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‘Greek Cypriots dodged a bullet’

No and Yes on display in the lead up to the 2004 referendum

Greek Cypriots dodged a bullet by rejecting the Annan plan in 2004, the more hardline parties on the Cyprus issue said on Tuesday, the 14th anniversary of the simultaneous referendums on both sides in which Turkish Cypriots voted yes.

Diko, whose founder Tassos Papadopoulos was president in 2004 and led the charge against accepting the UN settlement blueprint, said in a statement that Greek Cypriots had voted not to mortgage the future of Cypriot Hellenism in exchange for promises from Turkey with no guarantee they would be kept.

The party, which is now led by Papadopoulos’ son Nicolas, then cited the late president’s quote at the time: “I received an internationally recognised sovereign state, I will not deliver a community without a right to speak internationally and in search of a guardian. And all against empty, misleading, expectations, against the unrealistic illusion that Turkey will honour its commitments”.

Diko said that “unfortunately” the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Annan plan had not been respected, and the choices of successive governments since had made things worse.

“Now, provisions are being discussed that are worse than those of the Annan plan,” the party said, adding that it wished to remind people that Greek Cypriots did not reject the solution of the Cyprus problem, but a specific proposal with specific provisions.

Socialist Edek called the Annan plan “racist” and said that although “history has justified the people’s choice, political circles within and outside of the island, still disrespect the verdict and are still attempting to push a solution that would give Turkey full control of the Cyprus state.

“The only possible, viable and workable solution in the Cyprus problem is a democratic solution, fully securing the political and human rights of all citizens, the European acquis and the creation of a normal European state and not a protectorate of Turkey,” it added.

The Solidarity Movement said even though the Annan plan was rejected, there were quarters that were attempting to bring back parts of it. Turkey’s goals remain unchanged, it added.

“Fourteen years after the referendum… even though Turkey disputes the borders of Greece, has invaded Syria, has exterminated the Kurds, still has people believing that the re-election of Tayyip Erdogan will pave the way for a solution to the Cyprus problem,” it added.

“Erdogan’s and the occupation regime’s attitude is even tougher than before. All that is said and officially declared by Turkey is propaganda, and we must not in any way have our side become a victim of this propaganda.”

Hardliners have been criticised by pro-solution advocates over the years for not taking into account where the main issues – troops withdrawal, territorial adjustments and return of refugees – might stand had the Annan plan been accepted by Greek Cypriots as well.

Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected the plan, with 75.8 per cent voting against, while Turkish Cypriots accepted it, with 64.9 per cent in favour.

Diko’s comment on Tuesday that provisions were being discussed now that were worse than those of the Annan plan could come across as a vindication to pro-solution campaigners. While the outcome of whether the plan would have worked or not cannot be known, certain technical provisions would have been already implemented.

For instance, the Turkish Cypriot constituent state would be 28.5 per cent as opposed to the current 36.2 per cent. This would have taken place in six phases over a 42-month period, starting 104 days after the agreement came into force.

Morphou, Famagusta and 82 villages would be already under Greek Cypriot control again, while the Karpas would have had self-rule to a large extent. In addition, the number of Turkish settlers would have been limited to 5 per cent the number of Turkish Cypriots holding internal constituent state citizenship.

The property issue would likely have been long resolved.

Also, the plan had a provision that by 2018, or the European Union accession of Turkey, whichever was sooner, Greek and Turkish military contingents would have been reduced to 950 and 650 respectively subject to three-yearly review with the objective of total withdrawal.

This week also saw another anniversary; 15 years since the opening of the crossing points on April 23, 2003.

A ten-year study conducted in 2007, 2010 and 2017 by University of Cyprus associate professor Charis Psaltis, the latter which was published in January this year, that contact between the two communities since the crossings opened, had contributed significantly to dispelling past prejudices nurtured by two separate societies, political, and educational systems.

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