Cypriot Annan Plan referendum, 2004

Cypriot Annan Plan referendum, 2004

The two major communities of the "de facto" divided island nation of Cyprus held a referendum on settling the Cyprus dispute on 24 April 2004. The peoples of Cyprus were asked to choose between ratifying or rejecting a 5th revision of a United Nations proposal to settle the Cyprus dispute known as the Annan Plan for Cyprus.


"The participation in the referendum of post-1974 Northern Cyprus settlers from mainland Turkey was disputed by many Greek Cypriots, but this was not deemed a matter of relevance to the referendum."

Since the Greek Cypriot Community did not approve the plan and implementation of the plan was dependent on its approval by both communities, the Annan Plan became null and void. The European Union states: "In light of Protocol 10 of the Accession Treaty 2003 Cyprus as a whole entered the EU, whereas the acquis is suspended in the northern part of the island (“areas not under effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus”). This means inter alia that these areas are outside the customs and fiscal territory of the EU. The suspension has territorial effect, but does not concern the personal rights of Turkish Cypriots as EU citizens, as they are considered as citizens of the Member State Republic of Cyprus" [] .

Had the plan been ratified by both sides, Cyprus would have entered the EU as the United Cyprus Republic.

Reasons for 'Yes' and 'No' vote

The main reason for the 75 percent "no" vote among Greek Cypriots in the referendum was their perception that the Annan Plan was unbalanced and excessively pro-Turkish since it stated that one Turkish Cypriot vote was equal to two Greek Cypriot votes, and that it would not safeguard Greek Cypriot rights in the north.Fact|date=December 2007

Political leaders in both controlled areas of Republic of Cyprus and Greece also influenced the Greek Cypriot vote by strongly opposing the plan. Tassos Papadopoulos, president of the Republic of Cyprus, spoke out against the plan in an emotional speech broadcast live on television. Two days before the referendums, Cyprus's biggest party, AKEL, decided to reject the Annan Plan because of its perceived bias. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis decided to maintain a "neutral" position over the plan, but the Greek opposition leader George Papandreou (of the PASOK party) urged Cypriots to vote in favour, also because the plan had been promoted by his political party while it was still on power and Mr. Papandreou himself was the foreign minister of Greece during the last PASOK term. Mr. Papandreou even stated that the plan was laid out during his term and that both parts were ready for "a final common agreement" before his party lost the elections. Mr. Papandreou's involvement in conceiving and negotiating crucial points of the plan has been a source of controversy in Greece, at least during the referendum days.

Many Greek Cypriots opposed the plan as it meant endorsing a confederal state with a weak central government and considerable local autonomy, rather than the pre-1974 "status quo ante" of Greek Cypriot majority rule over a minority Turkish population. It would also have left Greeks dispossessed of their homes in 1974 without financial redress or the return of their property. The plan would have cemented the division of Cyprus into two political entities and safeguarded the presence of settlers from mainland Turkey, both of which were felt to be illegitimate and unfair outcomes. Any solution other than a return to the "status quo ante" was deemed unacceptable by many Greek Cypriots, and opinion polls conducted over the entire period of the negotiations from start to finish had always shown around 80% opposition to the proposals.

There were reservations over the fate of property or humanitarian disputes, which could no longer be brought before an International Court according to the plan, but would have to be settled by a third party set by the warrant forces. An embargo on weapon imports to the Greek Cypriot side, until the Turkish Cypriot side would be able to fully support itself also caused reservations among Greek Cypriots, in part because it did not apply to the Turkish forces.

On the Turkish Cypriot side, the plan was felt to be excessively pro-Greek, but most Turkish Cypriots were willing to accept it as a means of ending their prolonged international isolation and exclusion from the wider European economy. It was opposed by their leadership, with the Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktaş actively advocating a no vote. However, his Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat favoured the plan's acceptance, while Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also supported it. Turkey saw a resolution of the Cyprus issue as being an essential first step to eventual Turkish membership of the EU as well as a way of defusing tensions with Greece.

The Grey Wolves (a Turkish right-wing nationalist group belonging to the MHP nationalist party) actively advocated a "no" vote. There were some limited riots caused by the Grey Wolves party activists against pro-ratification supporters during the pre-vote period. At least 50 such activists had arrived in Northern Cyprus during the pre-voting period. However, the referendum itself passed off peacefully and was deemed free and fair.

Both sides also had reservations over the fate of property or humanitarian disputes, which could no longer be brought before an International Court according to the plan, but would have to be settled in Cyprus, in front of a specially appointed non-EU court, including UN, UK and USA representatives.

Although the plan was published on 1 April 2004, it continued to be modified until only 24 hours before the referendum, enabling opponents to argue that people were being asked to vote on something they had not even seen and whose consequences could not be fully analysed.

Reasons for approval by the Turkish Cypriots

*Reunification was desired for economic reasons.
*Many Turkish Cypriots no longer perceived the Greek Cypriots as a threat, especially in the light of the strictly bi-zonal proposition of the Annan plan.
*Turkish Cypriots would receive considerable constitutional power in the United Cyprus Republic that the Annan plan proposed, over-proportional to their percentage of the population.
*The Turkish Cypriot component state would still, even after territorial cession of some areas to the Greek Cypriot component state, make up 28.5 percent of the total area of Cyprus, including large economically important areas that were inhabited exclusively by Greek Cypriots prior to the division of Cyprus in 1974.
*The right of return of Greek Cypriots to their homes in the areas coming under the control of the Turkish Cypriot component state would be strictly limited if not, in some cases, forbidden, thus the possibility of Turkish Cypriots becoming a minority in their respective component state would not exist.
*The guarantor states for the Constitution of Cyprus would retain their powers as such, thus Turkey would still arguably have the right to intervene in Cypriot affairs, most definitely on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots and vice versa.
*The Annan plan did not attribute blame, Turkey was not blamed or punished for the invasion in 1974.

pecific Reasons for rejection by the Greek Cypriots

"As summarised by "The Case Against the Annan Plan", Coufoudakis and Kyriakides and the Letter by the President of the Republic, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, to the U.N. Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan dated 7th of June 2004"
* Turkey obtained divisive bi-zonality provisions, strategic economic benefits, and “security” arrangements, allowing her to intervene militarily, making full independence impossible. " [ Letter by the President of the Republic] , Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, to the U.N. Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan dated 7th of June 2004 ]
* The Turkish Cypriot constituent state, would have been integrated to Turkey making United Cyprus Republic (UCR) answerable to Turkey.
* Turkey would have constrained UCR΄s economic development by securing provisions in the Law on the Continental Shelf that prevents the UCR from exploring and exploiting her maritime resources in the seas of Cyprus.
* Turkey was granted rights to interfere with the Treaty between Egypt and the Republic of Cyprus on the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone. Cyprus rights to its Continental Shelf in the south would have also been answerable to Turkey.
* The fifth revision of the Annan plan imposed the “Cooperative Agreement on Civil Aviation with Turkey” on Cyprus. The management of Cyprus air space would have been subject to Turkey’s consent. It would have also allowed Turkey to take all necessary actions (even military action) in the event of any threat to aircraft passengers, airport or aviation facilities in Cyprus airspace.
* Turkey was granted the right of stationing Turkish troops on the island of Cyprus perpetually, again making full independence impossible.
*The Ethnic groups in Cyprus are Greek 77%, Turkish 18%, other 5% of the population. (2001) The Annan plan equates the representation of the two major ethnic groups in the proposed Senate and in the Supreme Court giving 50-50 representation to the two communities. The majority becomes a minority in important decision centres. ["The Case Against the Annan Plan", Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 25)]
*The plan created a confederation even though it utilized the term "federation" because there was no hierarchy of laws, while central authority emanated from the so-called component states. Note that the United States abandoned its original confederal structure because it was unworkable. In 1789, a federal constitution was established containing a clear federal supremacy clause. The Supreme Court composed of equal numbers of Greek Cypriot (77% of population) and Turkish Cypriot judges(18% of population), plus three foreign judges; thus foreign actors would cast deciding votes. ["The Case Against the Annan Plan", Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 11)]
*The Plan did not include a settlement regarding the repatriation of Turkish settlers living on Greek Cypriot owned land in Northern Cyprus, while after 19 years, the possibility of abolishing the derogation of 5% of Greeks and Turkish citizens who could settle in Cyprus, is obvious, and the danger of a permanent mass settling of Cyprus by Turkey is visible.
*Nearly all the Turkish settlers would be granted citizenship or residence rights leading to citizenship. The central government would have limited control towards future Turkish Immigration. Those settlers opting to return to Turkey would be compensated by Cyprus and Greek Cypriots. Even though Turkey systematically brought in the settlers to alter the demography of the island, it had no responsibility for their Repatriation.
*The Plan simply disregarded the plain language and clear meaning of the Geneva Convention of 1949, section III, article 49, which prohibits colonization by an occupying power. Article 49 states in its last paragraph: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
*The Plan did not deal in full with the issue of demilitarisation of the legally invalid 'TRNC', and Greek Cypriots felt they had no reason to believe Turkish promises concerning the withdrawal of troops.
*Cyprus would be excluded from the European Common Defense and Foreign Policy, while Turkish troops would remain in Cyprus even after the accession of Turkey to the EU with intervention rights, (a military invasion - occasionally used euphemistically), in the future Greek Cypriot component state.
*Many Greek Cypriots interpreted the Right of Return policy as seriously flawed, meaning only 20% of Greek Cypriot refugees would be able to return over a time frame of 25 years, whereas Turkish Cypriots would have had full right of return. The plan denied to all Cypriots rights enjoyed by all other EU citizens (right of free movement and residence, the right to apply to work in any position (including national civil services, the right to vote). ["The Case Against the Annan Plan", Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 13)]
*Turkish Cypriots would have gained all the basic demands it made, from the first day of the implementation of the solution. To be exact, 24 hours after the holding of the referendum. In contrast, everything that the Greek Cypriots were aspiring to achieve, would have postponed without guarantees and depend upon the good will of Turkey to fulfil the obligations it undertakes.
*The return of the Turkish occupied land will take place in the period between three and a half months and three and a half years from the moment the solution is signed with no guarantees whatsoever that this shall be implemented. The Cypriot-Greek proposal of placing these areas under the control of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus and not the Turkish army has been rejected.
*The Plan did not address the issue of the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) on the island, although parts of the SBAs would be transferred to the governments of the two constituent states.
*The British were granted rights to unilaterally define the continental shelf and territorial waters along two base areas and to claim potential mineral rights. Under the 1959-1960 Zürich and London Agreements, Britain did not have such rights (see the 2nd annex to the Additional Protocol to the 1959 Treaty of Establishment).
*The plan absolved Turkey of all responsibility for its invasion of Cyprus and its murders, rapes, destruction of property and churches, looting and forcing approximately 200,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes and property. The Cyprus government filed applications to the European Commission on Human Rights on September 17, 1974 and on March 21, 1975. The Commission issued its report on the charges made in the two applications on July 10, 1976. In it the Commission found Turkey guilty of violating the following articles of the European Convention on Human Rights::# Article 2 - by the killing of innocent civilians committed on a substantial scale;:# Article 3 - by the rape of women of all ages from 12 to 71;:# Article 3 - by inhuman treatment of prisoners and persons detained;:# Article 5 - by deprivation of liberty with regard to detainees and missing persons - a continuing violation;:# Article 8 - by displacement of persons creating more than 180,000 Greek Cypriot refugees, and be refusing to allow the refugees to return to their homes.
*The plan failed to provide payment by Turkey::# for the lives of innocent civilians killed by the Turkish army;:# for the victims of rape by the Turkish army;:# for the vast destruction of property and churches by the Turkish army; and:# for the substantial looting by the Turkish army.
*The Plan subverted the property rights of the Greek Cypriots and other legal owners of property in the occupied area:
**by prohibiting recourse to European courts on property issues;
**by withdrawing all pending cases at the European Court of Human Rights and transferring them to local courts;
**by allowing Turkish Cypriots and illegal mainland Turk settlers/colonists to keep Greek Cypriot homes and property they were illegally given following Turkey's invasion of Cyprus and not having to reimburse the rightful owners of the property for 30 years of illegal use;
**by a highly complicated, ambiguous and uncertain regime for resolving property issues and which is based on the principle that real property owners can ultimately be forced to give up their property rights which would violate the European Convention on Human Rights and international law. The Greek Cypriot property owners would have to be reimbursed by the to be federal treasury which would be funded overwhelmingly by the Greek Cypriots, meaning that Greek Cypriots would be reimbursing themselves.
*The Plan would have the effect of protecting those British citizens who illegally bought Greek Cypriot property from settlers or persons who are not owners; in the occupied north of Cyprus. They would, in effect, not be held responsible for their illegal action.
*The cost of economic reunification would be borne by the Greek Cypriots. The reunification cost has been estimated close to $20b ["The Case Against the Annan Plan", Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 13)]
*Following Annan 5 plan the Greek Cypriots would not have been allowed to make up more than 6% of the population in any single village in the Turkish controlled areas in the north thus they would have been prevented from setting up their own schools for their children and would not have even been able to give birth once this quota was reached.According to UN 260 resolution Genocide is:(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
*The agreement places time restrictions in the right of free, permanent installation of Greek Cypriots back to their homes and properties in the to be Turkish Cypriot state, which constitutes a deviation from the European Union practices. Those Greek Cypriot refugees that would return to their homes in regions under Turkish Cypriot administration would have no local civil rights, because the political representatives of Turkish Cypriot state would be elected only from Turkish Cypriots. ["The Case Against the Annan Plan", Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 10)]
*The functional weaknesses of the Plan endanger, inter alia, the smooth activity and participation of Cyprus, with one voice, in the European Union. While the Greek Cypriots have with many sacrifices achieved Cyprus accession to the European Union, the Greek Cypriots could very easily be led to the "neutralization" of the accession until the adoption of all necessary federal and regional legal measures or the loss of the benefits of the accession or the facing of obstacles in Cyprus participation in the Economic and Monetary Union and other European institutions.
*The Economy of Cyprus would have been separate with the plan. There will be no common Monetary policy, fiscal policy and no investments by Greek Cypriot businesses shall be allowed in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state.
*Many Greek-Cypriots felt that the demand that the Cyprus issue be resolved before Cyprus' entry to the EU was so that the reunification would not have to contain elements of European law which were incompatible with certain provisions in the Annan Plan. This was further backed up by many who demanded the EU accept all derogations even if they violate European Court Decisions, European Law and UN Security Council Resolutions. Both Romano Prodi and Günter Verheugen repeatedly indicated that any such derogations should only be for a short period of time and should not violate any European Laws. ["The Case Against the Annan Plan", Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 9)]


Rauf Denktaş responded to the referendum outcome by declaring that, with the Annan Plan rejected, his "no" campaign had reached its objective. He rejected calls for his immediate resignation, but announced the following month that he would not be standing for a fifth presidential term in 2005. Republic of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, emphasised that his people had rejected just the Annan plan and not all solutions to the Cyprus problem. "They are not turning their backs on their Turkish Cypriot compatriots," he said soon after the results were declared. "They have simply rejected this particular solution on offer."

There was varied reaction from Cyprus's Guarantor Powers, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that he believed the result spelled an end for Turkish Cypriot isolation, and that by rejecting the Annan Plan, "southern Cyprus (was) the loser". A spokesman for the Greek government stressed that efforts to reunite Cyprus should not be halted, pointing out that in the EU framework it is "in the interest of everyone to continue efforts to reconcile Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots".

The British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, "We will respect the choice which Greek Cypriots have expressed today. But I hope that they will continue to reflect on whether this choice is the right one for them." The general international reaction to the result was similar to that of Britain: one of deep disappointment, particularly among those bodies that had worked on the Annan Plan and on EU accession arrangements.

*United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan: "A unique and historic chance to resolve the Cyprus problem has been missed."
*European Commission: "The European Commission deeply regrets that the Greek Cypriot community did not approve the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, but it respects the democratic decision of the people."
*US State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher: "We are disappointed that a majority of Greek Cypriots voted against the settlement plan. Failure of the referendum in the Greek Cypriot community is a setback to the hopes of those on the island who voted for the settlement and to the international community."
*European Commissioner for Enlargement Günter Verheugen: "I feel cheated by the Greek Cypriot government… There is a shadow now over the accession of Cyprus. What we will seriously consider now is finding a way to end the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots."
*UN Special Envoy Álvaro de Soto: "This evening I'm biting my tongue."

Loukis Loukaides, the Cypriot judge on the European Court of Human Rights, has since called on Greek Cypriot political leaders to abandon the Annan Plan as a basis for negotiations, arguing that its basic philosophy violates fundamental human rights and the EU "acquis communautaire".


ee also

*History of Cyprus
*Cyprus dispute
*Enlargement of the European Union

External links

* [ The Annan plan] : text and commentary from the UN
* [ No to the Annan Plan] : campaign against the Annan Plan
* [ Oxi sto Sxedio Anan] : campaign against the Annan Plan in Greek
* [ The UN Annan Plan Proposal For the settlement of the Cyprus question] : legal analysis of the Annan Plan
* [ Le Monde Diplomatique] : Implications for the "No" Vote in Cyprus
* [ BBC News] : prior to the vote
* [ BBC News] : results coverage
* [ UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office] : Press Release

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