ALL the hardline parties marked the 16th anniversary of the resounding ‘no’ in the 2004 referendum, on Friday, repeating the well-worn platitudes about restoring the pride and dignity of Hellenism and not giving in to the occupier. The rejection of the Annan plan by 76 per cent of the Greek Cypriots is seen as a big triumph by these parties, because they always considered partition preferable to sharing power with the Turkish Cypriots.
The irrationality was that surrendering 40 per cent of the Republic of Cyprus to Turkey is considered a Greek Cypriot triumph, because this was consequence of the proud ‘no’. The occupier would have returned Morphou, the fenced area of Varosha and host of other villages to Greek Cypriot administration, but 76 per cent of Greek Cypriots voted against their return. The majority voted for Turkey to hold on to this territory.
In the 16 years that elapsed Morphou and the surrounding area has been developed while the Turkish Cypriots last year announced plans to re-open the fenced area of Varosha, the proposed return of which had been rejected by the Greek Cypriots before 2004 as well. Our government and the residents of Varosha, the majority of whom voted against the town’s return in 2004, are now protesting to the UN about the Turkish plans and seeking help from the European Union.
These are the triumphs the rejection of the Annan plan triggered for the Greek Cypriots, not to mention the big investments in the north by Turkish business that now has complete control of the economy. The number of Turks that have made the north their home has also increased dramatically, our government’s protests about the illegal settlement, not taken seriously by anyone outside the Republic.
For the outside world, our protests are unjustified, if not absurd. We had the opportunity to stop the inflow of settlers, we were offered the withdrawal of the occupation troops and the return of Varosha, Morphou and dozens of villages returned, but we overwhelmingly rejected the plan that would have made this happen. And this is celebrated, to this day as an act of supreme patriotism.
In the end we will achieve partition, the preferred type settlement of President Anastasiades, without securing anything in exchange. Not even the late Rauf Denktash, the uncompromising, Greek-hating supporter of partition, would have dreamt the Turkish Cypriots could secure partition while keep Turkish occupying troops on the island in perpetuity and without returning a square inch of territory to the Greek Cypriots.
We have helped the ultra-nationalist Turkish Cypriots attain their most unrealistic targets and we consider this a Greek Cypriot triumph, that has to be celebrated every year.