The catch in the plan

When UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented his Cyprus blueprint, we noted the pitfalls involved in the referendum process. If a solution were signed, the two communities would have to hold separate referenda to approve the founding agreement, the constitutions, the guarantee pact and EU accession – all in a package deal. This prevents Greek Cypriots from freely expressing their will. It is anti-democratic, a blackmail even, for it bars a Greek Cypriot or a Turkish Cypriot from voting for EU membership but against the specified settlement. Simitis on Tuesday gave a different interpretation, saying that a Greek Cypriot «no» vote at the referendum would invalidate the settlement but have no impact on accession. The next day, Member of the European Parliament Alexandros Alavanos asked EU enlargement commissioner Guenter Verheugen about this. After noting that the referendum treats the two issues as a package deal, Verheugen said that if the people opposed accession through a democratic procedure then the EU, a democratic institution, will have to respect that decision. His comments were not refuted by his spokesman’s comments yesterday despite Greece’s nervous reflex. Even if we assume that Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s legal interpretation is more accurate, the fact that the EU commissioner holds a different view has special political weight. What would be simpler than removing the question on accession from the referendum? Still, it took more than 30 hours to announce that the issue is included in the points on which Nicosia has already requested further clarifications and changes. This question was included in the referendum in order to blackmail Greek Cypriots: If you reject the solution you will relinquish accession. Even worse, some in Nicosia and Athens thought that this blackmail served their political objectives.

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