Cyprus: Whatand#8217;s next?

In the eyes of the overwhelming majority of Greek Cypriots, the Annan Plan was not much of a deal. It did not meet their hopes and aspirations. It was the product of compromise. If accepted, it would have ended the dream of having the island of Cyprus, united and controlled by the Greek Cypriots. So they voted no.

Was it a good and rational decision? Certainly, it should be regarded as such, if a next step would promise to bring greater benefits to the Greek Cypriot side. Which provisions of the Annan Plan could be changed in favor of the Greek Cypriots? More territory turned over to the Greek Cypriots? More refugees going back to their homes? A more severe reduction*#8212;or almost total withdrawal of the Turkish occupation army within a short time? Tighter restrictions on the inflow of emigrants from mainland Turkey? A federal government dominated by the Greek Cypriots? A Turk Cypriot component state with the most limited authority possible? Will such a revision be undertaken by the United Nations, the European Union, or the Greek Cypriot and Turks Cypriot communities directly?

These questions will not be answered anytime soon. What is certain, however, is the existing reality. The part of the Republic of Cyprus, which has been under Greek Cypriot control for the past thirty years, is now a member of the European Union*#8212;a plus. At the same time, the part of Cyprus which has been under Turkish occupation for the past thirty years continues to be as before. The division of the island remains, the heavy presence of the Turkish army continues, the free inflow of emigrants goes on without restrictions, no Greek Cypriot refugees are have gone back to their homes, and no territory has been returned to the Greek Cypriot side.

Worse, in a twisted way the partition of the island, imposed by the Turkish invasion in 1974, has been sanctioned by the Greek Cypriots themselves, indirectly and without getting anything in return! If the Greek Cypriots did not want a federation, if they wanted to remain separate from the Turk Cypriots, they should have gone to Mr. Denktash. After all, Mr. Denktash openly wanted to keep his Turk Cypriot state separate and sovereign. I cannot say exactly what the Greek Cypriots could have received in return for a recognition of the Turk Cypriot state, but they would have received more than they received now by perpetuating the division of the island, which is nothing. If matters remain where they are today, this will be the most negative outcome. Hopefully, there may be some other more advantageous options*#8212;provided, the Greek Cypriot side does not allow the present situation to stagnate. What are these options? One is that the Greek Cypriot leadership will initiate a campaign to inform the Greek Cypriot people about the provisions of the Annan Plan, and their implementation within the framework of the European Union.

Mr. Christofias, the leader of AKEL, the largest party, had asked before the April 24 referendum, for more time to explain Annan Plan to the people. When a delay was not approved by the U.N., he asked for guarantees from the United Nations that the plan would be faithfully implemented. Obviously, he did not want to reject the Plan. He voted no in the end because the U.N. did not agree to postpone the referendum, and Russia in the Security Council vetoed the guarantees the other 14 members voted for.

Between now and next September or October, the Greek Cypriot leaders will have ample time to discuss the Plan with their people. If they can show in advance that a healthy majority is prepared to reconsider and vote yes, the Secretary General of the United Nations will be only too happy to agree to a second referendum. If the leadership of AKEL seriously comes out in support of the Annan Plan, the chances of approval will be quite good. The second largest party in Greek Cyprus had come out in favor of the Plan even before the referendum of April 24.

Another option*#8212;which some leaders in Greek Cyprus seem to favor*#8212;is to try to re-negotiate the Annan Plan. The chances for such renegotiations appear slim. In any case, renegotiations at this point might allow also the Turkish side to remake the Plan for their benefit.

Yet another option is for the Greek Cypriot side to open negotiations with the Tallat government in the Turkish Cypriot sector, to draw a plan of their own. I, for one, find it difficult to see in what way such a plan will differ from the Annan Plan.

In any event, the Greek Cypriots need to determine what they really want. With an all-Greek Cyprus not in the cards, do they want to be in a federal state with the Turk Cypriots? I*#8217;m not sure they do. But doing nothing may be far worse.