‘No be annem’
Proponents of the Annan Plan were using a very appealing slogan during the propaganda period for the April 24, 2004 referendum: “Yes be annem” (Say yes my mom). It was the slogan of strong support for the Annan Plan mixed with the matriarchal spirit of the Turkish Cypriot culture. Was it the support of the mothers that carried the Annan Plan to an outstanding approval in the referendum in the Turkish Cypriot side? Most probably mothers supported the plan, as my mother said at the time, so that their sons and daughters or at least their grandchildren could grasp an opportunity to build their free future on their own homeland.
Indeed, at the time Turkish Cypriots got carried away with the emotion of “becoming part of Europe” rather than any expectation of resolving the Cyprus problem. Did many people who voted “Yes” or “No” on the Annan Plan in 2004 actually read a single paragraph of the plan? This writer and some others professionally interested were struggling at the time to try to dispel the many urban legends about the plan. The worst such rumor was a cunning and heinous propaganda put out by the proponents: With clippings from a California real estate agency brochure, people were told that locals compelled to abandon their houses would be resettled in one of those luxurious villas. Who would construct those villas? Where would those villas be constructed? Who would provide utilities for those new dwellings? No one was interested.
The Turkish Cypriots were fed up of being in limbo, having been out in the cold ever since the 1963 events. They had been kicked out of the partnership state with Greek Cypriots and were left out in the cold, without the roof of an internationally recognized state. If the Annan Plan was accepted by Greek Cypriots as well, within days, not only the Cyprus problem would become history but as of May 1, 2004, together with their nasty partners, Turkish Cypriots would become European citizens… Alas, Greek Cypriots voted “No” and killed the plan as well as the hopes of the Turkish Cypriots.
The Turkish Cypriot frustration with the Greek Cypriots was ignored by Talat and lost his reelection bid. Derviş Eroğlu captured an opportunity of a comeback from his political grave because of the frustration with Talat, he failed to satisfy either the “consolidation of a functioning state” or a “bitter compromise settlement” expectation of the people and became a political outcast. The fourth president of the Turkish Cypriot state, Mustafa Akıncı, promised a resolution, but so far he has been involved in a process that is most likely doomed to fail. Why?
The Cyprus problem has many facets but one fundamental flagpole is political equality. The political equality demand of Turkish Cypriots might be reworded as a desire to lead a life compatible with human dignity.
That is, in its latest form, the Cyprus problem, which goes all the way back to 1962, with President Archbishop Makarios suggesting the Turkish Cypriot Vice President Dr. Fazıl Küçük amendment of 13 articles of the 1960 constitution and put a full stop to the effective federation character of the Republic of Cyprus. He wanted all the elements making Turkish Cypriots “political equals” of Greek Cypriots to be abrogated. Küçük objected. Makarios travelled to Ankara. He could not convince Ankara. Then in December 1963 the campaign to annihilate the Turkish Cypriots was started by the Greek Cypriots.
Thus, can we say that the Cyprus problem was a confrontation by the “Enosis” (Union with Greece) demand of the “National Organization of Cypriot Fighters” (EOKA) terrorist gang and the “Taksim” (Partition of Cyprus in between Greece and Turkey) demand of the Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT), established to defend Turkish Cypriots? Or was it a Greek Cypriot obsession that because it was numerically bigger it must have “majority powers,” while the numerically smaller Turkish Cypriots could only get some “minority rights”?
The fundamental demand of the Turkish Cypriots is to be able to have a free, sovereign life without being subjected to minority treatment. They want to be “first-class citizens” of their state, and live a life unthreatened by either EOKA, ELAM or any other Greek Cypriot zealot. Perhaps it is difficult for those who have not lived through the early 1960s, 1974 to appreciate why the Turkish Cypriots are obsessed with political equality. It is hard to grasp the reality that the Greek Cypriots want nothing but a resolution patching up the Turkish Cypriots as a minority in the “Greek Cypriot state.”
The recent concessions regarding a federal police force were rather surprising. When Akıncı started talking about other “competencies” it became clear how badly he was negotiating. He is unlikely to be negotiating a settlement, but rather a document of surrender, to which my answer will immediately be a “No be annem.”