Written evidence submitted by Dr Vassilis
K Fouskas, Reader in International Relations, Kingston University
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 AND
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 EU AND
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 Wara 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
feeland must becomemembers 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
yearsan 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