An Open Letter to H.E. Mr. António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations

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Published in Agora Dialogue on 24 April 2018

OPEN LETTER

Date: 24 April 2018

Dear Secretary-General

Re: The ill-fated ‘Annan Plan’ submitted to ‘separate, simultaneous referenda’ held on 24 April 2004

Today marks the passage of 14 years since the United Nations oversaw what it described at the time as two ‘separate simultaneous referenda’.  These ‘referenda’ were held on 24 April 2004 in what the United Nations also described at the time as ‘the two sides’, i.e. the area of the Republic of Cyprus which has been unlawfully occupied by Turkey since 1974 and the area which has not been occupied by Turkey.

Cy logo 1a Klearchos 27 12 2016In other words, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day was chosen as the date upon which the two ‘referenda’ were held.  The choice of date was an affront to the many citizens of the Republic of Cyprus of Armenian heritage; by extension, it was likewise an affront to the memory of all those who perished or suffered during one of the worst crimes in human history.  Even so, the choice of date was in keeping with the institutional racism and the other forms of direct or indirect discrimination which have blighted so many parts of the Eastern Mediterranean for far too long.

At the heart of the two ‘referenda’ held on 24 April 2004 was a package of draft documents including a draft ‘foundation agreement’, draft ‘main articles’, three draft constitutions, a handful of draft constitutional laws, many draft federal laws and a number of other draft legal texts.  Back then, the Secretary-General of the United Nations was Mr Kofi Annan.  Accordingly, the United Nations named this package of draft texts as ‘the Annan Plan for Cyprus’ (otherwise known as ‘the Annan Plan’).

On 31 March 2004, when Mr Annan unveiled the tip of the iceberg of draft texts embodied in the ‘Annan Plan’, the United Nations issued a statement entitled ‘Annan submits final plan for Cyprus referenda’. In its statement, the United Nations disclosed that the ‘Annan Plan’ amounted to a ‘9,000-page text’.[1]

Built into the United Nations statement, dated 31 March 2004, was a hyperlink to a page on the United Nations website dedicated to the ‘Annan Plan’.  That page, at www.cyprus-un-plan.org/Annan_Plan_April2004.pdf, does not appear to exist anymore.  Nor does the website, www.cyprus-un-plan.org, of which that page formed an integral part.  All those years ago, this United Nations website carried some elements but certainly not every element of the overall package of draft documents forming part of the ‘Annan Plan’.

On 21 April 2004, three days before the two ‘referenda’ were due to be held, Mr Annan delivered a ‘video message’ addressed to persons whom he described as ‘Cypriot friends’.  According to the transcript, as published by the United Nations, Mr Annan revealed that ‘parts of the plan were put together by the United Nations.’  That being said, Mr Annan added that ‘most of its 9,000 pages were drafted by hundreds of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.’  In the judgment of Mr Annan, ‘[t]heir extraordinary efforts produced one of the most comprehensive peace plans in the history of the United Nations.’

With all this in mind, Mr Annan suggested that the ‘Annan Plan’ envisaged ‘one independent and sovereign state, the [proposed] United Cyprus Republic.’  However, Mr Annan was quick to add that his ‘Plan’ also envisaged that this ‘state’ would rest on ‘a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal structure, based on the political equality of the two communities’ and the formation of two new ‘constituent states’.[2] If created, the new constituent state in the south would have been named as the ‘Greek Cypriot Constituent State’ and the other one in the north would have been named as ‘Turkish Cypriot Constituent State’.  In turn, these two ‘Constituent States’ would have come into existence alongside two truncated but surviving British Sovereign Base Areas.

In other words, the ‘Annan Plan’ envisaged that the population and the territory of the Island of Cyprus would have been legally divided in a number of different ways and thereby subjected to an Orwellian state of affairs in which re-division and re-segregation would have been misleadingly portrayed as ‘reunification’.  Indeed, the misleading word ‘reunification’ appeared on no less than two occasions in the message of Mr Annan, as delivered on 21 April 2004.[3]

In his aforementioned message, Mr Annan did not explain that the ‘Plan’ bearing his name amounted to a capitulation to post-1964 Turkish strategy.  After all, since 1964, a full decade before the two Turkish invasions of the Republic of Cyprus, this strategy has sought to achieve a number of improper outcomes, all of which would have been facilitated by the full force of an unjust set of laws if the ‘Annan Plan’ had been implemented in 2004.  In effect, this post-1964 strategy has rested on a number of doctrinal tenets.  These include:

(i)  ‘bi-communal’ segregation via the continued existence of two separate ‘communities’ (owing their historical and intellectual origins to the Ottoman imperial division of people into Muslims and non-Muslims);

(ii) ‘bi-zonal’ supremacism via the legalisation of two segregated ‘zones’, including a ‘Turkish-Cypriot zone’ (of the type manufactured by the use of brute force after the two Turkish invasions of the Republic of Cyprus launched on 20 July and 14 August 1974);

(iii) the legalisation of demographic engineering via ethno-religious cleansing (of the type carried out after the two Turkish invasions of 1974);

(iv) the formation of a fiction of a ‘federation’ amounting to a confederation; and

(v) sustained interference by Turkey and by another former imperial power, the United Kingdom, plus Greece, not least via updated versions of the Treaty of Establishment 1960 and the Treaty of Guarantee 1960, as well as the Treaty of Alliance 1960 (to which the United Kingdom has never been a party).

All in all, the ‘Annan Plan’ effectively turned a blind eye to gross human rights violations and to what appear to have been grave international crimes[4] resulting in the occupation and ethno-religious cleansing of 36 per cent of the territory and 57 per cent of the coastline of the Republic of Cyprus.  These crude outcomes, as achieved by brute force in 1974, were consistent with post-1964 Turkish strategy (as endorsed in 1974 by the United Kingdom and the United States) in favour of a ‘compulsory exchange of population’ involving the ‘compulsory movement of people’ from their homes ‘under duress’; the essence of this strategy was ably identified by Dr Galo Plaza, the then United Nations Mediator, in a landmark report, dated 26 March 1965.[5]

As events were to unfold, the ‘Annan Plan’ was rejected by a total of 76 per cent of the voters who voted in one of the two ‘referenda’ held on 24 April 2004; this was the one held south of the cease-fire lines which have snaked across the Republic of Cyprus since 1974.  In consequence, the ‘Annan Plan’ was duly declared null and void.

In the aftermath of this outcome, further details emerged as to what had happened in the days and months leading up to the ‘referenda’.  For example, in his post-‘referenda’ report as Secretary-General, dated 28 May 2004,[6] Mr Annan shed light on some of the texts which could be found in the 9,000 or so pages of the ‘Plan’ bearing his name.  To quote Mr Annan, these texts included ‘131 federal laws’ which, in turn, comprised ‘4 constitutional laws, 124 federal laws and 3 Cooperation Agreements, and running in total to almost 9,000 pages’.  In addition, these texts included ‘a final list’ which consisted of ‘1,134 treaties and instruments’ that would have been binding upon the proposed ‘United Cyprus Republic’ if the latter had come into being in the event of ‘a double yes’ in the two ‘referenda’.

Contrary to the most basic principles of democracy, such as procedural fairness, accountability, transparency and public participation in decision-making, the 9,000 or so pages of the ‘Annan Plan’, including three draft constitutions and dozens of draft laws, were composed in secret.  Moreover, it appears as if these 9,000 or so pages were submitted to two ‘referenda’ in the absence of any consultation exercises and without having passed through any meaningful process of line-by-line parliamentary or public scrutiny.  This in spite of the fact that, on 1 May 2004, the Republic of Cyprus was due to accede to the European Union, an organisation which is supposedly a bastion of democracy and democratic values.

In the light of the above, in the interests of historical scholarship and for the sake of an accessible public record, I hereby ask eight sets of questions of a procedural character, which I trust you will answer on behalf of the United Nations:

  1. Apart from the texts relating to the ‘anthem’ and the ‘flag’ relating to the proposed ‘United Cyprus Republic’, were any of the many draft texts built into the ill-fated Annan Plan of 2004, such as the draft constitutions and the draft laws, made the subjects of any consultation exercises in the interests of democracy, transparency and procedural fairness?  If so, which texts were subjected to consultation exercises and how were such exercises carried out?  If no such consultations exercises were carried out, why were none carried out?
  1. In the days leading up to the two ‘referenda’ held on 24 April 2004, which of the 9,000 or so pages in the ‘Annan Plan’ were in the public domain via the designated United Nations website at www.cyprus-un-plan.org or otherwise and when was each placed into the public domain?  If any of the 9,000 or so pages in the ‘Annan Plan’ were not in the public domain on or before the date of the ‘referenda’, why were they not in the public domain?
  1. How many of the persons who voted in the ‘referendum’ held in the Turkish-occupied north of the Republic of Cyprus were not citizens of the Republic of Cyprus on 24 April 2004?  Was citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus a prerequisite for voting in this ‘referendum’?  If not, why not?
  1. Where are the 9,000 or so pages embodied in the ill-fated ‘Annan Plan’?  Are they or have they ever been in the public domain?  If so, where?  If not, why not?
  1. Has an archive been assembled by the United Nations in connection with what appears to have been the secret process of negotiating, drafting and proof-reading the 9,000 or so pages embodied in the ‘Annan Plan’?  If so, where is that archive, is it available to the public and upon which legal basis does the archive rest?  If no such archive has been assembled, will you please explain why not?
  1. With reference to the contents of paragraph 29 of the aforementioned Report of the Secretary-General, dated 28 May 2004, has the archive mentioned in Question 5 incorporated the minutes of all ‘discussions’ and of all ‘meetings’ of the seven ‘technical committees’, twelve ‘sub-committees’ and any other groups which were formed to handle the preparations for the ‘referenda’ and the proposed establishment of the ‘United Cyprus Republic’?
  1. What has happened to the designated United Nations website www.cyprus-un-plan.org?  By the same token, what has happened to all of the documents which were uploaded onto that website?
  1. Since 24 April 2004, why has the United Nations continued to oversee negotiations and other talks which continue to take place in the Republic of Cyprus (and elsewhere) in secret?
  1. Since 24 April 2004, has an archive been assembled by the United Nations in connection with all of the negotiations and other talks which have taken place in relation to the proposed ‘settlement’ in the Republic of Cyprus?  If so, where is that archive, is it available to the public and upon which legal basis does that archive rest?  If no such archive has been assembled, why has it not been assembled?
  1. Do you agree with the representative of Egypt who, at the meeting of the United Nations Security Council held on 27 July 2017, expressed ‘hope that a just settlement would be reached through a transparent and inclusive process’?[7] If so, do you and the United Nations propose to take any steps to promote justice, transparency and inclusiveness in the search for a ‘settlement’ in the Republic of Cyprus?  If not, why not?

I look forward to hearing from you in response to the above.

In the meantime, I take this opportunity to remind you that on 23 August 2004, just a few months after the demise of the ‘Annan Plan’, Mr Annan had this to say on the inter-linkage between the rule of law, accountability, transparency, procedural fairness and public participation in decision-making:

‘The rule of law is a concept at the very heart of the [United Nations] Organization’s mission. It refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.’[8]

As the future unfolds, I trust you and the United Nations will take concrete steps to ensure that these noble democratic values are translated into concrete outcomes for the benefit of those who ought to matter most – the citizens and other lawful residents of the Republic of Cyprus, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or other background.  On the other hand, if these values succumb to the neo-imperial strategy, crude objectives and segregationist doctrinal tenets espoused by Turkey, democracy may die and tyranny may triumph.

Yours sincerely

Klearchos A. Kyriakides

Dr Klearchos A. Kyriakides is an Assistant Professor in the School of Law at the Cyprus Campus of the University of Central Lancashire; he is also the Co-ordinator of its programme dedicated to the Rule of Law and the Lessons of History. That said, all views expressed by the author in this open letter and in his other publications are personal.

The author declares an interest as a British citizen with roots in Lysi and Petra, two ethno-religiously-cleansed villages in the Turkish-occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus; on a voluntary unpaid basis, he is also an independent academic consultant of Lobby for Cyprus, a non-party-political NGO based in London which campaigns on behalf of displaced persons from the Turkish-occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus.  In 2004, the author co-wrote (with Van Coufoudakis) The Case Against the Annan Plan, a short book which was published by Lobby for Cyprus in London and circulated in the Republic of Cyprus and elsewhere before the two ‘referenda’ held on 24 April 2004.

This open letter forms part of a series of open letters, articles and other publications published by Agora Dialogue and available via the hyperlinks available at www.uclancyprus.ac.cy/en/courses/school-law/academics/dr-klearchos-kyriakides

© Klearchos A. Kyriakides, Larnaca, April 2018

[1] This statement of the United Nations, dated 31 March 2004, may be viewed on the website of the United Nations at https://news.un.org/en/story/2004/03/99132-annan-submits-final-settlement-plan-cyprus-referenda

[2] The transcript of the message, dated 21 April 2004, may be viewed on the website of the United Nations at www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2004-04-21/secretary-generals-video-message-people-cyprus

[3] As to the real meaning of ‘reunification’, see Klearchos A. Kyriakides, ‘What does ‘reunification’ really mean?’, Agora Dialogue, 22 May 2017, published at http://agora-dialogue.com/2017/05/22/what-does-reunification-really-mean/

[4] See inter alia European Commission of Human Rights, Applications Nos. 6780/74 and 6950/75, Cyprus Against Turkey, Report of the Commission (Adopted on 10 July 1976 and declassified on 31 August 1979), page 165.  Published online by the European Court of Human Rights at https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/app/conversion/pdf/?library=ECHR&id=001-142540.pdf (Volume I) and at https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/app/conversion/pdf?library=ECHR&id=001-142541.pdf (Volume II).  Also see the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in cases such as Cyprus v Turkey [2001] ECHR 331 and Cyprus v Turkey [2014] ECHR 478, as well as Varnava and others v Turkey [20080 ECHR 30 and Varnava and others v Turkey [2009] ECHR 1313.

[5] ‘Report of the United Nations Mediator on Cyprus’, 26 March 1965, United Nations Security Council Document S/6253, paragraphs 72, 73, 74, 75, 78, 82 and 153.  Published online by the United Nations at https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/573661/files/S_6253-EN.pdf

[6] ‘Report of the Secretary-General on his mission of good offices in Cyprus’, 28 May 2004, United Nations Security Council Document S/2004/437, paragraph 44.  Published by the United Nations at https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/522514?ln=en

[7] See the statement issued by the United Nations Security Council on 27 July 2017.  Published online by the United Nations at www.un.org/press/en/2017/sc12931.doc.htm

[8] ‘Report of the Secretary-General on the Rule of Law and Transitional Justice in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies’, United Nations Security Council Document S/2004/616, paragraph 5 on page 3.  Published online at https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/527647?ln=en

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