This is one of a series of articles from our new feature ‘Background briefing: The Divided Island‘. It is a comprehensive interactive information guide on the Cyprus problem which we are publishing .
In 1978, after two years of consultations, President US Jimmy Carter’s special envoy for Cyprus, Clark Clifford, submitted the first comprehensive plan for a Cyprus settlement on behalf of the US, Canada and Britain. The plan was based on the 1977 High Level Agreement between President Makarios and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash.
The plan’s proposals included the return of land to the Greek Cypriots with compensation for those who might not want to go back to their former homes and properties, and re-opening and restoring Varosha with foreign funds.
Cyprus would be demilitarised, which meant the withdrawal of Turkish troops –apart from a small contingent in accordance with 1960 independence treaties.
Glafcos Clerides, leader of the centre-right Disy party, backed the plan as a basis for further negotiations. The Greek Cypriot communist party, Akel, also deemed the plan satisfactory and tried to persuade President Spyros Kyprianou, the Greek Cypriot leader, to accept it. After the intervention of the Kremlin, however, Akel changed its position and opposed the plan.
Cyprus’ foreign minister at the time, Nicos Rolandis, later described it as “the best plan we ever had”.
In an October 2015 article in the Cyprus Mail, Rolandis pointed out that when the Anglo-American-Canadian plan was presented, there were no Turkish settlers in northern Cyprus. Nor, he added, was there any mention of a “rotating presidency”, which was first raised five years later.