Interpreting the Greek Cypriot
My friends from the prison keep asking me,
How good, how good does it feel to be free?
and I answer them most mysteriously
are the birds free from the chains of the sky-wave?
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND VITAL INFORMATION
AKEL: Party for the Uprising of Working People, (the heir of the Communist Party founded in 1926 historically enjoying the support of about 1/3 of the G/C population)
DIKO: Democratic Party (the centre-right party led by the President, 17% in last elections)
DISI: Democratic Rally (the liberal-right opposition party, 29% in last elections)
List of abbreviations 3
Brief historical overview 6-8
The Annan Plan driven peace process 9-10
Part 1: The reasons and the meaning of the G/C No 11
The fundamental Greekness of Cyprus 12-15
The fear of Turkey 16-21
The fear of living standards dropping 22-24
The European parameter 25-31
Part 2: The implications of the Greek Cypriot No 32-35
List of appendices 39
On 24th April 2004, the population of Cyprus on both sides of the green line was called upon to decide in separate referenda on the final (5th) unification plan drafted by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Whereas the T/Cs accepted the Annan Plan by a majority of 64.9%, the G/Cs rejected it by a majority of 75.8%. As a result the island joined the EU divided on 1st May.
This dissertation will attempt to interpret, explain and discuss “the most intriguing question (which) is to discern why the G/C overwhelmingly rejected the Plan” (Tocci, 2004, p.2). G/C nationalism cannot provide easy answers. That it is entrenched and threatening not only the prospects of re-unification but also the democratization process by thwarting the critical questioning of national orthodoxies has been observed and analyzed. (Mavratsas 1998, Papadakis 1993, 2003) What I am interested in, are the specific ways in and the extent to which nationalist frames were used in the interpretation of the peace process in general and the referendum in particular and the role of the political leadership in the historical construction and situational activation of those maps of meaning. The political significance of this attempt has been put succinctly by Mavratsas (p.55): “It is clear that in societies where it constitutes the sole factor that determines political orthodoxy, even the exposition of nationalist ideology constitutes an act of social critique”.
Brief historical overview
The British colonial rulers (1878-1960) maintained the administrative separation into Greek-speaking Christians and Turkish-speaking Muslims they had inherited from the Ottomans thus allowing for the survival of corporatist forms of social organization amidst their modernizing reforms (Kitromilides, 1977, p.40). Through the Legislative Council (1880-1931) ethnicity became politicized with the blessings of the British1 who had an interest in preventing the formation of a united anti-colonial movement (Pollis, 1993, p.93). The rising Cypriot bourgeoisie was overwhelmingly Greek-speaking Christian2 and together with the Church and the Greek educated school teachers embraced Greek irredentist nationalism coined in the political slogan of enosis, that is union with Greece.
By the 1920s as a result of urbanization, the spread of literacy and politico-economic patronage (Kitromilides, 1977, p.41), the Christian peasant and laboring masses of Cyprus imagined themselves to be part of the Greek nation and demanded the incorporation of Cyprus into the Greek state during the anti-British riots of 19313. Turkish irredentist nationalism appeared later because of the late formation of the Turkish state and constituted a reaction to Greek nationalism, seen as responsible for the oppressive measures adopted by the British authorities after the 1931 riots. The political force that might have arrested the drift into ethnic conflict, the working class movement led by the Communist Party and composed of both Greeks and Turks faced the concerted attack from Greek and Turkish nationalists (Attalides, 1977, p.81) on the one hand and the British authorities on the other and was by the late 1940s successfully put on the defensive, before its complete splitting up by the late 1950s.
As G/C demands for enosis intensified T/C demands for taksim (partition) came to the fore and the British were able to play one group against the other. The colonial authorities’ policy of employing an auxiliary police force staffed by T/Cs to guard and disperse protesting G/Cs created strong feelings of suspicion and it was the killing of a few auxiliary policemen that led to the eruption of ethnic violence (Papadakis, 1993 p.28). This begun in 1956, a year after the Church and Colonel Grivas, a Cypriot who had served in the Greek army launched EOKA beginning an armed struggle against the British (Papadakis, 1993, p.29). The T/C leadership responded by forming its own armed organization TMT in 1957 with the toleration of Britain which had entered into a strategic alliance with Turkey (1955) in order to counter Greece’s official demand (1954) for the annexation of Cyprus.
The eventual compromise agreement reached between the Greece, Britain and Turkey in the context of NATO and under US mediation provided for an independent bi-communal state guaranteed by the two motherlands and Britain which retained two military bases on the island. The nationalist leaderships of the two communities however were not interested in cooperation and saw the Zurich Constitution of 1960, not as a new beginning but as a frustration of their national struggles. Whilst G/C nationalists aimed in the subordination of the T/C community as the first step in the process of enosis T/C nationalists aimed in separation as the first step in the process of taksim. Ethnic violence began again in 1963-44 and resulted in the withdrawal of the T/Cs from the state and their territorial enclosure in six enclaves in the main towns. Within the G/C community Makarios,5 the archbishop-president of Cyprus came under attack from ultra nationalist elements led by Grivas and his terrorist organization EOKA B which was backed by the military regime in Greece (1967-74). In 1974 Makarios was overthrown in a coup organized by the Greek junta which was followed immediately by the Turkish invasion. G/Cs fled to the south as the Turkish troops advanced while T/Cs left their enclaves a few months later and were escorted in UN convoys to the northern part, under the control of the Turkish army.
Since 1974 the G/C society in the south underwent a process of transformation achieving considerable economic growth through the development of the tourism industry. In the north, the illegal status of the state that was proclaimed in 1983 prevented this, while negotiations never made significant progress although as early as 1977 both sides agreed on the framework: a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. Cross border contact was forbidden until April 2003 when the T/C government allowed the opening of passages through which controlled movement could take place.
The Annan Plan driven peace process
The first version of the Annan Plan appeared in November 2002. The geo-political context seemed extremely favorable as the Greek government’s commitment to rapprochement with Turkey and closer EU- Turkey relations was reciprocated by the newly elected AKP government in Turkey “which openly stated that the continued partition of the island was not a permanent solution.” (Tocci, 2004, p.2). However at the critical moment during the EU Copenhagen Summit which was to take the crucial decision regarding Cyprus Republic accession as well as examine Turkey’s candidateship, the T/C leader, Denktas stood firm in his rejection of both the first and the second versions of the Plan. Within the G/C community, officially committed to a settlement before EU accession, Denktas’ rejection brought relief to the rejectionist forces, which had already begun organizing against the Annan Plan.
Within the T/C community, Denktas faced serious opposition expressed in mass demonstrations demanding “solution and European Union”. Encouraged by the T/C mobilization in support of the peace process and given the officially stated G/C commitment to a settlement before EU accession, Kofi Annan proposed a third version of the Plan to be put to referenda on 30th March, two weeks before the Republic signed the Treaty of accession. The newly elected G/C president, Tassos Papadopoulos, although traditionally a rejectionist, had come to power with the support of AKEL and had proclaimed his readiness to seek a solution on the basis of Annan Plan. However his readiness to proceed to an agreement was not put to the test in Hague since the third version of the Plan was rejected again by Denktas backed by anti-European forces in the Turkish military establishment.6
As the balance of forces within Turkey shifted however during 2003 and as the December 2003 elections in North Cyprus brought significant gains to the opposition running on a solution platform, conditions for the re-opening of the peace process appeared again. “In the run-up to December 2004 European Council decision on whether and when to open accession negotiations with Turkey, the Turkish establishment felt increasing pressure to unblock the Cyprus impasse” (Tocci, 2004, p.2). This resulted in the 13th February 2004 New York agreement on a tight three stage process culminating in Annan’s arbitration and a double referendum in April just before the official accession of the Republic into the EU on 1st May.
Part one: The reasons and the meaning of the G/C No
The focus of this dissertation is the interaction between nationalist ideological structures and the agency of the political leadership and the electorate in producing the referendum result of 24th April. I appropriate Giddens’ conception of structure as rules and resources that enable as well as constrain agents in their reproduction of society. Structure is not external to activity and does not have a continuous and tangible (real) existence. Its existence is virtual and can be understood “as traces in the memories of the people who draw on the rules and resources that constitute it”.(Layder 1994). Structure, nationalist ideology in this case is both the medium through which conduct is made possible and the outcome of that conduct.
I examined the top four newspapers, for the period February-April 2004, looking at how the Annan Plan was presented and took nine unstructured interviews (attached), seven with No voters and two with Yes voters, of different ages, backgrounds and positions.
The fundamental Greekness of Cyprus
Although since 1974 Greek nationalism in Cyprus has been defeated in the sense that its political program (enosis) has been abandoned, its basic assumption has not lost its currency. Enosis was wholly discredited as it came to be associated with the catastrophe that the coup and the war with Turkey brought about. The slogan “Cyprus is Greek” however continues “to define the parameters of ideological orthodoxy in G/C political culture” (Mavratsas, 1998, p.55). The entrenchment of this basic ideological structure, and the multiplicity of ways through which it is expressed constitutes the key to an understanding of the reasons and the meaning of the G/C No.
The difficulty of the G/Cs to accept the T/Cs as politically equal has its roots in what G/Cs conceive as History. This is the grand narrative of Cypriot Hellenism, in which the subject and the moral centre of the story is the Nation, an entity coterminous with History and in this sense eternal. G/C history begins with the settlement of the first Mycenean colonizers during the 14th Century BC “who introduced the Greek language and culture both of which have been preserved to this day7”. This historicist and ahistorical conception of continuity in its effort to construct the transhistorical we, not only excludes the other main ethnic group, but presents it as non-indigenous and therefore gives rise to the belief that its presence on the island is problematic (Papadakis 1993). The T/Cs are seen as products of the Turkish conquest of 1573, a mixture of Cypriot Greeks that were forced to convert to Islam and members of the Ottoman army who settled in Cyprus8 (also Int. n.9). Whereas the G/Cs regard themselves as being in Cyprus from the dawn of history, the T/C presence is some sort of an historical accident: “We are not Americans. We have history…At the end of the day, what are they? The left-overs of a conquering power!” (Int. n.5). A primordial origin, identifying the G/Cs today with the ‘founders of civilization’, is thus believed to signify cultural superiority.
It is the classic case of the Barthean myth: a system of values masquerading as a system of facts. The system of values in question is the classic nationalist belief that ancestry determines status; as a Greek one is part of a timeless tradition of privilege linked intrinsically to the land. It is within this structure that Papadopoulos’ speech for the referendum calls on the G/C people to vote No, to “defend your righteousness, your dignity and your History9”.
The reluctance of the G/Cs to accept the T/Cs as equal partners is not exhausted in the “superiority” of the G/C historical claim on the island. It also takes the form of conceiving them as a minority. “We constitute 80% of the population. The Turks are a minority. They should accept that. It is inconceivable that one T/C vote counts as five G/C votes” (Int. n.9) (also int. 4, 7). The concept of minority however is not a numerical but a socio-political one. A minority depends for the exercise of its rights on the good will of the majority and this is rare in situations where the minority is relatively large (Iraklides, 1995). In the conditions of ethnic conflict that characterized the birth of the Cypriot state, ensuring the protection of the weaker party meant that the principle of majority rule had to be constrained. T/Cs were not attributed the status of a minority but that of a community with equal rights in the running of state affairs enshrined in the veto power of the T/C Vice President. This framework of a consensual state with two equal communities was reaffirmed in 1977 with the official acceptance by the G/C leadership of the federal model. Yet in 2004 many G/Cs continue to view the T/Cs as a minority that should not be able to frustrate the will of the G/C majority.
G/Cs cannot comprehend that their continued insistence on the fundamental Greekness of Cyprus both historically and logically pushed and pushes the T/Cs closer to Turkey. This in its turn makes the G/Cs even more suspicious. In order for the cycle to break both sides have to demonstrate their good will. Some G/Cs however, insist that the first step should be made by the T/Cs. “At the end of the day it is them that have to make the choice: either with us or with Turkey” (Int. 9). This mode of thinking does not allow G/Cs to shift from the stagnant antagonism to the promising cooperation discourse. It induces them to conceptualize the future through the lenses of the past. The agency of Papadopoulos has been again crucial: “decisions will be taken on the basis of equality i.e. 50%, 50% and this gives the opportunity to each side to cause deadlocks that will paralyze the administrative functions of the state10”. The united state provided for by the Annan Plan was thus imagined in the negative terms of its collapse rather than in the positive ones of its success. As illustratively put by the president of a DIKO local committee: “The fear was that we could not have returned to the previous situation of the Republic of Cyprus if the new state did not work out…Could we have maintained the state or would two states have been recognized?”(Int. n.4)
The monopolization of the state by the G/Cs since 1963 has effectively entrenched the idea that the G/Cs are the true Cypriots. The monopoly of legality is not only the biggest political weapon of the G/C politicians, but also the way the political situation is read by their clients. Perceiving the political conflict in legalistic terms however, gives rise to a discourse of reification as old as the conflict itself and intensified after 1974. North Cyprus is referred to as “occupied territory” in contrast to the “free areas” that refer to the southern part. In order to stress the illegal status of the T/C state, G/C media and public speakers feel the need to add the prefix “pseudo” or “so called” prior to any reference to an institution or official that represents it. To an outsider, a sentence like: “the pseudo mayor of Famagusta gave a speech at the so called Near East University”, might sound bizarre, but for most G/Cs it is not only ethically appropriate and politically necessary, but most importantly normal. G/Cs vote MPs and Councilors that represent districts in the North and consider themselves in temporary exile in their effort to not recognize the “realities” enforced by the “Turkish invasion and illegal occupation”. (Int. n.9) The fact that 46.9% of the adult population refused to cross the dividing line while 32% have crossed only once or twice11 since April 2003 when the passages opened illustrates the continuing power of the discourse of reification. Crossing the dividing line implies above all coming to terms with the reality: that there is a state and a society in the north and that Turkish is the main language spoken.
Voting Yes in the referendum implied an even bigger step: building upon the reality of the T/C state another common state in which some pseudo-MPs would not only become real MPs but also our MPs. Voting Yes in the referendum essentially involved abandoning the idea of the fundamental Greekness of Cyprus and embracing the idea of a bi-national and simultaneously non-national Cyprus. In order to conceptualize the reunification of Cyprus as a partnership as opposed to a take-over, the discourse of reification needs to be over-come. This is effectively the passage form the formal reality of the legal Cypriot state and the illegal Turkish protectorate to the underlying reality of two ethno-national political communities whose historical conflict can end only through the creation of a non-national political community overlapping the two existing national ones (Kizilgurek 1999) . In order to understand why G/Cs were unable to make this transcendence on the 24th of April the analyst must look into their basic fear: Turkey.
The fear of Turkey
The demonisation of Turkey has been a fundamental element of the historically constructed G/C political consciousness. For G/Cs Turkish expansionism is the essence of the problem in Cyprus and whether that is seen as an inherent feature of Turkish nature as the Right claimed or a consequence of its position in the imperialist chain as the Left claimed (Papadakis, 1998, p.78), Turkey’s desire to control Cyprus is more or less taken for granted. The shift of Turkish policy with respect to Cyprus pioneered by Ertogan’s government took both the G/C leadership and the electorate by surprise and their inability to account for this change led them to the conclusion that it was temporary and tactical and ought to be viewed with suspicion. Moreover, the No campaign was able to tap on historical G/C anti-Turkish prejudice to argue that Turkey cannot be trusted to abide by the agreement.
Anti-Turkish prejudice is relatively rooted in G/C political consciousness. The inter-communal conflict since 1955 and most importantly the war with Turkey in 1974, as well as some sporadic incidents of violence after that, most notably those of 199612, allowed for the popularization of the image of the barbarian and thus dehumanized Turk. This image is inculcated in G/C education and needless to say the conscription based G/C National Guard for the male population. Chauvinistic chants in the army are not rare (personal experience) and constitute the culmination of an education system that promotes the idea of eternal animosity between the Greek and the Turkish nations. School children learn that the “real aim (of the Turkish invasion) was to conquer and Turkify Cyprus. This invasion of the Turks brought the third blow against Hellenism after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the Asia Minor disaster in 1922.13” This “historical pattern” of Turkish aggression is instrumental in building the dialectic of self-righteousness and demonization of the enemy. Framing the conflict in Cyprus as one between Turkish expansionism and the need for Cypriot (i.e. G/C) resistance is fundamental not only in legitimizing the G/C regime of power built upon the fear of Turkey, but also absolving the G/C political class from any responsibility past or present for the current situation. Accepting the compromise of the Annan Plan would have required a radical break with the tradition of hatred/enemy promotion in the educational system. When one has in mind that even the militarization of the conflict was considered a viable policy option as late as 1999, one understands the difficulty of transcending this suffocating structure.
The demonization of Turkey is the fundamental axis of ethno-national unity among G/Cs as it is considered legitimate both by those G/C leaning on the Cypriot pole, like AKEL’s supporters and those that lean on the Greek pole of G/C political consciousness. While these two tendencies may differ in their perceptions and degrees of acceptance of the T/Cs (the issue of minority or community mentioned in the first chapter) they are united in their firm rejection of Turkish claims to be protecting the T/Cs. The official position that Turkey is the aggressor that has victimized both communities in Cyprus is relatively entrenched. This leads to the acceptance of the paternalistic position of the G/C political class with respect to the T/Cs who do not understand their real interests, which lie with the G/Cs rather than with Turkey. There is in other words an antagonism posited between the G/Cs and Turkey and in which the T/Cs are basically irrelevant since they are under Turkish occupation and their leader, Denktas is Ankara’s puppet. This simplistic model was shaken when Ertogan’s government did not support the governing coalition in the December 2003 elections in North Cyprus and actually attacked Denktas for being intransigent and extremist. Not being able to understand that there was a real shift of Turkish policy in the sense that the maintenance or legalization of the status quo of partition in Cyprus was no longer a Turkish priority, at least for the pro-European forces represented by Ertogan, G/Cs followed their leadership in conceiving the Ertogan-Denktas conflict as a pseudo-conflict. “The basic difference between today’s Ankara and Denktas and also all previous Turkish governments is in the much improved publicity politics of the former.14” One can safely speculate that the G/C leadership was taken by surprise in New York (Int. n.6) when the Turkish side actually demonstrated its readiness for compromise. Not being ready themselves for the compromise, the G/C political leaders were not in a position to prepare the G/C electorate for the compromise. Having no other language available to justify their rejection, they continued on the same discourse of Turkish maximalism in order to demonstrate that the solution that Turkey might accept will be one that the G/Cs cannot accept.
The main proof that the Annan Plan was a Turkish solution that ought to be rejected was the provisions concerning the Turkish population of North Cyprus, the famous “settlers”, the majority of which were to remain and acquire Cypriot citizenship. Encouraged by the tensions between the T/Cs and the settlers and the slow and incomplete integration of the latter into T/C society, G/Cs have elaborated an intransigence in their condemnation of these people, seen as a war crime and as evidence of Turkey’s strategy to Turkify Cyprus. “Their high birth rates might allow them in a few years to become more than us. Cyprus will be Turkified. This is the final aim of Ankara.15” The settlers are not “our Turks”, but “Turkey’s Turks” and as such not only cannot be trusted, but their very existence is unacceptable; they are seen as responsible both for the past deeds of the Turkish government and military as well as the instrument for their future ones. In order to ensure that the settlers are seen as the extension of the Turkish state, Simerini newspaper claims that “most of those that will remain are ex-officers of the Turkish army who are now in reserve.16” The link between these people and the Turkish state needed not be established in the dramatic terms of a military threat but also in the terms of a political disturbance: “what is easier for Turkey than to order the settler-senators or presidential councilors17 to freeze every activity of the state”18. The political parties and most importantly the President himself encouraged this mode of thinking. The latter’s reference to the “satisfaction of Turkey’s objective to control Cyprus19” was followed by his reference to the settlers remaining. Giddens’ insight on the duality of structure is useful here: agents utilize the structures (Turkish migrants as extensions of the Turkish state, Turkey as threat) and thereby reproduce them.
If G/Cs viewed the settlers as an indirect way of Turkish control over Cyprus, the presence of Turkish troops and the guarantor status of Turkey were seen as a more direct threat. According to the Annan Plan, the G/Cs and the T/Cs were to demilitarize and an equal number of Greek and Turkish troops was to remain, 6000 until 2012 and 3000 each until 2018, drooping thereafter to 950 Greeks and 650 Turks. However since G/Cs have historically learnt to view the conflict as one between them and Turkey, the demilitarization of the T/Cs and the increase of Greek troops in Cyprus was downplayed and the projected image was: “our army was to be dissolved immediately while their army was to leave gradually and not completely” (Int. n.2) The small Turkish contingency force that was to be stationed permanently in Cyprus was to “have extensive interventionist rights in the G/C constituent state, while we would have dissolved the National Guard”20 said the President while not mentioning that the same was true for the Greek contingency force. When one has in mind that the official G/C version of history is that in 1974 Turkey found the excuse it always wanted to occupy Cyprus, maintaining the right of intervention logically meant that Turkey could find another excuse and intervene again if it continued to be an expansionist power. However if Turkey is an expansionist power, why withdraw its troops from Cyprus in the first place?
This was indeed the basic fear and logic upon which the rejectionist camp invested: Turkey will not abide by the agreement and the G/C state will not receive the territory that is ceded to it according to the Annan Plan. This argument was the most powerful one because it could not be countered. The whole debate shifted from the actual provisions of the Annan Plan on speculations about the motives and objectives of Turkish foreign policy. The rejectionist camp could then argue more forcefully that since it was Turkey’s ambition to enter in the EU that caused the shift in its policy, a potential rejection or delay of its accession by the EU was to remove Turkey’s incentive to withdraw its army. The President emphasized the need to view Turkey’s sincerity with suspicion with phrases such as “we buy hope”, “empty expectations” and “unsubstantiated illusions that Turkey will abide by the agreement”21. The No campaign produced long lists of Turkish violations of agreements, crimes and aggressive policies during the 20th Century, in order to prove that “the incredibility of Turkey does not allow us to trust it TODAY22”. The fear of the non-implementation of the agreement was ultimately fundamental in swaying even many people that had a direct economic interest in the solution, such as for example the property owners in the territory that was to be ceded to the G/C state and need not have gone through the complex compensation procedures, that the property owners in the territory of the T/C state would have had. This shows that ideological structures can create fears that overpower economic interests.
The fear of the non-implementation of the agreement was ultimately the most important factor that determined the referendum result. This is because of its instrumentality in shifting AKEL’s position from the Yes vote decided by the Political Bureau to the Postponement or No decision of the Central Committee and its confirmation by the Party Congress. AKEL was like most parties internally divided and although the leadership’s judgment of the Plan was that “its positive elements if accepted despite the dangers could create a hopeful potentiality for the peaceful coexistence of G/Cs and T/Cs” in opposition to the President’s judgment that “it legalizes and deepens partition” that same leadership felt obliged to take into consideration “objective factors”23. These objective factors refer to the rejectionist climate created after the President’s speech, the political cost for the party if it came out on the losing side of the referendum, and most importantly the loss of both power and credibility in the case of breaking the alliance with the President that it so recently had put to power. However it is important to note that AKEL’s bizarre stance, expressed in its leader’s phrase that became an anecdote (we vote No in order to solidify the Yes), what Mouzelis aptly described as “an attempt to square the circle24” makes sense and most importantly was made possible only because of the widespread fear of the non-implementation of the agreement. AKEL’s effort to allay this fear however, in the form of asking for Security Council guarantees for the implementation of the agreement had the opposite effect: acknowledging the danger of non-implementation and reinforcing the feeling of insecurity among G/Cs.
“The Turk” (Int. n.2) is effectively the G/Cs’ homogenized Other. In so far as T/Cs are perceived to be Turks or leaning towards Turkey the suspicion against them seems insurmountable. Although the fear of the Turkish state has a rational component (geo-politics) it cannot be fully understood in rationalist terms. This is because all the factors that could lead one to vote No, could be turned on their head and induce one to vote Yes. In the absence of a solution: the number of settlers was bound to increase rather than decrease and 40 000 Turkish troops were bound to remain. However in a solution scenario, the Turk could no longer be abstracted from daily life, romanticized as our T/C brothers (AKEL) or demonized as the “rapists of our wives, and killers of our fathers and brothers25”. A solution would have brought to light the contradiction between the reality of the Turkish speaking human beings and their mythical barbarian image. Most G/Cs were not ready to deal with this psychological shock.
The fear of living standards dropping
The fear of Turkey was relatively entrenched and thus the rejectionist campaign had an easy job in bringing it out. The fear of economic collapse however, required a much bigger and sustained effort, to prevail and the rejectionist forces were not wholly successful in instilling it. They were successful though, in tapping upon the conservatism of a society enjoying relatively high living standards and exploiting its aversion to any sort of potentially destabilizing change. The much lower living standards in the North effectively allowed ethnic and class prejudice to merge, one reinforcing the other.
Being in charge of the stronger economy the G/C constituent state was ultimately going to contribute more resources for the infrastructural projects of the federal state, the compensations and for sustaining the federal bureaucracy. That the solution would have had a short term cost for the G/Cs until the merging of the two economies was beyond doubt. The government in its effort to predispose the public against the Annan Plan both during and especially after the negotiations emphasized the uncertainty and the risks that the solution entailed and did not mince its words. “Its economic viability is doubtful. Its implementation will have severe repercussions for G/Cs while the whole structure of the Plan will lead if not to the collapse of the Cypriot economy, definitely in severe economic crisis with consequences on the living standards of the G/Cs that have been achieved with so many sacrifices.26” The chief of the Central Bank during the negotiations had warned that the economy would collapse and called everybody who respected him to vote No after the final version of the Plan came out.
However there were political analysts and economists that told a different story: that the economy of the south is dynamic and strong enough to absorb any negative effects consequent upon its unification with the stagnant and weak one of the north and that the abolition of the defense budget was to cover for most infrastructural projects and general expenses27. Like law, economics is not a politically neutral science, if there can be one and there is no objective economic analysis but objectives in the economic analyses. It is here that the issue of ethno-centric prejudice needs to be addressed. This is because it is to say the least, naïve, to talk about an economic collapse as a mere consequence of building a federal state structure. When one has in mind the less official connotations of the economic collapse theory, such as the notion of the “laziness of the Turks” who will be parasitic on the hard working and entrepreneurial G/Cs, and the racist anecdotes that were circulating at the time, one gets a clearer picture of the discourse of the economic cost. An interview of DIKO Vice President Cleanthous during the negotiations is illustrative of the intension of a certain section of the leadership as to how the political economic situation ought to be understood: “the other side wants the G/Cs to be something like serfs to work and contribute a substantial part of our income while they will have the right to intervene like shepherds directly or indirectly in all activities that until today we were free to engage in.28” This bad will and suspicion maintaining mentality is the necessary ideological fortification of the status quo and its reproduction was vital for the No campaign.
The success of the No campaign in instilling fear can only be understood in relative terms and with specific groups of people. The civil servants for example were told that the Annan Plan did not clarify their status, working hours and conditions, benefits and pensions and were then asked to answer in two days whether they are prepared to accept their transfer to the federal state in case of Yes vote29. The military personnel was told by the Minister of Defense that the state was in financial difficulty and consequently the fulfillment of its obligation to compensate them for the loss of their jobs could be delayed. People with properties in the T/C constituent state (i.e. excluding those in the territory that was to come under the jurisdiction of the G/C state) were told that the bonds and shares through which they were to be compensated were of doubtful validity. “It is doubtful whether the Federal State that will guarantee one third of the compensations will be a liable guarantor so as to avert the decline of bond value as was the case with the stock-market30”. The reference of the President to what happened in the stock-market31 was instrumental, inviting the G/Cs to view with suspicion the Property Compensations Council and its procedures. Furthermore the provision that the Property Compensations Council was to take into consideration the aid that the claimants had already received, (e.g. state housing) added to the feeling of uncertainty.
Ultimately G/Cs saw little benefit and too much risk in a unification scheme especially at the specific moment in time with the entry into the EU. The North and its citizens seemed more as a burden, at least in the short term, a remnant of Cyprus’ former Third World identity, in contrast to the European south.
The European parameter
Although 76% of the G/Cs voted No in the referendum and by implication for the continuation of the status quo of partition, this does not mean that the majority of the G/Cs is not interested in unification. To be sure many G/Cs are not, as demonstrated in a survey just after the referendum in which 28% opted for the status quo or a two states solution32. However there are many others whose decision to vote No had more to do with the timing and the geo-politics of the peace process and most importantly with the climate that prevailed, rather than with their opposition to unification per se. Given the complexity of the Annan Plan and the multidimensionality of the political parameters involved, the agency of the politician expert was fundamental in shifting the balance towards the No. More so, because the President and his associates were successful in framing the No as a No to this solution which was to leave the door open for “a more hopeful path to the reunification of our country through the EU33”.
The decision of the EU in April 2003, that the unification of Cyprus was not a condition for its accession essentially removed all the pressure from the G/C political class to seek an agreement prior to 1st May 2004. Under the assumption and hope that its bargaining power was to increase since the G/Cs and Greece would be inside the EU and the T/Cs and Turkey outside trying to enter, the G/C government wanted to avoid negotiations, while at the same time could not afford to be seen as intransigent. After the unsuccessful attempt to bring the New York summit into a close, by sharing responsibility with Denktas34, Papadopoulos agreed to the tight negotiations process and Annan’s arbitration culminating in referenda prior to 1st May 2004, because he felt confident that as the newly elected leader of the G/C community he was in a position to impose the terms of national unity and mobilize public opinion, against the Annan Plan. Some people understood that in due time, others when it was too late. “I was not convinced by the present government that it sincerely wanted a solution…I believe that he wanted us and led us to say No.”(Int. n.1)
The Secretary General alongside many foreign diplomats insisted that a potential failure of the peace process was to likely to freeze the status quo since the Annan Plan was the last peace plan to be drafted by the UN. This was countered by the government’s slogan that “1st May is not the end of history for the Cyprus Problem.35” Whether it was or was not the last chance for a solution, was the biggest theme in the pre referendum debates and the No supporters had the clear advantage. The fact that the UN officials had said that the third version was the last peace plan they were to draft as well, allowed the rejectionists to claim that a sixth version was not unlikely. This was linked to rumors about a likely repetition of the referendum if rejected allowing the No campaign to smartly insist that the No is reversible while the Yes is not. In the climate of puzzlement and uncertainty about a decision so huge in its implications, it was the Yes campaign that had to be the offensive one because as the catchy slogan adopted by the leader of the No campaign goes: “when in doubt, leave it out” (Int n.9). After all, “why all this hurry just before we entered Europe?”(Int n.7). The last chance discourse, problematic as it was, received the final blow by the President in his speech: “The view that this will be the last initiative for the solution is dogmatism and demonstrates ignorance of the rules of international politics. The basic parameters that brought this initiative will continue to exist after 25th April.36”
The No campaign, building upon so many years of G/C emphasis on the international dimension of the conflict was able to frame the referendum as the decision whether “our struggle for independence from Britain first and then Turkey” (Int. n.4) is over or not. From this perspective a Yes vote symbolized giving up the Republic of Cyprus’s struggle for sovereignty while a No vote symbolized continuing it. In an age of globalization and in an institution such as the EU where state sovereignty is a matter of daily negotiation and compromise, its prevailing conceptualization in the G/C community remains conventional, that is as a fixed and absolute political phenomenon. Thus the flux and shared sovereignty regime provided for in the Annan Plan, in conjunction with the maintenance of the guarantor status of Greece, Turkey and Britain and their stationing of troops, was presented as sufficient proof that the struggle for our independence was not going to finish. The only thing that was going to change was the conditions of the struggle. “We are called upon to dissolve our internationally recognized statehood, precisely at the moment when its international political weight increases with our entry into the EU.37” In other words, if the T/Cs want unification they should return to the now European Republic of Cyprus and break completely from Turkey.
The entrenched anti-Americanism of the G/Cs38 was utilized in the effort of the G/C political class to counter the insistence of US officials on the necessity of an agreement. The logic went: if it is in the interests of UK-US that we accept this solution at this moment, how can it also be in our interests? “If after May 1st our case will be worse than today and we therefore have to accept the Annan Plan now, why do the Anglo-Americans insist in a solution prior to May 1st?39”The impression was created that the Anglo-Americans were trying to set up a trap for the G/Cs in order to help their Turkish allies. “The Anglo-Americans wanted to help Turkey enter the EU, not achieve a solution: that is why they were promoting the Plan” (Int. n.4). The “heroic No” (Int. n.1) thus came to symbolize the resistance to “imperialism”, an empowering act of national and human dignity for both left and right.
The view that the Anglo-Americans were effectively trying to neutralize the G/C advantage with the accession of the Republic of Cyprus into the EU through their insistence on the Annan Plan was not only widespread but also the basis for more grandiose claims. These took the form of positing a conflict between the US and the EU, one between interests and principles. In this scenario, “the US wants to satisfy Turkey, put it into the EU and use it as a Troyan Horse against the EU through and over Cyprus.40”Thus the G/Cs by rejecting the Anglo-American Annan Plan they were “defending the principles and values of the EU which aim at the peace and prosperity of peoples41”. The fact that the EU endorsed the Annan Plan was explained away through the natural preference of the EU bureaucrats not to inherit the problem and its complex implications. However the view that it was incompatible with the acqui communitaire was so entrenched that Ferheugen, the official responsible for EU enlargement attempted to reassure G/Cs that it was not and asked two G/C television channels to allow him address the G/C public. The fact that he was turned down by both42 under the excuse that he was bound to exert pressure on the will of the sovereign People, is illustrative not only of the rejectionist climate that prevailed but also of the significance of the idealization of Europe in the No campaign.
The European solution was the central slogan of the No campaign. What this entailed however, remained unclear beyond the platitudes about the “recognition, guarantees and implementation of all sorts of human and political rights and individual liberties for all the citizens of the Republic43”.
When one has in mind that this Republic is the now G/C dominated state which “should be maintained as unitary, indivisible and sovereign44”, then the “European solution” stands for the political depoliticisation of ethnicity (the principle of majority rule), the take-over of North Cyprus through legal means. This is a necessary consequence of the reification of the T/C society and government mentioned in the first chapter, based upon the refusal to recognize “the realities imposed on this country by the Turkish invasion and occupation.45” Since the T/C society and its institutions do not exist (the pseudo discourse) the “anti-European” Annan Plan “not only does not unite but creates structures and institutions of division46”. However, demanding the impossible (a unitary state) while acknowledging that “as time passes things become worse” (Int. n.9), can only but leave one to conclude that the status quo is not really a problem. “Why should we be so selfish and demand the closing of the issue in our life-time?” (Int. n.9).
The evidence for the anti-European character of the Annan Plan was further and most importantly to be found in the suspension of the full implementation of human rights through the various restrictions it imposed on the property market and rights of residence of members of one ethnic group in the state of the other. “In the Plan of the Secretary General there are restrictions in the human rights on the basis of ethnic origin, real for G/Cs and only theoretical for T/Cs47”. Although these restrictions had a temporary character, the permanent residential ones rendered insignificant in nineteen years48 while the property market ones up to the time when the T/C per capita income reached 85% of G/C per capita income, this did not prevent the No campaigners from accusing the Annan Plan of eternalizing human rights violations. Given the complexity and multi-dimensionality of the Cyprus Problem, as Kofi Annan explained, it is simply impossible to implement all human rights immediately after an agreement, since there are cases where the human rights of certain groups are in conflict with those of other groups. Since human rights do not have a nationality, it makes little sense to talk about the human rights of the G/Cs prioritizing them over those of the T/Cs and mainland Turks. Some G/Cs understood that. “I felt injustice because in my house there are settlers... On the other hand, settlers have been in my house since 1976. Children were born there. It is their house. These are hard questions… I feel it is my place, yet I know it is also their place.” (Int. n.6) The proponents of the European solution however saw things differently. ”You cannot restrict property rights. It was a mistake that G/Cs touched T/C properties in the south. Now all the T/Cs and settlers should move out from our properties and take back theirs. Those that do not have should be given a loan by the government to buy one and there is plenty of state land, where state housing can be built and given to them.” (Int. n.9) The belief that this is not only fair but also possible “now that we are Europeans” (Int. n.2) derives from the perception that “the property right is considered sacred in Europe and generally in every democratic society.49”
The symbol of the “anti-European” character of the Annan Plan was the provision asking the leaders of the two communities to send a letter to the Court of Human Rights asking for the withdrawal of all the appeals for property issues and a letter to EU so as to prevent appeals to the European Court of Human Rights, since these were to be arranged internally. The success of the Loizidou case in the Strassburg court forcing Turkey to compensate her for the prevention of use of her property effectively served as the banner of the displaced G/Cs who were assured “that Turkey will be forced to give billions of pounds if there is no solution in which the rightful owners abandon their property rights50”. Although Loizidou’s lawyers themselves did explain that the property issue could not be solved on a case by case basis and that a collective arrangement was needed, the proponents of the European solution were very influential even with respect to those that were going to receive all their property back. “Who will compensate me for all those years? Under that Plan, I would not have been allowed to demand compensation as I was advised that I have the right to” (Int. 2).
The entry of the Republic of Cyprus into the European Union led G/Cs to the belief that their geopolitical weight was to increase to such an extent that a more beneficial settlement could be achieved. Europe in G/C political consciousness is a multidimensional concept. As the incarnation of law and justice, it was expected to stand as a defense to the pro-Turkish US-UK machinations. As the High Priest of property rights, it was expected to prevent any diversions, even temporary ones, from free market principles in a potential settlement. Thus, rejecting the Anglo-American Annan Plan was not seen as the rejection of reunification but the continuation of the struggle in improved conditions to achieve a European and thus, better solution.
Part 2: The implications of the G/C No
Everything around changes and everything stays the same
Although it is too early to evaluate the historical import and consequences of the G/C No and too difficult to predict future developments, given the confusion that prevails both in the international and in the domestic political scene, some tendencies can be discerned. The impacts like the causes of the G/C No are multiple and although phenomenally little has changed in the sense that the political and ideological status quo remains firm, the failure of the peace process and the referendum has unleashed previously latent forces and has raised the stakes in the contest between its entrenchment and its transcendence.
The overwhelming G/C No has ultimately and logically sent the message to the international community that the G/Cs are not interested in unification. In his report to the Security Council Kofi Annan is explicit: “While they state their firm support for unification, many view too little gains and too much disturbance and risk in an arrangement…If G/Cs are ready to share power and prosperity with the T/Cs in a federal structure based on political equality, they must demonstrate this not only with words but also with actions.51” What this means is effectively the refusal of the UN to take the initiative for re-starting the peace process without the prior demonstration of G/C good will. Since the Annan Plan is there, approved by the T/Cs and endorsed by the EU, it is the G/Cs that have to state what changes if any will make it acceptable and thus create the conditions for restarting the negotiations. As far as the EU is concerned the priority is the delivery of 259 million euros that had been set aside under a reunification scenario, to the T/Cs in order to strengthen the economy of the North and limit T/C emigration. The Commission has already decided that the aid will be given directly, that is by-passing the G/C government rejecting the latter’s demand to act as the mediator due to its status as the government of the only recognized state in Cyprus. The second and more critical issue for which the G/C government has threatened the Commission with legal action is the expressed desire of the latter to consider North Cyprus as a third country with respect to trade of goods and services regulations and thus authorize the use of airports and ports in the north. Given the serious political implications of such a move, effectively recognizing the T/C state in all but name, it is likely that a compromise formula will be sought and in its absence the postponing of the decision is not an unlikely development. This is because aside the legal obstacles that the EU itself has erected in the past (e.g. the 1994 European Court of Justice ruling banning exports from the north; Tocci, 2004, p.5) the political will of the EU actors to bring North Cyprus closer to the EU without a parallel improvement of North-South relations seems for the moment lacking. Moreover the uncertainty that prevails concerning Turkey’s European path is conducive to the reluctance of the EU actors to implement policies with respect to North Cyprus. The EU however cannot and will not delay decisions for ever. If the peace process does not restart soon, then the Commission will summon the necessary political will and overcome the legal obstacles since sanctioning of the use of airports and ports is a necessity for the economic development of the North; the objections of the South cannot delay it for long.
The internal implications of the G/C No are more complex and difficult to discern. Schematically they can be summed up as the crystallization of two latent tendencies whose political expression and agenda is at variance with the official rhetoric and nominal objective. The Annan Plan has effectively given shape to what that abstract thing called “solution” meant or could mean. As such it has brought to the fore two diametrically opposed tendencies expressed in two slogans: a. the “leave them over there and us over here” and b. the “solution-unification-now”. Whereas the former approach used to be considered as traitorous for accepting the final loss of North Cyprus and thus its proponents were reluctant to express it in public, it has now become widespread and socially acceptable, although not yet officially sanctioned. The two-states solution, once a dream of the T/C nationalists is now the preferred settlement by a significant G/C minority. The solution-unification-now proponents are fewer but more outspoken and politically articulate, and refuse to be cowed by the continuous references of their political opponents to the result of the referendum. Most importantly they organize popular events and gatherings in the north in conjunction with T/C organizations and thus challenge directly the reification discourse. The contest between these two tendencies is fundamental in the shaping of the political dynamics in the G/C community and by implication for the prospects of the resolution of the conflict.
In between these two tendencies lies the silent majority that has rejected the Annan Plan in preference for the status quo only because it considers the latter temporary, something to be tolerated while waiting for a better deal. Its loyalty to Papadopoulos remains firm but should not be taken for granted because it is based on the belief that a better deal is possible and that his hard line will bring it about. As time passes and an agreement continues to be elusive, the patience of this silent majority will most likely decrease and will be more vulnerable both to the partitionist and the solution-now influence. In other words, since the hard line pursued by Papadopoulos makes compromise an unlikely eventuality, the status quo is bound to be entrenched on the one hand and weakened on the other. This is because the more the status quo begins to look permanent, the less tolerable it will become. It will be undermined both by the forces that want to transcend it, and by those that are prepared to accept its legalization, but do not yet speak it out.
Ultimately the key factor in the balance between the forces of the status quo and the forces of its transcendence is AKEL. As the only party that has been historically and ideologically committed to rapprochement and has been steadily declaring the need for the historical compromise, its stance in the referendum provoked a serious internal crisis. In the elections for the European Parliament it faced its biggest electoral defeat dropping from 35% to 28% and it has lost touch with a significant section of its rank and file who feel betrayed with the leadership’s continued qualified support to the hard line pursued by Papadopoulos. On the other hand, breaking the alliance with Papadopoulos however will lead to the loss of power and all the benefits that accompany it in a Mediterranean country where politics is significantly based on patron-client relationships. Thus AKEL is more or less trapped in a lose-lose situation and most likely will continue its stay in government, while separating itself from the more maximalist positions adopted by the President.
DISI, the main party that supported the Annan Plan faced an even bigger crisis with a group actually splitting off and forming a new party with a hard line on the Cyprus problem. Nevertheless in the European elections DISI’s losses were limited and its new post-referendum emphasis on rapprochement (the traditional policy of AKEL) not only prepares the G/Cs for a solution, but also keeps the pressure high on AKEL to return to its old course or lose votes.
Ultimately the G/C No, or rather its overwhelmingness has reduced the prospects for a resolution of the conflict at least in the immediate and foreseeable future. It has made the repetition of the referendum (on the same Plan) almost impossible and has reduced international interest for a new initiative. As long as Papadopoulos remains in power, with the support of AKEL, the situation is unlikely to change because he can afford to continue to ignore the calls for “solution-unification now”, and offer tacit political cover for the partitionist tendency. If AKEL however moves into opposition and raises the pressure on the President for a solution, the balance between the forces of the status quo and those of its transcendence will begin to shift towards the latter.
The G/C No was neither inevitable nor accidental. It was the product of both social historical and politically contingent factors and these two dimensions cannot be separated. Nationalist ideological structures, the frames through which the stakes in the referendum were evaluated were not invented by the No campaign. They should more usefully be seen as the social historical product of the separation, and the reification discourse. However, such a “structural understanding of power is not to detach the concept of power from human agency” (Isaac 1987, p.81). Because individuals, leaders and led alike are not mere bearers of the structures but agents whose contingent actions reproduce or transform them.
The agency of the President and the multi-party coalition supporting him was undoubtedly fundamental in the rejection of the Annan Plan, since it was primarily through them that the electorate learnt about the provisions of the Plan and the geo-political implications of both the Yes and the No. However the relation between the leaders and the led is not one-dimensional, but dialectical. Although the electorate can be said to have fallen by the promise of the better deal, it ultimately shares the responsibility along with its government for the current status quo. Even though existing nationalist ideological structures were reproduced, it needed not have been so; a different stance by AKEL, (more in line with its history and ideology) could have transformed those structures and the referendum result itself.
G/C newspapers in order of sales:
1. Phileleftheros (liberal right)
2. Politis (liberal left)
3. Simerini (nationalist right)
4. Charavgi (AKEL’s newspaper)
Press and Information Office publications (Republic of Cyprus):
The Cyprus Problem (1999)
Cyprus: no man is an island (2003)
Presedent’s speech for the referendum (April, 2004)
Other: 1. George Vassiliou, Reply to the President (booklet used by the Yes campaign)
2. Do you trust the Turks? Voice of the People (leaflet used in the No campaign)
3. Pancyprian Citizens Movement leaflet
4. Den xehno ke agonizome (I do not forget and I fight) (Ministry of Education, 2000) (primary school textbook)
Craig Webster and Christophoros Christophorou, Spring Survey 2004, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots and the future: the day after the referendum, (www.cothm.ac.cy)
Yiannis Papadakis, Enosis and Turkish expansionism: real myths or mythical realities? in Cyprus and its people ed. Calotychos p.69-84 (West view Press, 1998)
Yiannis Papadakis, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Perceptions of history and collective identity, (Cambridge, 1993)
Ceasar Mavratsas, Faces of Greek nationalism in Cyprus: ideological conflict and the social construction of Greek-Cypriot identity 1974-1996 (Athens, 1998)
4. Jeffrey Isaac, Power and Marxist theory: a realist view, (New York, 1987)
5. Nicos Mouzelis, in newspaper “To Vima” From the Macedonian fiasco to the Cyprus dead-end (24. 05.04)
6. Derek Layder, Understanding social theory (London, 1994)
7. Attalides Michael, in Cyprus reviewed (Nicosia, 1977), The T/Cs: their relations to the G/C in perspective
8. Yiannis Papadakis, The historical dialectic of identity, (unpublished doctoral dissertation, 1993)
9. Adamantia Pollis, in Calotychos ed. Cyprus and its people (1998), The role of foreign powers in structuring ethnicity and ethnic conflict in Cyprus
10. Nathalie Tocci, Reflections on post referendum Cyprus (European University Institute, 2004)
11. Kitromilides Paschalis, in Attalides ed. Cyprus reviewed, (Nicosia, 1977) From coexistence to confrontation: the dynamics of ethnic conflict in Cyprus
12. Niazi Kizilgurek, Cyprus: the dead-end of nationalisms (Athens, 1999)
13. Michael Hechter, Containing nationalism, (New York, 2000)
14. Anthony Smith, The ethnic origin of nations (Oxford, 1986)
15. Roland Barthes, Mythologies (London, 1973)
LIST OF APPENDICES
Appendix 1: Interview 1
Appendix 2: Interview 2
Appendix 3: Interview 3
Appendix 4: Interview 4
Appendix 5: Interview 5
Appendix 6: Interview 6
Appendix 7: Interview 7
Appendix 8: Interview 8
Appendix 9: Interview 9
INTERVIEW 1: CIVIL SERVANT
Q: What does the Cyprus problem mean for you personally? What comes to your mind?
A: At present it is the problem of the occupation. But there is also the issue of the co-existence between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in their island.
Probe: So there is both an external and internal dimension.
A: The external is the main one. Had it not been for Turkey the internal problem would have been solved.
Q: How do you understand the solution of the problem? Some people say that the status quo is the solution.
A: The solution is the creation of a federal state.
Q: How do you see this happening? Can this be achieved through negations?
A: Negotiations alone, as we have seen cannot bring that. International conditions need to be favorable. Now especially with the EU this is possible. A change of mentalities is also needed both by us and Turkish Cypriots. Negotiations are necessary but not sufficient.
Q: What did you vote in the April referendum and what were the main factors that determined your decision?
A: I voted No because I believed that one or two points could have changed towards the better for us. I believe that it is not just us that want the solution. Greece, Turkey, the T/C, the international factor are also interested and would not have left us without a solution. Improvements are possible such as complete demilitarization for example, as was the case in a previous version of the plan and perhaps the removal of the security guarantees of Turkey.
Probe: so it was just those two points
A: Even if those two were not achieved, still I believed that something better was possible. Territory for example. There were all those rumors about the Turkish map that was eventually not presented.
Q: How did you take your decision? Did you change positions in the process or were you negative from the beginning?
A: I was on the Yes side until the 3rd version. The 4th version made me totally negative and perhaps that was what determined my final decision. I was struggling with the 5th until the last minute but I did not return to the Yes position. I was influenced by AKEL’s stance,although I do not support AKEL, because I believed that it was acting in conjunction with the president. I was under the impression that in the day after the referendum they were to proceed in asking for one or two minor changes in the plan so that we could reach a solution.
Q: How important was the economic cost of the solution in your decision?
A: It was definitely one factor. Economists disagreed on television on the viability of the settlement and this caused uncertainty. But I believe that our side did not try its best to win as much as it could have.
Q: Why do you think the G/C rejected the plan? What other factors did your friends, relatives, colleagues find important?
A: The main factor was what I told you before: the security guarantees given to Turkey. There were other factors, differing according to each person. The property issue for those that it applied. For example the economic issue. Nobody will admit that it played a role, but it did both for the No and for the Yes. Most importantly it was the general condition that prevailed. The No trend became a wave.
Q: Do you think the G/C found the plan too divisive or too unificatory to accept?
A: I would say too divisive but on the other hand when I hear people say : let them in the north and us in the south I have my doubts. I was also puzzled by the analysis of the results, which showed that the immense majority of the young people were opposed to the plan, while the old people were voting yes.
Q: Did the G/C send a message to the international community with their vote? And if yes what was that?
A: Well the message we wanted to send was : we want solution, but not this solution. But it seems that the international community concluded that we are doing all right and that we are not interested in solution.
Q: What was the role of the political leadership throughout the peace process: both in the negotiation and the presentation of the plan?
A: I believe that the previous government really wanted a solution. If it was in power I would have concluded that what we had was what we could get. I was not convinced by the present government that it sincerely wanted a solution. Many issues that influenced the decision of the people were not even raised during the negotiations. The seven points that our president asked, with the exception of that concerning the settlers were not really important and would not have made a difference. I believe that he wanted us and led us to say No.
Q: Do you believe that if the leadership promoted the plan, could it have been accepted?
A: Yes if the president and the big parties supported it would have passed.
Q: What do you think about the opening of the borders? Did you go to the north?
A: I think it is very positive. Had the borders remained closed I would have voted No without even reading the plan out of fear. So many years of not seeing each other inevitably created widespread uncertainty and fear. Then we went to the north, they were very friendly. For a year with the borders open, no violent incident occurred, and this allowed me to overcome my personal fears. At the same time we saw our lands and we remembered that they exist.
Q: What is the role of Greece in the solution of the Cyprus Problem? Is the Cyprus problem a Greco-Turkish affair does it have an autonomy of its own?
A: It is primarily a Greco-Turkish one. The conflict with the Turkish Cypriots is a minor one. If Greece and Turkey really want a settlement in Cyprus, they will impose it on us.
Probe: did Greece influence the stance of the G/C?
A: Well the fact that the government did not say Yes clearly made me suspicious. I interpreted their stance as a No which they could not utter because of the pressures from the US and the EU.
Q: Do you believe that Ertogan’s government in Turkey is different from the previous ones?
A: Yes, definitely. However the fear does not go away entirely. There is uncertainty with respect to the real strength of the civilians. In five years the military might step in again. But I have to admit that the policies of this government with respect to Greece, the EU and Cyprus constitute an improvement.
Q: What is the role of the US in the solution of the Cyprus problem? Can the Americans help or do they just cause more problems?
A: The US has its interests and it pursues them. Of course it can help, but the question is to which direction? I believe that the pressures that it exerts bring the opposite effects because of the widespread anti-Americanism both in Cyprus and in the globe more generally.
Probe: do you think that the pressures mattered in the g/c decision?
A: Yes, they had the opposite effect. The prevailing climate was one in which we were to say an heroic No as an act of resistance to the pressures from abroad.
Q: What about the future? Do you believe that the process can begin again soon? And if so will start it?
A: I believe that it can start again. But it is up to us. What the t/c say ; that they have accepted a plan and they will not accept radical changes to it, goes. Now our leadership does not seem ready to begin the process anew. If the government changes, or if AKEL leaves the government in protest, may be this would create the conditions for negotiating the same plan and achieving some minor changes. But if the same plan is put to the vote, it will be a No again. The most important thing is the will of the leadership. If they want it to pass they can persuade the people. I hope the t/c will continue to demand a solution and that they are not satisfied with the economic aid.
Probe: what makes you think that a better deal is possible?
A: I would be ready to accept the security guarantees by Turkey if it was an EU member. The fact that it does not even have a date makes me weary. Because the plan is linked to that. As time passes, changes take place in Turkey as well, it is drawn closer to the EU and it will be more prepared to accept some minor changes. But I do not really believe that things will improve dramatically, as the timing of the referendum allowed us believe.
Interview 2: member of Christian Women Association
Q: What does the Cyprus problem mean for you personally?
A: It is an unresolved problem that goes on for 30 years and affects us psychologically.
Q: What makes it a problem?
A: The fact that they do not give us what belongs to us
Q: How can it be resolved?
A: We have to accept certain painful things, they have to give us what they can give us and there would be a solution.
Q: What is wrong with things as they are now?
A: There is uncertainty. There has to be a signed agreement.
Q: Can we live with the t/c in the same state?
A: We will coexist whether we like or not. Otherwise there can be no solution. In the old times people lived together.
Q: What did you vote in the referendum and why?
A: I voted No because I did not like certain things in the plan. For example our army was to be dissolved immediately while their army was to leave gradually and not completely. The plan was not going to force the Turk to leave from someone’s house. It provided for the co-habitation of the house in cases where the Turk had made changes. This was not right. Either the G/C had to get compensation or the Turk had to leave. The economic issue also. It provided for compensations for the Turks. Why? Who compensated us for so many years? In my house there is a military officer for the last 30 years. Who will compensate me for all those years? Under that plan, I would not have been allowed to demand compensation as I was advised that I have the right to.
Q: Did your decision change during the peace process?
A: I was on the Yes side, and I changed my mind in the last days when I saw that things did not come the way we wanted them to come in the negotiations.
Q: What other issues influenced the decisions of the g/c?
A: Most people were opposed to the property settlement. Many would not have got their property back while there was no guarantee that they would get compensated for it. People wanted cash, and they were going to give bonds and shares instead. People did not like that.
Q: Do you think that g/c find the plan too divisive or too unificatory to accept?
A: I do not understand this. Laws are laws in both sides
Q: Did g/c send a message to the international community with their vote? If yes what was that?
A: Some sent the message that we are satisfied as we are, some sent the message that we are being treated unfairly in this plan, some sent the message that since we are Europeans now, we should be treated as Europeans.
Q: What do you think about the way the political leadership handled the peace process in general?
A: They were not demanding enough. They did not understand the anxieties of the people. They should have listened to the people before going to the final solution. They ought to have known that the people would not have accepted this.
Q: Were you influenced in your decision by the president, the party you usually support or the Church?
A: No, I listened to the president with his tears, but I was not influenced by him. I called people in AKEL and I told them my worries, what I told you before, and they told me I was right. They did not tell me either yes or no. I thought about it myself and I was always tending towards the No. The leadership did not do what it could. They went to the negotiations and did not demand anything. They just said No.
Q: Do you believe that if the leadership promoted the plan, could it have been accepted?
A: Yes. If they said to the people that things were going to get worse as a consequence of rejection, I think that they would have induced people towards the yes.
Q: What do you think about the opening of the borders?
A: I think that it is a very good think. It really allowed us to satisfy our desire to see our places. I went a couple of times, I felt joy but also pain. I said I am not going again until there is a solution.
Q: How did that influence your decision in the referendum.
A: My visit there induced me towards the Yes, but it did not prevail in the end.
Q: Did you meet any t/c?
A: No, in my house there was a military officer. I did not meet any t/c.
Q: What is the role of Greece in the solution of the Cyprus problem?
A: Greece is neutral. They expect us to say either yes or no and they will follow. The government of Greece did not take a stance.
Q: Do you believe that Ertogan’s government in Turkey is different from previous ones?
A: Not really. The army is the boss. But I am not sure. Maybe now the EU will make this change.
Q: What is the role of the US in the solution of the problem?
A: The US wants to impose a solution on us, because it is fed up with us.
Q. How do you see the future of the peace process? Can it start again? If yes by whom?
A: It seems unlikely. Unless Turkey makes a move, give us something now that it wants to enter the EU. Otherwise nothing will happen. We said No, our leaders cannot really ask for negotiations again. Others must take the initiative: either the EU or Turkey.
Interview 3: AKEL MP
Q: What does the Cyprus problem mean for you?
A: It is a life problem, it bothers me and many others both while awake and while asleep.
Q: What makes it a problem?
A: The inclination of people to be interested in common affairs, you cannot enforce that? It is a problem because us Cypriots (irrespective of language and descent) became victims of mentalities that conceived this island as exclusive property. And this unfortunately continues to be the case today and is largely responsible for the partition. This is the essence of nationalism: conceptualizing something as exclusively yours. The lack of generosity of the majority towards the minority, that is the only thing that can build federations and states in general when there is more than one ethnic group present. Since Cypriots have internalized these ideas, they have become historically easy victims of foreign powers that pursued their own interests in the area: first it was Britain, then it was Greece and Turkey in conjunction with the US, until we ended up in the situation that we are in today.
Q: What does solution mean? Some people say that the status quo is a solution.
A: There are people that say this, both G/C and T/C and I think that they are mistaken. They are a minority, but we cannot pretend that they do not exist. Among g/c this train of thought goes: we have been successful in administering the whole of Cyprus during the last 30 years on our own, the international community has considered us alone capable of administering the whole of Cyprus, and that part which remained imprisoned was and is responsible for its imprisonment. This is a wrong way of seeing things.
Also us g/c progressed during the last 30 years. We had good government, social and economic development and as a consequence achieved our entry in the EU. This category of people think: we have struggled so hard to achieve that. Why should we share this success of ours with them who have played no part in this? This I repeat at the end of the day is a mistaken approach. The same goes for those T/C that believe that Turkey provides them with security which they will lose if they join us in a common co-management of the state. These two minorities exist and act in both communities, with relatively greater effectiveness in the G/C one.
Probe: You talk about minorities. How would you respond to the statement that the g/c leadership pretends that it wants a settlement in order to continue monopolizing the Republic of Cyprus?
A: Leadership is a very general concept, it includes about 1000 people. I find it difficult to adopt that statement as it stands. Some leaders are I sense subconsciously satisfied with things as they are. I am not sure if this is consciously what they aim. Some of those believe that with their policies a better solution is possible in the future.
Q: You said in an interview of yours some time ago that G/Cs forgot about the T/Cs? What is the responsibility of AKEL’s leadership in that, given that it still refuses to visit the north?
A: This forgetting process occurred naturally. Eyes that are not seen are easily forgotten. We used to hear about t/c but we could not see them. If responsibility is to be attributed to leaderships, AKEL’s leadership is the last one. AKEL maintained many contacts with t/c before the borders opened, in the north, in the south, on the borders and abroad. After the borders opened, it is true that AKEL is opposed to the presentation of passports, both because it promotes the idea of a separate entity and also because it is somewhat humiliating. However although the leadership kept aloof and stayed back, it gave the permission to all party members to visit the north as individuals. This allowed contacts to continue and expand on an informal basis which is what is important. Now the shift from the passport to the identity presentation, was a formal not a substantive change. In politics formalities are also important but the essence of the thing is the remains. You show a document, you fill in another document, you wait in the queue. The EU had demanded the removal of passports, but the authorities, the army, I am not sure who is in charge there, pretended they did not understand that this meant free movement. Politics is about evaluating the pros and cons of different situations and actions. So the humiliation of the people in the process of border crossing when evaluated against the newly emerging conception of the whole seems less important. This is something that the political leadership should not forget.
Q: What did you vote in the April referendum and what were the main reasons that determined your decision?
A: …….My party decided to vote No and I am an MP of that party. However although the majority of AKEL’s supporters voted according to the decision of the party Congress there was a minority that voted Yes. Personally I believe that irrespectively of what each person voted, there should be an attempt of the mass of those that voted Yes to understand the mass of those that voted No. I use the word mass because I believe that there are also fanatics that one cannot understand and cannot be understood by them. If this dialogue takes place, the possibility of our coming together exists.
Q: Why do you think the G/C community rejected the plan? What reasons did people give to you?
A: I believe that because of the negotiation process, which continued until very late and other reasons, we did not manage to inform the people accurately and in the appropriate time about the plan. From my conversations with people that voted No, I understood that they either had little knowledge of the plan or very good knowledge of one-two particular provisions of the plan. But it is the wholeness of the settlement that should have guided the decision. The responsibility for this should be attributed to the media and the political leaderships. Another thing is what I told you before: the entrenched belief among g/c that they had the right to join the EU alone as alone they had struggled for it. They sensed that this linking of EU entry and solution constituted a trap. They thought that our entry was bound to bring a better solution than this one. I do not share this belief. We can see already, that the supporters of the so-called European solution, either do not listen to what the EU says or seem ready to begin a new long-term struggle that might result in a solution after one or two decades. That will definitely not be better than this one plus we will have lost all those years, all those potentialities inherent in our united people to live and create.
Then the stance of the political parties and the president was fundamental. The demand for the rejection of the plan by the president was total, intense and emotional. It is difficult to imagine any people opposing the so rigid position of its newly elected president.
Probe: so you believe that if the leadership promoted the plan, it could have been accepted
A: If the leadership did that in time, yes.
Q: Do you think that g/c found the plan too divisive or too unificatory to accept?
A: I believe, too divisive. I hope so at least, otherwise things are much more tragic.
Q: What was the message that was sent to the international community?
A: My first statement after the referendum was: there are no shoulders strong enough in Cyprus to hold this result. I believe that the message sent was not that we do not want this particular solution but that we do not want solution. However this is wrong. People not only want the solution, but they struggle for it. What is needed is adequate information and work by the political leaderships.
Q: What is the role of Greece in the solution of the Cyprus problem?
A: Historically Greece had a big role in the evolution of the problem, at times a very negative one. However now Greece is a democratic country, member of EU and has a very positive role to play. The government of Karamanlis had just got to power, and this created a rather pale image of Greece compared to that of Turkey and Ertogan.
Q: Did Greece influence the decision of the g/c?
A: Of course. The Greek government did not urge anything. Some people say this was right- I raise no objections. However a clear ancertainment from their side was their responsibility and this was absent.
Q: Do you consider Ertogan’s government different from previous ones, and if so, do you think g/c share this conception?
A: Of course it is different. There can be no comparison with that of Ecevit or Demirel with respect to the role of army influence in foreign policy orientation.
An analysis of the geo-political situation as it evolved during the last years lead me to the conclusion that Turkey does not need Cyprus-and I expected progress. Actually it never needed to need Cyprus. The same goes for Greece. The change is in the increasing awareness of this by both the people of Greece and Turkey. The second factor is Turkey’s need to enter the EU. This is an one-way road and both the leadership in Turkey and their basic ally, the US have realized this. Turkey tied to the EU will be able to turn its attention towards Asia. The Cyprus anomaly needs to be overcome for this.
Probe: How do you respond to the claim that the United Cyprus state would have been an Anglo-Americano-Turkish protectorate?
A: Today there are British bases in Cyprus, while half of the island is occupied by Turkey. This means that the US can do what it wants. Also we should not forget that with the permission of our government US airplanes flew over Cyprus in order to bomb Iraq. Cyprus is an Anglo-Americano-Turkish protectorate. American influence would not have increased with the solution. Rather the presence of g/c and t/c in the government of the whole island, could have allowed, if we wanted so the decrease of the foreign influence in the island.
Probe: Why did g/c not see that? Why did they view that our interests and those of the US were necessarily antagonistic, and that since the solution suited them, it did not suit us?
A: Because sober political analysis was absent and emotion prevailed.
Interview 4: President of DIKO local committee
Q: What does the Cyprus problem mean to you?
A: It is our long struggle against the British first, and then Turkey for our independence.
Q: How do you conceptualize the solution?
A: Well, our side aims in the unification of the island and the establishment of a common government of Greeks, eh Greek-Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots
Q: Can we live with the T/C in the same state?
A: Well with the t/c we can, but Turkey must not interfere. Now the settlers are called t/c and it seems that they are more influenced by Turkey. It requires good will from both sides and a spirit of compromise.
Q: Are these present in the current situation?
A: Well, with respect to the majority yes, but there is also a minority that lacks these. I was ready for that compromise, and I was prepared to accept a solution, that was unbalanced and unfair to us, but I had my doubts whether it could have been implemented. There were so many gaps, the plan was so complex. Extremist elements from both sides could have provoked an incident. Also I do not trust Turkey, because of the events of the past. It could have continued to manipulate the t/c in the pursuit of its own interests and its objectives.
Q: What are its objectives?
A: Well now it is its entry into the EU. But also for so many years its plans were the conquest of Cyprus, like in the old times when it used to control it. It would have been difficult to conquer the whole of Cyprus, because the British are here as well but it could have annexed the part that it controls.
Q: What other reasons other than the lack of trust with respect to Turkey’s intensions led you to the No decision?
A: Everything happened so fast. There was so little time for such a big decision, and all that pressures at the moment when Cyprus was entering in the EU. Everybody was after its own interest: the US, Britain, Turkey insisted that the solution should take place before the Republic of Cyprus entered the EU, so that it could enter as a new different state. All that hurry and in conjunction with the complexity of the plan made me unable to say Yes. Would Turkey have cooperated in the implementation of the agreement? It has demonstrated in the past that it does not honor its agreements. Not only with us. With the Americans too, in the Iraq issue for example. It agreed to allow US troops to pass through its territory, and it received money as well and then refused to do so. Imagine if it can do that to the US, what will make it honor its agreement with us? Remember the agreement about the g/c in Karpasia, which they did not honor? All the trouble they caused about the movement of the G/C teacher to the north? Turkey is still a military state. I do not believe that Ertogan has brought so much change. Maybe he is different, but the power of the army is still immense. And if our Republic was dissolved and the new state was created and within all those time limits for troop withdrawals, an incident took place that could have given them the opportunity to block the process? We would have had no state. Who could have forced them to implement the agreement?
Probe: Can anybody force them?
A Maybe the EU, their desire to enter will exert pressure on them. The Security Council may guarantee the implementation.
Probe: This was the proposition of AKEL, not DIKO, the party to which you belong. DIKO opposed that
A: Indeed. Well DIKO’s position was a bit extreme really. It was opposed to the plan from the very beginning, even before the president made his speech. I was not so strongly on the No side as the DIKO MPs. I saw things more realistically. I was to tell you the truth influenced by the president. He was so firm in his rejection. I trust Papadopoulos, he knows the issue inside out, and those fears that he expressed, I found valid. Our state was to be dissolved and we would have been hanging in the air.
Q: Do you think if the president promoted the plan, could it have passed?
A: I think it could have passed, but not with a big majority. In order for this plan to work out however, a great majority was necessary so that the extremist minority would not be in a position to cause trouble and give the opportunity to Turkey not to implement its part of the agreement. This was another reason why I voted No.
Now this things that the foreigners do, trying to punish us reinforce my belief in the rightness of my decision. They are only interested in their objectives not ours. The Anglo-Americans wanted to help Turkey enter the EU, not achieve a solution: that is why they were promoting the plan.
Probe: Is it bad for us if Turkey enters the EU?
A: No, it might even be in our interest, since it will be obliged to abide by EU laws and the EU constitution.
Probe: But if the plan had been accepted, Turkey’s entry into Europe would have been helped.
A: But there are other factors and other countries involved in the question of Turkish accession: France and Germany will decide, I do not know about how much progress has been achieved in issues of human rights. Maybe things will improve in Turkey and it can enter Europe, maybe not.
Q: What do you think about the opening of the borders? Did you go to the north?
A: No, I did not feel the need to go. It is a tiring and humiliating process. From what I hear, the Turks try to humiliate you, to demonstrate their power. I did not want to go through that.
Probe: Are you referring to the passport control?
A: That is not so important: at the end of the day it is just papers. It is the whole process of waiting for visas, and their behaviour in general, according to what I hear. Once I proposed to my wife to go, and she said go on your own. And she is an AKEL supporter, and she has voted Yes.
A: Well it also the issue of security. Maybe we have an accident with the car. Imagine now, going to the court, we might even end up in jail.
Q: Do you think that Greece’s stance influenced the G/C?
A: I think that Greece’s stance was tilting towards a Yes vote. They want to rid themselves of the headache of Cyprus.
Q: Why did the G/C not listen to Greece?
A: Greece sees things from the national perspective, its relations with Turkey. It is not really interested if the lives of the Cypriots change, if the living standards drop. We were terrified with the idea of living standards dropping, among other things.
Probe: Why drop?
A: There were so many things against G/Cs in the plan. It would have required a huge effort by the g/c in the economic realm in order to develop the occupied part: compensations, construction works. This was big money. Would the foreigners have contributed millions or billions that were necessary? It would have been the state: the T/Cs are not in a position to contribute, so it was to be us. Could we have followed the other European states in the monetary union? We have a budget deficit now. The new state was not going to be economically viable.
Q: How do you see the future? The peace process has stalled. Do you believe it will start again? If yes who will do so, since the Secretary General refuses?
A: The will is there. At least by the two big parties, especially AKEL which wanted the solution even before DISI. Also the president wants the solution, one that will be functional and capable of providing security. The plan is there, like the previous plans. We cannot predict when or who: maybe in a year, two years, this secretary, the next one. The foreigners wanted the solution so badly. Why should they stop being interested? If the Cypriots ask for this plan again, with some minor changes, a solution is possible. Well the president opposes this, but who knows? I think that people feel safer now, in the EU, and if Turkey demonstrates an act of good will, withdraw some troops, or open up Famagusta, G/Cs will be more prepared to say yes. Nothing has finished, the end of the world has not come. If we had said Yes, it would have been final. The fear was that we could not have returned to the previous situation of the Republic of Cyprus, if the new state did not work out. Say there were incidents of violence and separation like in 1963. They would have closed the borders again, they would not even have needed to bring army, since it is there. Could we have maintained the state like in 1964 or would two states have been recognized?
Probe: How do you respond to the claim that our leadership pretends that it wants a solution so that it can continue to monopolize the control of the Republic of Cyprus? I am referring to the monopoly of legality that our state claims and demands.
A: One might say that, but I do not have a problem if T/Cs are in the government, although truth be told, the representation proportion in the plan was unbalanced. When DISI was in power, AKEL and DIKO considered them worse than the Turks. I personally do not see it that way, that we like to rule the state alone.
Interview 5: soldier on the green line
Q: What does the Cyprus problem mean for you?
A: It is an international problem of foreign invasion and occupation.
Q: How do you see the solution of the problem?
A: There cannot be a solution. We cannot coexist with the Turkish Cypriots, because the majority is not even Turkish Cypriots, they are settlers. Those pure t/c that remained, have close relationship with Denktas’ regime and his ghetto, which means that they want their own separate state, and also they want to enter into a partnership with us. That is already happening, they come to the free areas, work, have holidays and in the evening they go back. From our side we do not want them because we are also a people with history and cannot forget easily. We are not Americans. So a solution is unlikely.
Probe: So, is the status quo a solution?
A: The status quo was and is the victory of Turkey. The G/C and Greece wanted enosis, but Turkey and its allies have succeeded in imposing the partition.
Q: What did you vote in the referendum, and what were the main reasons that determined your decision?
A: I voted No, because I do not want a solution, I want freedom. Not necessarily the freedom of the arms, although there had been moments in history where this had been possible. Like in Crete for example, where they slaughtered them. I am a bit extremist, I do not believe that co-existence is possible. I cannot tell you that I want peace and love and am ready to forget everything. I am a realist. Take for example the Euro. Everybody was out cheering with the Greek flags. You cannot erase the Greekness of the Cypriots, with the neo-cypriotist ideas that they try to serve us. They cannot remake us. We are made Greek. Building some sort of relations with the Turks is not irrational, but those empty theories that we are brothers, I do not buy.
Probe: So am I entitled to the conclusion that you believe in two states living peacefully side by side?
A: Yes, in conjunction with a demilitarization agreement and guarantees for security for both communities. Since they cannot offer us the solution that we want and deserve with the rights and privileges that we are entitled to as a majority, what is possible now is this: two states living side by side. Maybe in the future this can change and we are able to go back to our homes.
Q: Was your decision in the referendum clear from the beginning, or did you shift as the peace process evolved?
A: No, it was clear from the beginning. Although if you examine the peace process as a whole, some of the earlier plans, were better in comparison to the last one that was unacceptable.
Probe: What made it unacceptable?
A: The economic demands of the T/Cs, the absence of security. The way they saw the solution in general: dominant in the north and partners in the south. We were to disband our army and they were going to do that in 18 years. And was to guarantee that? Turkey which has demonstrated its lack of good will, in the Aegean, in Smirni and in a thousand ways in modern history, if we want to stick to modern history.
Q: What other factors influenced the decision of the G/Cs, your friends, relatives, other soldiers?
A: Some voted No, because they were told so by their parties, some others voted No and Yes because of their economic interests. There are many factors but security and economics were primary.
Probe: What do you mean economic interests?
A: Well, take somebody like Lordos, who has a hotel in Famagusta. Of course he wants a solution irrespective of the fact that the people of Kyrenia will not return to their homes, or if violence breaks out. He has his millions deposited in foreign banks. He will leave. I have property in the area of Tymbou, around the airport. If I had thought my personal benefit, I would have voted Yes. There were other things: everything was arranged so that the British were to be able to take advantage of the natural gas resources. We are a protectorate already. The sole thing left to us is our pride. I do not agree with the position that we have to say Yes because the foreigners said so.
Q: What message did the g/c send to the international community with their vote, if they sent one?
A: We pay the politicians so that they can represent us, and explain to the foreigners the reasons why we said No. I believe that they tried. I do not know to what extent they were successful.
Q: How do evaluate the way in which our leadership handled the peace process?
A: Well this government is very different from the last one. Klerides was one of the architects of the federal model. He is the man of the Anglo-Americans, a very complying and yielding man, he would have accepted any solution. I do not know if it was him or his associates that ruled, I judge his policy as a whole. Tassos on the other hand is a more dynamic leader. Now the fact that he cried on television... well it was instrumental. He used all methods of persuasion: both the rational arguments and the appeal to emotion. He was persuasive and he was good. I agree with his approach, if I did not I would have judged him differently. Also he keeps a low profile and he is doing work, he is working hard.
Probe: To which direction is he doing work for: that of a two states solution?
A: He is doing work in the sense that he studied the plan and he knows it. He was not led by anybody. Now he is also playing it right: he said we will help the t/c economically: I do not know if he is going to do it.
Q: Should we help them?
A: Well, since we do not have an agreement guaranteeing our security, we have to do it even if we do not want this. The EU forces us anyway. We must help in the rise of their living standard, so that we do not face other sorts of problems. They might be coming here and committing burglaries for example. Border control is not very effective anyway. The rise of t/c living standards is a process that should take place gradually, the foreigners will help anyway.
Q: You mentioned Klerides before, as being ready to accept any solution. Do you think that if he was in power, could he have persuaded the people for this plan?
A: Yes of course. Some politicians become mythical figures, and Klerides is one of them. From the position of the presidency he could have persuaded the people.
Q: If Papadopoulos supported the plan, would the people have listened to him?
A: Are you asking me to compare them in terms of their powers of persuasion?
Q: Yes, I am interested in the role of the leadership in the acceptance or rejection of the plan.
A: Papadopoulos is a man we can trust, is a man I can trust although I did not vote for him. It is not enough just to say yes or no, it is all that comes with that: financial aid from the back door for seminars, what he did for the No.
Probe: Can you clarify that?
A: Well the citizens movement led by Timis Efthymiou, was funded by the Papadopoulos. It is the whole campaign, talking to clubs and associations, the people. If he did a campaign for the yes, rather than for the No people will have voted Yes. Also the Church played a role for the No: calling the plan a satanic one, the old ladies in the villages are influenced.
Q: What do you think about the opening of the borders? Did you go to other side?
A: Yes I went once, I wanted to see what there is behind that mountain. It is a positive thing, because people are able to go and see their places, see our churches. But there is also bad things: drugs come through, some people go to the other extreme, and go to gamble in the casinos of Turkey, which is different from going to the restaurant of a T/c and give him money which he needs, some others forget everything and go to the beach where the invasion took place. We should not forget so easily, we are not allowed to forget so easily.
Q: Have you met any T/Cs?
A: Yes I met three women and a man. Well it is not that there is any problem, but we are different, we think differently. It is not the religion that separates us it is the culture.
Probe: And that makes us unable to co-exist in the same state?
A: If we were in England, there would have been no problem, if there was a t/c next to you. But here with all those peoples looking over us trying to take advantage of every inch of this territory, and us who are trying to walk straight, we are not in a position to carry the t/c with us. This place is not enough for both of us. I cannot go on a holiday trip in the place were they have slaughtered my family. And I cannot take a T/C to Kofinou, where we have slaughtered them.
Probe: So we cannot overcome the past?
A: I told you, we are not Americans. We have history, we are on this island for thousands of years. The conquerors and their left-overs cannot be put on the same level with us, because some conditions have allowed them to create their pseudo-state. We recognize those that were born here as Cypriots, but that does not mean that they are entitled to exist as a separate entity, with equal rights. At the end of the day, what are they? The left overs of a conquering power.
Q: What is the role of Greece in the solution of the Cyprus problem? Is it a Greco-Turkish affair that can be resolved in the context of a Greco-Turkish compromise? Also, to what extent did Greece’s stance influence the G/Cs?
A: Greece did the right thing. It did not attempt to impose its position on us, it said: the decision is yours, we will support you whatever you say. Now Greece lacks the power to enforce a solution. We should not forget that it is an American protectorate as well. Its foreign policy is not really relevant, decisions are taken else where. The only thing we could have done is what we did: say No. Now if they bring us another solution and impose it on us, we cannot do much: either we will migrate, or we will be converted into a sort of Palestine: throwing stones at tanks. I do not believe that it a matter of Greco-Turkish compromise: how can that be? Greece forcing us to agree, or Turkey withdrawing and receiving territory elsewhere? It is not in our interest to convert it into a Greco-Turkish issue because Greece is too weak and the compromise will be against us.
Q: You mentioned before the foreign interests involved. Some people say that the new state would have been a protectorate. How does that differ from the current situation?
A: Essentially, it does not differ. The only thing at question, was the maintenance of our pride. We are not in a position to negotiate, and we will not be in the near future. Everything is controlled by the US.
Q: So there cannot be a negotiated settlement.
A: As I told you before, the only agreement possible is demilitarization and two state solution with some security guarantees. Maybe we mix in the future and the borders are destroyed. Maybe in the end they succeed in making us all Turks, or maybe we will throw them into the sea. But rather than accepting that solution which was destined to be a disaster, it is better to leave things open.
Q: What was the prevailing climate in the army? You are on the green line, but you must have heard what was going on in the barracks. Were there discussions, did the officers say anything?
A: Well politics is forbidden in the army. They told us to decide with pride, but that we should not be influenced by anybody, and that we should know why we vote for what we do. Well I also heard in the Special Forces that they were ready to start a war, but I do not know, it might be just rumors.
Probe: What about those soldiers like yourself that have one more year to go. Were you/they not considering to vote Yes, so that you/they do not have to be in the army anymore?
A: Fortunately this attitude did not prevail. Some did think about that, but it was not a significant criterion. Well the officers were against the plan, logically also because they were bound to lose their jobs, but they did not try to force a negative stance.
Interview 6: member of DISI political bureau (ex DIKO MP)
Q: What does the Cyprus problem mean for you? What constitutes it as a problem?
A: It is a permanent gangrene that makes Cyprus suffer as early as 1960 as a consequence of the involvement of Great Power interests and Greece. When we have in mind the first and second world wars at certain points in time Cyprus was offered to Greece in exchange for its aid to the Allies’ effort, we understand that the problem exists and it will continue to exist because this serves interests.
Q: Whose interests?
A: Great Power interests, whose conflict is expressed through the vetoing of a specific solution. Also some political powers in Cyprus must survive, and in order for this to happen the division of the people must remain. If the Cyprus problem is resolved, the policy that we were pursuing both before and after 1974, must change and those politicians that base their power on populist electoral strategies must change their slogans. So within the internal front, the maintenance of the problem serves interests.
Q: How do you understand the solution of the problem?
A: This is a big question.
Q: Beyond the politicians and their interests, there are people who say that the status quo is the solution. How do you respond?
A: A lot of people are settled with things as they are. They feel economically secure and are not prepared to risk that. They believe that what they have is secure after our entry in the EU and do not want to enter into new adventures. What good is it to me, if they give me back my house since I do not intend to relocate there and in any case it will be too expensive to rebuild it anew. There are people who are settled and feel secure and do not want to enter into a situation which they cannot predict. There is also the luck of trust towards Turkey, people do not believe that Turkey will implement its promises. There are others who believe that the economic development of the north will bring the economic decline of the south.
Probe: But the north is being developed anyway, as we witness now. Why did people not see that the north was bound to be developed with or without a solution?
A: Some people did see that, but certain leaderships preferred to stay in power, rather than make the big step towards a solution, which certainly was not fair seen from our perspective in the sense that it did not guarantee fully our rights, we cannot deny that, but which is better from the status quo. In the difficult and historical moments that we are going through, the leaderships of the parties, or rather some leaders proved to be wanting.
Q: Can we co-exist with the T/C in the same state? Some people are afraid that trouble might begin again.
A: Yes we can. In all solutions between states, following wars or conflicts nobody can guarantee that there will be 100% security. However, the opening of the borders has demonstrated that we can live together and that in order for trouble to start, a concerted and intended provocation must be engineered. In the Anan Plan, any potential political conflict was to be relegated to the constitutional court where the judges were to act as the referee. However we are in the 21st century. Turkey is becoming European. If we are to live our conflict-laden past behind we must give space to hope and make the big step forward. We cannot know in advance if it is going to work out. The other perspective says: why should I sign something which is uncertain? I am optimistic however and believe that if we try we can make the unified Cyprus a social paradise.
Q: DISI came out for a Yes. However it was unable to convince its own voters since only 35% of them followed the leadership. Why?
A: I mentioned the reasons above. Also the government skillfully undermined DISI’s leadership and pursued a policy of reinforcing people’s fears and uncertainties so that the climate which prevailed was able to prevail. We saw what happened in the civil service. This is a small place and things become known, even if they deny them. Both in the army and the civil service people were afraid that they were going to lose their pensions as a result of the new political order. Also within DISI there is the tendency of the EOKA people who have their different perspective and there was the fraction who led the movement against the party leadership. Also at certain points DISI leadership appeared too stubborn in favor of the Yes and this provoked opposition. It must be said however that DISI leadership was not afraid of the political cost of its decision since all the other leaderships were strongly in favor of the No, and this is a positive thing.
Q: Many people, both leaders and voters mentioned the time factor. They felt they were effectively pressurized to decide too quickly on such a big issue. Why were the g/c not ready for the big compromise?
A: They were not ready because many politicians viewed the situation as: we go to negotiations and like the old times, the Turks will rescue us by rejecting the peace process. They did not prepare the people for the compromise and it is not an excuse that they did not have time to do so. The Anan Plan has been around for a long time and it was not an issue of time. The leaderships did not believe in the Plan, and skillfully exploited and wanted the people not to be ready. The President himself did not believe that the Turks were going to come with propositions and that they wanted a solution. All this resulted in the people voting No and the leadership being able to say that it was the people who rejected the Plan.
Q: So how do you see the way the leadership handled the peace process? Did it make mistakes, which trapped it?
A: I believe that our side did not negotiate well. It did not ask what it should have asked and in the way it should have asked it. We went in the negotiations with the sole aim not to sign anything. This is my personal position, knowing the mentalities, especially that of Papadopoullos, whom I know personally for many years. He does not want a solution: he prefers partition rather than a solution. I was also very disappointed with Hristofias, who I had credited with more foresight. He preferred to stay in power rather than proceed to a solution. AKEL was the first party that proclaimed the principle of rapprochement and was not consistent with its history and previous choices. It was punished for that in the Euro-elections. It is a fact that the people were confused with the middle of the road stance of AKEL in the referendum. There were also things that could have been given to us so that the prevailing feeling of insecurity could have been overcome. For example the territory that was to be returned could have passed under UN jurisdiction. This could have been accepted both by the UN and Turkey. The Anglo-Americans could have done more to help the Cypriot people to say Yes. However the fact remains that we went to Loukerni not with the aim to find a solution.
Q: If the leadership promoted the plan, could it have been accepted?
A: If it made an effort in the last four five months, yes of course. The president’s speech did influence the people significantly.
Q: What about the Church?
A: I am not sure to what extent, but it is a fact that there were No leaflets distributed inside the Churches, the statement about hell that awaits the Yes voters. This did influence old and less educated people. The main thing that remains is our decadence as political and ecclesiastical leadership that takes us back to the 1960-74 period. The coup and the invasion happened. There are people that ought to have been punished for that. It was Makarios himself that forgave them. Yet people today continue to bring these issues up with the sole aim of dividing the people. For those reasons, I cannot see a solution. The solution it seems is the status quo.
Q: What message did the g/c send to the international community with their vote?
A: The international community is still unable to understand the No. For all those years we were pleading for their involvement, the UN the EU, to give us some proposals. This was the most completed settlement we had ever. We were so close to a solution and yet we said No. The Europeans cannot understand that: they say there was a war in 1974 which we lost, they say also there was another war in 1963, we do not count that as a war, well the bi-communal conflict resulted in the worsening of the position of the cohabitant element. We have to move forward and we should see how we can co-exist. They do not see justice, the way we see it.
Probe: Why are not these messages understood by the g/c?
A: Because we are re-living the epoch of NATO-CIA-BETRAYAL, that prevailed in the 1960-74 period. Why should the foreigners impose a solution on us? How can we survive in an epoch when a state cannot survive without alliances? The world has been divided in zones/spheres of influence. We belong to the American sphere. That does not mean that we ought to do everything the US says. However what are our choices? To stay isolated? Can we face the political and economic consequences of that? Or continue shouting Greece of the Christian Greeks? And pretending to be patriotic because we voted No? The vision of unification is missing. The world is now becoming one. Nationalisms are being outdated, and the conflicts between peoples are being bridged. Can we not visualize a state where the ethnic differences are maintained without being a source of conflict? The issue of majority-minority relations is crucial, but why cannot we solve it?
Probe: Some g/c say: we are the majority, why should we be equated with them?
A: In the 1960 agreement, T/C are not considered a minority but a community. In all countries minority communities have the same collective rights as the majority, even if they are not able to elect the president or have numerical equality in parliament.
Probe: Can we overcome the nationalist discourse, which also prevails in education and does not allow us to accept that?
A: This had been overcome. It had been accepted. It is now, after the referendum that nationalist phenomena are being observed.
Q: What do you think about the opening of the borders? Did you go?
A: It is a very positive thing. I went to the house that I grew up. Feelings were mixed: I felt joy, and disappointment. I felt that I had lost 30 years of my life, a radical break between my childhood and today. I felt injustice because in my house there are settlers. It is a very hard thing to accept, that that place as shaped through my history is forever gone. On the other hand, settlers have been in my house since 1976. Children were born there. It is their house. These are hard questions. I cannot say I am happy when I go there. I feel it is my place, yet I know it is also their place. So when I go to the occupied area, I do not always pass from my house.
Q: The settlers issue is crucial. How can we transcend the statist approach that sees these people as the extension of the Turkish state and a potential threat for Cypriot security?
A: This depends on the attitudes that the leadership promotes. All the parties and even the Turkish Cypriots must view them differently. According to the Anan Plan, half of them were bound to leave. You cannot tell people that were born here, people that got married here to leave, because they entered illegally. Europe views the issue as a humanitarian one.
Q: There are people who say that we want and deserve a European solution. What does that mean?
A: I do not understand that. There are European countries within the borders of which there are armies from other countries. Ireland and the UK are EU members. Yet in Northern Ireland there are conflicts. Europe cannot and will not solve problems between communities, majorities and minorities. Europe can and does solve security issues from external threats. Europe considers that all the people that reside in a country, whatever the history of their entry have the same rights. It will not say that there has been an invasion in 1974 which caused the changes. It sees the situation as it exists today.
Q: The feeling of insecurity of the g/c is partly a result of the guarantor status of Turkey. Why could not the European Union rather than the motherlands and Britain guarantee the agreement and the security of the Turkish Cypriots?
A: The EU did not accept that. That was something that indeed did not satisfy our side. There were other things. The Plan was not perfect. However what can we do now? They say that the future and the EU will bring a solution despite the fact that we rejected the Anan Plan. How can that be? Look at the measures that the EU takes with respect to the t/c. Gradually they are being recognized. What do we want?
Q: Some say the market will solve the problem, even in the absence of an agreement.
A: Yes there are real estate agents that are involved in joint ventures in the North. Is that what we want?
Probe: This might be what some want. I do not think that there is a general want or a national strategy.
A: No, there is not. Because there is a lack of politics. The National Council not managed to agree on two, three, eight points that need to be changed in the plan.
Probe: But in the National Council, NEO is anti-federationist. Can there be an agreement?
A: Only through majority vote. It is down to AKEL to cooperate with DISI if a solution is to take place, but I do not think that there will be a solution.
Q: Do you think that an alliance between AKEL and DISI is possible given the historical distance?
A: I do not know the intension of AKEL’s leadership, but DISI is ready to cooperate on the Cyprus issue.
Q: How do you respond to the comment that the new state was to be a protectorate?
A: The British bases are there since 1960. This is cheap politics, that aims to rouse passions. We do not like the bases, but do we understand what is possible and what is not? Some people obviously do not. They talk about national dignity. What is this national dignity that says that we should kill the Turks, or drive them out? They are here since 1571. Some people have not realized that yet. Makarios was under pressure when he signed the 1960 agreement, but at the end of the day he did the right thing. What was wrong was that we did not believe in that agreement. We were talking about enosis in some environments, about independence in others, about the driving out of the Turks in others. Instead of making the 1960 agreement work, despite all its problems, since we knew Turkey’s ambitions in Cyprus, we could not see beyond our personal ambitions. Even today we do not know what we want.
Probe: Does Papadopoullos know what he wants?
A: Yes, he wants two separate states.
Q: Why does he not come out and say it?
A: He cannot. The majority of the g/c opposes that.
Q: Does AKEL want partition as well?
A: No, they just want to stay in power.
Probe: That goes for all politicians. But…
A: DISI has responsibility as well, all those slogans, all those years. Myself as well is to blame. There were times when I was less politically mature. We used to say: our borders are in Kyrenia. The Cypriot people were not inculcated to conceptualize the issues on the right basis. What does that slogan mean today? That it is better to have a piece of land in Kyrenia, either for me or my children after some years as a reference point, that there are also Greeks in that area, rather than today when this is not the case.
Q: Did the stance of Greece influence the g/c in their decision?
A: The stance of Greece was not clear. It was a Yes, but. The government of Karamanlis did not want to take responsibility, having also the memories of the 1960. Greece does not have a fundamental role to play in Cyprus. It has its priorities, its alliances, it can give some support to Cyprus but it cannot do much. It washes its hands, and I do not blame it. What can it do?
Probe: Well, even war was mentioned in previous times: united defense doctrine?
A: Yes, we used to think like that. Not now.
Q: Why did not the Yes campaign succeed? Was it its late timing in comparison with the No campaign?
A: It was also the limited financial resources. The No campaign was very costly.
Q: Who paid for that?
A: I do not have evidence, but it is being said that Lilikas’ (Minister of Trade) advertising agency contributed. Also the Church.
Interview 7- trainee teacher
Q: What does the Cyprus problem mean?
A: Well it emerged out of the events of 1974, when the island became partitioned into a g/c south and a t/c north each with its problems. They have been trying to find a solution for so many years, they were close this time but the effort failed.
Probe: What makes it a problem? Is the division in itself a problem?
A: The problem is the occupation. There were problems between the two communities before, each insisting on its nationality, the politicians made those worse.
Q: How do you understand the solution?
A: For so many years, we listen to the rhetoric for a just and viable solution. I cannot predict how a solution will be. I guess the two communities will remain different but share the same space.
Q: Is the status quo a solution.
A: Of course it is a solution. They are trying to find a better one. I do not know if they will succeed.
Q: Can we live with the t/c in the same state.
A: Yes, under conditions. It will take a lot of years for people to get used to this. We must learn to respect them and they should learn to respect us. There will be problems because there are nationalists. You do not know what might happen. Take the incident a few days ago: that crazy man who killed the child. It is like racism: some G/C do not like T/C and vice versa. It will take time for the people to overcome those mentalities. Then we can live together. Now it is difficult.
Q: How can we overcome those fears?
A: We need time together. There has to be toleration. There will be problems but we should not allow every small incident becoming politicized. The politicians need to find ways to help in that. They should not just say: ok we created a common state, that is it. They should try to promote the idea that we can live together. Not that we have to do it, but that we want to do it, and will do it. The T/C were born here: they are our compatriots.
Q: What did you vote in the referendum and what were the main reasons that determined your decision?
A: I voted No. I did not read the Plan, and I was influenced by what I heard. First of all, the Plan considered the two communities equal. How come? We are more than them. They should accept that they are a minority. Also it was the economic issue. The chairman of the central bank came out and said that this state was to collapse financially. He did not have an interest to say that. Also the Turkish troops were to remain. As if the British troops are not enough. Some people say that they were going to leave gradually. I do not believe that. Some sort of a base was to remain, like with Britain. There were other things, but the most important was that we are not ready. Some politicians also said that: about all this hurry, just before we entered Europe. If they bring this Plan later, with some changes, maybe it will pass.
Q: How can the G/C become ready?
A: Some confidence building measures, so that the two communities come together, at the individual as well as at the collective level, the nationalists become isolated and not be in a position to start trouble. The Greek and Turkish division is negative. We should all be Cypriots. This is the job of the politicians.
Q: How did you form your opinion? Did you change positions during the peace process?
A: I was No from the beginning, but I had doubts. In the end there was also the trend. I was watching television, and most were saying that it would have been catastrophic.
Q: What about it, was catastrophic? Political equality?
A: Not only that. Economics: because we are richer we are made to pay for the reconstruction of the other side. I was going to be taxed more than the t/c, in order to build t/c areas. Why should we take the burden?
Probe: Well one might respond that this is an investment that will benefit everybody in the long run.
A: I do not object. If the two economies were about equal in size, things would have been different. The t/c would not have accepted any plan 10 years ago. It is now, that we are entering the EU that they want reunification.
Q: What other reasons did you hear from friends, colleagues, relatives for rejecting the plan?
A: There were many reasons: economics, military, political. They were taking more than their size allowed for. Also the mentalities: they do not like us, we do not like them.
Q: Did g/c find the plan too divisive or too unificatory to accept?
A: That is not the issue. G/c saw that the plan harmed them.
Probe: Why? Because they had to pay?
A: There was the bitterness. They came, they did the wrong, the war, and now while we are trying to find justice, they come and take all those privileges. The President played a huge role. He influences a lot of people.
Q: What message did the g/c send to the international community?
A: There were many messages and many ways of reading them. One might say I am Greek I want union with Greece and I vote No. Another one, might say I hate the Turks, the t/c and I prefer partition. Another one might say I vote No because it is bad for my country. I do not know if our politicians send the right messages out: clarifying that it was a no to that plan, and not a partitionist No.
Q: How do you see the way the leadership handled the peace process as a whole, and how it handles events now?
A: The government took the decision that the plan was not good for this and that reason, and tried to transmit that message. Now, with the reactions from abroad the opposition comes out and says that we told you so. The foreigners think that we want partition, our politicians try to convince them that this is not the case. It was a big thing: them saying yes and we say no.
Q: Do you think that if the leadership promoted the plan, would it have passed?
A: The time was little. If the President said yes, almost every political leader was to say Yes, it would have passed.
Q: What do you think about the opening of the borders? Did you go to the North?
A: It is positive. It is a confidence building measure. Now a lot of money leaves from the south and goes to the north, and the government reacts. But the north must develop, so why not?
Q: Did you meet any T/C?
A: No, I went only once. I did not have the chance to meet anybody.
Q: What do you think is Greece’s role in the solution of the problem?
A: Greece advises. Especially after the referendum, they said it clearly: you are on your own. We support Turkey now, the traditional animosity between the two nations is not important anymore.
Q: How did Greece’s advice influence the G/Cs?
A: It did not.
Q: Is Ertogan’s government different from the previous ones? Can we trust it?
A: It seems that he tries. They need to change a lot of things in their state since they are entering the EU, and they know this. The army is still powerful though, it is the generals that set the parameters. Now with regards to Cyprus, they take advantage of our No, to achieve first economic development for the “pseudo state” and then they will try for recognition.
Q: How do you see the future? The peace process stalled. Can it start again? Under the auspices of whom?
A: For the time being there is nothing. I cannot predict the future? Now our politicians will try, but who will listen to them? I do not know if there can be another plan.
Probe: If there is not, then the status quo will continue. Is that a problem?
A: Look, when Vassiliou was president, and they suggested to give us Famagusta, and we shut up, I was ready to accept. Because it seems that we cannot have a solution. Every time an obstacle will come up. Eventually I believe partition will be the solution. Reunification will not succeed: always one side will complain.
Probe: Cannot we reach a compromise?
A: It is difficult. Thy tried that in 1960. We wanted enosis, they wanted partition, we ended up in an independent state. It did not even last 14 years, not even that. Trouble started in 1963. I think they will not succeed. That the situation will continue like that for many years.
Q: To what extent did the media influence the G/Cs?
A: It was the second most influential factor, after the President’s speech.
It was the whole way the presented things. For example the school children, coming out in the streets for the No, and it was the first item on the news. There was also so little time. People did not read the Plan. The media were leaning on the No side. People were afraid as well, that played a role.
Q: You mentioned the need for a change of mentalities before. You are a teacher. What is the role of education in that?
A: It is very important. I remember when I was in school, the “I do not forget” slogan, the bad Turks who took our land, the map with north Cyprus red and the south white, our dead, the mourning women. The teacher must explain to the child that, the t/c is a human being, like us. The education system must bring the two communities close. Organize travels to t/c schools, t/c schools visiting us. The future generation must not be so stuck as we are. Thinking that we are Turks, they are Greek, end of story. We are Cypriots.
Q: Do you believe that a Cypriot identity is possible?
A: It is possible and necessary. The two communities must not only come together, but also become one.
Probe: You mean that we should integrate them, absorb them?
A: No, but in the old times people did not have problems. My grandmother says that they were getting along with the Turks, she does not even call them t/c. They ate together, slept together, went to each others’ marriages. Why cannot we do that again? We must overcome nationalism gradually. Now the majority of people are stuck, even if they do not admit it, from both sides.
Probe: The British were ruling then. There was no issue of power sharing.
A: I see your point, but I am talking about interpersonal relations. I want to be able to go and sit in a coffee shop with t/c and talk with them, and not be stuck. Now we are stuck.
Q: Is the Anan Plan dead now?
A: No, any future plan will be a modified version of that. They have been working for years on it. They should make some changes, but first they need to persuade the people, prepare the ground, change the mentalities. Otherwise we will say no again.
Q: Why did you not go to the North, more than once?
A: I went out of curiosity. There are differences, I saw differences in the transport system, the conditions in general. I did not go to meet people. I do not know why. I do not feel comfortable, going as a visitor, I want to go and feel that it is my place. I do not want to be a tourist in my country. I do not have a problem with the people there. It is with the situation that I have a problem.
Probe: Why did you not go to meet teachers from the other side? How would mentalities change?
A: This should happen, it just did not.
Interview 8: student
-What does the Cyprus problem mean to you personally?
Q: It means so many things. Literally, it is the Turkish invasion and holding of land. Beyond this, for me personally, who am 24 years old, it is connected with a lot of things, there are a lot of references to the Cyprus problem, it is dominant in our life in Cyprus, everything revolves around it but then again it doesn’t really, that is, there’s the Cyprus problem and it is like a front that we ignore in our daily life but it is still there. Beyond that, for me it is something that does not allow us to move forward, that is, to arrange our priorities differently. It will always be the number one topic, whether we want to or not.
Q: How do you conceive the solution to the Cyprus problem, in general?
A: You have to start from the fact that historically and politically that the Greek Cypriot side (even though I don’t like this expression, but never mind) lost in a war. And there is a sense of justice, since a foreign country invaded another one for whatever reasons that we can analyse later; but everyone I think, do not expect anything that will extremely just. We expect that there might be consequences because of the defeat, because we are a small country, Turkey, and the power relations between us, and the others that have this problem. So I expect a solution based on compromise and perhaps one that pushes the compromise too much so is against us. Of-course it depends on your starting point if you consider it against us, but if I may speak objectively it will be against us to a certain degree: according to some principle of justice that we bear in our minds - we will have to give more than what is appropriate.
Q: Is the status quo the solution to the Cyprus problem?
A: The status quo is the de facto solution. I mean that we live with this situation. But I thought about this idea that a while ago I was rejecting of a two-states solution. For me, especially after the No- vote at the referendum gradually started to seem that it might be one of the best solutions. Rather than having this tumult in Cyprus it might be better to say that in Cyprus there are two states that will be working together since we live in a common land, and with a common agreement in the spirit of the European Union like we have with England or Greece. And we can be two very good neighbors.
Q: Can we co-exist under the same state?
A: Yes we can as long as we take our time. I mean that with the Anan plan we could have gotten together more or less but how would it have come about? It would come with a system of education that advanced different things, a culture, the family system, public meetings that all advanced different things and perhaps then, rightly so.
Q: Like what things?
A: Greece. That we are Greek Cypriots. And it bothers me to say ‘Turkish Cypriot’ or ‘Greek Cypriot’ because by definition you divide people in this way. No. We are Cypriots. Some speak Greek, some speak Turkish and maybe also some of them speak Greek as well. There is no ‘Turkish’ or ‘Greek’ in the ‘Cypriot’ because that means that you attach yourself to something else. Yes we can co-exist as long as we take things slowly and step by step and we view things objectively; and not emotionally charged by certain facts alongside with a system of education at schools so that you get raised in a certain way and even when you start realising certain things it is hard to escape that education because you are already carrying this baggage with you for say 18 years or maybe 15 or 16.
Q: What did you vote at the referendum and what were the main factors that influenced your decision?
A: I voted No because firstly, reading the Anan plan I formed the opinion that it was non-viable, that as a constitution for a state – from a scientific point of view – it wasn’t very good, that problems might have easily occurred. And secondly, because I didn’t like the way they advanced the plan to the people, and the pressure that was put, so that it would pass in a rush. I’m talking of the United Nations and others. For me this is a serious objection and I was even in a quandary over voting nothing or not. I didn’t do it in the end because I didn’t know if they even counted the blanc votes or not. But if there was a category of blank votes I might have done that instead.
Q: As the peace talks were developing did you change your opinion or were you firm from the beginning?
A: I first read the third version of the Anan plan that I found unacceptable. The same with the fifth version but after reading it for the second and third time I started viewing it differently; through seeing it from the point of view of a foreigner and is perhaps not subject to the passion that we are and prejudices that we might not be aware of holding. And I saw certain things that I could justify perhaps not a Greek speaking Cypriot but from the point of view of a foreigner. So from a strong No I moved to a weak No.
Q: Why did the Greek Cypriots reject the plan? What other reasons are there according to your encounters with Cypriots?
A: There are many reasons, not just one. But most rejected it because it wasn’t viable and the leadership also influenced people towards that direction; definitely Papadopoulos influenced people, and also the division in DISI with MPs leaving the party and siding with the No side very clearly. People held a momentum towards a No vote and this momentum was magnified by the leadership and the church to a large degree.
Q: How was this momentum created?
A: To advance the Anan plan first people have to get used to the idea. You can’t start from the slogans like ‘all refugees back home’, ‘international justice is being breeched’ or ‘I don’t forget’ and holding marches against the invasion (that I am in favour of in the same way that I am when it is held anywhere else in the world), and right after this to tell people: but there is also the Anan plan. The change in attitude was huge and took place in a very brief amount of time so it was hard for people to understand the plan. People knew that we were the victims and with the Anan plan you were told that you would be an idiot not to vote in favor. This had a negative impact on people, perhaps also subconsciously. You had to move from the slogan: ‘all refugees back home’ to the slogan: ‘I give it to them’ and not only that, but I pay for it. And this is also important I think, the economic side of the plan. If Anan wanted a successful plan he ought to have gotten a large funding resource. That way it would have been much easier to have the plan. Cypriots are used in affluence, and some worked hard to achieve this standard of living. Now, you have to tell them, go and pay so that Cyprus is a better place for your children or even grandchildren, well that’s hard to swallow.
Q: So you believe that the standard of living were to be reduced with the plan?
A: Definitely. It would be reduced. It’s the cost of a solution. It might have been reduced and then in the future increased. But as of a moment that there was a solution, because the occupied north part has a lower standard of living than that of the south part, and also because the loans offered by foreign powers were not large enough to cover the expenses, the island had to participate in the economic aid and assist in its development. So by definition, the standard of living would be reduced for us and would be increased for them. In the beginning it would go like this until a balance was achieved until we achieved equilibrium. In the long term I believe it would work, even though I’m not an economist, maybe in 50 or 20 years Cyprus could have a stable economy providing there weren’t any political mishaps in the meanwhile. Also, another issue is of the guarantors. It was very important for many people and me too. Especially Turkey as a guarantor power. And people were saying that it wasn’t even that important for Greece and England to be guarantor powers as long as turkey didn’t have guarantor powers.
Q: But the Greek Cypriots are the majority, and because of past history if there were no guarantors don’t you think it might have made the Turkish Cypriots feel insecure?
A: Yes, but this could be dealt with in a different way. Firstly, there could be an international force that could guarantee Turkish Cypriot safety and would be there only for them for a certain period of time. Definitely the Greek Cypriots did a lot of things to the Turkish Cypriots but I believe that possibly, the feeling of insecurity and danger that they feel is over the top. And perhaps it was in some people’s interests to develop this feeling of insecurity: that the Turkish Cypriots are threatened by us, the Greek Cypriots who have majority but also that we are in danger from Turkey. Each side has an enemy. So each side feels weak. The Turkish Cypriots by the strength of numbers and the Greek Cypriots by huge Turkey that is round the corner to Cyprus. These fears have been developed in us and serve a lot of purposes for the politicians and the guardians of power. If someone is afraid he is more easily controlled and turned into a puppet. But I don’t think the Turkish Cypriots would have any serious problems. After all, they’d have equal rights with us, and all of us, both them and us, would have to be incorporated within a common identity. The Turkish Cypriots would escape from the minority status and we would break free from the concept of a ‘Greek’ Cypriot and with time we would all become ‘Cypriots’ under a common state; so I don’t think the Turkish Cypriots would be under threat.
Q: What do you think about the way that the Greek Cypriot leadership handled the whole procedure?
A: They handled it with panic and without being calm at all. First of all, the great mistake in my opinion is that the leadership and the president agreed to negotiate the plan in only 20 days – a month’s time; they went to New York, came back and then wrapped it up in Burgenstock. He (the president) should have said: I refuse to put forward this dilemma in only 20 days and to have you say in the mean while that if I don’t vote for it I am in trouble. Of course in my opinion the people would never accept the Anan plan. Why this dilemma now though? For this plan to pass you need an education to back it up, so that people would realize that say in 3 – 4 months the Cyprus problem would be headed towards a solution. So every day we would take small steps and until say December there might be a solution. People were scared because everything took place so fast.
Q: Could it be handled differently? I mean is there another way to unite Cyprus rather that one day having a referendum and the next beginning the process for a united state?
A: Yes. The preparations leading up to the referendum should take more time. For example, the foreign interventions at the time that were aimed towards shifting the people towards a yes vote, accomplished just the opposite. Cypriots are weary against foreigners and when the American and English leaderships come out and keep insisting that you have to solve it, you have to solve it now, vote yes, vote yes, well this thing has a negative impact on the average Cypriot, he won’t trust them.
Q: If the Greek Cypriot leadership took a positive stance towards the Anan plan, do you think the Greek Cypriots might have voted in favor?
A: If AKEL said yes then definitely the amount of people voting yes would have been much larger: 35-40%. If Papadopoulos said yes, I still think that the yes vote was to prevail but by much less of a difference. That would be more dangerous. Think for example what would happen if the Anan plan got voted for by a 53% of the population, or even 50%. I think people would respect the outcome but that there would be tension. So even though I can’t say for sure, if Papadopoulos was in favour of the plan, the yes and no votes would be roughly the same but the no vote might have been slightly in the lead.
Q: Did you go to the North part? Did you meet Turkish Cypriots?
A: Yes I did go but I didn’t have any extended conversations with any of them. What one friend of mine who also went there said is that they, the Turkish Cypriots really want to feel accepted by you (the Greek Cypriot) and so are very friendly. You aren’t scared when going over there any more. For me the opening up of the borders is positive because before I lived in a country that only had a south part and now it has a north part. I can go to so many places I didn’t know before and I feel I can finally go there. And there were no episodes amongst the Turks and the Greeks so this can’t be bad at all.
Q: You tell me that the Greek Cypriots aren’t scared going to the North. But do you think they were scared about the referendum?
A: I believe they felt insecure. That they had felt secure they way things are. I haven’t worked nor have property but I saw this from my parents and their friends. That history might have repeated itself and Greek Cypriots weren’t willing to go through this again. They said: no, enough, no more. That is, a lot of people preferred division – the status quo: they can be over there and we can be here – instead of the Anan plan. That is, instead of a threat of bi-communal conflict of the 60’s or their standard of living that they supposedly worked hard for, to fall. And that is I feel that an extremely important reason was economics. Cypriots, like everyone else, look to the money. Cypriots went through so much things: slavery and foreign rule and now for the first time in history Cypriots aren’t slaves but command themselves to a certain degree. And they have certain freedom. Look at the nouveau-riche phenomenon, the big and expensive cars: Cypriots say that we can as well, that we are masters of ourselves. We have money, we can buy stuff, and we are rich just like you. So if a Cypriot is told that he has to give up his Mercedes and a lot of his possessions so that the new Cypriot government will be able to function how will he respond? No. Why should I give so that someone else does nothing? – He will say. That’s how they see it. Why should they give money so that others can develop what the Greek Cypriots lost before? And from one point of view, they are right. We are of a different generation and think differently but the older ones feel that they went through a lot, felt the injustice of the invasion and now want to be left at peace, especially if they have to pay.
Q: What is Greece’s role in the solution of the Cyprus problem? Did Greece influence Greek Cypriots?
A: Greece was playing hide and seek. She didn’t say anything clearly. I believe Greece got scared. Greece definitely wants a solution because she has a different approach to Turkey nowadays. The Cyprus problem is somewhat problematic to the effort to build communication bridges with Turkey even on a psychological level. But the average Greek is not generally concerned with Cyprus unless something is going on at the time. With the Anan plan there was a big tumult and I believe the leadership was too scared to declare clearly their position. So Karamanlis said that he was in favor of a yes vote but on the other hand would respect a no vote of the Greek Cypriots.
Q: Why didn’t Greek Cypriots listen to Karamanlis?
A: To a certain degree Greek Cypriots are suspicious of the Greeks and feel that the latter don’t care that much for Cyprus. But also most of the Greek leadership didn’t say anything clearly. So Cypriots ignored Greece because Greece didn’t take a strong stance.
Q: Is it our last chance? How do you see the future? Could there be a solution in the future?
A: For the next three years, I personally feel that nothing will happen. Maybe commerce will develop. Maybe there will be a last effort especially through the European Union. Perhaps there will be a two-states solution that in the future will be a better one and more viable. But as time goes on there won’t be a solution more in our favor from the point of view of the Greek Cypriots. Every plan is worse.
Interview 9: President of the Pancyprian Citizens Movement (leader of the No Campaign)
(he refused to allow me tape-record the conversation, and preferred instead to have a free discussion in which I could take notes: I will try to sum up our three hour discussion, and balance thematic and chronological order)
The Pancyprian Citizens’ Movement grew out of the Free Kyrenia Club and some other refugee associations as a spontaneous reaction against the publication of Anan Plan 1 on 11th November 2002. They were about 20-30 people and organized a rally for the 21st November where they expected 2000 people and eventually were surprised at seeing about 6000. MPs and Church leaders were invited to speak and members of DIKO, DISI, KISOS and NEO got involved but there was no real organization. I went to that rally and participated in the meetings, which took place about once a month. We knew each other, I know a lot of people, both in parties, in local government and in the state administration.
Most of those involved supported and campaigned for Papadopoullos, not openly though as PCM. I felt I could trust him much more than Clerides, who was the biggest gambler. Clerides could see Denktas’ cards without Denktas’ being able to see his. Papadopoullos I knew was to pursue a harder line, but then AKEL was there as well. Most people in the movement concluded that after Papadopoullos came to power there was no reason for us to exist, but I disagreed. I said that we needed to continue meeting but keep a low profile.
I had met Papadopoullos in 1995 through business. I came to admire him. He is a straight man: black and white, there is no grey. We had absolutely no contact during the process. Perhaps he assumed that with me in charge, there was nothing to worry about, that things were not going to get out of hand.
I was elected as president of the 23 member committee in July 2003. However I demanded that our effort should be serious, civilized and neutral from parties. Then it was the borders opening. There were suggestions that we organize rallies against this. Some even wanted to go and throw oranges against those that crossed. I was opposed to that and made myself clear. There were a few people from the PCM that crossed the borders for a project to rebuild a church and there were unfair criticisms against them. Nobody however went to the north for tourism. Extreme elements and people with prior loyalty to their party had to leave. On the borders’ issue we took a majority decision not to take a stance.
We would have liked to have had contacts with t/c. Some t/c came over and talked with us as individuals as they understood that we could not go to the north. But at the end of the day it is them that have to make the choice: either with us or Turkey. The conflict with the Turks began in 1571, not in 1950, or 1930 or 1920. They had killed 20000 Greeks then. Turkish Cypriots did not come from Turkey but were Greeks that had converted into Islam. However it is not blood that matters, but culture. Since they adopted the Turkish culture they are Turks. I do not say we should expel them, kill them or Hellenize them. That is both wrong and impossible. We should tolerate them and they should tolerate us. For example they should not celebrate the capture of Constantinople and we should not celebrate the capture of Tripolitsa. I am ready to forgive them, though not those that committed crimes such as those in 1996. Cyprus has been Greek throughout its history. We constitute 80% of population. The Turks are a minority: they should accept that. It is not conceivable that 1 T/C vote counts as 5 G/C votes. Why not a G/C vote for a T/C and vice versa? I do not care about the ethnic group of the president of Cyprus. I want to have the right to vote for a t/c if I believe that he is capable and a t/c should have the right to vote for a g/c.
The Anan Plan was rejected for both political and historical reasons. The political reasons concern its disfunctionality and the historical consist of its legalization of the enforced separation. It was a plan that forced the people of Cyprus to live separately. The risk for our dehellenization was present, since G/C politicians were bound to move to concessions to appease Turkey, but there would have been resistance from others.
This plan was worse than the 1960 one. It was a plan that served the interests of those who created the problem: the Anglo-Americans. Things have not changed much geopolitically since. Turkey wants to be a hegemonic power in the area, still. I do not know if it wants to conquer Cyprus. Things are improving with the rapprochement with Greece. But it is a long process. It is in our interests that Turkey enters the EU tomorrow. We do not want another war. War is a terrible thing, I lost my comrades in 1974, I was an officer and had been sent somewhere, and all the men in my platoon are missing since. I feel so bad, guilty for not being with them. Every year in the period between 15th July and 20th August I am not well: so is the majority of g/c even if they do not show it.
I think that as time passes things become worse. But the plan had to be rejected. Maybe the EU can induce some change. This is because it is an institution that observes laws with religiosity. Every time they attempt to take a political measure that boosts the legality of the North they find the laws of the EU preventing them.
The UN is a non functioning institution. This has been proven during the war in Yugoslavia. I did not understand what went on with the Iraq war, things were strange, but in the war in Yugoslavia it proved its impotence. It definitely was not behind the Anan Plan. In the writing of the Anan Plan, British cynicism was evident in the “constructive ambiguities”. It is more correct to call it Lord David Haney Plan. I was shocked when I woke up that day and read it. I expected something more European: nobody can prevent anybody from enjoying his property. You cannot restrict property rights. It was a mistake that g/c touched t/c properties in the south. Now all the t/c and settlers should move out from our properties and take back theirs. Those that do not have, should be given a loan by the government to buy one, and there is plenty of state land, where state housing can be built and given to them.
The New York Agreement was a complete shock to us. We were organizing a party for May 1st. We were expecting the President to postpone negotiations, and he ended up agreeing in the procedure culminating in a double referendum. We started having meetings everyday. We set up our scientific team, and started organizing first academics and then politicians since we understood that we could not have done this alone. I met Lyssarides and the Bishop of Paphos. He gave us money, but not as much as people say he did and not as much as we wrongly expected. A lot of people contributed money: I would say about 500. Most of the money was given by a resident of Britain, who had also put a lot of effort in. Also many publishing houses were offering us low prices, the state channel allowed us inform the public for free at the beginning but then begun charging us. We did not know at the time the extent to which our views resonated in society.
We did a lot of organizational work in late February, and had 2 rallies: one on 21st March and another on 3rd April. The majority of people were very puzzled and unsure. The British say: “when in doubt leave it out”. This was a huge decision. We had to be sure about it. That is why I suggested that a 2/3 majority should have been made necessary for it to pass. This is not just about us, it is also about our children, the future. Many people were persuaded about that. Better to wait and find a just and proper solution in the future. Why this hurry? Why should we be so egoists and demand a closing of the issue in our lifetime? The younger generation should not be punished for the mistakes of Grivas and Makarios. Perhaps our children could learn to live in harmony: like Europeans. Maybe we can have mixed marriages as well. Perhaps we see a proper solution in our lifetime. For that to happen, we must communicate with the t/c, and transmit our knowledge to them. We travel abroad, we developed and have modernized. They need to learn from us. Of course we have extremists and nationalists. But if they constitute 5% in south, they constitute 35% in the north.
Some say we must accept the realities, and accept a painful solution. This is soviet politics, communist theorizations that level everything. Or ultra capitalist mentalities for whom dignity has no value whatsoever. It was those two extremes that wanted the plan.
Things are simple: what do we give? And what do we take?
We give them state-hood. They were promising to give us some land, with no guarantees about that. We were going to dissolve our state. What if the new “state” did not work out? Were we going to beg around for a state? We have a state now. This is our only security.
After the president made his speech, the Supra Party Coalition was formed. All those that were loyal to their parties and avoided taking a stance, came out for the No. However our effort in the period prior to that had been significant in tilting the balance. The president’s speech sealed it. AKEL was the last party to take a stance, even a couple of days before, it was wavering. There was not a single AKEL member or supporter involved in our movement.
Time will show if we did the right thing, our duty towards homeland, or if we mislead the people.
1 I appropriate Hechter’s idea that boundaries between groups initially flow from institutions of control in opposition to Smith which emphasises the role of pre-existing social identities
2 For historical reasons: the cultural division of labor during the Ottoman times into Muslim administrators and Christian merchants.
3 Dire economic conditions following the 1929 crisis were instrumental in provoking the riots
4 This was carried out by paramilitary groups with close ties to the official political leaderships and nobody has been tried
5 He combined nationalist intransigence, political authoritarianism and immense popularity
6 The Guardian, 12 March 2003
7 The Cyprus Problem, (Press Information Office, Republic of Cyprus, 1999) p.4
8 Cyprus: no man is an island, (Press Information Office, Republic of Cyprus, 2003) p.4
9 President’s speech for the referendum, p.12
10 President’s speech, p.8
11 Spring Survey 2004: G/Cs, T/Cs and the future: the day after the referendum
12 Two G/Cs died while demonstrating on the green line, one beaten to death, and the other shot while trying to down the Turkish flag.
13 I do not forget and I fight, (Ministry of Education, 2000) p.10
14 Charavgi, 9th March, p.4 Turkish propaganda is not a guarantee for a viable solution
15 Simerini 14th March, Settlers: a long term burden
16 Simerini 4th April, In the mercy of the settlers (front page)
17 The “danger” of settlers being present in the federal government was a central issue of the No campaign
18 Politis 10th April, Phenomena
19 President’s speech p.5
20 President’s speech p.6
21 President’s speech p.11
22 Political advertisement Pancyprian Citizens Movement
23 Charavgi, 14th April Proposal of Central Committee to Party Congress,
24 To Vima, 25th April, From the Macedonian fiasco to the Cyprus deadlock
25 Political advertisement, Voice of the People
26 President’s speech p.6
27 Vassiliou, Reply to the President, p.7
28 Simerini 21st March p.8, The Greeks serfs of the Turks
29 Simerini 10th April, Front page, Government: the future of civil servants is hanging in the air
30 President’s speech, p.6
31 The classic phenomenon of the bubble with the consequence of a major redistribution from small investors to big players with inside information.
32 Spring Survey 2004, p.2
33 President’s speech p. 12
34 Politis 13th June, General Secretary Report to the Security Council
35 Phileleftheros, 27th March, Interview with Trade Minister
36 President’s speech p.9
37 President’s speech p.10
38 A product of the historical military alliance between the US and Turkey as well as the current wave of global anti-Bushism
39 Charavgi 12th March, editor’s column
40 Simerini, 6th April, Resistance
41 Filelephtheros 19th March, Incompatibility of Annan Plan and EU in Cyprus
42 All television channels were predisposed towards the No. Kofi Annan notes that none was interested to cooperate with a T/C channel in producing a program where citizens could address questions to a UN representative about the Plan. According to Television Authority statistics in Politis 23rd April, time allocated to No supporters was double to that of the Yes supporters.
43 Article 4, Pancyprian Citizens Movement
44 Article 4, Pancyprian Citizens Movement
45 Pancyprian Citizens Movement, leaflet
46 Philelephtheros 3rd April, Defending the bases of European civilization
47 Charavgi, 16th March, Annan Plan: the creation of a regime of ethnic discrimination
48 After nineteen years, the G/Cs in the T/C state could reach up to 33% of its population.
49 Philelephtheros 19th March, Incompatibility of Annan Plan and EU in Cyprus
50 Philelephtheros 19th March, Incompatibility of Annan Plan and EU in Cyprus
51 Kofi Annan’s report to the Security Council in Politis 13th June