Reflections on the Report

The Cyprus Stalemate: What Next?”

International Crisis Group

Europe Report N°171 – 8 March 2006


by Andreas Theophanous, Professor of Political Economy and Director General of the Center


The International Crisis Group’s Report on Cyprus entitled “The Cyprus Stalemate: What Next?”, (March 8, 2006) appears to have a particular political agenda, contains serious inaccuracies, is often misleading and entails a hidden attempt of historical revisionism.  The Report adopts a strongly pro-Turkish attitude whilst it is vindictive, insulting and patronizing towards the Greek Cypriots.


It addresses the Cyprus question as if it is exclusively an intercommunal problem ignoring the invasion and continuing occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkey.  Indeed, Turkey is portrayed as a third party to the conflict.  According to the Report, Ankara is doing its best for a settlement and has to put up “with the intransigence of President Papadopoulos”.  The Report acknowledges though that over time it was the Greek Cypriots who wanted a solution and that the Turkish-Cypriot side wished to maintain the status quo.  Yet, the authors note, it was the Greek Cypriots who overwhelmingly voted No and the Turkish Cypriots who voted Yes.  It does not occur to the authors of the Report that perhaps it was because the Annan Plan was so biased and unbalanced that led to the resounding Greek-Cypriot No (76%) and the Turkish-Cypriot (and settlers’) Yes (65%).


The Report is academically misleading and inaccurate.  For example, it asserts that for Greek-Cypriot historiography “the period between 1963 and 1974 is completely ignored, giving an impression that the ethnic communities coexisted harmoniously” (p.8).  This allegation is completely unfounded.  The authors of the study cite former President Clerides who has dealt extensively with the period 1963-1974 without (it appears) even having read the books they cite![1]  And there are more sources that they could consult (i.e. Stanley Kyriakides and Miltiades Christodoulou).[2]

Moreover, the Report uses essentially pro-Annan Plan sources (for example, David Hannay, Nathalie Tocci).[3]  And the Greek Cypriot sources that the authors of the Report use, take views which are not mainstream (Yiannis Papadakis, Caesar Mavratsas).[4]  Had the authors of the Report read other books or papers (for example Claire Palley, Stanley Kyriakides, Constantinos Chrysogonos, Andreas Theophanous)[5] perhaps they would have a more comprehensive approach.


The authors of the Report blame President Papadopoulos for having led the public opinion to the NO position.  They ignore that the polls indicated from the time of the submission of Annan Plan I in November 2002 a strong public reaction to it despite the fact that it was accepted as a basis for negotiations by almost all of the political parties.  Moreover, the NO campaign started a few days after the submission of Annan I – when all but two small parties were in favor of the Annan plan as a basis for negotiations; and it was not the political parties that urged people to vote against the Plan: it was rather public opinion that influenced the opinion of the parties.  It is worthwhile noting that the voters of the Democratic Rally voted (by 66%) against the recommendation (for a Yes vote) of their party leader as well as of the historical leader, founder of the party and former President Glafkos Clerides.


The Report does not analyze the reasons for the rejection.  Instead, it insists that the Annan Plan constitutes the only basis for a solution.  The Report ignores the view that the Annan Plan provided a solution which worsened the status quo for the Greek Cypriots.  Moreover, its major objective was to facilitate Turkey’s European ambitions, absolving Turkey of its responsibilities in Cyprus.  Instead of Turkey having to change its Cyprus policy, the Annan Plan was essentially requesting the Greek Cypriots to conform to the objectives of Ankara.


The authors of the Report recommendation to Ankara is to proceed with “limited withdrawal of troops to the extent that Turkey’s interests are not threatened in Cyprus” (p. iii).  Perhaps they should compare and contrast the stance of the US and the EU on Syria and Lebanon.  We should be reminded that Syria was asked to withdraw its troops from Lebanon (unconditionally) by the USA and the EU in early 2005.  That is not to suggest that Lebanon and Cyprus constitute two identical or even similar cases.


Furthermore, for the authors of the Report, the Turkish Cypriots appear to be the biggest victims, who over time have been and remained isolated and deprived of opportunities and economic prosperity.  They therefore suggest that the time has come for them to be compensated for this, by terminating their “isolation”.  They seem to ignore that following the partial lifting of restrictions to free movement the socio-economic conditions in the northern part of Cyprus have drastically changed.  Greek Cypriots have in various ways greatly contributed to the improvement of the economy of the northern part of Cyprus.  Furthermore, it is important to note that by April 2005, 57.291 Turkish Cypriots acquired the I.D. of the Republic of Cyprus and 29.544 acquired passports.  There were also 155.985 applications for birth certificates.  In addition, around 10.000 Turkish Cypriots are currently working in the government-controlled area.  Whatever form of isolation exists, it is due to the Turkish invasion and the continuing occupation of the northern part of the island.


Furthermore, some of the suggestions made in the Report are unrealistic. For example, the authors of the Report suggest that “Turkish Cypriots should address through their government the outstanding property cases, harmonize laws and practices in line with the EU’s acquis communautaire, extend de facto the EU-Turkey Customs Union to the north and encourage Turkey to reduce its military presence as well as the number of Turkish settlers from the mainland who have migrated to the northern part of the island in the past three decades” (p.3). The authors ignore the fact that the Turkish-Cypriot leadership cannot reach any major decision without the consent of Ankara, and that Ankara is the actual decision-maker for the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”).


The issue of the opening of the Varoshia area is also advanced in the Report. The authors suggest “the Turkish Cypriots could offer to refurbish Varosha with international financial support and then return properties to the lawful Greek Cypriot owners. This would both act as a powerful confidence-building measure and boost Turkish-Cypriot development as a result of the reconstruction. However, Greek Cypriots would be returning under Turkish-Cypriot administration, until a comprehensive agreement took effect” (p.30). Again, if it is to be a confidence-building measure Varoshia should be handed to its lawful owners, the Greek Cypriots.  Such a step would truly create a new climate.


The authors of the Report regret that among the Greek Cypriots the strongest No was among the younger generation.  The young Greek Cypriots would like to live together with their Turkish-Cypriot compatriots but they were / are not willing to accept a solution that would make them second class citizens.  They felt, like most Greek Cypriots, that the proposed solution made the status quo look like a dream!  In this respect it is important to understand that Annan Plan V in essence would be legitimizing the outcome of 1974 and, simultaneously, would, to a great extent, negate and reverse Cyprus’ accession to the EU.


The Report makes several recommendations for the development of the northern part of Cyprus.  In one way or another the implementation of the recommendations would inevitably also advance the status of “TRNC”.  The authors also dismiss the concerns of the Greek-Cypriot leadership “that trade and the ensuing economic development in the north (independent of the south) would reduce Turkish Cypriot incentives to seek reunification” (p.20).  The Greek-Cypriot concerns are valid: if Turkish Cypriots see their economy improve substantially and the current situation receiving a form of legitimacy, what is their incentive to give back land to the lawful Greek Cypriot owners?  The authors of the Report put forward the view that even if there is no breakthrough, it is better for the Greek Cypriots to have next to them a legitimate and prosperous entity.


There are also recommendations for Greece: “to suspend the Joint Defence Space Doctrine, cease joint military activities with the Greek Cypriots and stop participating in the operations and staffing of the Cypriot National Guard” (p.3). Part of the problem in Cyprus is the imbalance of power, which in any case is not affected by the minimal military presence of Greece.  A bold step that Greece could take, is to suggest that the system of guarantor powers has failed and suggest a new approach.


Moreover, the authors suggest that Greece should “proactively support pro-settlement voices among Greek Cypriot politicians and civil society and actively support reopening the negotiations based on the Annan Plan.”  But isn’t this a recommendation for involvement in the internal affairs of Cyprus and ignoring the will of the people?  The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the EU – it has a unique democratic system in the Eastern Mediterranean and people have judgement.  It should be noted that Cyprus has one of the highest turnouts of voters in the world.


The authors stick to the position that “the best-case outcome, manifestly in the interests of both sides and their regional neighbors, would be for Greek and Turkish Cypriots to make further efforts to reunify Cyprus within the broad framework laid down in the Annan Plan” (p.3). The Annan Plan is not the only option though. Additionally, the three guarantor powers – namely Greece, Turkey and the UK – are part of the problem, therefore they cannot be part of the solution, as is stipulated in the Annan Plan. Cyprus is an independent country, member-state of the EU, and does not require patrons. The Annan Plan would have led to a Turkish north, a mixed south and the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots rejected it because it not only legitimized the outcome of 1974, but would also have created a situation which would be worse for them than the status quo


Last but not least, the Report fails to mention what it takes to have an integrated economy; and it also ignores the important prospect of Cyprus entering the Eurozone in January 2008.  Be that as it may, the Report raises the question about the future.  Certainly there must be efforts to overcome the stalemate. There is much work to be done both in relation to the substance of the problem as well as to overcoming a negative cycle of suspicion.  Perhaps it may be easier to focus initially on reversing the negative psychology.  And the solution could be based on the following three-pillars: the high-level agreements, the relevant UN Resolutions, the European acquis communautaire and political culture.  The following guidelines could be utilized:


(1) The continuity of the Republic of Cyprus will be secured by a solution.

(2) Abolition of the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty Guarantee and withdrawal of all foreign troops.  For a transitional period there will be provisions for peacekeeping troops within the framework of the UN and the EU.  It is possible to have a professional army (consisting of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots) within the framework of the conventional obligations of the Republic of Cyprus towards the EU.

(3) The solution will advance the reestablishment of the unity of economy and society as well as the effectiveness of the state.

(4) Although bicommunality will be an inseparable part of the solution, it will not be an exclusive one.  Bizonality will be in a loose form and the provisions that will be made will not obstruct the three fundamental freedoms.

(5) The issue of settlers must be addressed effectively.  In addition, there will be provisions for the limitation of the number of Turkish citizens that might be able to enter and settle in Cyprus after the solution.

(6) The central government should have those powers that will allow it to function effectively. The laws of the federal state must have priority over the laws of the two regions except if the Supreme Court decides otherwise. Double majorities (and strong ones (2/3)) will apply only in the case of constitutional reforms.

(7) The Supreme Court will consist of 4 Greek Cypriots, 4 Turkish Cypriots and 1 that will come from smaller communities on a rotation basis. The President of the Supreme Court will be the oldest judge.

(8) The American system of President and Vice-President will be introduced with the additional provision that the President and the Vice-President will not come from the same community.  All Cypriots will vote for the election of the President (and the vice-President). The composition of the Council of Ministers will be on the basis of 70:30.  The Upper House will be on the basis of 50:50 and the Lower House on the basis of 75:25.

(9) The region under Turkish-Cypriot administration will comprise of 27,5% of the territory. In addition to the land that will be returned to the Greek-Cypriot side, it is understood that this will include a greater percentage of coastline. All refugees will have the right to return. Taking everything into consideration, even if all Greek Cypriot refugees return there will still be a Turkish-Cypriot majority in the area under Turkish-Cypriot administration.

(10) Further Evolution:  If, in due time, developments are such that a functional federation evolves in which bizonality has less relevance, then, with the consent of the two sides, the bizonality provisions may be reassessed.


Reestablishment of the unity of the Republic of Cyprus remains to be achieved. A model of power-sharing among the Greek-Cypriot Christians and the Turkish-Cypriot Moslems would serve the interest of all Cypriots as well as of other parties involved. It would also have a positive impact beyond the island. With the rejection of the Annan Plan it becomes evident that no solution can be imposed; any solution must be the outcome of a voluntary engagement.


[1] Glafcos Clerides, Cyprus: My Deposition, volume 1-4 (Nicosia, 1989). (The correct citation is Glafkos Clerides, My Deposition, vol. 1 (in Greek) (Alitheia Press, Nicosia, 1988; My Deposition, vol. 2 (in Greek) (Alitheia Press, Nicosia 1989); My Deposition, vol. 3 (in Greek) (Alitheia Press, Nicosia 1990); My Deposition, vol. 4 (in Greek) (Alitheia Press, Nicosia 1991).)

[2] Stanley Kyriakides, Cyprus: Constitutionalism and Crisis Government, Univ. Of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, 1968) and Miltiades Christodoulou, The Course of an Era: Greece, the Cypriot Leadership and the Cyprus Problem (in Greek), Ioannis Floros (Athens, 1987).

[3] David Hannay, Cyprus: The Search for a Solution (London, 2005) and “Report of the Secretary-General on his mission of good offices in Cyprus”, UN, New York (May, 2004); Nathalie Tocci, EU Accession Dynamics and Conflict Resolution: Catalyzing Peace or Consolidating Partition in Cyprus (Aldershot, 2004).

[4]Yiannis Papadakis, “Greek Cypriot narratives of history and collective identity: nationalism as a contested process”, American Ethnologist, vol. 25, 1998; Caesar Mavratsas, “The ideological contest between Greek Cypriot nationalism and Cypriotism 1974-1995”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 20, 1997.

[5] Claire Palley, An International Relations Debacle: The UN Secretary-General’s Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus 1999-2004, Hart Publishing, Oxford and Portland (Oregon, 2005); Kyriakides, Stanley, Cyprus: Constitutionalism and Crisis Government, Univ. of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, 1968); Chrysogonos, Constantinos, “UNSG’s Proposal for a New Cypriot Constitution” (in Greek), Geostrategics (in Greek), vol. 1, January – April 2003, pp. 45-57; Andreas Theophanous, The Cyprus Question and the EU: The Challenge and the Promise, Intercollege Press (Nicosia, 2004). 

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