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Response to Conclusions and Recommendations to House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee

House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: Cyprus Second Report of Session 2004-05
Response to Conclusions and Recommendations

After careful study of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Report (2004-05), Action for Cyprus (AFC) is able to make the following response. This response should be read in conjunction with AFC’s submission to the House of Commons concentrates primarily on the 19 conclusions but makes reference to important observations found in the main body of the report.

AFC is grateful to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee for a thorough investigation into the events and reasoning behind the April 2004 referendum results on the Anan Plan for the reunification of Cyprus. Whilst AFC is largely driven by its commitments to ensuring that all
Cypriots enjoy the same fundamental human rights and freedoms as other EU citizens, it also has a deep understanding of the issues and concerns that have led to a rejection of the Anna Plan proposals by Greek Cypriots. The Report has correctly identified a number of the concerns that bother the Greek Cypriots but we believe that it does not capture the depth of their feeling.

Without wishing to re-open the consultation process it is fair to say that all Cypriots aspire to being treated as equal citizens, with the same rights as other Europeans. The events of 1974 were a shock to all Cypriots and ever since they have been trying to comprehend why the forceful invasion and occupation of nearly 40% of the island was allowed to happen by the international community and particularly GB, which is a guarantor power. Ever since 1974, all Cypriots have put their faith in the international community to come up with a solution that would reverse the injustices of the Turkish occupation and to allow all displaced persons to return to their homes and villages and to have the right to move freely within their own country. It is important to also understand that forCypriots are very closely attached to their place of birth. Their village is something that is associated with their ancestors, history, heritage and culture. Cypriots do not compromise their heritage and would certainly not accept financial compensation for being denied their village. They may sell land not required but will not accept money to move from one village to another. This is something that may be difficult to be comprehended by someone who is not a Cypriot or by an English person living in Great Britain, where people have been very mobile since the enclosures of farms in the 15th and 16th century. However it is key to understanding why the Annan Plan was overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek Cypriots. The Annan Plan provided for the legalisation of the forceful occupation and division of the island and its people; prevents the return of all displaced persons, and compromises the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all Cypriots.

It is therefore fair to say that AFC believes that the position of Andrew Mackinlay, supported in the main by Mr Eric Illsley, is closest to the one held by the majority of Greek Cypriots. We were thus disappointed that the paragraph,( p 81 in the Report, Section  Final Minutes, 1 February 2005)) copied below in italics, which closely represents our own view of Annan Plan-5, was rejected by a majority vote of 5 to 2.

The Annan Plan was adopted as ‘the way forward’ uncritically, by most of the main players and in particular the British Government. It should be recognised in retrospect that the Plan was seriously flawed. Indeed, had it been endorsed by referendums in both the North and in Greek Cyprus there would have been a very real danger of it seriously unravelling after accession, because so much important detail had, in all reality, not been agreed. Such a situation could have resulted in the nightmare scenario where the EU would have had for the very first time the chemistry for internal armed conflict on a significant scale, as well as a serious crisis with a member of NATO, Turkey.
The need to meet the deadline of Cyprus’s European Union accession had meant not only trimming on essential details vital to the interests of both sides, but also the efficacy of the referendums. We refer, by way of example, to:
(i)  not enough work having been done on the numbers of Turkish settlers who would be required to return to Turkey;
(ii)  not enough work done on arrangements for the restitution of property and/or the criteria whereby compensation would be negotiated, arbitrated or in some cases presented as the only option;
(iii)  failure to agree in advance sums which Turkey might make available to help fund compensation;
(iv)  failure to agree an internationally acceptable electoral roll for the referendum in the North which either excluded non-EU/republic of Cyprus citizens (ie the settlers) or at least placed the latter on a separate roll in order that a true measure of Turkish Cypriot opinion could be gauged.
In short, the Annan Plan was a fudge and so incomplete that it is little wonder that many felt unable to vote for it. It may, however, be a blessing in disguise. Although flawed and incomplete, the Annan Plan still forms the only foundation for progress. It must now be built on, the gaps filled in and the details sorted out. This, we hope, may now be achieved without the aggravation that the EU accession date deadline caused.
Our own strong opinion is that a solution should be based on the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Cypriots. The Cypriots would like to see their island truly reunited where they are all treated as equal and to have their rights and protected by international law under the auspices of the European Union. The Annan Plan formally partitions the island and divides the people yet it is sold as “re-unifying the island”. It adds insult to the injury suffered by so many for so long.
negotiated between the two sides to conclusion and must not be essentially imposed by Mr Annan acting beyond his powers as a facilitator. Clearly the plan must be acceptable to both sides, the genuine Greek and Turkish Cypriots and must not be ‘adjusted’ so that it also satisfies Turkey and the Turkish settlers. Turkey, and indeed Greece should not be gaining any unfair advantage from a solution to the Cyprus problem. Only the Cypriots and, by extension, the EU should be the winners in the process.

AFC’s response to the individual conclusions and recommendations of the report are stated below. We note that some conclusions are favourable to enhancing an acceptable solution but a few conclusions appear negative and are inconsistent with the aim of supporting an acceptable negotiated solution to the benefit of all Cypriots.

After careful consideration, we conclude that it was right that all those on the electoral roll in northern Cyprus were able to participate in the referendum held in April 2004, and we recommend that the same arrangements should apply in respect of any future referendum on a solution to the Cyprus problem. (Paragraph 80)

This presumes that all those on the electoral register were legitimately entitled to vote. This we would question. A 2001 Council of Europe estimate showed that Turkish Settlers number approximately 115,000 (57% of the entire population in the North). Current estimates put the number of settlers at 150 000. Clearly the Turkish Cypriots are a minority among their own community.   The fact that  a ‘Yes’ vote was returned by a 65% majority clearly indicates that a significant number of settlers voted for the Annan Plan. This can only mean that they were confident of their status as future EU members through their Cypriot Citizenship. Indeed the report states in Para-75 that “for those who had calculated that they would qualify for such citizenship, a ‘Yes’ vote must have seemed tantamount to a ticket to Europe We are concerned with the above recommendation as it could frustrate an acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem. As you may be aware one of The report also clearly recordthe concerns of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots is the large number of settlers. Should there be a proposal that a large number of these be repatriated then the settlers, who constitute the majority in the northern part of Cyprus, will vote “No”, to the cost of all Cypriots.

regarding the settlers and agrees that a large number of them voted ‘No’ because of this issue. Conlusion-15 emphasises the need for an increase in the number of settlers who will be required to return to Turkey. AFC agrees strongly with this view but identifies a big problem in any future referendum in the North. If, as suggested, it is agreed that more settlers are told that they would no longer be allowed to stay in Cyprus, without doubt they will change their vote to ‘No’ dangerously reducing the 65% return of the first ‘Yes’ vote. It is a known fact that the Turkish Cypriots by themselves cannot return a ‘Yes’ vote under the current voting arrangement owing to their unfortunate minority status.

It is our strong belief that a major reason for the introduction of large numbers of settlers in the North by the Denktash administration was to resist any political attempts to re-unite the island. The UN must have recognised this but in their attempt to create a climate that would allow agreement of the Annan Plan in the North, they lent too far, some (with considerable justification) would say completely, towards the Turkish (note, not Turkish Cypriot) position, ensuring an unwanted ‘No’ vote from the Greek Cypriots. AFC had warned of this occurrence in March 04 with a letter just before the submission of the Annan-5 Plan. We regret to say that the warning was not heeded then. We hope that this mistake is not repeated.

Clearly, if a large number of settlers are expected to return to Turkey, a decision they have no say in, they cannot, by definition, then be expected to participate in the referendum that would decide their fate. We would speculate that the response of most interested parties and of the Foreign Affairs Committee on this issue if a ‘No’ vote was returned in the North (no doubt owing to a negative response from the settlers) would have been to call for the exclusion of the settlers from a future referendum, a position AFC was always strongly in favour of. The fact that a ‘Yes’ vote was achieved should not alter this position.

We conclude that there is as yet little evidence that the Republic of Cyprus has fully taken on board that its membership of the EU involves obligations, as well as opportunities. We recommend that the Government work on a bilateral level, and with its European partners, to encourage Cyprus to adapt to European Union values and methods of working. (Paragraph 103)

No substantial evidence has been put forward to support this conclusion. AFC believes that this conclusion is unfounded and distorts the truth. It appears to be aimed primarily at President Papadopoulos as part of a US, UK, Turkey attempt to force the president to accept Annan Plan-5 with all its undesirable limitations. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has demonstrated its commitment to the values and ideals of the EU by meeting all the entry condition requirements in record time and voting overwhelmingly in favour of accession. Furthermore the relationship of the Government of Cyprus towards its EU partners and its method of working has not raised any major objections from the Commission or adverse resolutions from the European Parliament. Should Cyprus ever find itself in this unfortunate position we are sure that the EU has its own machinery in place to rectify any failure by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus to conform to the values and ideals of the EU and to meet its obligations. It is unfortunate that some Members States regard the outcome of a referendum, which was recommended by the international community, but with which they do not agree, as deviating from European value. The Cypriots have expressed their democratic right to reject an imposed solution, which they overwhelmingly believe is against their interests. This should be congratulated as it conforms to the corner stone of the EU and reflects the values and ideals of the EU.

Not long before EU entry of Cyprus only the excellent Cypriot progress in adapting to the EU values and methods of working were reported and in fact Cyprus was said to be way ahead of its fellow 3.The only ‘criticism’ of Cyprus is the fact that its Greek Cypriot people have voted ‘No’ to a specific solution, clearly a democratic right of its people.

We are greatly disappointed that it has so far proved impossible to gain agreement on the modest but important proposals to improve the operation and usefulness of the Green Line Regulation on intra-island trade. We recommend that the United Kingdom work closely with the Luxembourg presidency to secure early implementation of these changes and to streamline procedures for making further amendments. We further recommend that the EU should take steps to bring in genuinely free trade, with traders in the South of the island being free to move goods and products across the line to the North. (Paragraph 115)

It appears that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus government has lead the way in implementing the necessary changes to enable movement of trade from the north of the island to the free area and we continually hear of improvements in this area. The Report rightly identifies that the Turkish Cypriot authorities continue to impose an almost complete ban on movement of goods from the south to the north, possibly in order to improve prospects of direct trade with other countries (para-111).

We regret that valuable aid for the people of northern Cyprus is being held up by political and procedural disputes within the EU. We recommend that the Government use its good offices to persuade all parties to remove the remaining obstacles to disbursement of this aid. (Paragraph 122)

AFC fully agrees that the aid earmarked for the Turkish Cypriots must be made available immediately. Its controlled use, within the agreement of the EU and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, would be essential for the upgrading of the infrastructure and services and for implementation of necessary amendments to improve trade and commerce. It must be said that the only obstacle in the aid reaching the north is the insistence of the Turkish Cypriot authorities backed by the UK in linking the aid support with direct international trade with the north.

We conclude that undertakings given to Turkish Cypriots by the international community must be honoured. We recommend that the Government do more to turn its words into action, by working with the Luxembourg presidency of the EU to remove obstacles to direct trade with and travel to northern Cyprus, and that it encourage the wider international community to do the same. (Paragraph 135)

Undertakings given by officers of individual governments without the support of international law or resolutions of the UN or the Security Council do not constitute rulings by the international community. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has always pushed for the observance of international law and UN Resolutions. The Republic of Cyprus is the victim of certain parties ignoring international law and UN resolutions. We believe that any action to promote direct trade with and direct travel to the northern part of Cyprus, which is not under the jurisdiction of the internationally recognised government of the Republic of Cyprus, will undermine international law and resolutions and result in undermining the wider international community.

We recommend that in its response to this Report, if not sooner, the Government clarify whether it has the power to authorise direct passenger flights between the United Kingdom and northern Cyprus. We further recommend that, if it does possess the power to authorise flights, the Government announce a date from which such services will be permitted, subject to satisfactory safety inspections of the facilities at Ercan and other assurances. (Paragraph 146)

This can only be seen as an attempt to violate international law and undermine the sovereignty of an internationally recognised member of the UN and a member of the EU. We believe that this recommendation and the recommendations arising in conclusion 2 above, are in direct contradiction to conclusion 9 below, which states that that the British Government has no wish to see the island permanently partitioned.

Such recommendations would give the wrong message of recognition of a separate state in Cyprus, something that the UK government has always insists will not happen and hence reduce the willingness of the Turkish Cypriot authorities to negotiate to bring about an agreed solution. It also sets a very dangerous precedent that would encourage other states to move in the same direction and result in a deleterious effect on international relations.
Of even greater risk is the high possibility of the Greek Cypriots loosing completely any remaining trust they may have of the British government. In the eyes of the Greek Cypriots, the USA have always acted for their and Turkey’s interests throughout the recent history of the Cyprus problem. The US was blamed for encouraging the Turkish invasion and the Greek Cypriots have never been able to trust their intensions. Regrettably, the recent close support of the US Iraq policy by UK has encouraged the idea that there is really no difference between the US and the UK and so neither can be trusted to act for the interests of the Greek Cypriots. A seemingly joined decision by the two countries to authorise direct flights to the North would inevitably be seen as another step towards recognition of the pseudo-state by the two allies. It would inevitably bring about alienation of the Greek Cypriots.

A much better proposition would be to reopen the abandoned international airport of Nicosia for joint use as in the case of the port of Famagusta. Both projects would be greatly beneficial, as they would encourage close collaboration between the two communities particularly as both installations are geographically perfectly positioned. It would also allow Turkey to claim that they are, at long last, taking notice of the numerous UN Resolutions and are genuinely working towards a solution to the Cyprus problem.

In the absence of an early overall settlement, we recommend that the Government support practical measures which will enable Turkish Cypriots to trade with the United Kingdom and other countries, such as refurbishment and then joint operation to EU standards of the port at Famagusta, as proposed by the government of Cyprus. (Paragraph 152)

The Cyprus government of the Republic of Cyprus has proposed a package of measures, which, if accepted and implemented, will result in the Turkish Cypriots being able to credibly trade with the outside world through recognised standards and simultaneously move a long way towards demonstrating good intent. This particular confidence building measure of joint operation of the port of Famagusta but with the simultaneous return of the town of Varosha so that the port is in close proximity to both communities, if achieved, will have an enormous impact on both sides and can lead to a breakthrough on which a complete solution can be built.. This and any practical measures that do not violate the sovereignty of an independent member state of the UN and the EU and do not perpetuate the forceful occupation of nearly 40% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus are to be welcome.

We reiterate our previous strong support for Turkish membership of the European Union. We conclude, however, that in practice Turkish accession will be impossible for as long as there is no settlement of the Cyprus problem. We also conclude that Turkey has the power greatly to assist both a settlement in Cyprus and its EU aspirations, for example by withdrawing some of its many thousands of troops from the island, and we call upon it to do so. (Paragraph 163)

AFC has always strongly supported Turkey’s full membership of the EU as we believe this to be the most significant step towards peace and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean. It follows that Turkey must show its good intentions by withdrawing its many thousands of troops from Cyprus as called for by numerous UN resolutions. Turkey cannot shy away from its responsibilities and has to show the kind of behaviour expected by a future full member of the EU.

We conclude that, despite assertions to the contrary, there is no wish or intention on the part of the British Government to perpetuate the present state of affairs on the island, still less to move towards a permanent and legal partition, which would be in no one’s best interests. (Paragraph 172)

This is a very welcome conclusion. It must be pointed out, however, that some of the recommendations of this Report are inconsistent with this conclusion. Support of Annan Plan-5 is in effect support of the legal partition of the island and the acceptance of the status quo of the illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus. The plan has strayed too far from the UN resolutions on Cyprus, which has had the effect of perpetuating the current state of affairs. It is encouraging that some of these limitations are recognised in this report but more persuasive measures must be applied in order to achieve compliance with UN resolutions by all sides.

We conclude that the Government’s decision to offer to transfer sovereignty over almost half of the United Kingdom’s sovereign base areas on Cyprus to the island’s two communities as part of an overall settlement was a constructive and useful gesture, with no negative consequences for the United Kingdom’s interests. We recommend that the Government be prepared to renew the offer with the same conditions as before in the event that progress towards a settlement is resumed. (Paragraph 182)

The offer to transfer a part of the UK’s sovereign base areas to Cyprus would have been seen as a welcome gesture, if no pre-conditions were linked to it. Suspicions are ripe in Cyprus that the UK is in effect only trying to legalise the sovereignty of the British bases through the plan. The fact that the gesture is linked to the condition that the Annan Plan is adopted makes it appear to the ordinary Cypriot as mischievous, deceitful and designed only to protect the long-term interests of the UK at the cost of the Republic of Cyprus. The Annan Plan as it stands deprives the people of Cyprus their fundamental human rights, which are enshrined in international treaties and law.

We recommend that in any future negotiations on a settlement based on the Annan Plan, the parties be invited to consider accelerating the withdrawal of Turkish and Greek forces and the demilitarisation of Cypriot forces, so that all these are reduced to zero and security guarantees are provided by an external force acting under the terms of a mandatory resolution of the United Nations Security Council. (Paragraph 195)

AFC believes that this is a positive proposal. We believe that this meets with one of the primary objectives of the government of the Republic of Cyprus, as it is clearly beneficial for both communities. Retaining troops on the island is only an advantage to Turkey. It is unfortunate that the West, and particularly the US, are not using the same pressure on Turkey as they are now using on Syria, to remove their occupying forces from internationally recognised sovereign states.

We note the very strong feelings of the Greek Cypriot people about the need for restitution of property to its rightful owners and conclude that the property issue remains one of the most crucial to be addressed in the search for a solution to the Cyprus problem. We conclude that in any revival of the talks process it will be necessary to find ways of addressing Greek Cypriot concerns which do not disadvantage Turkish Cypriots. An element of outside financial support may be helpful in this regard. (Paragraph 199)

The guiding principle on this issue should be respect of the fundamental human rights of all citizens and democratic freedoms. Every person’s right to his property and the freedom of movement, abode and employment within his/her country should be paramount as enshrined in international law and treaties (see also comments on Conclusion-16).

We conclude that British citizens who intend to buy property in northern Cyprus risk exposing themselves to legal action by Greek Cypriots who may be the rightful owners of those properties. We recommend that the Government lose no opportunity to warn prospective purchasers of this risk. (Paragraph 200)

This is a highly commendable stance. As well as prospective purchasers being warned of the possible risks in purchasing such properties, pressure must be directed towards both Turkey and Mr. Talat to curtail such illegal sales.

We recommend that a population census be held in northern Cyprus, funded by the European Union and carried out either by an appropriate international body or by the Turkish Cypriot authorities under close international supervision. (Paragraph 205)

This would be helpful but only if it is used to restrict both the number of settlers allowed to vote in any future referendum and to identify those who should be encouraged to return to Turkey (see also comments on Conclusion-1).

We recommend that in any resumption of negotiations for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, the Government seek to persuade the parties of the need for an increase in the number of Turkish settlers who will be required to return to Turkey as part of a solution, together with improved financial compensation for them. The precise figures should be for negotiation between the parties. (Paragraph 208)

We strongly support this conclusion because we believe it is fundamental to an acceptable solution. We believe that it is also widely supported among our Turkish Cypriot compatriots who are currently a minority within the northern part of Cyprus following the demographic change resulting from the encouragement of the huge influx of settlers from Turkey.(see also comments on Conclusion-1).

We conclude that a substantive financial gesture by Turkey on the property compensation issue would be a magnanimous and positive move which would reflect well on Turkey and should be of some assistance in reducing Greek Cypriot opposition to a solution which stops short of full restitution. (Paragraph 211)

The Greek Cypriot vote against the Annan Plan was not motivated by money. The West needs to understand that the place of birth of a Cypriot is sacred and his/her ties with their village and home of their ancestors are invaluable and non-negotiable.

We conclude that the costs of a settlement in Cyprus may be considerable, but that the international community is able and willing to make a substantial contribution to them. We recommend that the Government seek to ensure that, before any further referendum is held on the island, clear information is available to the people of Cyprus on the extent of the financial contribution which will be made by countries other than Cyprus. We further recommend that the Government and the European Union look sympathetically at ways of alleviating the financial burdens of a settlement on ordinary Cypriots. (Paragraph 216).

We support financial support from the international community for the repatriation of the settlers and         the rebuilding of the necessary infrastructure following a solution.

We conclude that, in the absence of an overall solution to the Cyprus problem, a step-by-step approach is likely to be better than no progress at all. We also conclude that confidence-building measures have a role to play, but only if they are consistent with the principles which underlie the Annan Plan, and only if they do not diminish the prospects of an overall settlement. We recommend that the Government consider lending its support to any worthwhile and practicable confidence-building measures which meet those criteria. (Paragraph 223)

We believe that a solution that conforms to international law and the EU Aquis should be found as soon as possible. The Annan Plan was rejected by 76% of the GCs because the Annan Plan does not conform to these norms. If a solution is not found quickly a step by step approach will perpetuate the division of the island to the cost of all the Cypriots and the EU. AFC supports any measures to encourage the two sides to co-operate for the true reunification of the island and its people, where the fundamental human rights of all Cypriots are ensured and protected. The opening of the port of Famagusta and the simultaneous return of Varosha is a major step in the right direction.

We conclude that a lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem is overwhelmingly in the interests of the people of Cyprus and that it offers important advantages for the European Union, for Turkey and for the international community. We further conclude that, although the prospects for success may not be great, the opportunities which will arise in mid-2005 must be seized. As one of the Permanent Five on the UN Security Council, as President of the EU in the second half of 2005 and as a guarantor power in relation to Cyprus, the United Kingdom is in a uniquely special position to assist the process. We recommend that the Government make the achievement of a solution to the Cyprus problem a priority of its foreign policy in 2005. (Paragraph 236)

We strongly support a more active role by the UK Government as a guarantor power to play the role of honest broker and to push for a solution that truly unifies the island and the people of Cyprus and takes on a pivotal role to protect the territorial integrity of Cyprus within an EU framework

The Greek Cypriots clearly found Annan Plan-5 unacceptable. Britain is in a unique position to lead the way in bringing about the major amendments which must apply to alleviate their concerns thus bringing it into the realms of acceptability.

Action for Cyprus (Midlands)

 

 

House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: Cyprus Second Report of Session 2004-05

Response to Conclusions and Recommendations

 

After careful study of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Report (2004-05), Action for Cyprus (AFC) is able to make the following response. This response should be read in conjunction with AFC’s submission to the House of Commons concentrates primarily on the 19 conclusions but makes reference to important observations found in the main body of the report.

 

AFC is grateful to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee for a thorough investigation into the events and reasoning behind the April 2004 referendum results on the Anan Plan for the reunification of Cyprus. Whilst AFC is largely driven by its commitments to ensuring that all

Cypriots enjoy the same fundamental human rights and freedoms as other EU citizens, it also has a deep understanding of the issues and concerns that have led to a rejection of the Anna Plan proposals by Greek Cypriots. The Report has correctly identified a number of the concerns that bother the Greek Cypriots but we believe that it does not capture the depth of their feeling.

Without wishing to re-open the consultation process it is fair to say that all Cypriots aspire to being treated as equal citizens, with the same rights as other Europeans. The events of 1974 were a shock to all Cypriots and ever since they have been trying to comprehend why the forceful invasion and occupation of nearly 40% of the island was allowed to happen by the international community and particularly GB, which is a guarantor power. Ever since 1974, all Cypriots have put their faith in the international community to come up with a solution that would reverse the injustices of the Turkish occupation and to allow all displaced persons to return to their homes and villages and to have the right to move freely within their own country. It is important to also understand that forCypriots are very closely attached to their place of birth. Their village is something that is associated with their ancestors, history, heritage and culture. Cypriots do not compromise their heritage and would certainly not accept financial compensation for being denied their village. They may sell land not required but will not accept money to move from one village to another. This is something that may be difficult to be comprehended by someone who is not a Cypriot or by an English person living in Great Britain, where people have been very mobile since the enclosures of farms in the 15th and 16th century. However it is key to understanding why the Annan Plan was overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek Cypriots. The Annan Plan provided for the legalisation of the forceful occupation and division of the island and its people; prevents the return of all displaced persons, and compromises the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all Cypriots.

It is therefore fair to say that AFC believes that the position of Andrew Mackinlay, supported in the main by Mr Eric Illsley, is closest to the one held by the majority of Greek Cypriots. We were thus disappointed that the paragraph,( p 81 in the Report, Section  Final Minutes, 1 February 2005)) copied below in italics, which closely represents our own view of Annan Plan-5, was rejected by a majority vote of 5 to 2.

The Annan Plan was adopted as ‘the way forward’ uncritically, by most of the main players and in particular the British Government. It should be recognised in retrospect that the Plan was seriously flawed. Indeed, had it been endorsed by referendums in both the North and in Greek Cyprus there would have been a very real danger of it seriously unravelling after accession, because so much important detail had, in all reality, not been agreed. Such a situation could have resulted in the nightmare scenario where the EU would have had for the very first time the chemistry for internal armed conflict on a significant scale, as well as a serious crisis with a member of NATO, Turkey.

The need to meet the deadline of Cyprus’s European Union accession had meant not only trimming on essential details vital to the interests of both sides, but also the efficacy of the referendums. We refer, by way of example, to:

(i)  not enough work having been done on the numbers of Turkish settlers who would be required to return to Turkey;

(ii)  not enough work done on arrangements for the restitution of property and/or the criteria whereby compensation would be negotiated, arbitrated or in some cases presented as the only option;

(iii)  failure to agree in advance sums which Turkey might make available to help fund compensation;

(iv)  failure to agree an internationally acceptable electoral roll for the referendum in the North which either excluded non-EU/republic of Cyprus citizens (ie the settlers) or at least placed the latter on a separate roll in order that a true measure of Turkish Cypriot opinion could be gauged.

In short, the Annan Plan was a fudge and so incomplete that it is little wonder that many felt unable to vote for it. It may, however, be a blessing in disguise. Although flawed and incomplete, the Annan Plan still forms the only foundation for progress. It must now be built on, the gaps filled in and the details sorted out. This, we hope, may now be achieved without the aggravation that the EU accession date deadline caused.

Our own strong opinion is that a solution should be based on the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Cypriots. The Cypriots would like to see their island truly reunited where they are all treated as equal and to have their rightsand protected by international law under the auspices of the European Union. The Annan Plan formally partitions the island and divides the people yet it is sold as “re-unifying the island”. It adds insult to the injury suffered by so many for so long.

negotiated between the two sides to conclusion and must not be essentially imposed by Mr Annan acting beyond his powers as a facilitator. Clearly the plan must be acceptable to both sides, the genuine Greek and Turkish Cypriots and must not be ‘adjusted’ so that it also satisfies Turkey and the Turkish settlers. Turkey, and indeed Greece should not be gaining any unfair advantage from a solution to the Cyprus problem. Only the Cypriots and, by extension, the EU should be the winners in the process.

 

AFC’s response to the individual conclusions and recommendations of the report are stated below. We note that some conclusions are favourable to enhancing an acceptable solution but a few conclusions appear negative and are inconsistent with the aim of supporting an acceptable negotiated solution to the benefit of all Cypriots.

 

1.      After careful consideration, we conclude that it was right that all those on the electoral roll in northern Cyprus were able to participate in the referendum held in April 2004, and we recommend that the same arrangements should apply in respect of any future referendum on a solution to the Cyprus problem. (Paragraph 80)

 

This presumes that all those on the electoral register were legitimately entitled to vote. This we would question. A 2001 Council of Europe estimate showed that Turkish Settlers number approximately 115,000 (57% of the entire population in the North).Current estimates put the number of settlers at 150 000. Clearly the Turkish Cypriots are a minority among their own community.   The fact that  a ‘Yes’ vote was returned by a 65% majority clearly indicates that a significant number of settlers voted for the Annan Plan. This can only mean that they were confident of their status as future EU members through their Cypriot Citizenship. Indeed the report states in Para-75 that “for those who had calculated that they would qualify for such citizenship, a ‘Yes’ vote must have seemed tantamount to a ticket to Europe We are concerned with the above recommendation as it could frustrate an acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem. As you may be aware one of The report also clearly recordthe concerns of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots is the large number of settlers. Should there be a proposal that a large number of these be repatriated then the settlers, who constitute the majority in the northern part of Cyprus, will vote No”, to the cost of all Cypriots.

 

regarding the settlers and agrees that a large number of them voted ‘No’ because of this issue. Conlusion-15 emphasises the need for an increase in the number of settlers who will be required to return to Turkey. AFC agrees strongly with this view but identifies a big problem in any future referendum in the North. If, as suggested, it is agreed that more settlers are told that they would no longer be allowed to stay in Cyprus, without doubt they will change their vote to ‘No’ dangerously reducing the 65% return of the first ‘Yes’ vote. It is a known fact that the Turkish Cypriots by themselves cannot return a ‘Yes’ vote under the current voting arrangement owing to their unfortunate minority status.

 

It is our strong belief that a major reason for the introduction of large numbers of settlers in the North by the Denktash administration was to resist any political attempts to re-unite the island. The UN must have recognised this but in their attempt to create a climate that would allow agreement of the Annan Plan in the North, they lent too far, some (with considerable justification) would say completely, towards the Turkish (note, not Turkish Cypriot) position, ensuring an unwanted ‘No’ vote from the Greek Cypriots. AFC had warned of this occurrence in March 04 with a letter[1] just before the submission of the Annan-5 Plan. We regret to say that the warning was not heeded then. We hope that this mistake is not repeated.

 

Clearly, if a large number of settlers are expected to return to Turkey, a decision they have no say in, they cannot, by definition, then be expected to participate in the referendum that would decide their fate. We would speculate that the response of most interested parties and of the Foreign Affairs Committee on this issue if a ‘No’ vote was returned in the North (no doubt owing to a negative response from the settlers) would have been to call for the exclusion of the settlers from a future referendum, a position AFC was always strongly in favour of. The fact that a ‘Yes’ vote was achieved should not alter this position.

 

 

2.      We conclude that there is as yet little evidence that the Republic of Cyprus has fully taken on board that its membership of the EU involves obligations, as well as opportunities. We recommend that the Government work on a bilateral level, and with its European partners, to encourage Cyprus to adapt to European Union values and methods of working. (Paragraph 103)

 

No substantial evidence has been put forward to support this conclusion. AFC believes that this conclusion is unfounded and distorts the truth. It appears to be aimed primarily at President Papadopoulos as part of a US, UK, Turkey attempt to force the president to accept Annan Plan-5 with all its undesirable limitations. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has demonstrated its commitment to the values and ideals of the EU by meeting all the entry condition requirements in record time and voting overwhelmingly in favour of accession. Furthermore the relationship of the Government of Cyprus towards its EU partners and its method of working has not raised any major objections from the Commission oradverse resolutions from the European Parliament. Should Cyprus ever find itself in this unfortunate position we are sure that the EU has its own machinery in place to rectify any failure by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus to conform to the values and ideals of the EU and to meet its obligations. It is unfortunate that some Members States regard the outcome of a referendum, which was recommended by the international community, but with which they do not agree, as deviating from European value. The Cypriots have expressed their democratic right to reject an imposed solution, which they overwhelmingly believe is against their interests. This should be congratulated as it conforms to the corner stone of the EU and reflects the values and ideals of the EU.

 

Not long before EU entry of Cyprus only the excellent Cypriot progress in adapting to the EU values and methods of working were reported and in fact Cyprus was said to be way ahead of its fellow 3.The only ‘criticism’ of Cyprus is the fact that its Greek Cypriot people have voted ‘No’ to a specific solution, clearly a democratic right of its people.

 

We are greatly disappointed that it has so far proved impossible to gain agreement on the modest but important proposals to improve the operation and usefulness of the Green Line Regulation on intra-island trade. We recommend that the United Kingdom work closely with the Luxembourg presidency to secure early implementation of these changes and to streamline procedures for making further amendments. We further recommend that the EU should take steps to bring in genuinely free trade, with traders in the South of the island being free to move goods and products across the line to the North. (Paragraph 115)

 

It appears that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus government has lead the way in implementing the necessary changes to enable movement of trade from the north of the island to the free area and we continually hear of improvements in this area. The Report rightly identifies that the Turkish Cypriot authorities continue to impose an almost complete ban on movement of goods from the south to the north, possibly in order to improve prospects of direct trade with other countries (para-111).

 

4.3.      We regret that valuable aid for the people of northern Cyprus is being held up by political and procedural disputes within the EU. We recommend that the Government use its good offices to persuade all parties to remove the remaining obstacles to disbursement of this aid. (Paragraph 122)

 

AFC fully agrees that the aid earmarked for the Turkish Cypriots must be made available immediately. Its controlled use, within the agreement of the EU and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, would be essential for the upgrading of the infrastructure and services and for implementation of necessary amendments to improve trade and commerce. It must be said that the only obstacle in the aid reaching the north is the insistence of the Turkish Cypriot authorities backed by the UK in linking the aid support with direct international trade with the north.

 

5.4.      We conclude that undertakings given to Turkish Cypriots by the international community must be honoured. We recommend that the Government do more to turn its words into action, by working with the Luxembourg presidency of the EU to remove obstacles to direct trade with and travel to northern Cyprus, and that it encourage the wider international community to do the same. (Paragraph 135)

 

Undertakings given by officers of individual governments without the support of international law or resolutions of the UN or the Security Council do not constitute rulings by the international community. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has always pushed for the observance of international law and UN Resolutions. The Republic of Cyprus is the victim of certain parties ignoring international law and UN resolutions. We believe that any action to promote direct trade with and direct travel to the northern part of Cyprus, which is not under the jurisdiction of the internationally recognised government of the Republic of Cyprus, will undermine international law and resolutions and result in undermining the wider international community.

 

6.5.      We recommend that in its response to this Report, if not sooner, the Government clarify whether it has the power to authorise direct passenger flights between the United Kingdom and northern Cyprus. We further recommend that, if it does possess the power to authorise flights, the Government announce a date from which such services will be permitted, subject to satisfactory safety inspections of the facilities at Ercan and other assurances. (Paragraph 146)

 

This can only be seen as an attempt to violate international law and undermine the sovereignty of an internationally recognised member of the UN and a member of the EU. We believe that this recommendation and the recommendations arising in conclusion 2 above, are in direct contradiction to conclusion 9 below, which states that that the British Government has no wish to see the island permanently partitioned.

 

 Such recommendations would give the wrong message of recognition of a separate state in Cyprus, something that the UK government has always insists will not happen and hence reduce the willingness of the Turkish Cypriot authorities to negotiate to bring about an agreed solution. It also sets a very dangerous precedent that would encourage other states to move in the same direction and result in a deleterious effect on international relations.

Of even greater risk is the high possibility of the Greek Cypriots loosing completely any remaining trust they may have of the British government. In the eyes of the Greek Cypriots, the USA have always acted for their and Turkey’s interests throughout the recent history of the Cyprus problem. The US was blamed for encouraging the Turkish invasion and the Greek Cypriots have never been able to trust their intensions. Regrettably, the recent close support of the US Iraq policy by UK has encouraged the idea that there is really no difference between the US and the UK and so neither can be trusted to act for the interests of the Greek Cypriots. A seemingly joined decision by the two countries to authorise direct flights to the North would inevitably be seen as another step towards recognition of the pseudo-state by the two allies. It would inevitably bring about alienation of the Greek Cypriots.

 

A much better proposition would be to reopen the abandoned international airport of Nicosia for joint use as in the case of the port of Famagusta. Both projects would be greatly beneficial, as they would encourage close collaboration between the two communities particularly as both installations are geographically perfectly positioned. It would also allow Turkey to claim that they are, at long last, taking notice of the numerous UN Resolutions and are genuinely working towards a solution to the Cyprus problem.

 

7.6.      In the absence of an early overall settlement, we recommend that the Government support practical measures which will enable Turkish Cypriots to trade with the United Kingdom and other countries, such as refurbishment and then joint operation to EU standards of the port at Famagusta, as proposed by the government of Cyprus. (Paragraph 152)

 

The Cyprus government of the Republic of Cyprus has proposed a package of measures, which, if accepted and implemented, will result in the Turkish Cypriots being able to credibly trade with the outside world through recognised standards and simultaneously move a long way towards demonstrating good intent. This particular confidence building measure of joint operation of the port of Famagusta but with the simultaneous return of the town of Varosha so that the port is in close proximity to both communities, if achieved, will have an enormous impact on both sides and can lead to a breakthrough on which a complete solution can be built.. This and any practical measures that do not violate the sovereignty of an independent member state of the UN and the EU and do not perpetuate the forceful occupation of nearly 40% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus are to be welcome.

 

8.7.      We reiterate our previous strong support for Turkish membership of the European Union. We conclude, however, that in practice Turkish accession will be impossible for as long as there is no settlement of the Cyprus problem. We also conclude that Turkey has the power greatly to assist both a settlement in Cyprus and its EU aspirations, for example by withdrawing some of its many thousands of troops from the island, and we call upon it to do so. (Paragraph 163)

 

AFC has always strongly supported Turkey’s full membership of the EU as we believe this to be the most significant step towards peace and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean. It follows that Turkey must show its good intentions by withdrawing its many thousands of troops from Cyprus as called for by numerous UN resolutions. Turkey cannot shy away from its responsibilities and has to show the kind of behaviour expected by a future full member of the EU.  

 

9.8.      We conclude that, despite assertions to the contrary, there is no wish or intention on the part of the British Government to perpetuate the present state of affairs on the island, still less to move towards a permanent and legal partition, which would be in no one’s best interests. (Paragraph 172)

 

This is a very welcome conclusion. It must be pointed out, however, that some of the recommendations of this Report are inconsistent with this conclusion. Support of Annan Plan-5 is in effect support of the legal partition of the island and the acceptance of the status quo of the illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus. The plan has strayed too far from the UN resolutions on Cyprus, which has had the effect of perpetuating the current state of affairs. It is encouraging that some of these limitations are recognised in this report but more persuasive measures must be applied in order to achieve compliance with UN resolutions by all sides.

 

10.9.      We conclude that the Government’s decision to offer to transfer sovereignty over almost half of the United Kingdom’s sovereign base areas on Cyprus to the island’s two communities as part of an overall settlement was a constructive and useful gesture, with no negative consequences for the United Kingdom’s interests. We recommend that the Government be prepared to renew the offer with the same conditions as before in the event that progress towards a settlement is resumed. (Paragraph 182)

 

The offer to transfer a part of the UK’s sovereign base areas to Cyprus would have been seen as a welcome gesture, if no pre-conditions were linked to it. Suspicions are ripe in Cyprus that the UK is in effect only trying to legalise the sovereignty of the British bases through the plan. The fact that the gesture is linked to the condition that the Annan Plan is adopted makes it appear to the ordinary Cypriot as mischievous, deceitful and designed only to protect the long-term interests of the UK at the cost of the Republic of Cyprus. The Annan Plan as it stands deprives the people of Cyprus their fundamental human rights, which are enshrined in international treaties and law.

 

 

11.10.  We recommend that in any future negotiations on a settlement based on the Annan Plan, the parties be invited to consider accelerating the withdrawal of Turkish and Greek forces and the demilitarisation of Cypriot forces, so that all these are reduced to zero and security guarantees are provided by an external force acting under the terms of a mandatory resolution of the United Nations Security Council. (Paragraph 195)

 

AFC believes that this is a positive proposal. We believe that this meets with one of the primary objectives of the government of the Republic of Cyprus, as it is clearly beneficial for both communities. Retaining troops on the island is only an advantage to Turkey. It is unfortunate that the West, and particularly the US, are not using the same pressure on Turkey as they are now using on Syria, to remove their occupying forces from internationally recognised sovereign states.

 

12.11.  We note the very strong feelings of the Greek Cypriot people about the need for restitution of property to its rightful owners and conclude that the property issue remains one of the most crucial to be addressed in the search for a solution to the Cyprus problem. We conclude that in any revival of the talks process it will be necessary to find ways of addressing Greek Cypriot concerns which do not disadvantage Turkish Cypriots. An element of outside financial support may be helpful in this regard. (Paragraph 199)

 

The guiding principle on this issue should be respect of the fundamental human rights of all citizens and democratic freedoms. Every person’s right to his property and the freedom of movement, abode and employment within his/her country should be paramount as enshrined in international law and treaties (see also comments on Conclusion-16).

 

13.12.  We conclude that British citizens who intend to buy property in northern Cyprus risk exposing themselves to legal action by Greek Cypriots who may be the rightful owners of those properties. We recommend that the Government lose no opportunity to warn prospective purchasers of this risk. (Paragraph 200)

 

This is a highly commendable stance. As well as prospective purchasers being warned of the possible risks in purchasing such properties, pressure must be directed towards both Turkey and Mr. Talat to curtail such illegal sales.

 

14.13.  We recommend that a population census be held in northern Cyprus, funded by the European Union and carried out either by an appropriate international body or by the Turkish Cypriot authorities under close international supervision. (Paragraph 205)

 

This would be helpful but only if it is used to restrict both the number of settlers allowed to vote in any future referendum and to identify those who should be encouraged to return to Turkey (see also comments on Conclusion-1).

 

15.14.  We recommend that in any resumption of negotiations for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, the Government seek to persuade the parties of the need for an increase in the number of Turkish settlers who will be required to return to Turkey as part of a solution, together with improved financial compensation for them. The precise figures should be for negotiation between the parties. (Paragraph 208)

 

We strongly support this conclusion because we believe it is fundamental to an acceptable solution. We believe that it is also widely supported among our Turkish Cypriot compatriots who are currently a minority within the northern part of Cyprus following the demographic change resulting from the encouragement of the huge influx of settlers from Turkey.(see also comments on Conclusion-1).

 

16.15.  We conclude that a substantive financial gesture by Turkey on the property compensation issue would be a magnanimous and positive move which would reflect well on Turkey and should be of some assistance in reducing Greek Cypriot opposition to a solution which stops short of full restitution. (Paragraph 211)

 

The Greek Cypriot vote against the Annan Plan was not motivated by money. The West needs to understand that the place of birth of a Cypriot is sacred and his/her ties with their village and home of their ancestors are invaluable and non-negotiable. 

 

17.16.  We conclude that the costs of a settlement in Cyprus may be considerable, but that the international community is able and willing to make a substantial contribution to them. We recommend that the Government seek to ensure that, before any further referendum is held on the island, clear information is available to the people of Cyprus on the extent of the financial contribution which will be made by countries other than Cyprus. We further recommend that the Government and the European Union look sympathetically at ways of alleviating the financial burdens of a settlement on ordinary Cypriots. (Paragraph 216).

 

    We support financial support from the international community for the repatriation of the settlers and         the rebuilding of the necessary infrastructure following a solution.

 

18.17.  We conclude that, in the absence of an overall solution to the Cyprus problem, a step-by-step approach is likely to be better than no progress at all. We also conclude that confidence-building measures have a role to play, but only if they are consistent with the principles which underlie the Annan Plan, and only if they do not diminish the prospects of an overall settlement. We recommend that the Government consider lending its support to any worthwhile and practicable confidence-building measures which meet those criteria. (Paragraph 223)

 

We believe that a solution that conforms to international law and the EU Aquis should be found as soon as possible. The Annan Plan was rejected by 76% of the GCs because the Annan Plan does not conform to these norms. If a solution is not found quickly a step by step approach will perpetuate the division of the island to the cost of all the Cypriots and the EU. AFC supports any measures to encourage the two sides to co-operate for the true reunification of the island and its people, where the fundamental human rights of all Cypriots are ensured and protected. The opening of the port of Famagusta and the simultaneous return of Varosha is a major step in the right direction.

 

19.18.  We conclude that a lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem is overwhelmingly in the interests of the people of Cyprus and that it offers important advantages for the European Union, for Turkey and for the international community. We further conclude that, although the prospects for success may not be great, the opportunities which will arise in mid-2005 must be seized. As one of the Permanent Five on the UN Security Council, as President of the EU in the second half of 2005 and as a guarantor power in relation to Cyprus, the United Kingdom is in a uniquely special position to assist the process. We recommend that the Government make the achievement of a solution to the Cyprus problem a priority of its foreign policy in 2005. (Paragraph 236)

 

We strongly support a more active role by the UK Government as a guarantor power to play the role of honest broker and to push for a solution that truly unifies the island and the people of Cyprus and takes on a pivotal role to protect the territorial integrity of Cyprus within an EU framework

 

The Greek Cypriots clearly found Annan Plan-5 unacceptable. Britain is in a unique position to lead the way in bringing about the major amendments which must apply to alleviate their concerns thus bringing it into the realms of acceptability.

 

 

 

 



[1] AFC Letter to Gaunter Verhogen, March 04

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