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Media Watch 2003

07 June 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Jean Christou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 7 June 2003.
Denktash stuck in the past, says Hannay

BRITAIN'S outgoing special representative for Cyprus Lord Hannay yesterday accused Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash of being stuck in the past, while appealing to Greek Cypriots to try to respect Turkish Cypriot institutions in the search for peace.

The outspoken Lord Hannay, no stranger to ruffling feathers on both sides of the Green Line during his seven years as Britain’s special envoy, resigned his post on Wednesday following the collapse of the Cyprus talks in March.

He made the remarks yesterday in an interview with the BBC’s Greek service

Commenting on Denktash’s rejection earlier this week of a 12 million euro aid package for the north, Hannay said there was no sensible argument that could justify such an approach.

“I am afraid Mr Denktash is stuck way back in history. His history seems to stop quite a long time before the present. And in the present I don’t think there is any sensible argument against allowing the EU to help the north of Cyprus to get closer to the EU. What is wrong in that?” he asked, adding that even Turkey was trying to get closer to the EU.

“Is the north of Cyprus to be the only part of Europe which isn’t getting closer to the EU and why?” he asked.

Denktash rejected the package because it was to be administered by the government, which he does not recognise - just as the Greek Cypriot side would not allow the money to go direct to the north, as that would imply recognition of the breakaway regime and its institutions.

Hannay, however, urged reciprocal respect for individuals and institutions on both sides.

“Of course I understand the legal argument of lack of international recognition that the Greek Cypriots invoke with regard to the institutions of Turkish Cypriots and this is correct,” he said. “But I believe that it is wrong, and does not help the resolution of Cyprus question to pour absolute scorn on the institutions that are set up in the north by the Turkish Cypriots.”

Commenting on his resignation, Hannay said the British government simply recognised that there was no major input it could make at the present time and that there was not much that someone in that position could do at the moment in his capacity as Cyprus envoy.

He said the British government shared the view of UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan that before negotiations could usefully be resumed on the basis of the Annan plan, it was necessary that the two sides show genuine political will.

“It will be necessary for the parties to indicate that they really have a political will, and not just to say that they have got the political will, but to commit themselves to completing the negotiations in a measured period of time, and to putting the outcome to a referendum,” he said.

Hannay was bitterly disappointed and made his feelings known in The Hague earlier this year, when Denktash refused to agree to put the Annan plan to a referendum in the north. He said what had happened in The Hague was the biggest disappointment of his seven-year involvement with the Cyprus issue.

“You feel bitterness and sorrow when you work with an aim for seven entire years, and in the end you see no results for your efforts, particularly when you are convinced as I was that the majority of Cypriote from the two sides would profit from the reunification of island,” Hannay said.

He said the biggest joy in his time as envoy had been seeing thousands of Cypriots crossing the Green Line, proving they were capable of living together after the “shipwreck” of the intercommunal talks.

“It proved something that I was always convinced of… that generally the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots are not enemies and that each wishes to get to know the other community, and they have proved that they have the maturity to live together peacefully.”

But despite the fact that these were “splendid” moments, they alone could not bring a solution, Hannay said."