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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April 2004, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Has Cyprus missed an opportunity?
A woman listens to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash addressing a rally to call for a 'No' vote in Saturday's referendum.
Over 75% of Greek Cypriots have voted to reject a UN plan to reunite the island.

Following Saturday's referendum, Cyprus will stay divided when it joins the European Union on 1 May.

EU laws and benefits will apply only to the Greek Cypriot community, under the terms of the referendum.

Turkish Cypriots in the north voted for the plan with a clear majority - 65% yes against 35% no - but both sides had to vote for reunification before it could happen.

Has Cyprus missed a good opportunity? Has the referendum created new problems for the island? Is anyone to blame? Tell us your views.


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of the opinions we have received:

I must say I feel relieved after Saturday's results. Being forced to pay for Cyprus military defence, and sending every year thousands of Greeks soldiers to "protect" the Greek-Cypriots, for the last 30 years, I can only say good luck to them.
Sotiris, Athens, Greece

I see a peaceful solution if the island is kept as it is currently, with an independent North Cyprus
Tan, London
Everyone should remember that the Turks have as much right to the Island as the Greeks do. I see a peaceful solution if the island is kept as it is currently with an independent North Cyprus. There has been relative peace for the last 30 years which proves my point.
Tan, London

Being a distant neutral to this issue, it seems to me that the Greek Cypriots by voting against the referendum have deprived the Turkish part of the benefits of joining the EU. It is my opinion that the EU should not admit Greek Cyprus without resolving the problem of Cyprus.
Kesavan Mukunthan, Chennai, India

I am a Greek refugee from the 74 war in Cyprus. Thirty years on I see the same old idiots with their "patriotism", nationalism and sheer stupidity still run the country and will do anything to stick to their stupid ideas. So it seems the Greek Cypriots will say NO to the plan. NICE!!! There is only one solution to the problem: the Turks keep the north after returning the part that is more than their percentage of population; build a wall as a border; and let each community live in peace. When all of us stupid, fanatical, patriotic idiots die and a few generations pass then hopefully our cleverer descendants will tear down the wall and live together.
Andreas, Montpellier France

I empathize with the fears of the mainland Turks
Carolyn Demetriou, Cyprus
I empathize with the fears of the mainland Turks, who have lived in the north of our island for some 30 years now, and a generation of 30-year-olds wondering where they are going to end up! But how about guys like me, who lost their family home, land and heritage? My father has not been able to visit his beloved village of Yerani for 30 years! He worked extremely hard, investing his hard earned money, and had that all taken away from him overnight! Now, with this referendum, they are asking him to give up more! When do we stop giving?
Alex and Carolyn Demetriou, USA/London/Cyprus

It appears to be a mistake by the EU to admit Cyprus before both sides agree to reunify. Having supported the Greek Cypriots until now - I find myself in sympathy with the Turkish Cypriots. If they vote "yes" the EU and international community should end all embargoes and ensure both communities on the island are treated equally.
Tony Bosten, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Why on earth should Greek Cypriots be forced to share their country with Turkish invaders who colonised part of it by force as recently as 1974? Instead of trying to "reunite" this island, the EU should send troops to force the Turks to leave.
Nick Jones, UK

I am so relieved to see the exit polls say no to the favours given to occupying Turks whose forces should have vacated Cyprus years ago. Justice and fairness has prevailed.
rony hewitt, Twickenham /England

Where does this idea arise that one island has to be one country?
Timothy McKinney, Belfast, UK
Where does this idea arise that one island has to be one country? Northern Cyprus should unite with Turkey. A United Cyprus is a recipe for disaster. Why stir the pot when things are perfectly peaceful the way they are? It is extremely arrogant of the Greek Cypriots to think that they should have a right to control the whole island of Cyprus.
Timothy McKinney, Belfast, UK

I don't know if the UN plan is the best thing for Cyprus. I was six when the events of 1974 took place and I still have nightmares, but it's time to move on and get over the racism and biases. Turkish Cypriots have just as much rights to keep their homes and their culture as the Greek Cypriots. Turkish Cyprus should be given its independence and recognized as an independent nation.
Hulya, Toronto, Canada

The UN reunification plan says that the new 48-seat Cyprus Senate would be comprised of 24 Turkish Cypriots and 24 Greek Cypriots, and would have veto power. With a population split of 25%/75%. Such a misrepresentation would be a recipe for future disaster. This plan merits rejection and replacement by a better alternative.
Johannes, Maracaibo, Venezuela

There is no war in Cyprus
Nedim Aslan, Turkey
Pressure on both sides is unacceptable. Saying 'no' in the referendum would mean people in Cyprus do not accept USA and EU pressure and their imperial mentality. There is no war in Cyprus. Why do UN, USA and EU not work on a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine?
Nedim Aslan, Turkey

Why doesn't the world stop bullying the defenceless Greek Cypriots, and give them back their country? First, Turkey invaded the North of Cyprus and killed people, and now they want to be rewarded for it. How sad and unfair this world is, especially if the Annan Plan succeeds. It will forever place the Greeks under Turkish occupation.
Olympia, London

This plan will never work. It is biased towards the Turkish Cypriot side in many ways. It's unbelievable that Turkish troops would be allowed to illegally occupy a future EU member state along with Turkish settlers from the mainland. What this all boils down to is British and American fingers in the pie many years ago when Kissinger gave Turkey his blessing to invade Cyprus because of its strategic position within the Middle East and Europe.

It makes me depressed to read how overwhelmingly negative the Greek Cypriots are about the plan
Paul, UK

How long did it take for Coalition forces to help Kuwait when Iraq invaded during the first Gulf War? 30 years on and half of Cyprus is still illegally occupied...if Cyprus had oil I "wonder" if Kissinger and Britain would've given the go-ahead for an invasion?
Vangelis, England

It makes me really depressed to read how overwhelmingly negative the Greek Cypriots are about the plan. This is the biggest chance you'll have in the foreseeable future to reunite your country. Maybe it's not perfect, but at least it's something that lets you live in peace with your neighbours.

Don't forget, the Turkish Cypriots are scared of you, of your wealth and the history of conflict, just as you have memories of the Turkish invasion. Isn't the main street of Lefkosia named after a man who led attacks on Turkish Cypriots? Please, put aside your anger. Both sides have made mistakes in the past. It's time to move on.
Paul, UK

It is amazing to read some comments that do not even acknowledge the existence of Turkish Cypriots, and talk about the island as being a Greek heaven stolen by Turks. The Turkish population had been living on the island for over four centuries. Before the Turkish invasion, there were over a hundred thousand Turkish Cypriots living there. It is sad to see many of my fellow British are seeing this issue from a racial point of view.
Paul, USA/UK

The Germans had to pay compensation to the Polish for what they did to them in WWII, the Libyans are compensating the victims of Lockerbie. Given the crimes carried out against the Greek Cypriots by the Turkish there should be no reunification without compensation.
David Howe, Chelmsford Uk

No European citizen would ever consider accepting the Annan plan if thoroughly briefed about its content. This is a plan conceived as a gift to the Turkish (NOT the Turkish-Cypriot) side. Only, Turkey will never be allowed to join the EU, so why bother?
Jim , Belgium

The situation is too far gone to do anything really constructive about it
Sheridan, Reading, England

The problem seems to be the Greek-Cypriots strange version of history. Turkey only invaded after Greek-Cypriots launched a coup to join Cyprus with Greece. At the time Greece was run by a fascist military Junta. I don't blame Turkey for protecting the Turkish minority on Cyprus. No-one else would.
Peter, UK

To Peter UK: well, it seems to me that your version of the story is a bit "strange". First of all England, Greece and Turkey are guarantors of Cyprus and England could very easily protect the Turkish minority if it was attacked (and without occupying half the island as Turkey did). Second, the occupation of Cyprus by Turkey happened in two consecutive operations with the codenames "Attila I&II" although after "Attila I" a ceasefire had been reached.

Third, although the Turkish troops invaded with the pretext of protecting the Turkish-Cypriot minority they committed a number of atrocities and war crimes such as expelling civilians and murdering POWs (and still 30 years after the event there are thousands of missing people).

Since the invasion there have been a number of Greek-Cypriots killed, two of them murdered on film. So I believe that we should look at the bigger picture before judging either side. It is time to remember the past but bury the hatchet!
Alice P, Athens Greece

I praise Mr Annan for trying to solve the Cyprus problem, but unfortunately his plan is unbalanced in favour of the Turkish Cypriots. I believe that the Greek side should reject the plan, and look to continue unity negotiations over a longer period, and a less strict timetable after May 1st. I don't see why there should be a sudden rush, after the island has been divided for 30 years.
Andrew, Walthamstow, London

The situation now is too far gone to do anything really constructive about it. Calls to forget the past and move forward are specious to say the least. Imagine if your nearest neighbour ousted you from your home illegally and then a higher power gave that invader the right to stay put, legal recognition of those rights and the powers of force to ensure it stays that way.

It is a shame that Cyprus did not have any oil to protect when the Turkish invaded as I am sure certain western powers would have done something a little more positive for the Greek Cypriots at the time. Even after just 30yrs, we have a similar issue to that that has dogged N. Ireland for ever. Whatever is done, someone will feel cheated and rightly so.

A generation of Turks on the Island see it as home, so could not be repatriated and the Greeks who have longed to return to their homes will never be able to. I sadly feel that the current situation will remain in place as nobody is going to make the Turkish leave and most Greeks will never accept that the Turkish have any right to stay.
Sheridan, Reading, England

I have been to Cyprus on two occasions and it is certainly one of my favourite places in the world. I loved strolling along the beachfront of Limassol, and Nicosia is a place where I could make my home. As with any conflict within a nation or between nations, we are always reminded of the atrocities that took place, but the young people should not be blamed for the action of their forefathers. In years to come, there will be no survivors of the war between the Turks and Greek Cypriots, and whilst it will always be known what happened, there will be no one left to actually remember.

It is often the older generation filling the younger with hate and therefore the hate goes on and on. I know that there is still hatred between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, but if the young people can learn to live side by side again then Cyprus can be reunited.
Linda, Hull, UK

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Spyros Hadjipanayis, Cyprus:
People's thoughts on the Annan Cyprus peace plan. Should the Cypriots accept it?

Sadly I think not, I was a soldier in Cyprus just before they had the war and the Greeks hated the Turks and visa versa. I have been back there on several occasions and to be honest I feel that the hatred is still there, but let's hope that they can reunite and live side by side in peace.
Peter, S Wales

As an English-Cypriot , I do find that the Greeks consider it THEIR country and generally do not acknowledge that the Turkish population has been on the island as long as them. I also find it hard to establish this Greek - Turkish divide. Neither side are actually Greek or actually Turkish, they are descendants of the whole region. Get on with life lose the chip on the shoulders and unite.
Steve, London

I hope that Cyprus can unite. Otherwise the solution I propose, is to make Cyprus an international state under the control of the United Nations. Encourage cultural, social, educational and economic interactions between the peoples. Until they are ready to form a united government.
Darren, Australia

I am surprised that Cyprus' membership of the EU is not conditional on reunification
Nick Johnson, UK

I am surprised that Cyprus' membership of the EU is not conditional on reunification. If this were the case then there would be the perfect incentive for both sides to get their act together and do the right thing. As things stand at present the Greek community has nothing to lose by voting no in the referendum.
Nick Johnson, UK

I don't see why there is such an obsession with reuniting the two halves of Cyprus. It seems that the two sets of people live side by side quite peacefully. Changing this may lead to old problems emerging once more. If the people of Cyprus are happy with things as they are then the next step is to recognise the North as a separate country and to remove all sanctions.
John Wallace, UK

Anybody who has been to Cyprus can tell you this is a complete waste of time. Nothing less than the complete withdrawal of all Turkish forces and people will be acceptable. The Cypriots want to return to their homes, to consider anything less is a joke. There will be no unity, and Turkey will be vetoed for any future attempts to join Europe.
Keith, Sunderland; UK

The plan is a farce
Andreas Stavrou, UK

The plan is a farce. Why should any Cypriot have to accept a permanent expropriation of their home? Turkey wants to join the EU but wants derogations so it does not have to respect the basic human rights that the EU represents and which have been tested in the judicial system already. Most Turkish Cypriots (not the thousands of illegal settlers) would happily live with their Greek Cypriot compatriots because their life is currently hell under the Denktash regime.
Andreas Stavrou, UK

As a young Cypriot just about to begin my life I find the plan both unfair and disappointing. Like most of us here I fear for what this plan will bring in the future and have not yet decided what to vote. However one thing upsets me even more. What was the point of our entering the EU if with this plan some of our most basic human rights are not being met and where was Europe to defend these!
Andrea, Cyprus

There are two distinct communities: Greek and Turkish, and two distinct regions: north and south. The communities don't correspond exactly to the regions. In light of this, perhaps the Belgian model would be more applicable than the Swiss.
Paul Giles, Belgium

The reunification will take place only on paper. The continued presence of the Turkish troops on the northern area of Cyprus means that the agreement is just a cosmetic gesture. It is inevitable that the Turkish Cypriot community would get overwhelmed were true unification to occur. A tough price to pay, but in exchange for giving up their identity, the Turkish minority would have much better chances to gain prosperity.
Doug, US

The last version of the Annan plan seems to be the most realistic proposal ever suggested by the UN since the beginning of the debate. For Turkish Cypriots it is really difficult to forget past and live together within a homogeneous community after all that happened in the 1960s.

For this reason the separate, heterogeneous states of each society must be strongly emphasized to hinder possible tensions. After all, Greek Cypriots have a really high nationalist approach against both Turkey and Northern Cyprus.

And as Turks on the mainland, we are deeply concerned about our kins' position on the isle after disengagement of Turkish troops. Nevertheless we have to give a chance to peace and look forward for the prosperity of Cyprus.
Mesut Baris Ýsik, Eskisehir,Turkey

If we say yes to this renewed Annan Plan it really means we patted Turkey on the back and more or less said "yes, come and invade the island." It also gives out a signal to other countries that if they invade another country and hang on long enough, they will get it!
HILDA GEORGIOU, Cyprus

Is unification possible? Certainly. But, if (Greek) Cyprus joins the EU on May 1 no matter what and gains a veto over any future Turkish membership application, cynically speaking why should they accept this deal with its perpetual Turkish troop presence on Cypriot soil and reduced national sovereignty? It's all up to the Greek Cypriots.
Paul, California, USA

A reunited Cyprus will only come about if its people want it enough
Andreas, UK

I think the solution to the problem is quite simple. Keep the two parts of the island separate but recognise the Turkish part as being just another part of Turkey. This would mean the crippling sanctions could be lifted and Turkish Cyprus wouldn't be economically blackmailed into joining a united Cyprus or the bureaucratic dictatorship that is the EU.
Estifanos Zeray, England

The plan is drafted by the Secretary General of The United Nations and it will probably be adopted in a Security Council resolution. Furthermore it is supported by the European Union. The island has already lost 40 years because of mistrust and hatred. Let's put the past behind us and try to build a future together for our children's sake. If the people of the island Turkish and Greek decide to live together no plan will keep them apart. My fellow citizens forget about the details look at the big picture.
Rifat, The Netherlands

A plan that is unfair for the Greek Cypriot side and imposed on them only days before joining the EU is bound to fail. In my opinion, it will be easier to reunite the island by modifying the Annan plan to make it more 'European' and implementing it after the 1st of May when the Republic of Cyprus enters the EU.
George Kalisperides, Cyprus

As a UK Greek Cypriot, it makes me sad to see so many negative comments from my compatriots. A reunited Cyprus will only come about if its people want it enough and have the vision to look beyond the short-term difficulties there will undoubtedly be. It is inevitable that any deal will be a compromise that will need to deal, as a priority, with the justifiable fears of each side. Please, people of Cyprus, ignore your small-minded leaders with their bigoted obsession with the past, and look to the future. We owe it to our children to at least start to deal with the mess our parents left us.
Andreas, UK

How can Cyprus hold a referendum when there are 200,000 refugees, living outside of Cyprus? Or is their vote invalid?
George, United Kingdom

For 30 years we've waited for a solution and nobody cared. Now one month before we join the EU everybody wants to solve it - isn't that strange?
Tasos Petrides, Cyprus

The Annan plan for the Cyprus reunification is unfair
Kostas Pantopoulos, Canada

The Annan plan for the Cyprus reunification is unfair and justifies the Turkish aggression of 1974. Nevertheless, under the umbrella of the European Union, it may offer an opportunity to overcome the divisions of the past. I wish it were more balanced for the Greek Cypriots, who now have difficult decisions to make. A "yes" in the referendum would be painful, but probably the right choice.
Kostas Pantopoulos, Canada

What is this urge to unite everything? Why can't groups of people work out their differences without the need to become one entity?
Graham, UK

If the Turkish Cypriots insist on restrictions on the right of residence and investment in the north, then - presuming reunification goes ahead - surely it is only fair that there are restrictions on their right to reside and invest in the rest of the European Union? There are two sides to every coin...
Peter Ward, Scotland

The Annan plan appears biased and unjust. If this is the best solution to the Cyprus problem, I shudder to even consider the worst. Mr Secretary General, you betray my high opinion of your impartiality and fairness. Rather than serving the interests of reunification your plan, and subsequent verbal statements, are considered provocative.
Michael Charles, Cyprus

I believe that peace and reunification can be achieved
Emanuel, Canada

As a Canadian soldier who served as a peacekeeper with The UN in Cyprus. I believe that peace and reunification can be achieved. The will of the people there is very strong and positive. I am very pleased to see this issue on the World agenda... this situation has gone on way too long.
Emanuel, Canada

At least, somebody is thinking of reuniting in a divided world...
Rakesh, USA

All Cypriots should live together under one constitution, similar to the US constitution, which does not discriminate religious background.
Eleftherios Eleftheriou, USA

If there is unification, then surely it is likely that the north will be subject to a huge influx of Anatolian Turks, looking to live in a Turkish speaking part of the EU with the aim of obtaining an EU passport. I cannot see Denktash doing anything to prevent the influx of a large number of Turks to bolster the Turkish minority.
James Singleton, UK

What is Annan's plan for N Ireland then to have a combined church? The plan is unfair to the Greeks. If Turkey wants EU membership, clean the hands from the past, give Cyprus back. The UN should not even acknowledge the Turkish side. If this is the best plan from the UN, then we should question the organization.
Daniel, Austria

If they have only been separated for 30 years, then I think reunification is possible. Cypriots must first think of themselves as such, instead of Greek or Turkish.
Beth, USA

There is always a solution to a problem. But how can Annan impose a restriction on people going back to their homes and letting the Turkish troops remain on the island? Cyprus is already one but split by the political leaders and the UN who should be the ones to leave!!! This deal is definitely in the Turkish people's favour and all the Greek Cypriots should vote no.
Mikey Mike, England

I think this seems like a fair plan for all parties in Cyprus. However if either side rejects it then North Cyprus should be recognised as an independent country in the international arena.
Metin K, Turkey

Cyprus can surely be reunited and the present Annan plan provides a perfectly balanced settlement for peace. Contrary to the prevailing Greek Cypriot feelings, there is no loser in this plan. The problem with Greek Cypriots is that they regard the partnership of Turkish Cypriots in a united Cyprus something of a privilege whereas it is our long deserved right.
Okan, North Cyprus

This deal appears to appease the UN (aka US) and Nato rather than the Greek Cypriots. How can we have a plan where citizens of an EU member state, still can't return to their homes (including my family) where Turkish and American forces occupy illegally possessed land? It seems to me that most of the concessions and financial burdens are from the Greek Cypriots. Until there is 100 percent freedom to live anywhere on the island and all foreign troops leave then the Greek Cypriots should vote NO.
Andrew, England

This plan is invalid because of two things. It discriminates against the Greek Cypriots (right to return, representation, property rights) and it justifies an aggression (Turkish troops will remain where they should not be in the first place). I would be highly surprised to see this unjust plan go through.
Boris Koltchanov, Latvia

Given the final plan and the fact that Turkey will be allowed to keep troops in the north, I find it really difficult for a referendum to have any hope of success. The UN has proved once more how ineffective it can be as an organisation
Ioannis Galanakis, Greece

Sometimes I wonder whether Cyprus should reunite
Maria, Athens

Sometimes I wonder whether Cyprus should reunite. The Annan Plan keeps so much division between two governmental groups, two population segments, two election procedures, two armies and so on, that it makes me wonder why the two parties should not simply divide into two distinct countries with a clear duality instead of this "virtual" unison. I am also really puzzled to see that, while Greece is a EU member and Greek Cyprus a member to be, the EU protects and mainly stands by a non-recognised by the UN state (Turkish Cyprus) and a non member country (Turkey). It is rather frustrating.
Maria, Athens, Greece

Cyprus definitely can be reunited. The only problem is the lack of a viable plan. A long tortuous constitution doesn't help, and the fact that the Greek Cypriot side will bear the brunt of the economic and social cost of the plan, while the Turkish Cypriot side has everything to gain, including the presence of Turkish troops, EU passports, higher standard of living and tens of thousands of Turkish settlers to remain on the island. The result is confusion and disagreement. I feel a much more simple but radical plan would have had a better chance.
Mike, Cyprus

Having just spent sometime in Cyprus recently the population on both sides see unification as the way forward. However, there are elements in the South who are worried how much unification will cost them.
Peter Haynes, Germany

I hope that the two sides will be able to see past their differences
Rachel, Oxfordshire, UK
Cyprus is a beautiful country, with wonderful people. I hope that the two sides will be able to see past their differences and come to an agreement. I fear that if this is not achieved now, then Cyprus will be divided for many years to come.
Rachel, Oxfordshire, UK

The continued presence of Turkish troops is a very bad idea. The Cypriots will have the feeling of being occupied by a foreign nation. Only Greek-Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots should be allowed to stay. No-one from the "motherlands" should have rights in Cyprus. We have seen in Iraq what happens when an unwanted army is present. My father's village is currently a Turkish army camp and is out of bounds to the public. What gives anyone the right to stop people from seeing where their ancestors lived? I hope the Cypriots vote NO to this proposal.
Dino Avraamides, UK

There is no way that the Greek-Cypriot community is going to vote in favour of the latest plan. Practically all of the requests of the Turks were granted in a fashion that borders the provocative and no regard is paid to the core values of the EU! This all goes to show that the EU and the UN still have no voice of their own but are still dictated to by Washington. The Cypriots do not need the north to join them in the EU.
Christian, Greek in UK

If the people want reunification, then of course it is possible. The problem is, after 30 years, attitudes tend to become entrenched and habitual, and breaking out of the mould becomes quite an effort.
David Hazel, UK




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