When Worlds Collide: Greek Elections, The Annan Plan, and the Iraqi Constitution

*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp; Greece*#8217;s has just elected a new government, that of New Democracy under its leader the new Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Bereft of a Honeymoon period, the new government is called upon to negotiate a most critical foreign policy issue, Cyprus and the Annan Plan. In a week*#8217;s time, there is going to be a four-party conference to determine the future of the island republic. The parties to this conference are Greece, Turkey, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. The Greek government*#8217;s stand at this conference will weigh heavily in determining the outcome. But what is this Annan Plan, which has been embroiled in controversy since it came into being over a year ago?*nbsp;
*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp; If a referendum were held today, the Greek Cypriots, who constitute the overwhelming majority of the island*#8217;s population and who have built solid democratic institutions worthy of the European Union, would reject the Annan Plan by a wide margin. No one should blame them for this because the Annan Plan suffers from fundamental weaknesses. One can mention but a few. The Plan provides for labyrinth-like constitution that even constitutional lawyers have trouble understanding. It violates the basic principles and laws of the European Union, the acquis communitaire, at a time that Cyprus is about to officially join the E.U. on May 1st. The Plan also keeps Cyprus under the guardianship of guarantor powers, Turkey, Britain and Greece, as if Cyprus was a protectorate.
*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp; These guarantor powers have a right of unilateral military intervention, if they so decide. That is exactly what Turkey did in July 1974, when it invaded the island republic and since then has occupied 37 percent of its territory. The Annan Plan sees nothing wrong in placing little Cyprus under the protection of an aggressive regional power, Turkey, as if we still live in the era of colonialism. Likewise, the Plan legitimizes the presence of most of the 118,000 Turkish mainland settlers who colonized the occupied part of Cyprus since the 1974 invasion. This, is in explicit violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention that Mr. Annan has a duty to uphold as U.N. Secretary General.
*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp; Democracy, individual freedoms and human rights are certainly a concern of America. After all, this very moment the United States is engaged in nation building in Iraq through a constitution that upholds the basic democratic principles and individual freedoms. This American-sponsored interim Iraqi constitution is also based on a federal system of government that keeps the unity of the country while granting its Kurdish minority enough autonomy to run its own internal affairs. The Iraqi constitution does not create institutions that segregate groups along their ethnic and religious affiliation or along territorial lines. This would be tantamount to the dissolution of Iraq along its three ethnic parts: one Shiite, one Sunni, and one Kurdish. The United States has opposed this from the outset. One of the reasons for this is the vehement opposition of Turkey to dividing Iraq along ethnic, sectarian, or territorial lines. In this respect, Ankara is even opposed to the autonomy of Iraqi Kurds

Today Greek Cypriots would reject
*nbsp;the Annan Plan by a wide margin.

*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp; When it comes to Cyprus, Turkey is arbitrarily demanding exactly the opposite. It insists on the creation of a new regime that institutionalizes segregation along sectarian and territorial lines, divides Cyprus in two states and grants veto power to the Turkish Cypriots who today represent 11 percent of the population. The Annan Plan accommodates Turkey*#8217;s unreasonable demands in this regard, and does that under the guise of a federal system of government. Annan*#8217;s federalism, however, has little to do with the American federal system of government or the federal system that the United States has introduced in Iraq. Rather, the Annan Plan creates a confederation that has no precedent in contemporary international affairs. The rationale of the Annan Plan is that Cyprus has experienced serious ethnic conflict in the past and, therefore, there should be mechanisms in place to prevent future conflict. These mechanisms incorporate serious departures from democratic rule as well as from the protection of individual rights. Annan*#8217;s logic is deeply flawed and does not offer a good base for reconciliation. After all, Iraq has experienced much more serious ethnic and sectarian conflict than Cyprus, never built democratic institutions like the Republic of Cyprus, but has just adopted, under American guidance, a much more democratic, representative and balanced constitution than the one proposed in the Annan Plan.*nbsp;
*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp; There is no doubt that the United States has been pressuring the Greek side, primarily to accept the Annan Plan. This is bad enough because without America*#8217;s weight behind it, the Plan is dead. Deep down, American officials in Washington, who do know what the American constitution and the Bill of Rights are about, who do know what federalism is about, these officials also know in their heart of hearts that the Annan Plan is neither just, nor democratic. When pressed, some of them acknowledge this. Alas, however, realpolitik has taken over Washington, and Britain*#8217;s brainchild, the Annan Plan, is still alive thanks to American oxygen. But this does not change the essence of the Plan that remains an anachronism, as it is reminiscent of the segregation of the old American South. In the end, the Annan Plan has no ethical foundation, a very sad conclusion for a document coming from the Secretary General of the United Nations.
*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp;*nbsp; Let us hope that the new Greek government will be able to withstand all the pressures and succeeds in delaying, at least an Annan-based settlement so that Cyprus joins the European Union on May 1st without having to corrupt its democracy and compromise its E.U. rights, the acquis communitaire. Then, if Turkey is sincere in espousing democracy, the quintessence of the E.U., it could join the Union, and Cyprus will have no need of plans like Annan*#8217;s. The Cyprus problem will be gradually resolved on its own under the big European tent of democratic families, a tent under which Greeks and Turks and Christians and Muslims will live as equals, and not as first and second-class citizens that would an Annan Planed world. Cyprus deserves better than that.

*Dr. Christos P. Ioannides is Director of the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at Queens College, CU.N.Y.