’’

The Greek Cyriots have had a very steady sense of direction all these years, and a road map based on the signs put up by the Security Council resolutions that point the way to the return of the refugees to their homes and properties in the north.

It is hardly surpising, however, that the Honourable Secretary-General of the United Nations appears so abysmally ignorant about this basic tenet of the Cyprus problem, or of the dreams, the feelings and the perfectly legal demand of the Greek Cypriot population, since his own Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, made the monumental booboo during a press conference on the last day of the ill-fated Cyprus conference in Switzerland, by saying that there are no refugees in Cyprus.

At least de Soto had the courage, and the honesty, to apologise for this mistake in his last press conference in Nicosia last Saturday, after the referendum results.

One redeeming factor for Annan’s booboo may be that he is a terribly busy man. With so many international crises on his plate, he may not be fully informed about the true situation in Cyprus, and is forced to depend too much on the advice of intermediaries like Messrs Hannay and Weston, whose objective is not the upholding of UN principles and respect for human rights and international law, but the defence of their national interests.

Satisfy Turkey
The main preoccupation of these intermediaries is to satisfy their close friend and ally, Turkey, the aggressor and convicted violator of international law and human rights in Cyprus, and not a just and lasting settlement based on respect for UN principles, human rights and the judgements of the Human Rights Court of the Council of Europe.

We have appealed to Kofi Annan to do what is right in the case of Cyprus, and what is right is not the cumbersome plan whose basis is the circumvention of the basic Security Council resolutions calling for an end to the Turkish occupation and the return of the refugees.

We hope, and pray, that he may yet consider our appeal, and after thinking about the reasons for the overwhelming rejection of his plan by the Greek Cypriots, he may follow his own advice so that he, himself “may pick up what is left and see where to go in the future.’’

Where to go
When it comes to determining “where to go’’ Annan and the other officials dealing with Cyprus need to adopt a more even-handed approach. They must take into consideration that both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots have deep worries and concerns, particularly about their security in the future.

While the Turkish Cypriot security concerns are covered in the Annan Plan through the continuing presence in Cyprus of thousands of Turkish troops for nearly 20 years, and eventually by the 650 that will remain in perpetuity, the even stronger Greek Cypriot fears and security worries are dismissed.

This approach was stressed by President Papadopoulos, when he talked to the foreign press corps on the island on Sunday.

He pointed out that “the basic concerns of the Greek Cypriot side, within the spirit of the plan, have been disregarded.’’

He added that everybody involved in the talks “was anxious to ensure a ‘yes’ vote by the Turkish Cyoriot community,’’ ignoring the fact that the Greek Cypriots also needed to be convinced to vote ‘yes’, with the result that the legitimate concerns of both sides were ignored”.

The plan ignores the fact that it is the Greek Cypriots who were ethnically cleansed from the north by the Attila hordes and that the continuing presence of Turkish troops on the island to allay Turkish Cypriot security worries, without taking into consideration the fears of the Greek Cypriots, is simply inexcusable.

This slanted approach of Annan was even more strongly stressed when in addressing Mehmet Ali Talat during the opening of the Burgenstock talks, he referred to the need to ensure respect for “the dignity’’ and the “security’’ of the Turkish Cypriots.

Apparently it never occurred to him that the Greek Cypriots also have “dignity’’ and “security’’ concerns, as he avoided saying so when he directly addressed Tassos Papadopoulos across the table a minute earlier."