Prejudiced Annan

Kofi Annan has once again treated Greek Cypriots with a prejudice that does not befit his office of United Nations secretary-general. His actions over the past 14 months confirm that he does not look with favor on Greek Cypriots who, making use of a democratic right, voted in droves against the proposed reunification settlement. Some 76 percent of them rejected the UN blueprint. Even before the referendum, the UN chief was employing various machinations aimed at blackmailing the Greek-Cypriot voters. His plans collapsed after permanent members of the UN’s Security Council backed down. The refusal of these states to do so forced him to shelve the report he drafted following the landslide rejection of the plan by the Greek Cypriots, on whom he effectively placed all the blame. Notably, after his meeting yesterday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the secretary-general referred to the May 2004 report, saying he planned to raise the issue with the Security Council again and that he hoped its members would act on it. He even went so far as to distort facts, saying that the Greek Cypriots have been accepted as an EU member when, in fact, the Republic of Cyprus has joined the bloc in its entirety. Erdogan, leader of the only state to recognize the breakaway state in the north of the Mediterranean island, may have something to gain from bypassing international law. Annan, on the other hand, has an obligation to respect and protect it. His regrettable behavior is the product of obvious preconceptions that also compromise his own image. Annan’s main concern, it seems, is not to protect his own credibility but to serve the interests of Washington, which has its own reasons to be unhappy with him. To make matters worse, the UN chief reiterated the US stance on easing the isolation of Turkish Cypriots. The idea itself constitutes an interesting political gimmick used as a means to put pressure on the Greek Cypriots. But the fact that the Turkish Cypriots supported the UN plan to reunite the island does not change the realities of international law with respect to the island. Annan’s comments come at a sensitive diplomatic turning point. The past months have seen little progress on the issue, as Annan demanded that Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos put his cards on the table before the negotiations even started. That hurdle has been cleared and a fresh round of talks is in the offing. The job of the secretary-general is to promote efforts at a peace settlement and not to make biased comments that poison the political climate.

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