Annan's plan for the re-unification of Cyprus is being billed as the decisive
moment in this divided island's modern history. On Saturday, Greek and Turkish
Cypriots will vote on the plan, deemed "fair and balanced" by Washington
and a "unique and historic opportunity" by the honorary EU head, Irish Prime
Minister Bertie Ahern. Numerous apologetic media outlets have repeatedly
referred to the allegedly
nature of the
moment (as if history weren't being made every minute). Yet the real concern
is that the Annan Plan might make history out of peace itself.
According to the
BBC, the plan has the backing of around 60 percent of the Turkish Cypriot
population, besides the Turkish government in Ankara. However, over 70 percent
of the Greek
Cypriot majority are opposed, as are their political leaders. The demise
of Greece's PASOK Socialist-led government in March has also eliminated
support from Athens. Turkish Cypriot ultranationalist leader Rauf Denktash loathes the
settlement, and Turkish nationalists are violently
opposed as well.
In short, no one is overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the plan, except for
the EU, Britain and America. Any time all of these characters are lined up
on the same side of a debate, the cause must be truly good – or truly atrocious.
In the case of Cyprus, it's the latter.
The Annan Plan: a Compromise or Not?
Despite all Western whitewashing to the contrary,
the plan is no compromise. Recently
we argued that the plan's fatal flaws are bound to cause anger, simmering
discord, and perhaps even future violence. Its authors seek to establish a weak
federation composed of 2 autonomous states – thus more or less recognizing the
illegal 'Turkish Republic of North Cyprus' declared after the Turkish invasion
of 1974 (recognized by no other country). For many Greeks, this would be tantamount
to confirming that violence gets results. That America is now sending its best
wishes for "…a hopeful vision of a peaceful and prosperous future for all Cypriots
as citizens of a unified state" is more than a bit rich, considering that it
was the dirty
dealings of Henry Kissinger which helped unleash the destructive violence
However, the federalization issue is not the biggest. Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has stated that federalization of one kind or
another was always the only real option. What
really irks Greek Cypriots is that their rights of repatriation would be
limited under the Annan Plan. Only a proportion (18 percent) of the 167,000
dispossessed would be allowed to return to homes seized by Turks in the
north, and Greeks would be prohibited from buying property there for at least 15
years, by which time it will all have been eaten up by fat German bankers and
their ilk anyway. Most worrisome of all, Turkey's military presence on the
island would only be reduced – not eliminated. That said, it's no wonder that the
Greeks should be less than eager to vote for a deal that gives them absolutely
nothing in return for sharing political power, recognizing and funding the
impoverished Turkish north, and tolerating a foreign power's military
The Interventionists Step Up the Pressure
Annan and the rest of the West have been adamant
that this deal is as good as it gets. "There's
no other plan out there," declared Annan on Wednesday. Annan's advisor on
Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, added, "I have no reason to believe that the parties,
if they have more time, will come up with anything better."
At the same time, however, the interventionists are pretending to be innocent
bystanders. "…It is for the people of Cyprus alone to decide" whether to accept
the plan, stated the European Council's Prime Minister Ahern on Wednesday. Yet
he also felt it worth noting, according to the Cyprus News Agency, that "…the overwhelming
majority of political leaders across Europe" are calling for a yes vote.
Annan waxed poetic on Thursday when he told the Cypriots, "…we cannot take
that fateful decision for you; we await your call." But he and his numerous
allies have made no attempt to hide their disdain for the Greek Cypriots and
Denktash, with EU enlargement boss Guenter
Verheugen going so far as to accuse the Greek
Cypriot government of 'cheating' him: "…I did everything to create the
conditions allowing Greek Cypriots to accept the UN plan – apparently in
Indeed. Vain about sums it up. With this tantrum we are reminded of another
major reason for the internationals' drive for a 'yes' vote: nurturing their
insatiable personal career ambitions. As the Associated
Press put it last month, acceptance of the plan "…would represent a huge
feather in Annan's cap if he could pull it off." When the interventionists speak
of this as a "historic" moment, it's because they're salivating over winning
their own place in history.
With the referendum almost upon us, the final frenzied days of lobbying are
underway. The entire Western diplomatic apparatus is now bearing down on those
stubborn Greek Cypriots, who just can't seem to reach the sublime and lofty
heights of reason that the would-be architects of Cyprus seem to inhabit (even
if they don't actually inhabit the island that will be affected by the outcome
of the vote). Yet like people anywhere, the Greek Cypriots are reacting
according to practical
concerns. Will they get their property back? Who will govern them? Will
their economy and standard of living suffer? Will they be safe? As Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos put it, by voting for the plan his people would merely
be "buying hope" and the vague promise of future support – nothing more
The West: an Honest and Dependable Broker?
analysis of April 19th entitled "Shadows Over Cyprus" (no link
available) pointed out this critical danger, questioning the trustworthiness
of the recently pledged international donors, and the ability and bravery of
international peacekeepers. The article cites the example of Afghanistan, where
only a fraction of the West's promised aid has arrived. Another aspect of the
role of donor's conferences can be taken from the example of Macedonia, where
promised funds were delayed in 2002 by Western interventionists, in order to expedite regime change
in that country's elections.
Thus we have two possibilities that hardly bode well for a peaceful unified
Cyprus. First, should the promised money not arrive, someone will have to
subsidize the poor Turkish north – and it will no doubt be the more affluent
Greek Cypriots. This is a recipe for increasing already ingrained resentment.
Second, accepting foreign aid will make Cyprus, already weak as a loose federal
state – even less capable of maintaining an independent foreign policy. Rather
than being influenced separately by Athens and Ankara, it will increasingly come
under the control of America – which is all part of the plan, considering the
island's proximity to Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt.
The UPI article thus asks,
"…what guarantees have been extended to assuage the concerns of Greek
Cypriots? Nothing firm. This is why the Greek newspaper Kathimerini
editorialized, 'The large majority of Cypriots are obviously reacting to a
solution that seems to invest more in ideas and goodwill for coexistence between
the two communities than in practical measures that are instantly
Shoring Up the Rhetoric of Human Rights: a Paradox
Yet the forces of the Good in the West deal in
nothing other than ideas and goodwill. If abstract values were a commodity,
they'd be rich enough to feed every starving person in the world ten times over.
Ironically, the Annan Plan violates a basic human right envisioned in the EU
constitution: freedom of residence and employment, as pointed out by a worried
Turkish analyst who foresees that rectifying the reality with the rhetoric
will be detrimental to his side:
"…[the Annan Plan] is not compatible with the EU's jurisprudence regarding
integration and constitutional principles. According to the constitutional
principles in the EU law, the expectations of individuals such as property,
capital, circulation of labor and services, and the desire to settle in any EU
country cannot be prevented.
An individual can seek employment or work anywhere and he/she can reside
anywhere. Within this context, since the basic legal norms and philosophy depend
on the removal of the obstructions before the basic rights and freedoms of the
individual, the European Court of Human Rights accepts any kind of application
on these issues and decides in favor of the individual.
This situation invalidates all the derogations talked about in the Annan Plan
context; in other words, the EU law neither recognizes the Annan Plan nor takes
it as a reference."
To be sure, the backers of the plan do not intend to adhere to the EU's
ruling. If they did, the Greeks would have to be allowed back, and the Turkish
settlers either rehabilitated or sent back to Turkey – neither likely options,
considering their poverty and Ankara's nationalistic interests. Cyprus is
therefore a special case; an exception to the rule. Yet should it be? How can it
become a member of the EU at this time, when to do so would mean violating the
highest values of that body? Save for its economic clout, Cyprus is less
prepared for the EU than any Balkan state besides Kosovo – another UN experiment
in human rights gone disastrously
The End of All Conflict, or Conflict in the End?
When we consider the hysterical frenzy being whipped
up now by those pushing the plan, and their prevailing obsession with solving
the "problem" right now, one must ask why Cyprus was asked to negotiate
in the first place. The thinking seems to have run in a vicious logical circle:
pushing for Cyprus to join would give its leaders an incentive for unification,
and pushing for unification would at the same enable those leaders to adhere
to that grand unified vision for Europe, so lovingly and so deceitfully maintained
in Brussels and Strasbourg. In the brave new Europe, all dissent is stifled,
all disharmonies swept under the rug. Any thought of conflict is immediately
suppressed as being "un-European," and as transgressing the cherished values
of a continent whose subconscious is still haunted by the terrible memories
of Nazism. Visible lines of division, maintained in Cyprus for 30 years, are
not to be tolerated – not because of what they are, but because of what they
And that is exactly the point. In refusing to allow any open divisions,
Europe may be heading for a greater fracture at some point in the unknowable
future. The high-minded countries of the Union, new and old alike, sweep over
their own human rights problems, while at the same time savaging them in lowlier
states. Yet it's not in allegedly intolerant Macedonia where gypsies are killed
regularly, it's in the Czech Republic and Hungary. When
faced with an embarrassing public furor over asylum seekers, the "progressive"
government of Tony Blair last year tried to hide
Britain's unwanted in a holding pen – forgotten and faraway Albania.
No, what the interventionists are so terrified of is that a 'no' vote in
Cyprus will be a blow to their high-minded ideals, not to any geopolitical
reality. The Americans alone are purely committed to the latter, never really
having believed in the former. For them, hiding behind the lofty rhetoric is
just a means to an end (unless you happen to be personally
fulfilling God's will on earth, of course).
In saying that "the
world is behind my plan," and that he's presenting an opportunity
"not to be missed," Kofi Annan is desperately trying to realize his own career
ambitions, while seeking to prove the UN's relevance in a world where its input
and verdicts are increasingly being travestied and ignored – as with the
debacle of the Hague, the failure in Kosovo, and
especially the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq.
Ignoring at his peril the very real ambivalence
both Greeks and Turks have for his plan, Kofi Annan runs the risk of alienating
both sides further in forcing a settlement. In the long run, the potential
problems that could crop up from accepting this particular plan right
now far outweigh the benefits. Contrary to the frenzied warnings of the
interventionists, the Cypriots will not turn into pumpkins if they fail to unite
by midnight on Saturday. The one thing that everyone has plenty of is time. The
last 30 years have been largely peaceful; is a sudden and disorganized change of
the status quo really advisable?
If interventionist pressure means that an accord is railroaded through, the
very principles of the European Union will be transgressed, and no guarantees
will be made to any of the people who will actually have to live with the new
status quo. How this would be a victory for peace, justice and democracy is
Note to Readers
Yesterday I was interviewed on the topic of Cyprus
by Pacifica's Free Speech Radio News. Their story, which will feature some of
my comments, should be broadcast on Friday and will be made available shortly
on their website's audio archive.