OPINION

Inevitable rejection

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s peace plan, which late yesterday appeared doomed to be rejected by Athens and Nicosia, would provide an opportunity to resolve the longstanding dispute if – despite its endorsement of a set of unacceptable points and its recognition of a fait accompli that runs against international law – it at least foresaw the whole island complying with the acquis communautaire. Annan’s final amendments provided no such guarantee but instead made further concessions to the Turkish-Cypriot side by envisaging unacceptable and problematic exemptions of the northern part from EU law and fundamental principles; what is more, for an indefinite period of time. Notably, though European Commission President Romano Prodi said he was ready to accept the plan, he did stress that Cyprus could not get any permanent exemption to community law. The 13 points that Annan released at noon yesterday did not make the deal any more acceptable. In fact, the draft maintained the derogations from EU law while incorporating several crucial points (including the number of Turkish settlers and troops on the island) which could by no means be accepted by Cyprus. Far from being a compromise, the draft went on to recognize a set of extreme demands that were bound to undermine Cyprus’s unity in the future. The Greek and Greek-Cypriot side could do nothing but reject the plan. Annan’s final draft, due to be released late yesterday, was not expected to overturn these fundamental provisions. Regardless of the Turkish-Cypriot reaction, Nicosia and Athens had no option but to reject the plan. Such a stand on the part of Nicosia and Athens would have been fully justified. All Greeks feel the same way. The Greek government sought to ensure maximum consensus. Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis yesterday contacted not only President Costis Stephanopoulos and opposition leader George Papandreou but all political leaders, as well as former premiers Costas Simitis and Constantine Mitsotakis. Notably, Papandreou said (as well as to UN envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto) that a «no» answer was inevitable as long as the draft did not fulfill a set of specific demands. Greeks must maintain the spirit of consensus as a foundation for the future. The rejection of the plan does not mean the end of efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue. What it does mean is that the Greek side will not accept outside attempts to present the legitimization of the occupation as a compromise solution. The politics resume as of tomorrow. The consensus among Greeks and Greek Cypriots is a significant foundation for finding a satisfactory and viable solution in the future.