By Loucas Charalambous
THE UNHOLY mess we witnessed in the last week regarding the issue of the settlers was one more confirmation of the incredible irresponsibility but also the sloppiness with which the Cyprus problem is being handled by the president and his advisers as well as by the members of the opposition.
When they are caught being ignorant of the most basic things – like for example what the provisions of the previous settlement plan were – it becomes apparent that they are not very serious people.
I have written in this column at least 20 times over the past 12 years what the provision for the settlers had been in the 2004 Annan plan. I will repeat it one more time in the hope that the president and his government spokesman might read it and stop making fools of themselves.
According to the federal law on citizenship, up to 45,000 Turkish nationals would be able to remain in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state and 45,000 Greek nationals in the Greek Cypriot constituent state. There was no mention at all of mixed marriages or of children that had been born in Cyprus. The plan referred only to nationals.
In fact in Appendix F (Measures to be taken during April 2004), in the fourth paragraph, the two sides were invited to: “Hand over by 10 April 2004 to the secretary-general the list numbering no more than 45,000 persons as specified in the proposed federal law on Citizenship of the United Cyprus Republic”).
It is worth noting that the list submitted by the then Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat contained only 41,000 names. There were not even 45,000 settlers back then. If today we have reached the point of talking about 90,000 or 120,000 Turkish settlers, the people to blame are Papadopoulos, Lyssarides, Sizopoulos, Perdikis, (Dias group boss) Hadjicostis and the rest who rejected the Annan plan.
The astonishing thing is that President Anastasiades, who back in 2004 was warning that a non-settlement would have had this consequence – Cyprus being flooded by Turkish settlers – today does not dare to remind them. He is terrified that his detractors would misunderstand this as support of the Annan plan.
As this matter has developed into a farce, it is worth looking at some of the views expressed by Diko chief Nicolas Papadopoulos on CyBC radio and subsequently issued as a party announcement. He said: “The President of the Republic does not tell us what would happen with the illegal students, the illegal workers, the seasonal workers and all those who have residence and work permits issued by the authorities of the pseudo-state. How many are all these and when would they leave after the settlement? Explanations are needed for all this.”
Here, in just a few lines, one can admire the political stupidity of the younger Papadopoulos, who on this subject has surpassed his late father. He demanded, he said, explanations about who the students and seasonal workers were and when they would leave the north. In short, he demands that, with the settlement, the universities in the north shut down and the students depart. One wonders how much more lunacy this man still has to display.
In the north there are today 12 universities and 12 colleges, all with English as the main language. According to a New York Times report (16 February 2014), the universities alone (there were nine at the time) had 63,000 students. Of these 35,000 were from Turkey, 13,000 Turkish Cypriots and the rest from countries in Africa and Asia. If we add the students of the three universities that have opened since then and those of the 12 colleges their total number would certainly exceed 100,000.
The revenue from these students is an important part of the GDP of the “pseudo-state”. This is now the target of Papadopoulos who is also demanding that those with work permits leave. Maybe he should ask that Turkish tourists also be banned so that the north’s hotels would be shut down. But he did not tell us what he wanted all those left in the north to do.
Will they all become shepherds? It would appear that Tassos Papadopoulos’ genes have been passed on to Nicolas unchanged. The Turkish Cypriots must be brought to their knees, starve and get out of here while those who stay we will throw into the sea…
I note that all the provisions of the settlement agreement would be implemented in both constituent states. Therefore, as a result of Papadopoulos’ demands, all the Greek students at our universities would also have to leave as would the tens of thousands of Greeks working here. But his settlers’ demands are certain to backfire. If Apoel supporters realise that in effect, Papadopoulos’ conditions would mean Yianniotas would leave their club, they would all turn against him.