CYPRUS: Declaration by the President of the Republic of Cyprus
Tassos Papadopoulos «View Bio
Declaration by the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos regarding the referendum of 24th April 2004 on the Annan Plan
April 7, 2004
In these conditions of particular historic importance, I feel obliged to address myself to you the sovereign Cyprus People. Every people formulates and writes its own history. At times with liberation and social struggles, at times with democratic procedures through voting. Now the Cyprus people is called upon singly and collectively to write the history of the future of Cyprus.
Our country is going through the most dramatic hours in its age old history. Decisive times not only for the present and for our own generation but for the future and the coming generations as well.
I am convinced that the whole of the political leadership of this country and each and every one of you, fully realize the gravity of the decision which we are called upon to make with the referendum of the 24th April and that you share the weight of the responsibility we are undertaking with our vote. This decision belongs exclusively to the Cypriot people. I hope that our foreign friends will respect the people and the Republic of Cyprus. I hope that they will understand that interventions and pressure offend the dignity of the Cyprus people, that they are contrary to an express provision of the UN Charter and that in the end they are counterproductive.
The critical nature of the decisions we are called upon to take collectively and individually does not allow for competition as to who is more and who less patriotic. We all have the same goal and we all have the same anxiety for the future of our homeland.
There are differences in our assessments and in our analysis of the complications of the provisions of the Annan plan which are to a large extent hard to understand as well as in our analysis of the plan"s short and long term consequences.
I urge everyone to act with mutual respect without fanaticism and jeering. This is not a case of political elections in which parties weigh their strength. The parties will not be facing one another. They will be facing history.
Therefore, safeguarding our unity is our highest duty to our country. Whatever the result of the referendum we have to respect it and the next day must find us at peace with each other and strong. Cyprus will need all of us. Nobody can be spared.
I respect and appreciate every sincere and good willed point of view and I try to judge it objectively and evaluate it without prejudice and far from dogmatism or ruled by my emotions.
As President of the Republic and elected representative of the Greek Cypriot Community I bear the heavy burden of the responsibility for conducting the negotiations and the duty to state publicly with sincerity and frankness my own assessment of the conclusion of the negotiations and my own decision. Without any attempt on my part to impose my choice on you, but offered as a guideline to be assessed also by you. The final decision is and always has been yours. Your verdict will be expressed at the referendum of the 24th April.
From the day that I have returned from Lucerne, I have spent all my time studying the final Annan plan in all its aspects with my collaborators and with public officials. I have heard opinions, assessments and analyses. I have followed carefully the public dialogue that has developed and the arguments of the various sides. I have asked and have received the opinions of foreign international relations and constitutional experts on specific aspects and provisions of the plan. I have evaluated the statements of international personalities with sobriety, a cool head and impartiality. I have evaluated the assessments of Greek parties and foreign governments with which I have been in contact. I expect to learn and will study carefully the opinions of the Cypriot political parties which I respect and appreciate for their positive contribution to the country. There was only one criterion of my assessment, to serve the interests and safeguard the rights of the people of Cyprus in its entirety, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. This is what my conscience dictates to me. This is what is demanded by the office of the President of the Republic to which you have elected me.
Greek Cypriot people,
When a year ago I asked for your vote, I undertook the commitment that I would fight with all my powers, at every level and from every forum available to achieve improvements in the version of the Annan plan that existed at the time, with a view to making it more functional and so more viable. I committed myself that our demands for improvements would be within the parameters of the Annan plan and would not upset the general philosophy of the plan nor would they upset substantive and basic provisions of the plan or compromises which had been agreed upon during the talks that preceded my election.
Furthermore, I committed myself that I would seek a solution that would safeguard the interests of the Greek Cypriots but also of the Turkish Cypriots in the framework of a reunited Cyprus.
In line with the firm position of the National Council, that our side was seeking bi-communal negotiations under the aegis of the UN Secretary General and in response to the constant urging of the political leadership of the country, I did not cease to seek and press for the resumption of the initiative of the UN Secretary General on the basis of the Annan plan and under the conditions agreed by the National Council.
Finally the Secretary General called us to go to New York on the 10th February 2004, in order to agree on a new procedure for negotiations, setting as a condition for his undertaking a new initiative, our acceptance of the arbitration role of the Secretary General.
If I did not respond positively to the invitation of the Secretary General I would have been acting contrary to the firm position of the National Council and to our firm position that we are seeking a solution through negotiations under the auspices of the UN.
With the agreement of the numerically larger political parties that had accompanied me to New York and that of the then Government and now opposition in Greece we accepted this change in procedure. Personally I accepted this procedure as long as the people of Cyprus would have the final word on the Secretary General"s arbitration decision through their direct and personal vote at a referendum.
Following the view of the majority of the National Council that the submission of maximalist positions from our part would lead to our side"s being criticized. We submitted consensus proposals which served the interests of both sides. We reserved the right to raise further demands regarding the territorial issue, the property issue and the return of displaced persons if the other side raised such matters. As it happened the Turkish Cypriot side raised such issues and our side, through documents, raised its own counter demands so much for the territorial aspect as for the rights of displaced persons and property rights.
We have limited ourselves to the minimum but very important target. The reunification of our country and our people. We have sought institutional changes which, on the one hand, would increase the functionality of the solution and on the other would create the preconditions for the reunification of functions and institutions.
The negative stance and the maximalist positions of the Turkish side but also the tolerance the UN exhibited regarding the Turkish demands which were outside the parameters of the Annan plan did not allow for substantive negotiations to take place despite our good will.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, exercising his arbitration competence, formulated the 5th Annan plan without there having previously been an agreement of the parties on any of the matters which had arisen during the negotiations in Nicosia and Switzerland.
In the 5th Annan plan there are improvements compared to the 3rd and 4th Annan plan. These improvements do not satisfy the minimum demands that we submitted. Neither as regards the functionality of the plan nor as regards its being ready to be implemented on the day following the referenda, nor as regards the substantive reunification of our country in the economic, fiscal and monetary sectors.
This is not the time or the occasion to embark on a detailed analysis of the Annan plan. This will happen in the next few days and up until the time of the referenda.
I think however that it is useful to mention, in the form of examples, to certain aspects that seem to trouble you. I will not attempt either to demonize or to make the plan appear beautiful. I do not accept, however, the allegation that whoever identifies weaknesses of the plan is necessarily engaged in misinformation or that this is not impartial information of the people.
Our proposals to ensure the functionality were not limited to the composition of the Presidential Council or the making up and function of a Court of Primary Federal Jurisdiction or the Cooperation Agreement on EU matters. In contrast, they were extended to and covered all seven sectors of our proposals, namely, the legislation, the Central Bank, the common monetary and fiscal policy, the shortening of time periods to regain property, the shortening of transitional periods, the administrative structure of the federal government, the election of the members of the parliamentary organs, the legislation and the decision-making mechanisms by administrative organs, the territorial aspect, the matter of the missing persons, the matter of the Karpass and others. I want to stress that all our demands, which were fully documented were within the parameters of the Annan plan and did not take away rights that the Annan plan provided to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots.
In contrast, the Turkish side submitted eleven demands which affect negatively the interests of the Greek Cypriots and which have all been adopted in the final Annan plan.
Now, we are called upon to judge whether the final Annan plan are minimum goals. With objectivity, and with a sense of responsibility, we are called upon to judge whether the reunification of our country is achieved in a federal state that will be functional, viable and will ensure the basic human rights and create conditions of security and economic prosperity to the Greek as well as the Turkish Cypriots.
Whether the provisions of the Annan plan, as they have been finalized, allow us to actively participate in the European Union and to make the best of the benefits that will emerge.
It is with pain that I conclude that even with the most flexible and lenient judgement, the final Annan plan does not satisfy the minimum aims we have set. Our most substantial proposals were not accepted. Even in the provisions that have been improved, we ascertain functional difficulties, complicated procedures and dangerous ambiguities.
My most basic and fundamental concern for the future of our country focuses on the following:
The Turkish Cypriot community gains all the basic demands it made, from the first day of the implementation of the solution. To be exact, 24 hours after the holding of the referenda.
It remains uncertain and unclear, however, whether there will be a ratification of the Treaty by the Turkish Parliament, before the Foundation Agreement is implemented.
Its entity as a "legal constituent state" is recognised. The invasion and occupation are written off. Turkish Cypriot internal constituent state citizenship holders become accepted as legal citizens of the European Union. The Turkish Cypriots gain equal participation in the administration of the new Federal State, with the status of equal "co-presidents" and equivalent and equal participation of the representatives of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state in the Council, the European Commission and all the special Committees and Institutions of the European Union.
In contrast, everything that the Greek Cypriot community is aspiring to achieve, even from a bad and painful solution, are postponed without guarantees and depend upon the good will of Turkey to fulfil the obligations it undertakes. They are also subject to the precondition that all will go well.
In other words "we buy hope" and all we get in return is a hoped for goodwill of the Turkish side to keep the agreement.
The return of our occupied land will take place in the period between three and a half months and three and a half years from the moment the solution is signed with no guarantees whatsoever that this shall be implemented. Our proposal to place these areas under the control of the UN Peace Keeping Force and not the Turkish army has been rejected.
The soonest the acquisition of properties or compensation could take place is within three years after the signing of the solution and 5 years or more, upon a decision of the Property Board and through a complicated procedure with many ambiguities and adverse financial provisions for our side. The Greek Cypriots shall be called upon to pay the largest part of compensation. Serious questions arise whether the Federal state that would guarantee one third of the compensations will have the presumption of a valid guarantor so that the value of the bonds would not drop as in the case of the Stock Exchange. The same applies to the Mortgage Bureau for acquisition of properties of Greek Cypriots that shall not be returned by Turkish Cypriots.
Recently the ease with which the acquisition of a secondary residence in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state has been turning into a major issue and is being presented as an important concession to the Greek Cypriots.
Certainly such right would bear great significance if it were automatic and general.
Unfortunately the provisions of the relevant Constitutional Law and the Act of Adaptation which the European Union shall approve, determine that such right is not automatic.
On the contrary, the Turkish Cypriot constituent state has the right and facility, under its own law, to regulate and limit this right for 15 years or until the gross domestic product of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state reaches 85% of the per capita income of the Greek Cypriot constituent state.
It is provided that the return of the refugees under Turkish Cypriot administration within such timetables and quotas that do not create conditions of security so that our refugees could exercise this right with certainty, and be certain that they would be safe or have schools for their 3, 10 or 20 children. And unfortunately not all of our refugees acquire the inalienable right to return. Furthermore, the Greek Cypriots who will reside in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state would be deprived of their political rights and the right to vote for the Senate, in violation of every democratic principle.
With the final Annan Plan Cypriots have not been satisfied, however Turkey"s pursuit to control and dominate Cyprus has been fully met. In essence, all settlers remain, while after 19 years, the possibility of abolishing the derogation of 5% of Greeks and Turkish citizens who could settle in Cyprus, is obvious, and the danger of a permanent mass settling of Cyprus by Turkey is visible. Because continuing to ensure the 5% after 19 years, shall depend upon the approval of a law by the Presidential Council, the House of Representatives and the Senate where the consent of the respective Turkish Cypriot members of these Bodies will be needed.
The permanent stationing of even a small number of Turkish troops in Cyprus, with extended intervention rights in the Greek Cypriot state with no mechanisms of guarantee, while we would have disbanded the National Guard, creates conditions of insecurity for the Greek Cypriots. The colonization and the continuing presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus, do not serve either the Greek Cypriots or the Turkish Cypriots, but Turkey alone.
Through a thorough consideration of the economic aspects of the Annan Plan we determine that its economic viability is doubtful. The implementation of the relevant provisions entails unbearable economic effects for the Greek Cypriots, while the whole structure of the Plan would lead, if not to the collapse of the Cyprus economy, surely to a serious economic crisis and adverse repercussions on the Greek Cypriots" standard of living that we have built with so many sacrifices.
The functional weaknesses of the Plan endanger, inter alia, the smooth activity and participation of Cyprus, with one voice, in the European Union. While the Greek Cypriots have with many sacrifices achieved Cyprus" accession to the European Union, we could very easily be led to the "neutralization" of the accession until the adoption of all necessary federal and regional legal measures or the loss of the benefits of the accession or the facing of obstacles in Cyprus" participation in the Economic and Monetary Union and other European institutions.
In other words, the Annan Plan does not abolish the de facto division, but on the contrary, legalizes and deepens it. The question, therefore, is not whether we want the solution and the reunification of our country. Because to this question, the universal response is "yes". The real question is whether the Annan Plan brings about the reunification or whether it perpetuates division, and what is more, with our consent and signature.
The Annan Plan does not lead to the reunification of the two communities but on the contrary promotes the permanent division with restrictions on movement, settlement, the right to acquire property, the exercise of political rights and other divisive elements.
While the unification of the economy could lead to a unified dynamic, with mutual economic goals, mutual economic problems, common struggles and more so, in the future, the organizing of employees in joint unions, something that would serve Cyprus, a separate economy was imposed at the end. There will be no common monetary, fiscal policy and no investments by Greek Cypriot businesses shall be allowed in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state.
The goal of reunifying our country and its people, is not achieved. With the transformation of the divisive provisions of the Plan into the European Union"s primary law, even the slightest hope for the solution to develop and improve in the future, has vanished. The goal of the Turkish Cypriot side for two peoples, with two states living separately and simply cooperating, is fully achieved.
It is correct that the negotiation procedure entails compromising. Reducing the gap of different pursuits and differences. A process of "give and take".
There are many aspects and provisions of the Annan Plan, for which I am not satisfied by the compromises that have been imposed, without a prior negotiation and by fully overlooking our own well documented demands.
I am not satisfied, for example, by the decrease of the number of displaced persons who will return.
I am not satisfied by the qualitative and quantitative decrease of property rights for the legal property owners in the occupied areas.
These constitute more adverse provisions than those included in the Annan Plan Three or the Annan Plan Four which the National Council has deemed not acceptable as a solution but only as a basis for negotiation, with the aim to improve these provisions. Now, these provisions have been made more adverse for the Greek Cypriots.
They ask us to accept these more adverse adjustments, in a spirit of compromise. They tell us that a solution cannot be achieved if such painful compromises are not made and that a solution should be found somewhere in the middle.
However, there are questions of principles and human rights where the middle solution is not the right answer. The obvious and correct principle is not for the legal owners to share their property with the illegal invaders or to claim compensation for the deprivation of their property, which in the final analysis, will be paid by the legal owners themselves since one third of the compensation shall be guaranteed by the Federal State, the sources of which would derive from the Greek Cypriots by nine tenths and only one tenth by the Turkish Cypriots.
The Annan Plan provides that, after 19 years or until Turkey"s accession to the European Union, whichever comes first, the inhabitants of each of the constituent states, respectively, whose mother tongue is not the official language of the other constituent state, cannot exceed one third of the total population of that constituent state. This means the Greek speaking inhabitants in no case would be able to exceed one third of the total population of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state.
Even if this is positive, still it is worth mentioning that in the previous Annan Plan there was neither the time nor the quota limitation of one third, from the moment Turkey would become a member of the European Union.
Moreover, according to the Annan Plan, in the one third of the land that Greek Cypriots can acquire in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state (and Turkish Cypriots in the Greek Cypriot constituent state respectively) the criterion of "value" of one third is added, together with the prerequisite that from that one third, properties which the current Turkish Cypriot user is entitled to, are exempted.
My most serious concerns about the Annan Plan do not involve the compromises proposed or imposed, which many people consider as unjust for our side.
Besides, I have long ago said that any solution which will be found under the shadow of the faits accomplish of the invasion and the presence of 35,000 Turkish troops in Cyprus could not be fair and just. That price we are ready to pay with a view to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem. However, if the solution could not be just, we would at least try for the solution to be functional so as to be viable.
Without functionality, without an effective procedure to break deadlocks in a regime where decisions have to be taken on the basis of equality, i.e. fifty-fifty, each side has the opportunity and the possibility to create deadlocks and lead the administrative functions of the state to paralysis.
A paralysis, which if protracted, will inevitably lead to the dissolution of the functions of the state, even before the "new state of affairs", i.e. the new state, is implemented.
We should always remember that we give everything the Turkish side seeks as from the next day of the referenda, and that our state is dissolved, while we have to wait to get things in exchange, such as the return of territories, property and resettlement, in a future time. That is from three and a half years for the return of the occupied areas to five years to regain the property or get compensation for property in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state and from three up to 19 years for the gradual return to the Turkish Cypriot constituent state. Meanwhile, the Cyprus Republic would vanish 24 hours after the referenda.
My serious concerns are not about these unjust and uncertain things. My concerns focus on the uncertainty about the new Cyprus that would emerge from the Annan Plan. Whether it would be for the new state to be established and function. Whether it would be able to play its proper role in the European Union as a constructive member and not as an annoying partner. Whether the new regime, on account of the deadlocks in decision taking, can have a role and a say in the United Nations and other international fora.
I worry whether the Government of the Federal State can secure for its citizens the economic possibility and opportunities for prosperity, well-being, peace and security in a state where there is rule of law, democracy, consensus, a state that would respect and defend the human rights of all its citizens.
The Annan Plan, instead, demands that I should send a letter to the European Union requesting it to make the Foundation Agreement a primary law of the European Union, so as to prevent Cypriot citizens from claiming their rights before the European Court of Human Rights.
It also demands that I should send another letter to the European Court of Human Rights requesting the Court to strike out all proceedings currently before it concerning affected property in Cyprus.
It is not possible for me, nor am I allowed to, as guardian of the human rights of all citizens, to take such action which in essence would deprive citizens of their right to claim their human rights enshrined in international conventions ratified by the Republic of Cyprus.
With the same sense of responsibility that we should make an assessment of the dangers from the adoption of the Annan Plan, we should also study possible repercussions from its rejection. I do not share the exaggerations and blackmails made by the supporters of the Plan. We have to be honest and sincere vis-?-vis the people.
One can reasonably ask what will be the repercussions if the people vote "NO" at the referendum.
If the sovereign people reject the Plan by their vote, the Republic of Cyprus will become a full and equal member of the European Union. We would have achieved the strategic goal we have jointly set, i.e. to upgrade and shield politically the Republic of Cyprus. The view that this would be the final initiative for the solution of the Cyprus problem constitutes dogmatism and ignorance of the rules of international policy. The basic parameters which brought about this initiative would continue to exist even after April 25. Cyprus" accession to the European Union would be a fact. Turkey"s accession course will also continue and therefore Ankara would continue to be under continuous monitoring concerning the adoption of the European acquis. International interest for normalisation and peace in our region will continue to exist.
There are no conditions for the recognition of the pseudo-state by countries that matter, like the countries of the European Union. For these countries have already signed with the Republic of Cyprus the Treaty of Accession which prohibits such recognition. What is said about international isolation is a blackmail without any substance. Cyprus would be the only European Union member in the Eastern Mediterranean and will have an upgraded role and responsibilities. However, with our accession to the European Union we shall not rest on our laurels.
We shall not stop struggling for the solution of the Cyprus problem. History would not end on May 1st. We shall continue to take initiatives for a solution and to take measures to support our Turkish Cypriot compatriots.
Addressing myself to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, I would like to underline our genuine concern for a solution that would serve their interests too. I have never sought to undermine or deprive their rights. The proposals I tabled at the talks and the measures for their support I announced about a year ago, constitute tangible proof of this. My stance emanates from my sincere conviction that the respect of their dignity and their rights, the granting of even more rights so that they may feel greater security, the recognition of their equality, their equal progress and prosperity are fundamental prerequisites for peace and normality in Cyprus. This is why they would constitute the fixed target of our policy. We do not have any objection, on the contrary we support Turkey"s aspirations to be given an early date for the start of accession negotiations. For, a Turkey that would be in the process of accession talks would be under continuous pressure, including pressure from our side- to prove that it behaves in accordance with the European acquis and the principles of the European Union.
We are always ready for the transformation of the present state to a federation that would be ruled by democratic principles and full respect for human rights.
A guarantee for the sincerity of these orientations is our integration into the political system and principles of law of the European Union. This guarantee covers with credibility Turkish Cypriots and Turkey"s security needs.
What I ask our Turkish Cypriot compatriots to understand is that as much I do not accept their own rights and interests to be trampled upon, I have at the same time the duty to defend the rights and interests of Greek Cypriots.
The possible repercussions from the rejection of the Annan Plan, we have to weigh against the dangers the Annan Plan entails, as I have analysed them earlier. We have to think hard about the price we are called upon to pay through the acceptance of a Plan that does injustice to the Greek Cypriots and does not give serious guarantees about functionality and viability. We are called upon to abolish the Republic of Cyprus, the only foothold of our people and the guarantee of our historic character. Shall we do away with our internationally recognized state exactly at the very moment it strengthens its political weight, with its accession to the European Union? We have to assess seriously the dangers from a possible collapse of the new state of affairs, because the facts that will be created will be irreversible. Collapse of the Federal State would mathematically lead to what we all want to avoid: partition through the international recognition of the constituent states.
Greek Cypriot people,
As President of the Republic and elected representative of the Greek Cypriot community, I have taken up the heavy responsibility of carrying out the negotiations. I am conscious of the heavy duty I have to state publicly, sincerely and frankly my own evaluation and my own decision.
I assumed power with the mandate to negotiate a solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of the Annan Plan. Not with the mandate to sign any solution that would result from the negotiations.
I do not have a mandate to participate in governing the country, on the basis of the new Constitution that will emerge, nor could I have been given such a mandate. Furthermore, I do not have a mandate to endorse any new Constitution, which will be put before the people. Only a President, who has a clear mandate to put the proposed transformation of the state to a referendum, has the right to endorse the new Constitution to the judgment of the people. Besides, it is indispensable to have the mandate of the people to exercise the functions of co-presidency in running the country under the proposed new institutions.
My feelings are no different than yours. I have dedicated myself to your service earlier in my life, but particularly now since my election as President of the Republic. In all my actions my aim and guiding line is the interest of the people and nothing else, dedicating myself to their service and taking up my responsibilities with frankness in words and deeds. The final decision was and will always be yours. Your verdict will be expressed in the April 24 referendum.
Taking into account all the elements, with a calm and objective spirit, and being fully aware of the historic moments we are passing through and the share of responsibility that I bear, I am truly sorry to say that I cannot accept to sign the Annan Plan as it was finally shaped.
Taking up my duties, I was given an internationally recognized state. I am not going to give back "a Community" without a say internationally and in search of a guardian. And all this in exchange of empty and misleading aspirations, in exchange of the groundless illusion that Turkey will keep her promises.
My fellow countrymen,
On April 24 you will vote a YES or a NO to the Annan Plan. You will decide the present and future of Cyprus. You will decide for our generation and the generations that will come after us.
I trust your judgment. I am certain you are not affected by false dilemmas and you are not scared by threats about alleged international isolation. I am certain you are not convinced about what it said that this the chance.
I am sure that for you the moral principles and values of our people, their civilization and national historic life still mean a lot to you and you want to continue with security, justice, freedom and peace.
Weighing the pros and cons of YES and NO, the consequences of YES are heavier and more onerous. I call upon you to reject the Annan Plan. I call upon you to say a resounding NO on 24 April. I call upon you to defend your dignity, your history and what is right.
With a sense of responsibility towards history, the present and the future of Cyprus and our people, I ask you not to mortgage your future to Turkey"s political will. I urge you to defend the Republic of Cyprus, saying NO to its abolition. To rally together for a new and more hopeful course for the reunification of our country through the European Union.