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Media Watch 2003

16 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Comment: The following editorial appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 16 May 2003.
Equal rights, and nothing less

Turkey’s future relations with the European Union, and the settlement of the Cyprus problem as a precondition for eventual EU membership, were dealt exhaustively this week by the EU Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy. 

The interest generated was indicated by the submission of a staggering 283 amendments to the report eventually approved by the Committee, which will now go for approval before the plenary. 

The Committee report is on the whole strongly critical of Turkey for its human rights record, and calls on Turkey to withdraw its troops from Cyprus.

It appeared to skate over Turkey’s equally grave human rights violations in Cyprus, however, while calling for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots “to take courageous steps so that a solution can yet be reached which suits both parties on the basis of the proposals of Secretary-General Kofi Annan.’’

The government must now launch as strong an effort as possible to ensure that the final report approved by the plenary is not watered down, and what is more important, declares unequivocally that the long-elusive Cyprus settlement must under no circumstances deviate from the EU acquis and full respect for human rights, as envisaged by the derogations included in the Annan plan. The Cyprus case is strengthened by the very first paragraph of the Committee’s report which declares that “every EU citizen should have the same kind of rights and obligations in his or her member state and whereas all citizens throughout the Union must be conscious of being protected and recognised as deserving protection against discrimination and maladministration by the authorities.’’ 

This simple introduction opens the way for Cyprus to insist on the incorporation of the principles enunciated in the terms of a settlement, without any derogations, so that Cyprus, and all its citizens, “should have the same kind of rights and obligations,’’ like any other member state or citizen of the Union, and not be treated as a kind of second class member state or citizens, where the acquis and human rights are brushed aside for the sake of a political compromise to satisfy Turkey, a country which is itself a gross violator of international law and human rights.

The case for Cyprus succeeding in this demand is further strengthened by paragraph 11 of the Committee report, which demands a new Constitution for Turkey, which, it says, must be “explicitly based on European democratic foundations, with the rights of the individual and of minorities balanced against collective rights in accordance with the customary European standards, as set out for example in the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.’’

Here again, Cyprus must insist on the same principles being applied in its case. But in order to succeed Cyprus must present its case with maximum support from those internationally acclaimed legal experts, who have already pointed out the grave inconsistencies of the Annan plan with international law, the EU acquis and the European Human Rights Convention.

This becomes all the more pressing, and imperative, in view of the recent chorus from various quarters demanding the acceptance of the Annan plan as is, without any of the amendments necessary to make it fully compatible with the EU acquis, not in 15 or 20 years time, as it suggests when those likely to benefit will be long dead, but with the accession of Cyprus to the EU, to ensure that Cyprus as a state, and all its citizens, enjoy the full and equal rights of all other EU member states and citizens. 

Due praise
ONE month ago we pointed out that regrettably Theodoros Pangalos, the former Greek Foreign Minister, had been overlooked in the profuse praise lavished on all the other people, who had played a role in achieving the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. We pointed out that Pangalos worked as hard as other people, both as Deputy Foreign Minister and as minister, to win EU approval for Cyprus’ membership, and did not hesitate to blast some people in Cyprus who were not as enthusiastic. 

Yesterday’s honouring of Panagalos for his contribution, in separate ceremonies by Kisos and the Mayor of Lefkara, has corrected the omission."