I am having a hard time understanding the surprise that some people felt after reading what Andros Kyprianou said to Andreas Kimitris in his interview with Kathimerini about not voting for the Annan Plan in 2004.
One would have to be very romantic or naive to believe that when AKEL chose and elevated Tassos Papadopoulos to the presidency in 2003, it did so with the Cyprus problem in mind. Let alone that, through this cooperation, it was seeking a solution. Ridiculous stuff. And no, we are not suggesting that one should go back too far, to the dark ages, when Tassos Papadopoulos considered as agents of the Intelligence Service the “scoundrel leaders” of AKEL who “polluted this sacred place with their treacherous breath” and called on the people “to rid” the island “of their treacherous presence”. Different times, different minds, one might say. And the subsequent positions and views of each of the protagonists were well known. In 1989, for example, when AKEL’s newly-elected George Vassiliou was travelling to New York to meet Rauf Denktash as part of a new effort, the newly arrived DIKO [Democratic Party] member Tassos Papadopoulos, explained the reasons why Spyros Kyprianou (the one who, a few years earlier, he portrayed as a half-mad man who foreigners would listen to and laugh at) was accompanying the president to the talks: “Mr. Kyprianou is going to New York as an exponent of a policy that is patriotic and opposed to bowing to Turkey’s will. He is going there, not because he agrees with the national sell-out policy advocated by President Vassiliou. But as an exponent of national dignity and resistance”.
It would therefore be funny, to say the least, to believe that AKEL (with its “submissive policy”, according to Tassos’ Kirikas), which in 1988 had backed Vassiliou the “worshipper of Turks” and “national sell-out”, would, fifteen years later, promote Tassos and his “patriotic and uncompromising policy”, with the Cyprus problem in mind. [Translator’s note: Kirikas was a weekly newspaper published in Nicosia between 1981 and 1991 supporting Enosis Kentrou, a party established by Tassos Papadopoulos] There were other reasons for this support, petty political and selfish ones, that AKEL discovered in 2003, and which Nicos Katsourides described in Haravgi on January 9: “It is now clear to the entire Cypriot people that what is really needed at the helm of the Republic is a man with strong hands, with experience, with competence, with confidence and above all with consistency. And that candidate is Tassos Papadopoulos. His entire life and his statesmanship demonstrate these characteristics…”. Just as, of course, other reasons, unrelated to the Plan, Cyprus problem and solution – again petty political and self-serving – were behind why AKEL said “No” (Tassos was sure long before, “you’ll see” he told Serdar Denktash during their ‘secret meetings’, when the latter expressed his conviction that Christofias would say “yes” – never mind that, both Tassos’ entourage and the Turkish Cypriot side placed him in one of the meetings, which he denied)… other reasons why [AKEL] remained silent and went along with him until the end of his five-year term, after which it decided to “dismantle” him. Space is limited, we can’t afford to expand, so just consider this: factions, internal party disputes, a new party landscape emerging, ‘satellites’, attempts to lead, footholds and so on and so forth. Oh yes! And a promise-commitment that the powerful, as he now felt – and “God-sent”, as some described him – Tassos did not seem intent on keeping. The agreement that provided for a… rotating presidency. I elect you, you elect me. I elect you to the presidency of the state, you elevate me to the presidency of the parliament and, for the next five years, my party will hold the presidency of the state, yours that of parliament. Recall the programme of Yiannis Kareklas, broadcast on CyBC on July 12, 2007, where Demetris Christofias, indirectly but clearly, with his unwillingness to answer, confirms the agreement – “I cannot at this time disclose. If necessary, I can talk”.
So? The question hovering (?) is this: Has AKEL ever been sincere in its intentions, in the image it has cultivated and consistent in the public narrative it has adopted, always in relation to its policy on the Cyprus problem? “Quo vadis AKEL? 1950 vote for Enosis. 2004 vote for Taksim”, read the banners of the T/Cs at the big rallies of the time. When was it ever truthful about Annan? When it said (14.4.2004): “The assessment that, with the solution proposed in the plan, the Republic of Cyprus supposedly dissolves and that the plan legitimises and deepens partition, is not correct and we do not agree with it”. When it claimed that “The Annan Plan reunites Cyprus / ends the occupation with the gradual withdrawal of more than 39,000 troops / achieves the gradual return of 85,000 to 90,000 refugees / restores human rights and basic freedoms, albeit gradually”? Or when it said (1.10.2004): “…With the President of the Republic we have no disagreement of substance… If I were in his place, I would do the same… Our disagreement was the way in which the President delivered the speech in favour of ‘NO’ to the Cypriot people…”. When it asked (April 2004) for guarantees for its implementation, “along with one or two related things”? When it spoke (November 2005) of “many substantial changes” or when it said (2011) that “if it had not come from the UN Secretary-General, we would not have accepted it as a basis for negotiation”? Or perhaps when it made clear (27.5.2007), “it is a given that in case of my candidacy and if this candidacy does not make it to the second round, then Tassos Papadopoulos will be supported”, whom it later (10.2007 /01.2008) accused of “avoiding negotiation”, “basing his policy on denial that leads to partition”? Ultimately, did they actually have any differences?
But I remember Demetris Christofias: “I will leave miserable”, he said to a delegation of Mayors and Presidents of Refugee Associations of the Kyrenia district, at July’s end in 2012. “I will leave miserable indeed, because what I had promised, to solve the Cyprus problem, cannot be achieved due to Turkish intransigence and I will suffer with you as a common citizen and fellow fighter”…