Cyprus Referendum: A Win-Win Strategy?

Kofi Annan has announced that the UN is to proceed with the referendum on April 24 despite an apparent lack of agreement. One week into talks at the Swiss Alpine resort of Buergenstock, Annan has simply put his best face on the result and said that the island’s future is now up to its people.

“The chance is between this settlement or no settlement……This plan is fair and is designed to work.”

The polls, however, have regularly forecast a near certain defeat in the Greek Cypriot zone and a close finish on the Turkish side. So if these polls are confirmed the result would seem pretty clear cut given that about two-thirds of the island’s 800,000 population are Greek Cypriots. Turkish Cypriots control only one-third of the territory in the north and are only recognized as a state by Turkey.

Whilst in the long run the problem may well ‘resolve itself’ with Turkish membership of the EU, we should not lose sight of the fact that the ethnic rivalries which surround us are not noticeably diminishing, and that while many of us may now find it hard to remember what the world was like before e-mail and the mobile phone, in the world of ‘ethnic cleansing’ things move more slowly. Historic memories make a 30 year time gap (or one generation) seem but a day. (This should also not be forgotten by all those of us whose eyes today are focussed in horror on what is happening in Iraq).

In conclusion I would just like to refer you to David Officer’s pretty ‘fair and balanced’ Cyprus blog ‘Changing Trains’ where he quoted this yesterday from the Cyprus Mail:

Only when the first version of the plan was submitted did people get a genuine idea of what a federal settlement would be like and it was nothing like it had been described by the politicians over the years. Politicians had been misinforming people for decades about the type of settlement they could deliver, creating false expectations by setting unattainable targets. So when the plan was presented people felt cheated and wronged, not by the politicians, who immediately started slamming it, but by the UN and the international community that were seen as favouring the Turkish side. As usual, the foreigners were blamed.

Opposition to the Annan plan was fuelled by another factor ? Cyprus? imminent accession to the EU. Greek Cypriot confidence has grown ever since the signing of the accession treaty last April, people feeling that as part of the EU the free areas? security has been taken care of. Feeling that their security was guaranteed, the need of a settlement ceased to be an imperative.

And the politicians are back to playing their old games, creating unrealistic expectations about the type of settlement that can be secured after accession. The human rights of everyone would be guaranteed, there would be no exemptions from the acquis communautaire and the Turkish side would have no choice but to accept the type of settlement that Greek Cypriot side wants, politicians have been arguing. All we have to do is avoid signing a peace deal before May 1, when we will become full members of the EU.

Nobody can say whether this line of argument is correct, but it does seem to feature a large element of the wishful thinking that has always characterised our politicians? Cyprus problem discourse.

In reading this extract I can’t help being put in mind of a quote I recently took from Trichet:

there is the unfortunate phenomenon that public opinion very often discovers the problems at the moment they are tackled, when governments, parliaments and social partners carry out the structural reforms that are urgently needed.

This phrase has been haunting me rather recently, as it does seem to some up something important about the way our perception of the future may have changed. I don’t think it was always like this. I think there was a time when our political system was capable of generating visionary goals, and then working systematically towards them. It seems today that we are somewhat more retiscent in our attitudes to what the future will bring.

I also like yesterdays quote from Mathew about France being singular in that there ‘the voters lie to the politicians’. Could it be that this has a far more general application, and that a game strategy is emerging wherby each party does its utmost to keep their true objectives well concealed from the other?

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Transition and accession by Edward Hugh. Bookmark the permalink.

About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

8 thoughts on “Cyprus Referendum: A Win-Win Strategy?

  1. Its all over in the south. Breaking news – AKEL reject plan in its current form and call for renegotiations. Turkish Cypriot friends are phoning me and say this plays straight into Dentash’s hands.

  2. The Annan is unjust and clearly favours of Turkey`s interests in it`s detail, not Cypriots, Greek or Turkish. There is no need for an antiquated Treaty of Guarantee which could forseeably see Turkey again invade the Island in the future whilst Greece is again prevented from intervening and the UK just sits idly by. Any settlement must respect the sovereignty and independance of Cyprus as a modern European nation without a belligerant neighbour maintaining forces on it`s land. Any claims that Turkey, or indeed any foreign nation has a claim or rights of Cyprus is manufactered, illegal, misleading and immoral. The EU in the negotiations have shown to be willing to accommodate Turkey`s demands which make a mockery of the principles of which the EU was founded and oversteps the boundaries of any decency.
    Maybe one day the Cypriots will ne allowed to forge their own destiny but it`s not going to happen soon. The Annan plan is a sell out to larger power`s interests and is yet another shameful episode created by those who want strategic interests in Cyprus. In reality there is no Cyprus problem other than in the minds of Turkish nationalists and the larger powers who want to use Cyprus as an aircraft carrier.
    It is now the duty of the EU to uphold the rights of ALL it`s citizens and insist that if Turkey wants to become part of the European community it has to start behaving like one, in particular towards Cyprus and it`s own minorities that it barely even acknowledges. It`s human rights record is appaling and Cypriots are expected to trust Turkey to honour any agreement when they continue to occupy a third of their country and regular violate it`s airspece in a provocative manner.
    The Greek Cypriots are expected to disband their military in a dangerous region of the world with Turkey able and willing to carry out military operations at will on their territory. Who will protect them, Greece, UK, America? The Treaty of Guarantee is not worth the paper it is written on.
    The essence of this latest development is cynical and dishonest and must not be allowed to succeed, or are we going to again see Cyprus betrayed in the interests of political expediency.4
    Perhaps the likes of Jack Straw and Colin Powell should keep their bullish remarks to themselves prior to the referendum, for them to say that the plan is fair and there is no alternative shows who`s interests the plan is really representing.

  3. The non-recognition by the international community of the northern-cyprus-turksih state testifies of its illegal nature.

    Turkey, a UN and Nato member invaded militarily Cyprus another UN and Nato member. The coup d’?tat attempt by the then Greek junta was only a pretext. Turkey did not invade for preventing the coup from succeeding. Turkey invaded a sovereign nation and created a fait accompli. As a result of the invasion Cyprus has been divided into ethnic lines. Also, Turkey has brought tens of thousands of non-cypriot turkish settlers in the illegally occupied north.

    What is there to negotiate ?
    Legality would only be resumed if the occupying forces were to depart, the refugees return to their original territories (both greek and turksih cypriots) and the settlers given monetary compensation to return to Turkey.

    Any else amounts to condone and legitimize the illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus.

  4. I would like to add my humble remark that I have not seen ANY serious analysis leading to a YES in Cyprus . It is only the UN/US/UK , and few only, EU official who say it is fair .
    The most sound proof to it was added after the request of Mr Christofias to ascertain the ‘guarantees’. They were refused by these same officials.

    The most recent polls say that roughly the 2/3 of the population been greek will vote by 65% NO and the rest 1/3 of turks a 55% YES . All in all then , taking the island as a whole , these 3/3 are expected to vote a 57% NO and therefore a 33% YES. In reality the YES scores just 1/3 of the total population . It is wrong to take it under a 50-50 basis , results should be measured over the entire island . Then people will understand how the ‘win-win’ situation concinced nobody.
    Not to mention that Turkey has openly admitted to care only about a YES on the Nothern side and a NO on the Southern, so as to take an advantage on further political agreements with UN/US/UK /EU . They do not want a YES-YES vote which will actually create a hell of problems to them …and EU may I say . The turk cypriots will chose YES because they have nothing better to expect from a NO but even so the confusion they were thrown in after the so many rumours and political lies , should not exclude their NO as well . Finally I remind to this forum that there has never been any estimate for the turk cypriot vote ever to exceed the 55% for YES and still they are considered as its fervent supporters.
    I wonder what the facial expression of the US/UN/UK/EU officials will be with say a greek 75% NO and a 51% YES from the turks !!

  5. For some reason nobody wants to remember or accept that Turks have lived on the island just as long as the Greeks and when Cyprus republic was born in 1960, Turkish Cypriots was the equal partners in running the gowerment of Cyprus. For some reason no one remembers when the Turkish Cypriots were pushed out of the gowerment within few months, masacered, raped, buried alive, forced to leave their 103 willages not allowed to open buisiness, build homes, travel freely in their homeland, forced and “gladly helped” to imigrate….and if all these were not enough, then brutally invaded by the mainland Greeks and forced to accept union with Greece under the biggest murderer of all Nikos SAMSON.
    No one realises that it is because of Turkey using her guarantor rights in 1974 that we all had peece and tranquility for over 30 years on this beaitufle island we all love and cherish.
    But once again we will forgive and say YES to the referendom tomorrow…Just to prove to the world that the unfortune intension of the “missled Greek Cypriot majority” is not wanting to live together with us as equal partners but to get rid of us one way or another and declare enosis (union with greece)
    Dont forget my Greek brothers and sisters that just like you, we have nowhere else but Cyprus that we can call our home and our country, and we intend to keep it as our home and country too…

  6. I’m amazed that after all these years of blaming the Turks for the divided island Cyprus is, that the Greek Cypriots should vote overwhelmingly to keep it divided. In this situation, we the Turks are still the losers.

    The Greeks will merrily join the EU on 1st of May and go about their business whilst living to the high standards they have become accustomed to over the last 30 years while the Turks will continue to live in isolation.

    The saying “No man is an island” could well be true but here we have a whole race (the Turkish cypriots) that have been abandoned on an island for three decades.

    At least I thank god the international community has now seen the true face of the Greek people (I say people as it is the people that have voted and not their goverment).

    I hope and pray that the international community now have the decency to re-think their opinions of the Cyprus problem and finally recognize the Turkish cypriot people.

  7. Official results of the referendum:

    Greekcypriots: 75.83% OXI (NO) 24.17% NAI (YES)
    Turkishcypriots: 35.1% HAYIR (NO) 64.9% EVET (YES)

    One comment only: the Greek Cypriot NO has been misunderstood.
    The NO was for the Anan Plan no.5 (it was anyway stated on the vote of the referendum).

    Nobody can ethnically divide a country and then call it United!

    The NO in the referendum was NOT in anyway a NO to reunification as many people try to pass.
    It was a YES for a real solution to the cyprus problem. And by saying real I do not mean a greek nor a turkish solution.

    Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live together and have proven this in the past (before turkish invasion) and now since April 2003.
    That’s why a real solution can be achieved only by the people of Cyprus and nowbody else.

  8. The results of the referendum are clear. Greek Cypriots will not accept a plan that is loaded in favour of Turkey and no one else. Why should any Cypriots agree to a plan that leaves Turkish troops permanently in Cyprus. The number of troops are irrelevant, Turkey is a short distance away. It is the primciple of allowing a foreign power with unjustified rights over a sovereign country with an expoanded right of intervention for reasons that are illogical, illegal and unjustified. Sure, there was strife years ago in Cyprus but those who believe that Cyprus wants to rid itself of the Turkish Cypriots have not been paying attention for the past 30 years.

    It is Turkey who illegally occupies a sovereign nation and that nation wants the rights that every citizen in the world regards as fundamental, rights of freedom ans the expectation that it will not be oppressed.

    Turkey is in trouble, it has no chance of entering the EU without cleaning up it`s human rights record and changing fundamental policies which are in opposition to the rights of freedom and decency that the EU allegedly holds as basic rights of all it`s citizens. Turkey has to acknowledge it`s own minorities before it can dictate to the Greek Cypriots that it should effectively hand over it`s sovereignty to a minority comprising less that 18%. Cyprus does not have an appaling human rights record, Turkey does. Turkey has also paid 2 million dolars ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to a Greek Cypriot citizen for denial of her basic human rights, that has set a precedent for another 200,000 potential cases from the Greek Cypriots alone, not including other groups of people who have suffered atrocities and gemocide at the hands of an EU candidate!

    Time is running out for Turkey. The attempt to force the Annan Plan on the Greek and Turkish Cypriots was an attempt to release Turkey of it`s responsibilities which it cannot avoid for much longer. Turkey`s only asset is it`s willingness to maintain a strong military to achieve certain countries regional interests.

    As James Callaghan said in 1974, Cyprus is today the prisoner of Turkey, in time Turkey will become the prisoner of Cyprus.

    One final note, the aid to go to the Turkish Cypriots is welcome, Turkish Cypriots should not have to live in relative poverty whilst Ankara maintains 35,000 to 40,000 troops illegaly in Cyprus. How much does such a force cost to maintain. Why is that money not used to alleviate the Turkish Cypriots living standards.It is evident that Turkey`s interests are not with the Turkish Cypriots but in keeping a military presence in a sovereign country for strategic reasons.
    The aid is welcome but recognition of the pseudo state is unacceptable, illegal and not open to negotiation.

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