Interview by the President of the Republic of Cyprus Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos to Aktina TV

June 6, 2004 

AKTINA TV: Mr. President I would like you to tell us what is your vision for Cyprus now, the day after the referenda and if you have a plan in place to accomplish your vision.

President: There can be no other vision for any leader in Cyprus other than to solve the Cyprus problem. I repeat again, the no vote of the Greek Cypriots was not a no vote for a solution. It was a rejection of this particular plan. So our efforts will be for a resumption of the initiative to solve the Cyprus problem and reach an agreement, which will meet the legitimate concerns of the Greek Cypriots as to security, as to the implementation of the plan, functionality of the state and many other points.

AKTINA TV: You said it clearly, Your Excellency,  that you will not bring  up this plan for a second referendum and it has to be revised. However the SG insists that he does not want to renegotiate this particular plan and Mr. De Soto told us that it is unlikely that Turkey and the TCs will agree to renegotiate something that they already approved. 

President: The plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriot people at a majority which leaves no doubt that this is the wish of the people. It was a decision taken in an absolutely democratic referendum, after the plan has been exhaustively debated, equal and more time given for the ‘YES’ vote. And all the provisions of the plan are well known to the people of Cyprus , who as you know are a very literate people and highly politicized, so there is no question for anybody misleading them not to bring again the same plan without an amendment to the electorate. It would be an insult to the people because what are you telling them is that  last time round you were misled or you made a mistake or you don’t know what you were being doing so there’s no point in bringing the same plan again to renegotiation. Now understandably, the drafters of the plan have to defend it, they have made a perfect plan therefore it is understandable that they want to promote that same plan. This however, would mean something, which is wrong. That the ultimate, the perfect plan, the best solution is this one, nothing else. That’s why they go on and say if you rejected this plan then you rejected a bizonal, bicommunal federation as if this is the only plan that can give expression and implementation to that type of solution. Now I don’t accept that and I believe I am at least entitled-I stress the ‘at least’- of equal say with them as to whether this plan is indeed the perfect plan or not. I respect their view. I respect their assessment that this is a perfect plan. All I am asking is that likewise, they should respect my right to say that this is not the plan, which could work for Cyprus . After all, I and my children and the children of the people in Cyprus , will live in Cyprus long after these gentlemen have gone elsewhere to pursue other processes and careers.

AKTINA TV: Yes, Mr. President, however, people would like to know, in the event that there is no new initiative on behalf of the UN for a long time. What we do? What is the plan, your plan? If there is no plan out there to discuss, what do we do, what’s the future of Cyprus ?

President: The reasons, the motivation that forced or encouraged people to take this initiative for the solution of Cyprus are still there. Therefore, if the reasons why they took their first initiative are there, everybody will understand that there is a problem, which has to be solved. With our accession to the EU this becomes more pressing now than before. As for the story this is the last opportunity, unique opportunity, historic opportunity, I have heard this same aphorism so many times in my long years of involvement to the Cyprus problem to lead me to the impression, to the belief, there are no last opportunities in solving political problems.

AKTINA TV: Mr. President, one of our major concerns for rejecting the Annan Plan was the security issue and the UN insists that they followed the procedure pertained in this plan based on the 1960 treaty of guarantee and Mr. Annan in his report notes the GC side did not propose any changes although Greece did so in its talks with Turkey and the GCs eventually did in a paper in Burgenstock. We would like to know, did you try to abolish that treaty and if not why?

President: These statements by the Secretary General are utterly incorrect. Either he has not been correctly informed or he misunderstood what we said. I have a habit of putting my views always in writing so from the 15th of March in Cyprus, we submitted a 7-page document about the treaties of guarantees arguing that after the accession of Cyprus to the EU and the pursue by Turkey of accession also in the EU, under European Acquis Communautaire there is no longer a need for a guarantor power keeping troops forever. So yes, we did ask that this guarantee should be amended. Furthermore, the Annan Plan provided for direct negotiations between Greece and Turkey about the Treaties of Guarantee and I know that Greece ’s position was, in the modern world, their word was to “modernize these treaties” and the views supported by Greece were the same as ours. Thirdly, it is not a reproduction of the guarantees of the 1960 because the proviso for guarantees into Annan plan provides for expansion of the scope of the guarantee, and also changes its role, guarantees in addition to the constitutional order to be established under the federal state, it also guarantees security which was not before. It also guarantees areas of the two constituent states, and many other things. To show our good will that we did not want to raise additional issues, we proposed that there should be a triggering off mechanism if the alleged claim of intervention would be maintained. Of course we don’t accept that Turkey or any of the guarantors has a unilateral right of military intervention but this is a legal argument. In saying the same argument since 1974 yet Turkish troops did invade, still are there, they occupy the land, therefore yes we suggested if one is going to maintain these guarantees they might at least have a triggering off mechanism before any one of the guarantor powers takes any military action in Cyprus.

AKTINA TV: But it was not honored by the SG?

President: I believe they labored once more under the misconception that because the SG was allowed to decide as a final resort by arbitration that he could also arbiter about this issue. In fact this impression is the one which plagued in the talks. We accepted the arbitration believing that the two sides would rather find a solution between themselves than have a solution decided by somebody else and imposed upon the people or would at least seemed to be imposition on the people. However it seems that either the UN or the TC side or both said “what’ s the use of having negotiations since in the end we decide as arbitrators what’s right and what’s wrong”. I think this is one of the major misconceptions of the attitude of the people which led to practically to no substantive negotiations having taking place, certainly none took place in Burgenstock, not through our fault. There was only one meeting arranged which was cancelled by Mr. Talat. So not even that was accepted. And this is a formal statement issued by the UN.

AKTINA TV: Mr. President it seems to many GC Americans that through this plan Turkey is forgiven for its past sins, however now Cyprus is in the EU, a full member. How would your react towards Turkey ’s accession into the EU. How do you see Turkey into the near future?

President: Concerning the attitude some people see, is that Turkey is helping for the solution of the problem where the true fact is that Turkey is part of the problem. So from the moment that one will agree to the remaining even in a token number troops of Turkey, in having Turkey as a party into the negotiations that it is getting benefits out of the agreement, not the TCs but Turkey itself, yes the role of Turkey as an invading country changes completely once it’s legalized or absolved of the liability because they can never be absolved of that. But it changes the role, as I said, Turkey ’s problem. Not an assistant outsider which is going to help for the solution of the problem. Now in the UN it supposed to be interested as to what happens in the EU. Yet I know that everybody is very anxious as to the position of Cyprus vis-à-vis Turkey and the EU. We have repeatedly said that we would welcome Turkey to have closer relations with Europe as long as Turkey complies will all the regulations and the guidelines which the EU demands and provided that Turkey behaves like a European country. This is nothing new. This is what is the rule of the EU for each candidate member. Now if Turkey complies will all that it will be in the interest of Cyprus unless Turkey in the meantime takes steps or encourages steps in Cyprus which would solidify the partition rather than the reunification of Cyprus . As some of the measures being put forward now ostensibly to help TCs as they call it now, get out of their economic isolation, may in fact lead to the solidification of the partitionist attitudes. This of course we cannot tolerate and this would have impact on our attitude towards Turkey ’s progress in the EU.

AKTINA TV: How do you stop this barrage of attacks from the US , Britain and all of those parties who are threatening to open trade through the occupied areas? What are you doing to stop it?

President:  As I said it’s understandable that these countries feel that they have to do everything they can in order to promote a plan which they consider as being unique. Well, we happen to have a different view on the plan. After that, these questions are being regulated by law, the European Union is an area of rules, regulations, justice and we have rightful claims that they cannot exceed for these to be allowable in the European Union for member states. The EU cannot treat the occupied area as a third country because the accession treaty which Cyprus has signed with all twenty four other states says that the whole area of the Republic of Cyprus has acceded except the acquis comunautaire is not applicable to the areas which the government cannot have effective control.

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