The key for the solution for Cyprus: a Greek-Turkish compromise
If the UN Annan Plan had been accepted, United States of Cyprus would probably be one of the most prosperous countries of the EU right now. The Annan Plan (developed by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and supported by the European Union) provided the blueprint for a “United Republic of Cyprus” comprising a federation of two states.
“When put to a referendum, roughly two-thirds of the island’s 250,000 Turkish Cypriots in the north supported the Annan Plan, but 76 % of the 860,000 Greek Cypriots in the south rejected it” wrote Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of NATO, and Foreign Minister of Spain.(1)
Verheugen feels ‘cheated’ by Greek Cypriot government
The Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has called on his people to reject the Annan peace plan. “Never before have we been as close to a solution as now. We are just inches away from our objective. But I have to say I have little hope left for our being able to push forward those remaining few inches. I personally feel that I have been cheated by the government of the Republic of Cyprus”, said Günter Verheugen, EU Enlargement Commissioner.(2)
And then Greek Cypriot Administration (as Republic of Cyprus) represents the whole island in the European Union. The seats in the European Parliament are allocated based on the population of both north and south Cyprus together, but Turkish Cypriots are not represented in the European Parliament (or they are represented by Greek Cypriot politicians). This has been criticized and there have been proposals to have observer members direct from the north to sit in the European Parliament in order to represent Turkish Cypriot citizens. It has been rejected by Greek Cypriot politicians.
In 2004, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe gave observer status to the representatives of Turkish Cypriot community. Since then, Northern Cyprus’s representatives have actively participated in all PACE activities without voting rights.
Northern Cypriots are living under embargo for so many years
In wake of the April 2004 referendum on the United Nations Annan Plan, and the support of the Turkish Cypriot community for the plan, the European Union made pledges towards ending the isolation of Northern Cyprus. These included measures for trade and 259 million euro in aid. A pledge by the EU to lift the embargo on Northern Cyprus in the wake of the Annan Plan referendums has been blocked by the Greek Cypriot government (as a EU member state).
Why Turkish language is not recognized as an official EU language?
Although the EU member state “Republic of Cyprus” has two offical languages: Greek and Turkish. Greek Cypriots has been enjoying the right to request only Greek language as an official language of the EU. It was based on the guidelines of the EU on the languages states: ”If a Member State has more than one official language, the language to be used shall, at the request of such State (Southern Cyprus), be governed by the general rules of its law”.
Cyprus have yet used the provision from the 13 June 2005, resolution provision to benefit from use in official EU institutions. This alone enough to understand the reluctancy of Greek Cypriots for peace and reunification. If a community even has an opposition, intolerance to other’s language, it is hard to expect peace out of the negotiations and referring this hostile attitude as “European”.
Turkish and Greek troops issue
We are, all Europeans should lamente that the Greek Cypriots voted down a UN blueprint named after then Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2004, which required gradual withdrawal of foreign troops from the island. If the Annan Plan had been accepted, not only would there be no more Turkish or Greek troops left on the island but that United States of Cyprus would probably be one of the most prosperous and united countries of the EU right now. However by rejecting the Annan Plan, unfortunately they created such an environment where they had to declare their bankruptcy during their presidency of the EU.
Cyprus’s rulers also had very little political credit left in the rest of Europe. Many EU leaders had been deeply reluctant to admit Cyprus into the union in 2004, without a peace settlement that reunified the island. But Greece had threatened to veto the entire enlargement of the EU – blocking Poland, the Czech Republic and the rest – unless Cyprus was admitted. Reluctantly, EU leaders succumbed to this act of blackmail. But the whole episode left a bitter taste, particularly when Greek Cypriot voters rejected the Annan Peace Plan. As a result, when Cyprus ran into trouble the well of sympathy was fairly shallow.(3) Despite numerous efforts of Turkey, UN and the EU to reunify Cyprus, it remains divided to this day and enjoying their six seats in the European Parliament, an EU Commissioner, EU Council which all are filled by Greek Cypriots for last two European elections terms. Furthermore they are preparing themselves to nominate their candidates for the upcoming European elections in 2014.
When the European Union got the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for having “contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”, it was exactly this myth which was repeated in the official press release by the Norwegian selection committee: “The admission of Croatia as a member next year, the opening of membership negotiations with Montenegro, and the granting of candidate status to Serbia all strengthen the process of reconciliation in the Balkans”. Here you have it again, a celebration of the European Union’s mission civilisatrice, although it was exactly the EU (and the international community) who failed to stop massacres like that in Srebrenica. (In 1995, some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were rounded up and murdered by the Serbian troops). It is mentioning that the current Presidency holder of the Council of the EU is Cyprus, a still divided country.(4)