OPINION

Dangers of Annan plan

Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been served with an ultimatum – expiring tomorrow – by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan which gives them a last-minute chance to submit proposed amendments to specific points of his plan. Then, immediately after incorporating whatever observations he deems advisable, Annan will submit the final form of the plan and demand that both sides either sign or reject it, no longer as a basis for negotiations, but as an agreement for solving the Cyprus question. Both Nicosia and Athens will thus find themselves facing radical decisions. It is one thing to accept the Annan plan as a starting point for talks, with the aim of making substantive improvements, and quite another to accept it as it is. In case of disagreement between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots, the government of the common Cypriot state will find itself hamstrung, since the Annan plan demands the consent of at least one of the two Turkish-Cypriot ministers in the six-member council of ministers. Nor can Parliament make decisions, since any law will enter into force only if passed by at least a quarter of the Turkish members of the upper house. If such provisions are not revised, how can the paralysis of the Cypriot state be avoided? The provision that «Cyprus shall not put its territory at the disposal of international military operations other than with the consent of Greece and Turkey» means that Cyprus, a future EU member, will not be able to place its territory at the disposal of the Euroforce if permission is not granted by Turkey, which is not an EU member. This is illogical. The Annan plan in its present form will result in a «common» Cypriot state unable to function if the two sides disagree. While no one claims that this will lead to bloodshed or bring Cyprus and Turkey to the brink of war, as in 1960-64, a crisis in Cyprus tomorrow would not leave Greek-Turkish relations untouched, with all the dangers that this holds.