23 March 2004
Lobby for Cyprus seminar: The Annan Plan: is it a just and viable settlement?
'The Annan Plan: is it a just and viable settlement?' was organised by Lobby for Cyprus with the support of the Cypriot Students' organisation ISXIS on 18 March 2004. The seminar was given by Professor Vangelis Coufoudakis, distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Indiana University, US and Rector at Intercollege in Nicosia, Cyprus; and by Dr Clearchos Kyriakides, Lecturer in Law at the University of Hertfordshire and solicitor.
Professor Coufoudakis opened his presentation by emphasizing that the Cyprus problem is in its most critical phase ever and that at the moment we are in a situation similar to that of 1959. In a few days, he said, the Republic of Cyprus that was created in 1960 may become ‘Annanistan’.
Mr Coufoudakis stated that he does not belong to any political party. He indicated that his approach towards the Annan Plan is not a very positive one, as he always supported the need for the survival of the Republic of Cyprus; the need for a peaceful, functional and viable solution to the Cyprus issue based on the UN Security Council Resolutions, the acquis communautaire and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on Cyprus. Thus, he does not support the procedures of 13 February in New York and the Secretary General’s binding arbitration.
Professor Coufoudakis based his opposition to the Annan Plan on two grounds: procedural and substantive.
- Repetition of deadlines for the acceptance of the Plan. Professor Coufoudakis said the Plan is incomplete in many areas as in the case of the economic case of the reunification and the security issue. All three versions of the Plan were silent about the economic issue.
- The negotiations should have stopped during the elections in Cyprus (February 2003) and in Greece (March 2004). Other major negotiations stopped because of elections eg Clinton stopped all American negotiations in the Middle East in October 2000. Why this did not happen in the case of Papadopoulos in February 2002?
- The insistence of holding a referendum on a most complex constitutional, legal, social and economic document. Even legal experts disagree on many of the provisions of the Plan. Mr Kofi Annan and Mr Thomas Weston do not want to give time for in depth discussion of the Plan because they know that it would expose many problems. What we have heard, Professor Coufoudakis said, is a combination of threats and financial promises to convince Cypriot people to vote for the Annan Plan.
- Change of the role of Secretary General. The Secretary General’s involvement in the Cyprus issue under the Security Council Resolutions called for the provision of good offices. In this last phase of the talks, Mr Annan speaks of binding arbitration. There is a very big difference between assisting people in negotiations and imposing on people the final decision.
- There is no legal recourse available to any Cypriot to any court against the Plan if Cypriots believe that the Plan violates their rights.
- Involvement of Greece and Turkey in issues other than security issues.
Substantive problems with the Annan Plan
- The US, Mr Annan and Turkey demand that the Cyprus issue be resolved before the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. The Plan includes derogations especially on the three freedoms which are incompatible with EU Law. However, accession agreement states that a solution of the Cyprus problem must be in conformity with the principles on which the EU was founded.
- The Annan Plan dissolves the Republic of Cyprus and it replaces it with a loose confederation of two component states with a new flag and a new national anthem. However, the attempt to dissolve the Republic of Cyprus is not new, as this was the objective of the 1964 Acheson Plan. Prof Coufoudakis stressed that the Republic of Cyprus, as it was created in 1960, remains the legal and political entity recognised by the international community except Turkey. This will end under the Annan Plan.
- The Plan creates a loose confederation with two autonomous states with no hierarchy among the laws of the component states as it is the case of federal systems. In the US, which is the classic example of federation, the federal law is the supreme law of the state.
- The proposed system is disfunctional. All disputes are going to be solved by non-Cypriots as it is the case of the Supreme Court.
- Mr Annan’s Constitutional Advisor knew nothing about Cyprus and Cypriot people. He did not know, for example, that Cypriots are very attached to their lands and he thought that by offering money to them they would give it up. Thus, Professor Coufoudakis says, outsiders cannot organise the country.
- Economic cost of the proposed solution is estimated between 20-40 billion euros, and this is a real risk for the economy of Cyprus. Three aspects of economics of unification are:
a) compensation for properties that will not be returned to their legitimate owners and compensation to the settlers who may wish to return to Turkey; b) the reconstruction of cities like Famagusta and
c) the monetary policy and its implementation by the central and component states. Turkey is not held responsible for these costs, on the contrary, the Greek Cypriot government, the victim of Turkish aggression, is held liable for Turkey’s actions.
- Most of the 90,000 settlers will remain and will be legitimised in the Turkish Cypriot component State.
- The security issue, as Professor Coufoudakis said, is even worse than the economic issue. The security issue has three dimensions:
a) the demilitarisation of Cyprus;
b) 6000 Turkish troops will remain in Cyprus with expanded intervention rights and
c) Cyprus is excluded from the European Common Defence Policy.
- Cyprus under the Annan Plan is obligated to support Turkey’s EU membership whether it fulfils the Copenhagen’s criteria or not.
- The complex issue of property compensation and exchange through a system of deferred payments. The Annan Plan violates personal property rights and it departs from the decisions of the ECHR on property issues cases (Loizidou case).
- All European citizens will be able to enjoy land and property rights in Cyprus except the Greek Cypriots who will not be able to do the same in their own country. Professor Coufoudakis concluded that Greek Cypriots will become second class citizens.
- Humanitarian issues of the enclaved and missing people.
The Annan Plan and the EU
The Treaty of accession signed in Athens on 16 April 2003, refers to the Republic of Cyprus as established by the 1960 Agreements. Professor Coufoudakis gave emphasis to the fact that after 1 May, Cyprus will be in the strongest negotiating position since 1974. Cyprus should NOT use the EU as a weapon against Turkey. After 43 years of independence, he said, we may be witnessing the demise of the Republic of Cyprus. This is the result of the Greek Cypriot policy of concessions. Since 1974, the Turkish government and Denktash continually change the basis for the talks. But no Cyprus government demanded talks from a zero basis in order not to be accused of being intransigent. This policy of Greek Cypriot concessions has brought us to the discussion of ‘realities’ created in Cyprus after 1974. Professor Coufoudakis very characteristically called this policy of concessions the 'salamisation' of the Cyprus conflict. You have a salami, he said, and you keep slicing away year after year after year and now only the last part (oura) of the salami has been left and that is the Republic of Cyprus and under the Annan Plan they try to take that away as well.
Cyprus, under the Annan Plan, does not fit the EU model. The reality of the Plan is that it creates a subordinate, dependant and disfunctional confederation with external guarantor powers and second class citizens in the EU of the 21st century. Cyprus on 1 May will become a member of the EU with or without a solution, thus Cypriots should not be afraid to say ‘NO’ to the Plan and they must not listen to the threats of the ‘possible consequences’ of a non-Annan Plan solution. Professor Coufoudakis concluded his speech saying that Cyprus may be small but it is a proud country and we have to work for the unity and the survival of the Republic of Cyprus and Cypriot Hellenism.
Dr Clearchos Kyriakides, who spoke after Prof Coufoudakis, said that in the forthcoming referendum on the Annan Plan the people of Cyprus are facing a stark choice. They can vote ‘yes’ to the Plan thereby complying with the wishes of external factors to legitimise the illegitimate. Alternatively, they can vote ‘no’ and pay political penalties for doing so. He briefly mentioned the history of the Cyprus question since 1960 until today comparing the rush of the London Conference in February 1959 with the rush of the negotiations nowadays and the procedures and consequences of 1960 Agreements with the procedures and possible consequences of the Annan Plan. President Papadopoulos faces a stark choice as did Archbishop Makarios in February 1959. The Archbishop Makarios on 19 February 1959 signed the agreements. This is a great lesson not just for politicians but also for citizens about the risks involved in putting your signature to any documents before you have fully considered its context, before you have time to assess there implications and before you have time to take expert legal advice.
Dr Kyriakides referred to Security Council resolution 541 of 1983 which confirms the purported Turkish unilateral declaration for independence as incompatible to the 1960 Agreements and therefore invalid. He also referred to the High level agreements of 1977 signed by Archbishop Makarios which introduced the idea of bizonal and bicommunal federation consisting of two equal communities. The Annan Plan represents those ideas though as a confederation. The Annan Plan proposes to establish a new state of affairs. Some features of this new state of affairs are new and some other are old as they included in the 1960 agreements.
By analysing the main constitutional provisions of the Annan Plan, Dr Kyriakides concluded that in other countries (eg US, UK and Turkey) minority ethnic groups do not have any of the rights, powers and vetoes which are accorded to the Turkish Cypriots under the Annan Plan. Can that be fair if the Cyprus Republic is to be a democracy?
Dr Kyriakides, in the final part of his lecture analysed the provisions of Annan Plan as regards demilitarisation, security and guarantees. The Annan Plan provides a unique form of demilitarisation. Under the Plan, Cyprus is going to be demilitarised, subject to the provisions of the three 1960 Treaties.
Dr Kyriakides concluded saying that the historic dilemma facing the people of Cyprus is this: any vote in favour of the Annan Plan will constitute a human blunder of a historic proportion. But any vote against may result in the formulation of another plan which may be even harder to justify. If history teaches us anything, it is this: if you find yourself approaching a trap, it is advisable to stop walking.
At the end of the seminar, the audience asked key questions which were answered by the two speakers.