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The cyprus republic’s pursuit of a ‘european’ solution - старонка 3

not a hero’s welcome. He and his ministers tried to put a brave face, insisting that what Ankara was forced to accept was an implicit or indirect recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. Erdogan claimed in Turkey that what he agreed to do was extend a Customs Union agreement to ‘Greek Cyprus’, and this did not amount to recognition. The British Prime Minister Tony Blair rubbed salt in the Cypriots’ wound by saying that the signing of the Ankara Protocol did not constitute “formal legal recognition of the Republic of Cyprus”, and a similar line was taken by a number of Greek Cypriot lawyers and politicians.

One may well ask: Let it be supposed that Turkey decides, without being compelled, to declare that it recognize the Republic of Cyprus. How does this hypothetical event bear on the Greek Cypriot strategic goal of achieving a fair and workable solution to the Cyprus problem “consistent with the fundamental values and principles of Europe”? Will recognition bring about, as a matter of course, the desired ‘European’ solution? Greek Cypriots, when they talk to one another, say, ‘But it is inconsistent for Turkey to recognize the Republic of Cyprus, and also to continue to recognize and keep occupation troops on, the so-called TRNC!’ and the listeners of this argument agree. Yet the facts on the ground remain unchanged, whatever the legal considerations that Greek Cypriots bring up.

Since the Republic of Cyprus joined the EU and the maximalist brigade started sniffing a great diplomatic victory against Turkey in the near future, the opposition to President Papadopoulos’s government consisting of the DESY (supported by about 25 or 27% of the electorate) founded by former President Clerides and the tiny E.DE. (United Democrats) still led by former President Vassiliou urged argued that the notion of a ‘European solution’ to the Cyprus problem, or even the expectation of a European initiative for a Cyprus settlement are illusions. In the moderates’ view the Cyprus problem had already lost much of its urgency in the eyes of European statesmen, and if a settlement is still wanted the Greek Cypriot side should ask to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to call a new round of negotiations between the two communities on the basis of the Annan Plan. Although when his Plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriots on April 24, 2004, Annan declared that the Plan is no longer on the table, later he changed his position and said that if the two sides wish to resume their efforts for a comprehensive settlement, they know where to find him. Annan also said that the Greek Cypriot leader should put any changes he wants to see in writing. Both DESY and E.DE., as indeed one or two newspapers who support the ‘realist’ line on the Cyprus problem agree.

Curiously, the former Communist Party AKEL (supported by about 33% of the electorate), which is the main partner in Papadopoulos’s government supports this view. AKEL has long been a moderate party, suspicious of both the role of the Anglo-Americans in the UN Security Council and the influence of Britain, Germany, France, Italy and the other ‘capitalist’ countries in the EU, does not believe that the Annan Plan can bed either circumvented or greatly improved. It has long held the view that the development of reconciliation and friendship between the working and farming classes in the two communities is an indispensable elements for any bicommunal partnership which can end the division of the island. Yet, in February 2003 it supported Tassos Papadopoulos in the Presidential elections ensuring his election, and was rewarded with several positions in the Council of Ministers and semi-governmental organisations, thereby turning for the first time in its long history into a party of power. AKEL will not leave the Papadopoulos government, but although it is not united on the Cyprus problem, from time to time makes strong statements in support of the need think carefully about the absolutely necessary changes which could make the Annan Plan palatable to a majority of the Greek Cypriot people.

In early 2005, DESY, E.DE. and AKEL made separate proposals to the National Council, the President’s top advisory body on the Cyprus problem, and it turned out that their respective positions contain many common or similar elements. All these parties, which could command a small majority in a referendum, believe that the Greek Cypriot side must seek few concrete changes, concentrating on the following:

There is some evidence that the Turkish Cypriot side, with the support of Turkey and the Security Council, will be willing to accept some of these demands, if the result is going to be a Cyprus settlement before the October 3, when Turkey starts its own accession talks. There is certainly no expectation that the Secretary-General is going to be involved in a radical reconstruction of his Plan, or that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots will be making any serious concessions on the principle of political equality or on Turkish guarantees for the independence and security of Cyprus.

President Papadopoulos is greatly irked when people urge him to state his requirements at the time when there is no negotiating procedure in place, in which case anything his says will become a subject of acrimony and dispute between maximalists and moderates. Sometimes he says cryptically that ‘those people who should know about the Greek Cypriot requirement have been properly informed by him’. Whatever be the truth of the matter, Kofi Annan and influential European governments as well as the United States claim to be ignorant of the President’s thinking.

Some Greek Cypriot politicians, including people who know and have worked with him for years, claim that President Papadopoulos is not willing to share power on the basis of political equality and a substantial time frame for the withdrawal of Turkish troops and settlers. He once stated that the present situation is second best to a satisfactory solution, and in any case better than a solution based on the Annan Plan. The nearest he came to indicating the circumstances under which he would be willing to negotiate a new settlement is a series of general principles:

These requirements are accepted by many people, and the President, for all the great disappointment of the Brussels Summit which showed up the ineffectiveness of Cyprus diplomacy, has lost little of his popularity. Yet the Cypro-Barometer, a public opinion research programme conducted by RAI Consultants Public Ltd which monitors Cypriot attitudes indicates that in November-December 2004, 68% of Greek Cypriots believe that there will be no solution in the foreseeable future, while only 23% appear optimistic. Some 40% of the respondents said that the withdrawal of the Turkish troops is the first requirement for any solution, and about 25% demand guarantees for their security from any Turkish threat and the departure of all Turkish settlers. Interestingly only 17% consider that the return of the refugees is a necessary condition for an acceptable solution and only 11% demand that the refugees should be able to take possession of their properties.

In April 2005, the Turkish Cypriot community went to the polls to elect a president, and this time the veteran leader Rauf Denktash, always considered as a maximalist and hardliner by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike, did not stand. The winner was the leader of the Turkish Republican Party Mehmet Ali Talat who began his political career as a social democrat but since he appointment as Prime Minister in December 2002 he had occupied a centrist position in most policy areas and clearly had the support of the AKP government in Ankara. He is much more moderate that Denktash could ever be and he is willing to enter into negotiations with President Papadopoulos for the conclusion of a new, but not greatly changed Annan Plan. But now the Greek Cypriots have a maximalist leader.


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