Minister of Foreign Affairs 1978-1983
Minister of Commerce, Industry & Tourism 1998-2003
Member of the House of Representatives 1991-1996
President of the Liberal Party 1986-1998
Vice-President of Liberal International 1994-1998
21 October 2015
THE SANDS OF HISTORY ARE RUNNING OUT IN THE HOURGLASS
By NICOS A. ROLANDIS
The great Athenian philosopher Socrates had once said that “It is better to suffer injustice rather than impose injustice on others”.
In the negotiations on Cyprus we are trying to do better than what the wise Athenian had preached. We are trying to strike a solution whereby there will be overall justice. It is not an easy objective. Because each negotiating side views justice from its own angle, especially after the lapse of so many years…
If one goes back for sixty years to check and examine carefully the so many sins and blunders of the two communities over the years, he will underscore two basic crimes and two fatal errors.
- The crime of the Greek and Greek Cypriot coup d’ etat of 1974, the clear objective of which was to demolish the Republic of Cyprus and achieve union with Greece.
- The crime of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, not for the “sole aim” of restoring constitutional order as provided in article 4 of the Treaty of Guarantee but for the military occupation and control of more than one third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus (The right to invade is anyway absolutely disputed).
- The fatal blunder of the President of the Republic of Cyprus who attempted to amend the Constitution in 1963, against the advice of Greece.
- The failure of the Greek Cypriots to bring about a solution to the Cyprus problem during all the years of the recent past, despite the many opportunities, some of which were quite good. In my article of the 30th January 2008 I refer to 15 such missed opportunities between 1948 and 2008.
All those, who thwarted for one reason or another or for their own interests the solution of the Cyprus problem, are the ones who are answerable for the tragedy and the present predicament of Cyprus. These are the people who kept rejecting what was “good” and kept running after something “better”, until we hit the bottom and reached partition.
At the beginning of the problem there were no Turkish settlers. There were no ‘users’ of properties. There was no bizonality in the sense which the word acquired later on. There was no rotating presidency. There were no turkish and other foreign huge investments in the occupied land. The two separate “worlds”, in the south and in the north had not been built. Occupation was not so deeply rooted and the return of territory was much easier.
All the “great patriots” who dealt a blow on Cyprus during the past decades, are the ones who are shouting today as well. They are trying to demolish Mustafa Akinci’s image and to destroy his credibility. They forget one thing: That Akinci is not a Greek Cypriot, he is a Turkish Cypriot. He naturally expresses the stand of his own community, which is under negotiation. After all, if Akinci’s arguments were acceptable to us, the current negotiations would make no sense.
I do not agree with all the positions of Mustafa either. I believe that in some cases he goes too far. However, in order to be fair and correct, let us examine why Akinci takes such a stand on some issues. Let us try to find out to what extent these positions are a “gift” to Akinci by some of our “great patriots”, who, despite our many warnings over the years, in their quest of a long term struggle and through their rejectionist attitude, allowed time to mark negatively and in a destructive way the Cyprus problem.
I do not go through the above as an external observer. I was there, personally, when they were happening, I fought the negative attitude. I resigned from my post of Foreign Minister in 1983, I objected, without any result. Unfortunately we live in a world where slogans, misrepresentation and material interests are stronger than truth.
So, let us see how some of our “patriots” made, through their perennial rejectionism, a gift to Akinci of some of his main arguments:
- Guaranteed majority of the population and of the land ownership of each federated state: Such a position did not exist until the early 1990’s. However The Secretary General of the United Nations Boutros Boutros Ghali by his Report to the Security Council dated the 8th March 1990, document S/21183, Annex 1 describes bizonality as follows: “Bizonality should be clearly brought out by the fact that each federated state will be administered by one community which will be firmly guaranteed a clear majority of the population and of the land ownership in its area”. The Security Council, resolution 649 of the 12 March 1990, having studied the above Report, decided to support fully the efforts of the Secretary General on Cyprus and also that the solution should be bicomunal and bizonal. Bizonality is also reaffirmed by Security Council Resolutions 716 (1991), 750 (1992) and 774 (1992). The United Nations Charter (Article 25) provides that the “members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council”. We should therefore not blame Akinci because he adopts the Reports of the Secretary General and also the Security Council resolutions. We should set forth our own arguments (and there are some arguments).
- Rights of “users” of properties vis-à-vis the rights of the owners: Up until the year 2010 the problem was limited. However the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Demopoulos and others against Turkey (March 2010) does not help at all our side. Through the judgment of the Court it becomes clear that the lapse of 35 years weakens substantially the rights of the owners.
- Settlers from Turkey: When the Anglo-American-Canadian Plan was handed over to us in November 1978 (the best plan we ever had) there were no settlers. We rejected the plan, despite my objections ( I was Foreign Minister at the time). In 1981 we had approximately 15,000 settlers, who were ready to depart and be paid US$5,000 per head (the Americans would foot the bill), on the basis of a plan prepared by me and Hugo Gobbi, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General. The plan was eventually rejected by us. So, the settlers stayed in Cyprus and their number has now reached the figure of possibly 200-300.000. How can we, in practical terms, send out of Cyprus hundreds of thousands of people after 40 years?
- Rotating Presidency: In the Anglo-American-Canadian Plan of 1978 there was no “rotating presidency”. We rejected the Plan. The rotating presidency came up gradually in 1983 and thereafter.
- Bizonality: At the beginning there was only bi-regional and bi-communal federation. Gradually bizonality moved into our lives and was formally agreed by us in the Agreement of the 8th July 2006 between Papadopoulos and Talat.
- Famagusta and Morphou: There was a time when they were in our embrace. The two nymphs, one in the east and the other in the north west were at the tips of our fingers. We could touch them. Today they only exist in our dreams and our objectives. They exist in our yearly marches, which lead nowhere.
They both evaporated together with the various plans which we rejected.
Nicos Anastasiades took over in the Cyprus relay race, a baton contaminated with the sins of decades. And he has opposite him not only the Turkish Cypriots but also those Greek Cypriots who have caused the contamination of the baton. Normally, quite a number of them should go through Dante’s “Purgatorio” in order to “find forgiveness for their sins” as the great poet prescribes in his “Divina Comedia”.
I urge Nicos to go on with the negotiations and try to achieve the best possible solution. A respectable solution under conditions which the lapse of time has rendered very awkward and painful.
What Ioannis Kasoulides said recently I also reiterated time and again: “If we cannot find a way with Akinci, we shall not make it with anyone else in the future”. We shall only come across partition which was created, with our contribution as well, through our stupidity or even worse, the annexation of the occupied territory by Turkey.
Former President of Turkey Ismet Inonu had once said: “There is no need for us Turks to work. The Greeks are working for us”.
Let us not do a favour to him once more. Let us move before the sands of History run out in the hourglass.