By Lambros George Kaoullas (Staff Writer)
24th April marked twelve years since Cypriot Greeks rejected in a referendum, by an overwhelming 76% margin, the UN-sponsored “Annan Plan”. By contrast, 65% of Cypriot Turks with Turkish settlers in the occupied north accepted the plan in a separate referendum.
This rejection by Cypriot Greeks must be startlingly puzzling to a foreign observer. I can even picture an annoyed reaction in my mind: Wait a minute! You Cypriot Greeks complain that 37% of your land has been militarily occupied since 1974. You shout that 200,000 members of your population are still refugees. Hundreds of murdered citizens and soldiers are still unaccounted for because the Turkish army will not allow excavations of mass graves, and of those who have been identified, many were found with a bullet on their head – executed prisoners of war. Scores of women have been raped, left psychologically tormented forever. Homes and businesses have been pillaged. You complain there’s an influx of Turkish settlers, part of a grand project of demographic engineering to topple the population balances on the island. You grumble there’s an ongoing ethnocide on the island. Millennia-old Hellenic and Christian heritage in the occupied north has been reduced to smithereens and thrown down the memory hole. Greek towns and villages have been forcefully rebranded Ottoman and Turkish. Ancient Greek ruins are left in disrepute. Medieval churches are turned into hotels, restaurants, bars, toilets and stables, or simply lay desecrated. Even cemeteries are not spared, having been dug up, with the bones of the deceased scattered in plain sight. Orthodox icons and frescoes are sold by smugglers in the bazaars, auctions and black markets of the world. The few Cypriot Greeks who remained in the Karpasia peninsula are perishing, forgotten, in oppressive conditions worse than serfdom. And on top of that, you fly in our faces the UN Security Council resolutions, such as 353/1974, 541/1983, and 550/1984, where Turkey has been condemned, along with a million other documents from many other international organisations.
Then why did you, Cypriot Greeks, reject a peace plan en masse, and continue to do so in repeated polls and surveys?