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12° Nicosia,
13 June, 2024
 
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Twenty years on...

Reflecting on two decades since the Annan Plan rejection

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

The rejection of the Annan Plan transcends mere historical significance; especially this year, it coincides with an anniversary nested within another. Twenty years have elapsed since the resounding "no" vote, within the span of half a century, marking the tragic events of July 1974 – the Turkish invasion – and the subsequent occupation. Cyprus, as it was known in the 20th century, remains one of the most enduringly unresolved international dilemmas. The Annan Plan represented the last tangible opportunity for resolution, as it advanced to the stage of referendums. While Crans Montana may be more recent, its significance does not equate to that of 2004, given that we did not reach a similar pivotal moment.

The legacy of 2004 has yielded two significant realizations. One emphasizes the imperative of respecting the decision of the Greek Cypriot community, while the other attributes the failure squarely to the stance adopted by then-President Tassos Papadopoulos – alongside AKEL. However, it has also underscored a stark reality: the test of time. Twenty years on, the entrenched divisions and the perception of the Cyprus issue as "unsolvable" have not only solidified but have also ushered the intractable problem into a post-revelatory phase, the consequences of which remain unpredictable.

Additionally, 2004 magnified speculative analyses, particularly concerning the understanding of Turkey, which, regrettably, often veered from reality. The assumption that accepting the Annan Plan would force Turkey into a binary choice, or the preconceived notion that Turkey would not uphold its commitments and instead pursue its own agenda through the proposed solution, fostered toxicity, ad hominem politics, and distorted perceptions of the complexities involved in international conflict resolution.

Moreover, the notion that the state envisioned by the Annan Plan would remain intact ignores the potential for internal discord, such as disputes between average Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot individuals over resources or projects, ultimately perpetuating corruption. Similarly, the expectation that Turkey would evolve into a state akin to Norway within two decades, devoid of Islamist influence in a reunified Cyprus, remains speculative at best.

Twenty years on, the reality persists: Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots continue to prioritize their national identities over the prospect of peaceful coexistence within a unified state. This predisposition stems from historical conditioning, particularly since 1960, which has prioritized national allegiance over the responsibilities of citizenship. Addressing these underlying dynamics is crucial for charting the path forward – whether through a sustainable resolution or the formulation of a viable Plan B in the face of an impending partition in Cyprus.

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original and edited for clarity and fluency]

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Cyprus  |  Cyprob  |  Turkey

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