Cyprus says ‘Yes’ and ‘No’

So, Cyprus’ referendums brought a ‘No’ from the Greek side of the island, with over 75% of voters rejecting the plans and a ‘Yes’ from the Turkish side, with over 65% in favour.

No one really seems to know where they go from here – the UN is closing the office of peace envoy Alvaro de Soto, and it will be just the Greek half of the island that joins the EU on May 1st. However, the vote in favour from the Turkish side of the island does seem to indicate at least a partial return from the cold for it, though your guess is as good as mine as to what happens next.

Further commentary from EU BusinessForbes/Reuters

(I can’t find any other blog coverage of this yet, but please let me know – comments or trackbacks – if there is stuff out there I’ve missed)

Update: Commentary from Lounsbury, Obsidian Wings and the Head Heeb. There are interesting points in the comments to this post as well.

19 thoughts on “Cyprus says ‘Yes’ and ‘No’

  1. One quesiton, one comment:

    1 – Assuming that the proposed EU constitution also passes, will Cyprus be able to veto any EU-wide moves towards more openness to the north?

    2 – It will be interesting to see how many countries decide to recognize (or kinda-sorta-partly recognize) the government of the North. I guess Azerbaijan has already made noises about it, and I expect Turkey will be pushing hard on this.

    In particular, it will be interesting to see which way Israel jumps. On the one hand, there are a number of useful precedents that could be set by a widely-recongized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus government – wrt the recognition of a government based on “facts on the ground”; the impossibility of different religious groups living together in peace in the region; the uselessness of the UN & UN resolutions; and so forth. And they certainly owe Turkey a few quids for their pro quos. But on the other hand, I’m not sure that Turkey would actually want Israel on their side on this issue, since it would make getting support from other Muslim-majority countries that much harder.

  2. There’s a good chance that the Northern Cypriot government will not seek wider recognition – a lot will depend on what they hear from the EU.

    It might make more sense for them to seek treatment as a constituent part of Cyprus. The EU would certainly prefer to avoid a permanent division, even now, and re-unification is what the Turkish community voted for, after all. If the EU can find a way to earmark some of its Cyprus aid for the North, and lift its embargos, then the Turkish Cypriot government might find it had nothing to gain from a more aggressive push for independence.

    The problem with this scenario will come from the usual suspects – Denktash and the nationalist securocrats behind him. But it could not be clearer now that he no longer has a following on Cyprus – only in Ankara.

  3. Lounsbury has extended coverage and commentary in his livejournal (along with some Iraq and Morocco stuff). A sample:
    Finally, on Cyprus, the Greek Cyproites showed once again they are self-indulgent, short sighted fools of the worse kind, as well as having less political maturity than the Turks in fact. How else to explain the significant intervention of that mafia, the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus, with interventions saying a vote for the UN plan would damn voters to hell. I note by the way that the Islamophobes out there would have taken a similar intervention by a Muslim Imam as signs of the evilness of the Islamic world, etc. etc.

    Returning to Cyprus, well, this really was no surprise if one has ever spent any time in Cyprus – and in some ways it begins to build on my sensation that the EU really is not ready for prime time. I do not say this as someone philosophically or constitutionally opposed to the EU. Indeed, I have long been a fan of the idea, in theory, of the EU as a closer Union. However, the execution of expansion has been, I have to say, a dismal and puerile excerise in a sad combination of wishful thinking and a sort of namby pamby quasi-leftist ‘we’ll all just get along”ism without a real sense that in fact there are people who will not, in the end, want to get along. (I note I have noted in online fora that this tends to emerge among American and Euro leftists engaging in wishful pandering about the Iraqi resistance)

    Anyone who has spent any degree of time in Cyprus should have been able to note the degree to which the Greek Cyproites had not truly grappled in any meaningful manner with their role in the division of the island, nor were they apparently willing to.

  4. Extensive coverage from a Turkish p.o.v. (in English) at Turkish Torque –

    I can only second Tom Scudder’s comments on the role of the Greek Orthodox Church in the referendum campaign. Such a breathtaking degree of racism only confirms my view that God should be left well out of the EU constitution.

    Turkish-Cypriots backed the plan because, from their position, it was pretty obvious that there could be no gain without pain. On the other hand too many political leaders in the South lied to their electorate that they could reject the Annan Plan without any comeback – that their hand, as full members of the EU, would be strengthened in any negotiation post-May 1. Actually to be fair, they didn’t necessarily lie, as they probably believed this themselves. But they were guilty of wilful short-sightedness about the consequences of a rejection for their community – and neither were Nicosia’s partners in Ankara or in Brussels.

    As for recognition, Azerbaijan had already announced it would recognise the TRNC in the event of a Yes-No result, and I expect some of the Central Asian countries might row in behind. I hadn’t thought of the Israel connection but it would be something of a diplomatic coup for Jerusalem – brilliantly creating a wedge issue in the Islamic world – if they did.

    The sad thing is that despite this, there were enough people in politics in the South who realised this was the last best option for the peaceful reunification of the island. Unfortunately, no-one wanted to be first to tell the people of the South the bad news. A combined front of AKEL and DISY could have pushed the agreement through, but it just never happened.

    De Soto has already packed up his bags and gone home. The train has left the station on this one.

    G?nther Verheugen’s comments on supporting economic development in the North should mean only one thing – an end to the economic blockade by the EU. If Athens and Nicosia are determined to block it (and I’m not sure a lot of the Athens diplomatic establishment, privately fuming at the Greek Cypriots, would be that keen to block it) then the UK, the most significant potential partner for the North given the huge Cypriot Community in London and Hertfordshire, should qiuetly do so by the back door.

    And it would be rather nice if the US did so as well!

  5. Incidentally, in case it wasn’t clear the multi-paragraph commentary in my last post was an extended quote from Lounsbury’s livejournal, and not my own words.

  6. Why not use the East German precedent?

    Back in the 80s – late 80s, I think, the details are a bit fuzzy – the ECJ or the Commission ruled that since West Germany considered East Germany to be legally a part of the Bundesrepublik, and hence had no tariffs on trade with East Germany, that no other EU nation could levy tariffs on East German trade. Any trade with East Germany that didn’t fall under some sort of military or politically motivated embargo was unrestricted, and East German nationals were entitled to the same right to residence in the rest of the EU as West Germans. I rememeber someone calling the DDR that 13th member of the EU.

    Seems to me that as long as Nicosia legally claims the whole island of Cyprus, and unless there are specific restrictions in its membership treaty, northern Cyprus is de jure an EU member. Or at least the East German case sets grounds to make such a case to the ECJ.

  7. Very few words:
    The plan isn’t dead yet. AKEL is already preparing to campaign for a new vote (with extra guarantees etc.) by autumn or at most next year.
    The clergy has not been as unenlightened as the Archbishop of Paphos (hardly typical). The archbishop of occupied Morphou supported the “Yes” vote.
    Young Fogey: A cobined front of AKEL and DISY would achieve very little. DISY was abandoned by 62% of its voters and polls showed that AKEL would fare similarly if they pushed for a Yes. I think their tactic of supporting the “No” vote, to gain some time so they may win the next referendum, is the only plan with any chance of working. As for the reasons for the “No” vote, they may be less selfish than people imagine. If I may be excused for the self-link, I have more about this over at histologion.

  8. First question: do the Greeks, who live on Cyprus, prefer to live as Greeks, rather than as Cypriots?

    Second question: do the Greeks, who live on Cyprus, have the right to live as Greeks?

    Third question: do the Turks, who live on Cyprus, prefer to live as Turks, rather than as Cypriots?

    Fourth question: do the Turks, who live on Cyprus, have the right to live as Turks?

    Answer yes to all four questions, and that should lead to some idea of how to resolve the Cyprus conundrum.

    In the meanwhile, here’s something else for your consideration:

    Sooner or later, I’m sure, I’ll be found out. The word will be out that I went around via Google to the various anti-Bush weblogs, and much like a busy little bee, deposited a comment in those weblogs that allow for such.

    Anyway, below the line of asterisks, you should, but you won’t, find the entire comment, appended to the Friday, April 23, 2004 entry in the Hammerdown weblog with the U.R.L, and I copy and paste,

    To be frank, I’m going this route to avoid the slings and arrows of outraged wowsers, the vast majority of whom seem to be pro-Bush partisans. Anyway, please do read the “permissible” part of the comment.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    . . . I’d like you to consider reading the text for a “state of the union” address that I believe is imperative for this country of ours. To get to it, all you need do is click on the below enclosed U.R.L

    By the way, the proprietors of the website have provided a couple ways for you to leave your comments.

  9. “However, the execution of expansion has been, I have to say, a dismal and puerile excerise in a sad combination of wishful thinking and a sort of namby pamby quasi-leftist ‘we’ll all just get along”ism without a real sense that in fact there are people who will not, in the end, want to get along.”

    This is patently untrue; indeed, the expansion minus Cyprus has been very successful (and expansion or not, Cyprus was going to have to face this problem).

  10. Talos, regarding your comment and your longer post at your own site, I know too little about the issue to evaluate all this, but in my experience small and very small countries or populations can never expect that a statement as complicated as “we say no because it’s the only way to achieve a yes in the future” will be even heard or picked up by world opinion – small countries and communities must be particularly clear and simple in their messages to the outside world. So even if your analysis is right, this was extremely bad diplomacy by the Cypriot Greek politicians. One understands why they would now see the need for damage control by looking particularly constructive.

  11. Georg: I agree about the bad diplomacy, this was IMHO a stunning display of diplomatic imbecility from the G/C side on many levels (having a change of government in Athens in the most crucial moment didn’t help either). AKEL is simply trying to work with what it has. I think (hope?) it will work. Note that AKEL is the only G/C party that has (lots of) credibility on the T/C side, because it actively opposed the nationalists on both sides (it was the only party to have a T/C in its central committee – murdered by Denktash’s far right group to stop any intercommunal rapprochement).
    There are still a majority of Greek Cypriots that want to coexist with Turkish Cypriots. It’s the long shadow of Turkey they are afraid of – with good reason, I’d say.


    Oh and beautiful redesign folks. I love it.

  12. Talos,

    thanks for your response – I think I can give you a more reasoned response now that the disappointment of the weekend has faded a little.

    You’re right to point out that AKEL’s historical record in promoting bi-communalism and standing with Turkish Cypriots is second to none – hence the disappointment and demonstrations when AKEL didn’t support a Yes vote. And while the international show is very much off the road now, if a settlement is possible later this year (and I think you are wildly optimistic) then bringing it about is sees the ball very much in AKEL’s court. Ending the blockade and further normalisation at the Green Line would be a good start. Allowing residents of the North to vote in the EU elections is also a fine confidence building measures. A reduction, even a small one, in the number of Turkish troops in the island would also go a long way, and Ankara and Athens should continue to work bilaterally on reducing the military presence in the Aegean (not directly related I know but it would help improve the atmosphere).

    But at the end of the day, I still don’t know how such a big No vote can be swung around without destroying Turkish-Cypriot confidence in the political process.

    PS – as for the Church, yes I did know about the Bishop of Morphou’s position, but let’s face it he was very much an honourable exception in see of braying racism and paranoia. All of which confirms my view, no God in the EU constitution thank you very much! I hardly think you disagree with that?

    As for the Turkish far-right, remeber the stock of their political wing (the MHP) is very low following their dismal performance in the 1998-2002 coalition (capped when their Agriculture Minister complained about Syrian sheep breeding with and sullying the purity of Turkish lambs). Also the main issues which the far-right fed off from the ’70s through to the ’90s, viz. the war with the PKK, is now a dead issue. While there is a struggle between the civil authorities and the military at present, it is one that the civil authorities are winning. If I remember rightly your own country endured such a period before becoming a well functioning liberal democracy. Surely it is incumbent on all democrats to help the process along in Turkey rather than undermining it?

  13. Time for some education –

    The Greek Cypriots were the ones who were invaded and occupied by fascist Turkey – they are not at fault at all for what happened to them, so to cast them as the “aggressor” is ludicrous. This deal was drawn up by the US + UK, two governments who aided Turkey during the invasion, and had very little to do with “helping the Cypriots” and everything to do with “wider geopolitical aims” of the Us and the EU. It also brazenly violates international law by allowing the Turkish settlers to stay – a clear violation of the Geneva Convention.

    Would you blame the Palestinians if they rejected a peace deal that was drawn up by Israel and Wolfowitz – a deal that allowed ALL of the Jewish settlements to remain in the West Bank? A deal that left the Israeli army in the West Bank indefinitely? Would you say “Well, this is it for you Palestinians, sorry fuckers, you really screwed yourself this time?” If not then why do you say that to the Greek Cypriots?

  14. Young Fogey: I agree 100% about God in the EU constitution, the less the churches meddle in politics the better… I was just pointing out that even the Cypriot church wasn’t 100% behind the “No” vote.

    About the Turkish government: again I agree. One of the good things about a solution in Cyprus would have been the points Erdogan would have won versus the generals. But in Greece there was no transition… there was a collapse of the dictatorship. Ever since the military have been keeping completely away from politics.

    The situation in Turkey is different. Just think of the possibility of a renewed Kurdish insurgency following some sort of Iraq deal… The Annan plan is basically asking the Greek Cypriots to *bet* their security on the eventual predominance of the democratic forces in Turkey. This is a risk that most Greek Cypriots are unwilling to take – unless other more concrete guarantees accompany the plan. This might (I hope) be achievable and with the help of AKEL might pass a future referendum. Again this is more of a hope than a prediction, but certainly AKEL is already busy trying to achieve it…

  15. Talos:

    I hope you’re right – I’m just feeling rather pessimistic just now.


    The Greek Cypriots were the ones who were invaded and occupied by fascist Turkey – they are not at fault at all for what happened to them

    …of course it’s a little bit more complicated than that. The Cyprus Conflict website provides excellent and digestable historical background for those interested. There were sadly too many fascists running about the Eastern Mediterranean in 1974 for anyone’s good notably the Greek military junta, the Greek-Cypriot Junta which had just over thrown Makarios, EOKA, its parallel paramilitary groups on the Turkish-Cypriot side and those elements of the Turkish military who were going to become a junta several years later.

    None of the four parties which made Cyprus what it is are exactly blameless (and the position of the fifth, Britain, isn’t exactly without blemish either). No-one I’ve ever met with any wit in Greece, Turkey or Cyprus disputes that.

    The relevant question now shouldn’t be who did what in the past but how Cyprus can be reunited, how restitution can be made to displaced people, especially on the Greek-Cypriot side, how the Turkish-Cypriot economy can progress, how Greece can reduce it’s massive military expenditure, how the democratic reforms in Turkey can be anchored, and how the Aegean can be made a stable haven in a very unstable part of the world.

  16. Sephiroth: The difference in Cyprus is that Greek Cypriots for the most part, really want to live together with the Turkish Cypriots. It’s the Turkish settlers and the army they have a problem with… The fact that the settlers remain, as I’ve said before, is a major shortcoming of the Annan plan, and quite probably a first step towards similar developments in the Middle East (and possibly Western Sahara)…

    Young Fogey: You mean EOKA B, mainly, I guess. Don’t forget as well the CIA involvement in the coup and, when the Junta failed to kill Makarios, the tacit OK afterwords for the Turkish invasion.

    You are right, no community is blameless… Still, the invasion of a sovereign country and the ethnic cleansing of 200,000 people (the majority in the North – as in the South) is something on a scale that the Greek nationalists never even had a chance of pulling off in Cyprus. Indeed the leader of the G/C side (Makarios) was, for all his failings, actively against allowing the Greek nationalists this sort of atrocity. In other words, Denktash is the mirror image not of Makarios or Papadopoulos, but of Sampson and Grivas…
    It’s worth pointing out that the coup in 1974 was against Makarios first and foremost, and in preperation of a partition of the island between Greece and Turkey.

    Another, academic point today, is whether it is morally reasonable to deny a majority of 82% (in a former colony that has just gained its freedom) its overwhelming demand of uniting with whatever country it wishes. Especially since there wasn’t even the smallest subdivision of Cyprus (larger than a village) where Turkish Cypriots were a majority. If you give this sort of privileged status to the 18% of Turkish Cypriots, why not the same for the Maronites, or the Armenians or the Catholics (at about 1% each?).

    I’m not advocating, of course, unification of Cyprus with Greece, for the same reason I’m against Kosovo’s unification with Albania: the geopolitical situation and the international repercussions don’t allow it. In the case of Cyprus one should add that the majority of Greek Cypriots are today disinclined to unite with a their poorer and less organized co-nationals, and prefer independence.

    But what is the moral argument against, simple or federal, majority rule in the island?

  17. Denktash is the mirror image not of Makarios or Papadopoulos, but of Sampson and Grivas…

    You won’t hear me argue with that. Or defend Denktas in any way. And yes, I did mean EOKA-B (slip of the typing hand, sorry).

    To respond to your substantive point… In an ideal world, of course it would be a matter for a majority of the Cypriot population whether or not they wanted enossis. However, given the history of Turks and Greeks being fairly horrible to one another in the century or so leading up to Cypriot independence, most relevantly in Crete, it was recognised in every constitutional document that enossis was not an acceptable option as Turkish Cypriots feared ethnic cleansing. The lack of geographical concentration of Turkish Cypriots pre-1974 shouldn’t have meant that they could be accorded less rights as a minority, should it?

    I don’t think that’s just a realpolitik question about balances of power but also important in that guarantor powers were supposed to guarantee Cyprus’ independence and unity, therefore enossis was a violation of the founding contract of the Republic of Cyprus. The r?le of the guarantor powers remains, as you have eloquently pointed out, a key issue in Cyprus’ politics today.

    In any case, like you I’m less interested in what Cyprus was and more interested in what Cyprus can be.

  18. Dear all,
    All your comments are very nice. All the Greek Cypriot would like a reunification of the island. The only problem is that they want to feel secure with it. The anan plan lacks security and is based on the good will of Turkey. Greek Cypriots do not trust Turkey, that is why said NO. It provides the right to the Turkish troops to solve any kind of problem that might be created anywhere in Cyprus with the use of violence. Now, how is going to be defining who’s fault is? The UN? OR the US?
    Since, 1974 every couple of years, one Greek Cypriot soldier was killed at the Green line during guard shift. How is it expected to trust them?

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