Why do the Greek Cypriots say "no?"
Mehmed Ali Birand, 16.4.2004
The reason why the Greek Cypriots are getting ready to say "no" in the referenda is very simple. Their reasons may even be valid from their own perspectives. They believe that if they reject the plan in the referenda, the advantages and the disadvantages are these. Even if the whole world is against us, we will still become EU members and if we follow that fact,
1. We will ensure the continuation of our republic. We won't have to share it with Turks. Becoming EU members under current conditions will ensure that the Turks are left out of our state structure. If the EU wants to change our state structure in the future, we will veto it, together with Greece.
2. We can veto the EU recognizing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC). It is impossible for the U.S. to recognize the KKTC in violation of the U.N. resolutions. Moreover, if countries such as Pakistan move to recognize it, we can resist their effort through our control over the state.
3. The Annan plan returns only a fraction of the property we left behind in the north. The number of refugees allowed to return to north is very small. When the Annan plan is rejected, we will be compensated fully for the lost properties through the European Court of Human Rights decision on the Loizidu case. Moreover, it will be up to Turkey to pay the compensation.
4. As long as Turkish military remains on the island, the international pressure exerted on Turkey will continue. Especially, those countries that are opposed to Turkey's EU membership may cite the continued presence of the Turkish soldiers on the island as a reason to maintain their objections. This will also help our cause.
5. When Turkey's EU membership negotiations start, our veto will become more important. We may change our stance in the future in accordance with the developments. The purpose of the Greek Cypriot "no" is clear. They don't want to share anything with Turks. They may not be aware of it, but they are throwing away this chance to unite the island.
Papadopoulos still sees Turks as a minority
Hiding behind KKTC President Rauf Denktas's intransigence for years, Greek Cypriots were able to do whatever they pleased in the international arena. However, when Denktas was sidelined, Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos was caught unprepared. The teary-eyed speech he made on the TV showed how he viewed the Turkish community. For Papadopoulos and those who think like him, the Turkish community has always been and always would be a minority. I examined his speech in detail and saw the same attitude in every sentence. We don't want to share our wealth with Turks. We don't want to be considered equal to Turks. The only thing we can accept is a return to the status before 1974. Not all of the Greek Cypriots share this view. When you talk the Glafkos Klerides or Yorgo Vasiliu, you hear a completely different outlook. However, it is Papadopoulos who occupies the presidency today. Papadopoulos, with his attitude, is pushing the island towards a permanent division. Can a leader be so narrow-minded?
We discovered the Annan plan too late
We always knew that Greek Cypriots saw the Turks only as a minority. However, this belief had never been voiced so vocally before. When the Turkish side took the initiative and changed its policy, Greek Cypriots did not know what to do. When Turkey utilized the chance the Annan plan gave it, the Greek Cypriots were surprised. They were counting on Denktas's obstructionism to pave their way to the EU. If Ankara had changed its policy earlier, we might have faced a different result. If Turkey had said "yes" last year in The Hague, Greek Cypriots would still have not made a move. April 24 is very close. Now, the Turkish side has to do what is necessary. It has to show that its aim is not to divide, but to unite the island, to live in peace.
Greek Cypriots should be thinking long-term
Cyprus's future will be decided on April 24. The island will either be divided in two and the southern portion will become a member of the EU or both sides will become EU members through the Annan plan. If the Greek Cypriot leaders are thinking of dominating the entire island in the future, they are making a very big mistake. If they know that they are dividing the island and are following a well thought-out policy, then it's their business.
NOTE: This article appears in daily Posta and, on the same day, in daily Hurriyet's all foreign publications, on Hurriyet's internet site (www.hurriyetim.com.tr), on Milliyet's internet site (www.milliyet.com.tr) and, after being translated by the Turkish Daily News staff, in both that newspaper and on the Turkish Daily News internet site (www.turkishdailynews.com)
Αφιέρωμα στο Σχέδιο Ανάν του ηλεκτρονικού περιοδικού Αντίβαρο