By Loucas Charalambous
IF WE HAD a responsible political leadership it would have recognised the latest comments by Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s minister for EU affairs, as a big opportunity.
If we had as president today the Nicos Anastasiades of 2004, the man who stood against all the political charlatans of the country in support of a settlement and not the subdued hostage of Marios Garoyian and the other ruthless demagogues, he would embark, under the most favourable conditions, on one last drive for a peace deal.
A settlement now would be the best medicine for an exit from the recession. This was the view expressed on a television show last week by the most sensible Cypriot participating in television debates in the last three months – economist Mike Spanos.
Bagis had said: “Right, let us look at the Annan plan again. The issues that they and we object to should be put on the negotiating table. Then, the issue of Varosha would be solved. There was, after all, a solution for it in the Annan plan. Let’s sit together somewhere and solve it. If the Annan plan was accepted there would be neither Greek nor Turkish army in Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots, by rejecting the Annan plan, told the Turkish army ‘stay’.”
Our joker politicians might not like to be told this, but Bagis is adding salt to the wound. The Turkish occupation army was kept in Cyprus by Papadopoulos, Garoyian, Christofias, Lyssarides, Omirou and the rest of our wise politicians who cemented partition in 2004.
But why is the procedure proposed by Bagis the best for us? For the very simple reason that negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan, which was accepted by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots, is the only basis that allows us to claim certain things that we would never have a chance of securing through the continuation of the procedure followed by Christofias or a procedure ‘on a new basis’, being mooted by Anastasiades.
I would just mention two issues. One is Morphou. There is no chance, in another procedure, in which each side would be able to put whatever it wants on the negotiating table, that Morphou would be returned. All those who follow the general debate and prevailing views expressed in the north would know this. There have also been declarations against the return of Morphou by the Turkish Cypriot leadership.
But if the procedure is restricted to amendments to the Annan plan, it would be very difficult for the Turkish side to argue for a change or renege on such a fundamental provision relating to the territorial issue.
The other advantage is that we would be free of the much-talked about Christofias ‘concessions’, including the rotating presidency and the weighted voting, as in the Annan plan there was no president and vice-president, but a six-member federal council that we all accepted, even Tassos Papadopoulos.
Speaking of Papadopoulos, in a procedure like the one proposed by Bagis, we have the list of changes to the Annan plan that we wanted, ready since his presidency. It was finalised by the National Council, in April 2005, under the guidance of the ‘Ethnarch’ himself.
This point could be used by Anastasiades as an argument to silence the demagogues, if he really wanted to take advantage of Bagis’ offer. But he does not want to do so. As proved by the fuss he made over the comical ‘social dinner’, a settlement is of no interest to him now.
Now, his priority is to caress the ears of Garoyian, Omirou, Lyssarides, Perdikis and all other political charlatans who, nine years ago, said no to the return of Morphou and, with their customary national pride, told the Turkish occupation army, ‘stay’. And it stayed…