Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Written evidence submitted by Dr Vassilis K Fouskas, Reader in International Relations, Kingston University


Executive Summary

  The Annan Plan did not provide for a solution to the Cyprus issue. It was a temporary "fixing of the problem" serving, first and foremost, the interests of the US, the UK and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean. Had the Annan Plan gone through, the strategic position of the UK would have been worse off in the greater Middle East. As things stand at the moment, and given the passivity of the Greek Cypriots concerning the Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) on Cyprus, the UK should take the initiative to unify Cyprus within the EU on the basis of the European acquis. This will not damage its strategic position and the status of SBAs, but it will certainly upgrade the UK's posture in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, vis-a"-vis both Israel and Turkey.


  The UK, through the offices of Sir David Hannay, has played a major role in the drafting of the UN Plan. The Plan proposed a fragmented polity, a limited right to return for Greek Cypriot refugees and a reinforced continuation of the Treaties of Alliance, Establishment and Guarantee. This, the offices of Sir David Hanney have hoped, would serve Britain's strategic interests in the region and Cyprus. This is an illusion. There is no divisive Cypriot policy that could serve British interests any more as in the 1950s and 1960s. Quite the opposite is the truth. Today, a fragmented Cypriot polity and a continuation of Turkish occupation serve other interests in the region, such as Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip. With the island's polity fragmented and with the positioning of Turkish and Greek troops on it, as well as the surveillance of the Israeli, American and Turkish airforce and naval power in the area, Britain is reduced to a third class power in this crucial theatre. The strategic interests of Britain are best served by abandoning any idea of supporting a new divisive version of the Annan Plan.


  The admission of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU represents a new democratic challenge for every European citizen. The division of Cyprus cannot be compared with that of Germany during the Cold War—a parallel which many, particularly pro-Greek Euro MPs, draw. Cyprus was subjected to two consecutive Turkish advances in summer 1974 on the pretext to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority there. The Turkish forces occupied the most prosperous part of the island. The Soviets, needless to say, did not go to Germany to protect any minority. But 1945 Eastern Germany was economically far behind that Western Germany, and remained so until the fall of the Berlin Wall. With Cyprus, it is the other way round. Now the occupied North lags far behind the Greek South and even from some parts of Western Turkey.

  Thus, Cyprus represents a unique challenge for the EU in that it provides the best testing ground for the implementation of the acquis throughout the island. This, first and foremost, can begin by boosting the social economy of the North, while simultaneously applying pressure on Turkey to cease control of Varosha, and then in time, of all other occupied areas. This will be taking place in parallel with Turkey's accession negotiation process. It is imperative that the two communities begin mingling with each other, as in the past, before 1974 and 1963.

The role of the UK in the negotiations

  The UK can and must play the most positive role by encouraging reconciliation and "mixing" between the two communities. This will have the additional advantage of releasing Britain from its besmirched past of "divide and rule", a history that Britons themselves feel ashamed of when confronted with it. But the Annan Plan was not providing for such a framework. It was not rebuilding friendship between the two communities. A good many of its provisions were clearly racist and even preposterous. The UK must reassume head-on the initiative from both the UN and the US, an initiative that has given up since 1963 for the sake of Dean Acheson's conspiracy mission. This will bring the UK back to the Eastern Mediterranean as a civilising force, while raising its stakes again in the greater Middle East.


  Whatever is happening now after the rejection of the Plan would have happened anyway even if it had been approved. What do I mean by that?

  The EU would have extended, and rightly so, enormous economic assistance to the North, an assistance that started well before April 2004; The Talat administration would have taken a tour to European capitals seeking for further support in order to consolidate the power of its constituent micro-State; Turkey and the US would have lobbied further the EU in order to give Turkey a date in December 2004 to begin accession negotiations; and so on and so forth.

  So I argue strongly that there are no negative implications for the Turkish Cypriots whatsoever. Not even legal ones, and you do not have to apply for naturalisation to become a British citizen to realise the status lent to the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" by Britain's Home Office authorities.


  Britain has no interest, strategic or otherwise, to play the "good big brother" to TRNC, although it should assist Turkish Cypriots economically and in terms of reintegrating them with the Greek Cypriots. Britain should not see Cyprus in a horse-trading manner with Turkey in which British support for the TRNC would lend special privileges to British companies in Mosul and Kirkuk, or to BP, which is heavily involved in the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. This is a failed balance-of-power game played out and lost since at least the inter-war period. What Britain should do is to regain the initiative in both parts of the divided island seeking reunification and reconciliation. The ultimate goal should be the establishment of an independent, sovereign Republic of Cyprus, a member of both NATO and the EU. The first step towards this is the establishment of an authentic political and economic agency with funds drawn from all interested sides. It can be under the directorship of UK authorities. This should be seen in an EU and NATO context, but without Turkish or Greek military involvement. It should also be monitored in parallel with Turkey's accession negotiations. Turkey will be convinced that this is the right perspective, because similar reintegration activities will be implemented in relation to its Kurdish minority and within the EU. This is what will set the best example for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The alternative is the continuation of ethnic tension between Greeks and Turks on Cyprus, between Kurds and Turks in Turkey and between Jews and Palestinians in Israel and Palestine proper.


  Technically, the solution to the Cyprus issue is not a criterion for Turkey's entry to the EU. Politically, however, it is. But the result of the referenda puts obviously the moral argument onto Turkish Cypriot lips, because they also feel—and must become—members of the EU. Thus, Erdogan's Turkey is relieved of the burden, but the Turkey of the Generals is also equally happy, because they do not move from Cyprus. The approval of the Annan Plan would have made them concede some 80% of "their" territory, after a transition period of three years—an issue which many debated, as there were no enforcement agencies providing guarantees that the Turkish troops will in fact withdraw after that transition period.

  Time and again, Cyprus's authentic reunification can take place in parallel with Turkey's accession process and under the auspices of a generous British initiative that will aim to go beyond the divisive and racist aspects of the Annan Plan. This will upgrade the strategic position of Great Britain in the Eastern Mediterranean and the greater Middle East, while both sides on Cyprus would be considering the UK as a returning civilising force and not as a returning colonialist.

Dr Vassilis K Fouskas

30 July 2004

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