Submission From Action for Cyprus (Midlands) Regarding UK Policy towards Cyprus and the Kofi Annan Plan for Solving the Cyprus Problem
Action for Cyprus (Midlands) welcomes the decision by the Foreign Affairs Committee to conduct an inquiry into UK policy towards Cyprus and to review British Policy in the light of the recent referenda on the Annan Plan. More importantly it provides an opportunity for organisations like ours to participate in the formulation of British foreign policy as should be the case in a truly democratic country that lays so much weight on international law and human rights.
AFC is a non-partisan organisation representing the interests of thousands of Cypriots living in the UK. Our sole concern and aim is to see a truly re-unified island where all the people of Cyprus can live together in peace and harmony, as they have lived for most of the last 400 years. Most of all we would like to see all Cypriots enjoy the same democratic freedoms and human rights as other European nationals and as provided for by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
We welcome a solution to the problem of Cyprus and the UN efforts to re-unify the island. However it is important that the solution proposed must not only be workable but it must be just and hence viable. The solution must truly unify the people that long to live together as one people and one nation state and to conform to international norms of justice and the rule of law.
It is very important for the Foreign Affairs Committee, when formulating a view on UK policy towards Cyprus, to understand not only the background to the Cyprus problem and the reasons for the results of the recent referenda, but also the significance of a just solution in a very much changed world following 9/11. It is imperative that foreign policy is, and is seen to be, conducted consistently across all issues and countries by invoking human and democratic rights, the rule of law and international agreements.
Should the UK Continue to Back the Annan Plan?
The Annan Plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriots, not because they do not want a solution to the Cyprus problem, as believed by some, but because the Plan legitimises the injustices of the forceful invasion and occupation of nearly 40% of Cyprus by Turkey, the displacement of nearly 500000 Cypriots (forced refugees and migrants living abroad at the time) from their homes and properties, and the deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing and demographic change pursued by Turkey. The Turkish Cypriots voted “Yes” because the proposed solution gives them a much better chance for economic prosperity than the current state of affairs even though they would prefer to see a truly united island. Basically the Annan plan was rejected because it provided improvements in the welfare of one side without addressing the concerns for human rights and international justice of the other side.
It is evident that the Secretary General’s Plan does not conform to the instructions of the UN that the proposed plan for Cyprus must conform to UN Resolutions and be compatible with the European body of legislation (the Acquis Communautaire) particularly that dealing with human rights which constitutes primary legislation. It sets the foundations for an unworkable constitution; it perpetuates the division among the people of Cyprus; it violates the basic human rights of all the Cypriots and constitutes them second class citizens of Europe.
We believe that the UK should not continue to back the Annan Plan as it is, but should support significant alterations that promote the true reunification of the island and its people and is compliant with the European Acquis, particularly with the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
We believe that a plan that enables all displaced persons to return to their villages, homes and properties within a maximum period of 5 years and safeguards human rights will attract a resounding “Yes” vote. This we believe can be accommodated by thinking outside the conventional (box) model of partitioning the island. The solution proposed should allow self government for all Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot towns and villages and shared power in mixed villages, with a strong central government that guarantees the territorial integrity of the state of Cyprus, with no borders separating the two communities. The UK is in the privileged position of playing the honest broker and strengthening its role and position on the island by offering to be the guarantor of the territorial integrity and security of a truly reunified island and people and ensuring the human rights of every citizen. This will eliminate the need for having Greek or Turkish troops on the island and will demonstrate value to the Cypriots for the continued existence of the British military bases on the island.
A truly unified Cyprus within the EU, and with UK having a pre-eminent role as guarantor power within an EU framework, will meet the requirements of the majority of Cypriots for peace and prosperity and will safeguard the interests of the UK.
The Implications for the EU of the admission of a divided Country:
It is not in the interest of Cyprus, the EU or the UK to have a situation where a Member State of the EU cannot enforce the Acquis across the whole of its territory. A speedy solution that truly unifies the island is essential to ensure ease of administration, harmonisation with EU law, application of international law, monitoring and control particularly against money laundering, drug trade and the fight against international terrorism. We believe that the Government of Cyprus attaches top priority to an early resolution of this state of affairs and has already embarked on a number of actual and announced policies to increase the welfare of the Turkish Cypriots and to encourage the greater integration of all the people of Cyprus. It is equally important for the EU and the UK to support this process within the legitimate framework of international law and justice.
What role should the UK play in the continuing process of negotiations?
Action for Cyprus believes that the UK should play a central role in the negotiations of a solution and should be prepared to push for innovative solutions and not be constrained against the framework pursued for the last 30 years, of a bizonal, bicommunal federal solution. The UK’s interests will best be served if it adopts a modern, fresh approach to international affairs and takes on the role of an honest broker. The UK should push for a solution that is consistent with UN resolutions and with the ideals and values of the EU and the Acquis. The UK should, in our suggested new role as honest broker, insist that human rights and fundamental freedoms, as enshrined in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as well as the UN Covenant on Civil Rights and Political Rights, be an integral part of the Cyprus Republic Constitution and that no exemptions should be allowed for the Cypriots, as is currently the case (Art 11(3) of Annan Plan).
Implications of the Annan’s Plan Rejection for the northern part of Cyprus.
It is highly regrettable that a mutually acceptable solution could not be found and that the two communities’ referenda results were diametrically opposed. Nevertheless the benefits to the northern part of Cyprus, since the lifting of the restrictions on the freedom of movement by the Turkish occupying forces and Cyprus joining the EU, are very real and substantial. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has put into action and has proposed a number of policies that will improve significantly the economic and social benefits of the Turkish Cypriots and enable them to achieve the same standards of living as if the Acquis applied to the whole island. The benefits to the Turkish Cypriots however would be even greater if the island were truly reunited. These potential benefits to the Turkish Cypriots, we believe, will maintain the pressure on their leadership to find a speedy solution that is acceptable to both sides. Our organisation has been fighting for years for a just solution for all Cypriots, guaranteeing everyone their fundamental human and democratic rights. We believe that human rights and freedoms should be the cornerstone of any solution and the details of the constitution should revolve around these.
Should the British Government seek to alter its relationship with the northern part of the island and if so how?
The British Government should seek to truly reunify the island and its people. The UK should show equal concern for the democratic and human rights of all Cypriots in whichever part of the island they reside. This must be the only consistent and viable position for the UK to adopt. The UK must adhere to the policy it has adopted up to now that there is only one internationally recognised State of Cyprus and one legitimate Government, that of the Republic of Cyprus. Cyprus is an island that has been illegally invaded, occupied and partitioned by Turkey. The British Government can only bring hope to all the people of Cyprus if it is willing to guarantee their safety, human rights and hence prosperity.
Implications for the EU’s Relationship with Turkey:
It is important to recognise that it is in Turkey’s economic interests to join the EU and like any other Member State it will need to negotiate its terms of accession. It knows and expects that great sacrifices need to be made to become a member of the family of Europe, not least on its record on human rights. The Republic of Cyprus does not pose a threat to Turkey by any stretch of the imagination and Cyprus in Europe will be even less of a threat. A solution that truly unifies Cyprus and requires the complete withdrawal of Turkish and Greek troops, and nullifies their status as guarantor powers will not adversely impact on the EU’s or the UK’s relationship with Turkey. The UK should play the honest broker on Cyprus and convince Turkey to make the necessary compromises to reach a just solution. In exchange the UK will support the entry of Turkey to the EU and provide the necessary guarantees for all Cypriots. It is the price Turkey will have to pay and expects to pay, to be accepted in a club of Member States where the values and ideals of democratic freedoms and human rights are the corner stones of its creation. We believe that should a solution be found along the lines suggested above, Cyprus and Greece would welcome and support the accession of Turkey to the EU.
Conclusions and Recommendations:
We believe that the UK should not continue to back the Annan Plan as it is, but should support significant alterations that promote the true reunification of the island and its people. The UK should push for a solution that is consistent with UN resolutions and with the ideals and values of the EU and the Acquis.
The UK’s interests will best be served if it adopts a modern, fresh approach to international affairs and takes on the role of an honest broker. A truly unified Cyprus within the EU will meet the requirements of the majority of Cypriots for peace and prosperity and will secure the interests of all parties concerned. The issue of guarantor for any solution should be an international one with the EU and specifically the UK having a pre-eminent role.
A solution that respects the fundamental human rights of all Cypriots and is compliant with the EU Acquis will also serve the interests of Turkey and will support her accession to the EU.