Resurrecting the Annan plan

While listening to public debate, it might be worth keeping in mind that the Annan plan for Cyprus was overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek-Cypriot side. According to the provisions of the plan itself, the blueprint should now be dead and reunification talks start from scratch. In truth, however, the plan is still on the table. The only split within Cyprus’s National Council is whether it will seek to renegotiate a set of crucial points or whether it will ask for Security Council (and EU) guarantees for the plan to be enforced. The second scenario (also promoted by the UN) effectively means that the Turkish-Cypriot «yes» vote will remain valid, and a second referendum be held without any changes to the plan. In other words, there is an attempt to bypass the declared will of the Greek Cypriots. Their «no» vote was, first, a reaction of the content of the plan and, second, based on concerns that Turkey may not return the specified territories – particularly if it fails to get an EU talks date in December. Rejection of the UN plan naturally spurred diplomatic snags, some of which have yet to become evident. Still the warmongering of the «yes» campaigners has been defeated. Early statements indicate that the EU and the UN intend to bring the Cyprus issue back to the table. The main «day after» problem seems to be that the Greek-Cypriot administration is stuck on a strategy that is bound to resurrect the Annan plan – at best with bargaining on some controversial points or, at worst, a new referendum on the same plan. President Tassos Papadopoulos has adopted a strategy of corroding the Green Line but there is neither the time nor ripe political conditions to forge de facto reunification. If those who campaigned against the plan do not push for a resumption of negotiations, if they do not overcome stereotypes of the last 30 years, their policy will degenerate into rearguard action.