The collapse of the illusions
ONE of the main reasons behind the Greek Cypriots’ rejection of the Annan Plan was the impact of the argument that after its accession to the European Union, Cyprus, as a full member, would be in an advantageous position and thus able to achieve a “European solution” of the Cyprus issue, in other words to reverse the 1974 fait accompli.
The strategy of President Tassos Papadopoulos, which for a long period of time after the referendum remained a riddle, has now become clear.
Accession to the EU, total neutralisation of the Annan plan, recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey, derecognition of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ and a European solution.
This oversimplified strategy was condemned to failure because the Cypriot side believed that it was the only player in the game. It had never discussed its plans with any other party in Europe and failed to establish any strong alliances in order to promote it. On the contrary, the EU – under the impression that President Papadopoulos deceived it and clandestinely inserted the issue of Cyprus in the European club – refuses to allow Cyprus to play this kind of game, for one and sole reason:
The accession of Cyprus, beyond the efforts made by the country itself and the help of Greece, was part of the strategy developed by the United States and Great Britain in order to assist in a solution of the Cyprus issue and to open the road for Turkey to join the EU. The accession of Cyprus was the most effective pressure ever exercised on Turkey to resolve the Cyprus problem.
But Cyprus, after securing its own accession, attempted to reverse the rules by turning it into a European problem. The EU reacted to this and, at the first European summit meeting that Cyprus attended as a full member, in June 2004, President Papadopoulos was forced to put his signature to its conclusions, which stated that Turkey carries no responsibility for the failure to resolve the Cyprus issue. On December 17, 2004, Turkey was awarded the status of a candidate country, while its occupation of Cyprus was not considered to present any political obstacles. The only obligation undertaken by Turkey was to implement the Ankara Protocol provisions for a customs union. However, this is considered to be a technical issue and it is in this spirit that the EU is currently trying to overcome it.
Nicosia lived under the illusions that it could persist with her strategy by using the Ankara Protocol as the vehicle. After two and a half years, the policy of a “European solution” has totally collapsed, simply because Brussels has grown tired of Cyprus.
Nicosia is now called upon to return to 2004. According to Olli Rehn, in the conclusions of the European Summit the European Commission will propose that the United Nations embark on a new initiative to reach an overall solution of the Cyprus issue.
However, the reunification of Cyprus is no longer an easy proposition. The United Nations cannot propose a solution that will differ substantially from the Annan plan, in fact it could even be worse. Many things have happened in the two and a half years since the rejection of the plan. The walls of suspicion between the two communities have risen higher. The Turkish Cypriots have been upgraded politically and economically and have started to believe that they can make it on their own. On the other hand, the government, in order to clear the way for a “European solution” has scorned the United Nations and demonised the idea of a compromise solution. The Greek Cypriots have been poisoned by the policy of fear and the sense of insecurity cultivated among them by the government and the media. Their disappointment from the poor results of the “European solution” strategy has not turned toward self criticism or a revision of their views, but they have reacted by favouring partition.
The premise that partition will guarantee the future of the Greeks of Cyprus is an even bigger illusion from that of the “European solution”. The 180-kilometer-long Green Line will be transformed into a border separating us from a hostile country of 70 million. In the event of a collapse of accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU because of Cyprus, the situation will become dramatic, while there is no guarantee that the UN will continue for long to supervise and enforce the inviolability of the Green Line status. The latest report on Cyprus, submitted to the Security Council by UN Secretary-general Kofi Anan, is a poignant danger signal: “The continued active involvement of the international community in Cyprus through the presence of UNFICYP should not be taken for granted”.
Truly, has anybody given a thought to what will happen if UNFICYP is withdrawn from Cyprus? What if the Turks begin gradually to encroach on the buffer zone? Will the status quo continue to be a factor for stability, as the majority of Cypriots currently believe, or will it turn into a source of instability and insecurity?