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Greek Cypriots were right to smell a rat and vote no to the Annan plan

No and Yes posters in the lead up to the Annan plan referendum in 2004

I must take issue with some of the assertions of George Koumoullis in his article titled ‘The Annan plan doesn’t look so bad now’, (Sunday Mail, November 22).

In his opinion, the rejection of the Annan plan will result in the same disaster as the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922. He expects that this will happen a few decades down the line. He points to the similarities of the two cases. He talks about slaughter of the innocent, rapes, stolen property, loss of families, etc. In the case of Cyprus these barbaric acts already took place in 1974. Yet, somehow, he mentions them in connection with the rejection of the Annan plan. He believes that the disaster matching that of Asia Minor could have been avoided if the Greek Cypriot had not rejected the Annan plan.

He further ascertains that rejecting the Annan plan (the main contributor of which was Lord David Hannay) meant that the Greek Cypriots voted for the Turkish army to stay in Cyprus!

In fact the opposite is true. Voting for the Annan plan would have confirmed Turkey’s right to be a guarantor of everything in the whole of Cyprus (at least that’s how the Greek Cypriots saw it).The Greek Cypriots smelled a rat and voted accordingly. It was their right to do so. They saw a vote of ‘Yes’ as legitimising the invasion and the atrocities that Mr Koumoullis mentioned in his article.

Sixteen years after the rejection of the Annan plan some people still cannot bring themselves to accept the result. The voters chose in their opinion not to commit suicide because they might have suffered a catastrophe a few decades later.

The idea persists in some circles that what made the Greek Cypriots vote ‘No’ was the ‘crocodile’ tears of Tassos. This is a far too simplistic view and involves the refusal to deal with the real reason(s). Tassos’ speech was delivered on April 7, 2004. On April 1 the Turkish Cypriot journalist Sener Levent wrote in his newspaper:

“Why should I rejoice, since it is obvious from now that the plan will be rejected, that has been prepared and presented to us with the sole purpose not to be disagreeable to Ankara and Denktash? What is the use of a single ‘Yes’, other than the prolongation for many more years of the status quo?

“Was it perhaps their true aim to force the Greek Cypriots to say ‘No’ after which to let Turkey be and put the dying TRNC on a life support machine? Is it really possible to say yes to this plan? Would Greek Cypriots accept to have the road to the European Court closed? To keep a Turkish army on the island for ever and for all those that were brought to the island from abroad to become citizens of the state?”

I think Levent answered a lot of the questions on April 1, 2004.

Ermis Tsiatinis, from Famagusta, now resident in England

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