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Media Watch 2003

06 June 2003
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Charlie Charalambous
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 6 June 2003.
Hannay removed from his Cyprus duties


FEW tears were shed in Nicosia when Britain announced that its Special Representative to Cyprus, Lord David Hannay, would no longer be carrying out his duties and that his post would be indefinitely scrapped.

Following the failure of Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to reach a UN-brokered deal on a UN blueprint in March, Britain decided there was no point in keeping on its Cyprus envoy, whose seven-year tenure came to an end on Wednesday.

"We are satisfied with the fact that Britain says it has not lessened its interest in efforts to find a Cyprus settlement," said Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides.

He agreed it was "possible" that Hannay was no longer engaged because there was no sign of peace talks restarting soon.

"This is an internal issue for Britain. It will have no effect on efforts to forward procedures in solving the Cyprus problem," said the spokesman.

Recommended

Moreover, there was no diplomatic gesture of a job well done, or a customary "sorry to see him go" from the spokesman. More than likely, both sides were happy to see the back of a Cyprus-weary Hannay who "recommended" to British Prime Minister Tony Blair that his term should end.

Neither side made any secret of the fact that it treated Hannay with suspicion at best and there was no love lost between the 67-year-old career diplomat and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. 

Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots believed Hannay masterminded the Annan plan and both communities accused him of "appeasing" the other side on controversial power sharing and territorial issues. His posh demeanour and touch of arrogance won him few friends, especially as representative of the ex-colonial power and guarantor of Cyprus' independence. 

"I think its testament to him that he was disliked by both sides," one close observer told The Cyprus Weekly. 

"So, he must have been doing something right to get the balance required if he was accused of self-serving interests," the observer added. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged both sides to agree to his blueprint in order to allow a reunited Cyprus to join the European Union in 2004. 

As a result of the failure, a divided Cyprus signed an EU accession treaty in April, leaving the Turkish Cypriots out in the cold. Denktash was roundly blamed for the peace talks collapse and Annan said he would not launch any new initiative until there was the necessary political will to resolve the island's 29-year division.

This view was echoed by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw when announcing Hannay's post would be discontinued before the House of Commons.

."..Mr Denktash, bore prime responsibility. It is the British government's firm view that the Annan plan remains the best way forward," said Straw.

"We also concur with the Secretary General's judgement that he should not take any new initiative unless and until he is given solid reason by all parties that the political will exists necessary for a successful outcome," he added.

Finalising

Straw said both sides had to be prepared to commit to finalising the plan by a specific date and putting it to the people in separate referenda.

However, Denktash is clearly opposed to the UN plan and his refusal to take it to a referendum forced Annan to pull the plug on a painstaking four-year process.

The British Foreign Secretary told parliament that the announcement did not "indicate a weakening" of London's determination to work for a Cyprus problem under the UN aegis.

"Should events again make it appropriate for a Special Representative to be appointed, the government will not hesitate to do so," said Straw.

If there was deadly silence in Nicosia over Hannay's contribution, the British Foreign Secretary described the Lord of Chiswick as a man who worked with "enormous professionalism and dedication" and bestowed "great credit" on his country.

Although it's unlikely Hannay will be replaced any time soon, the British High Commission in Nicosia said it will fill in the void by working closely with the British embassies in Athens and Ankara for a Cyprus breakthrough."