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Thursday, March 16, 2006

"International Crisis Group"

From The Cyprus Weekly:

Crisis Group report denounced as shockingly pro-Turkish

Turkey and TCs praised for Annan Plan acceptance

A REPORT by the "International Crisis Group" (ICG) on the Cyprus situation in Cyprus was denounced as completely biased, pro-Turkish and as such inconsequential and unacceptable by Government Spokesman George Lillikas and other Greek Cypriot personalities yesterday.

The report entitled `The Cyprus Stalemate: What Next?' which was presented in Nicosia on Wednesday, cites President Tassos Papadopoulos as the main obstacle to a Cyprus settlement.

Its main theme is that the controversial Annan Plan, which was overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek Cypriots in the 2004 referendum, "represents the only feasible basis for a reunification solution," and praises Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots for accepting it in a their separate referendum.

The 30-page report analyses the situation in a way that absolves Turkey completely of any blame for its continuing occupation of north Cyprus (something it studiously avoids mentioning) and its consequences.

No reference to UN resolutions

It also avoids any reference to the ethnic cleansing of the Greek Cypriot population of the north, the gross violations of the human rights of the displaced Greek Cypriot refugees, and to the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights.

These found Turkey guilty, repeatedly ordering it to allow the refugees to return and to regain their usurped properties This is something restricted by the Annan Plan which is so strongly backed by the IGC report.

IGC also avoids any reference to the numerous UN resolutions that demand the reunification of the island, the unconditional return of the refugees, the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops and the tens of thousands of mainland settlers introduced to the occupied north in violation of the Geneva Conventions. These resolutions brand the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state illegal and a vassal state of Turkey and urge the international community to have nothing to do with it. Despite this the IGC report's other main thrust is for and ending to the ``isolation'' of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state as a reward for its acceptance of the Annan Plan.

It is as if this acceptance by itself automatically nullifies the judgements of the Rights Court and the UN resolutions, legitimising the breakaway state and all the other illegal consequences of the Turkish invasion and occupation. Indeed the report argues that ``the 2004 vote in the north for reunification has invalidated the political logic of isolation.''

In connection with the settlers the report says their influx continues and warns that this increases the risk of the Turkish Cypriots "becoming a minority in their own part of the island," taking it for granted that the north belongs to them and not to the people of Cyprus as a whole!

While pushing hard on the "isolation" issue the report avoids reference to the substantial financial gain of the economy of the north resulting from the income of the thousands of Turkish Cypriots crossing to work in the south, of the government pension payments to the north and free medical aid.

It also avoids explaining that the "isolation," where it exists, is brought on as much by the breakaway state itself which insists on being treated as an equal with the Cyprus government. This insistence prompted it to reject EU aid of 120m euros, insisting this should be paid to it direct and not through the Cyprus government!

Criticism of Papadopoulos

In its determination to blame President Papadopoulos, the report ignores his repeated statements that a Cyprus settlement must be firmly based on the relevant UN resolutions, respect for Human Rights, the judgements of the Rights Court, and, following the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, compliance with the EU aquis, or basic EU principles.

These fundamental demands are also ignored by the Annan Plan and this was one of the main reasons for its overwhelming rejection by the Greek Cypriots in the 2004 referendum.

It is for these reasons, among others, that the plan was accepted in the separate Turkish Cypriot referendum whose outcome was determined by the participation of the illegal Turkish mainland settlers who had every reason to vote `Yes,' since the plan legitimises their stay in the island.

The report states bluntly that "the most substantial blockage of such an agreement (based on the Annan Plan) is now the policy and attitude of the Greek Cypriot leadership and in particular of President Tassos Papadopoulos."

It charges that President Papadopoulos "does not seem to have any inclination, or coherent strategy on how, to get reunification back on track, and the prospects of achieving it look bleak."

The report rejects the conclusions of the Annan-Papadopoulos Paris meeting last month as inconsequential. It declares that this ended with "no indication of serious re-engagement by the Greek Cypriot side."

This contrasts glaringly with the view of the US Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher who, during a visit to Limassol this week, described the outcome of the Paris meeting as a major breakthrough in the settlement efforts.

In its staunch support of the Annan Plan, the report quotes people backing it but avoids any parallel reference to the many prominent international critics, including eminent jurists, who maintain it is so flawed, and pro-Turkish, as to be unacceptable.

'We gave Cyprus to Turkey in form of the Annan Plan'

In this respect, it is worth recalling the blunt public admission by a senior United States State Department official, who summed up the situation by declaring in public that "we gave Cyprus to Turkey in the form of the Annan Plan."

Report excerpts and comments

THE report is too long to reproduce in full. Here are some of its key points, glaring inconsistencies and recommendations (with page reference):

1 - The report refers to Turkey's right to intervene militarily under the Treaty of Guarantee following the 1974 coup by the Greek junta. But it avoids clarifying that this right was strictly aimed at restoring the constitutional order, not to occupy the north, expel the Greek Cypriot population and eventually proclaim a breakaway state.

4 - Reference to ``143,000 Turkish Cypriots going to the polls'' in the 1974 referendum, without specifying that this figure included the illegal mainland settlers who had every reason to vote `Yes," and who outnumbered the native voters as claimed by Turkish Cypriots themselves.

7 - Saying that that "Claims that the Annan Plan violated EU law and the European Convention of Human Rights are overstated." This in effect admits that rights are violated, but sidelines the natural expectation that any violations must cease, and not be condoned.

7 - "Complaints about the Annan Plan's toleration of the continued presence of Turkish troops are overstated ... Complete demilitarisation of the island was unattainable in the context of the 1960 constitutional treaties, which were not in question in the 2004 referendum.'' It is strange that the report justifies the presence of the Turkish troops under the 1960 treaties, but ignored all the other provisions of the same treaties which are also ignored by the Annan Plan.

7 - The report argues that the Greek Cypriots should have voted yes in the referendum ``so that many refugees could return home, rather than `no' so that none could return.'' The `No' vote was precisely because the Annan Plan did not allow all the refugees to return, as demanded by UN resolutions and international law.

13 - In a remarkable piece of advice to the Greek Cypriots, the report says that "if they are worried about the Turkish Cypriots seeking recognition, they should call their presumed bluff and accept the Annan Plan."

20 - In an even more remarkable passage, the report makes a brief comment that unwittingly reveals the main obstacle to a settlement all these years. The comment says that following its accession to the EU Cyprus is using this to increase pressure on Turkey. But it then adds that "it is most improbable that any Turkey government now or in the future could afford to give up Cyprus for the sake of EU membership." This is clearly an admission that Turkey intends to maintain its hold on Cyprus no matter what.

Threat of secession is repeated

Taking this further, the report in effect warns that if the EU rejects Turkey's full membership, then "Turkey's incentives to seek accommodation with anyone in the EU, let alone the Cyprus government, would greatly diminish, and the likelihood of a push for TRNC secession would accordingly increase.''

21 - The threat of secession is also repeated in a reference to the likelihood of the rejection of an agreed solution in a second referendum. In such a case "the two communities could then be granted the option of separate self-determination by the international community."

28 - The report argues that following the accession of Cyprus to the EU, "the EU has become part and parcel of the conflict and cannot credibly undertake a mediating role: this will remain the responsibility of the UN." But the EU should assist in ``the economic development and European integration of northern Cyprus and contribute constructively to the much-abused `European solution' slogan on the island.'' It should also increase bilateral contacts with Turkish Cypriot politicians and maintain ``constant pressure on the Greek Cypriot government to moderate its intransigence.''

29 - The EU, the US and other states should open branch offices in the north.

Expanding on this, the report says one option that could be considered, "if international impatience with the Greek Cypriots became very strong," would be for the UN to decide that a Cyprus delegation would only be seated if it included representations from both communities.

Other intergovernmental institutions such as the Council of Europe "could follow suit." If Cyprus refused, the report says, this would "open the way for the separate international political representation of the Turkish Cypriots, with all that would imply."


International Crisis Group

Report extremely biased

THE government and Greek Cypriots in general were rightly angered this week by the extremely biased, pro-Turkish report of the International Crisis Group entitled "Reflections on the Cyprus Stalemate: What Next?"

The government tried to play down the importance of the report, arguing that the IGC is a little-known group and that its biased report is of no consequence.

The wide distribution of the report, however, is clearly a major public relations coup for Turkey and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state who are presented as the angels in the Cyprus imbroglio, while President Tassos Papadopoulos is demonised as the main obstacle to a settlement.

The nature of the report was summed up perfectly by Andreas Theophanous, the Director of the Research and development Centre of Intercollege. He described it as an attempt at historical revisionism similar to the attempt by certain people who argue the Nazi holocaust never happened, since the authors of the ICG report also claim Turkey committed no war crimes or human rights violations in Cyprus.

Anyone even faintly informed about the Cyprus problem realises, of course, how unfair and deliberately misleading the report by the allegedly independent ICG is and how baseless is its demonisation of President Papadopoulos.

The vast majority of people everywhere who are unaware of the intricacies of the Cyprus problem, or of the unpunished continuing war crimes and gross human rights violations committed by Turkey as a result of its continuing occupation of north Cyprus, will undoubtedly form an erroneous view of the Cyprus problem if they come across this report. This is all the more worrying since the ICG Board of Governors is a perfectly respectable, widely representative collection of 56 prominent international personalities, including former Prime Ministers and other senior politicians, diplomats and other VIPs from many countries.

One may well wonder whether any of these 56 governors are aware of the report or even if they have read, and agree with its twisted conclusions.

This is immaterial however; the sad reality is that this report has been published and may damage the just cause of Cyprus.

One would have expected that the Cyprus government would have wasted no time in arranging a press conference, or at least in issuing a statement, to demolish the gross inaccuracies and castigate the equally gross omissions and deliberate misrepresentations of the ICG report, allowing its presenters to remain officially unchallenged.

Viewpoint, Cyprus Weekly, March 2006

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