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Media Watch 2004

16 April 2004
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Comment: The following leader article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 16 April 2004.
Principles, dignity and the Annan Plan
"Cypriots have every right to get not just emotional, but deeply angry over this highly prejudiced and unprincipled EU approach... De Soto is certainly economical with the truth... "

The issue of the compliance of the Annan plan for the reunification of Cyprus with the EU acquis and respect for human rights was very much to the fore this week. Alvaro de Soto and the EU's Expansion Commissioner Gunter Verheugen both maintained that it complies fully.

They in effect rejected the long overdue statement by the Cyprus Attorney-General Solon Nikitas this week that this is not so. One of the main points leading people to reject the plan is that it completely ignores the judgements of the Human Rights Court of the Council of Europe that found Turkey guilty of violating the human rights of Greek Cypriot refugees by depriving them of their properties. The Court further ordered Turkey to allow the refugees to return and to pay them compensation worth millions of dollars until such time as they regain their properties. De Soto and Verhheugen in their defence of the plan not only also ignore this grave violation of international law and the violation of the refugees human rights, but claim that there is nothing wrong with this!

Fundamental principles.
In his address to the donors conference in Brussels yesterday Verheugen said: "I would like to stress that the Annan Plan is in line with the fundamental principles on which the European Union is founded... I urgently appeal to the Cypriots to carefully and objectively evaluate the situation on the island without prejudice and without emotion," he added.

How can any Cypriot do this however when international law and the judgements of the Rights Court are tossed into the waste paper basket for the sake of political expediency in order to satisfy Turkey? Cypriots have every right to get not just emotional, but deeply angry over this highly prejudiced and unprincipled EU approach. Verhuegen went on to counsel Cypriots that "the question in the next few days will not be 'This solution or no another solution,' but it will be`This solution or no solution at all for a very long time. The plan on the table is the best and most balanced solution that could be reached."

It is a shame that Verhuegen who was admired as a hero in the past by Cypriots for staunchly defending a just settlement and for criticising the intransigence of Turkey and Rauf Denktash, is now condoning the continuing violation of human rights by Turkey in Cyprus by ignoring the Rights Court's judgements. It is sad that de Soto in his address to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the EU parliament in Brussels on Wednesday also defended the legality of the Annan plan. He declared that the Act of Adaptation (dealing with the Annan Plan) which will be placed for approval by the European Council "will ensure that the provisions of the settlement are accommodated and protected by European Law.'' In other words the European Council will proceed with the truly incredible move of writing off the judgements of the European Human Rights Court for no other reason than to satisfy Turkey and absolve if from any blame, and even the Court order to compensate the refugees for the loss of their properties. De Soto claimed that the plan "contains no permanent derogations from the aquis communautaire, and a catalogue of human rights based on the European Convention of Human Rights."

Economical with the truth
De Soto is certainly economical with the truth here since the plan specifically rejects the right of a large number of refugees to return and to regain their properties, despite the Rights Court's very clear judgement. He excuses this by saying "these restrictions are not designed to divide Cyprus. Rather, they aim to prevent either side from being overrun by unrestricted establishment of residence, unfettered immigration or unlimited property purchases." This approach in effect while blocking the perfectly legitimate right of return of the Greek Cypriot refugees, gives full approval to the consequences of the war crime of ethnic cleansing committed by Turkey. It also condones the equally abominable and illegal move by Turkey, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, to flood the north with settlers from the Turkish mainland whose numbers exceed the native Turkish Cypriot populations.

That much for preventing "either side from being overrun," to use de Soto's own words. While admitting that not all the Greek Cypriot refugees will be able to reclaim their properties, de Soto had the audacity to charge that the people "are receiving precious little impartial guidance" on the merits of the plan. "To the contrary: massive distortion and misrepresentation of the plan is occuring," he said. While this may occur on the Greek Cypriot side, it occurs equally on the side of those, like de Soto himself, who try to sell the plan by grim warnings that this is the final chance for a settlement. Its rejection may well amount to another "final chance" - the burial once and for all of the persistent effort by those foreign powers that inspired the plan, in an attempt to absolve Turkey of any guilt for it's war crimes despite its condemnation by the Rights Court. Cyprus, a small and defenceless country, may be forced under the terribly heavy international pressure and threats of dire consequences if it rejects the infamous Annan plan, to yield and accept it. This will not make the resulting imposed settlement just, or in compliance with international law, the EU acquis and respect for human rights to the internal shame of those determined to satisfy Turkey by rewarding, instead of punishing, it for its war crimes in Cyprus."