What If: The Annan Plan and Turkey

“Στη μνήμη του Τάσσου και του Λάμπρου, που τόσες φορές μας έκαμαν περήφανους…”

Greek Cypriots, the majority population on the Island of Cyprus, overwhelmingly rejected a plan for reunification with the island’s small Turkish minority developed by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in a referendum on April 24, 2004. The majority Greeks regarded the solution offered by Annan as impractical and unfair, while the government of Turkey praised it as very doable and accommodating to both parties. The size of the Turkish minority in Cyprus –some 18 percent of the island’s population, settlers brought illegally from Turkey excluded — equals the percentage of the Kurdish minority in Turkey itself. Given long-standing Kurdish demands for greater political and other rights in Turkey, an interesting “what if” question arises–if the Annan Plan were implemented within Turkey for its Kurdish minority, would the Turks still find the plan fair and practical?

Here’s the “what if?”

Upon agreement of the two main communities living in Turkey (Kurdish and Turkish), the present state ceases to exist pending approval of the citizens of the Turkish Republic through a nation-wide referendum. Immediately after the approval of the new settlement, the new state is a reality. There is no going back to the old state even if later on majorities in both the Kurdish and Turkish areas overwhelmingly vote to do so. Under the provisions of the Plan, Turkey becomes a bi-zonal and bi-communal federal state in which 37% of its land passes to the new government of the Kurds. The new federal state is misnamed “United Turkey Republic” and under the new Constitution, the two major ethnic groups (Turkish and Kurdish) have equal representation in the proposed Senate regardless of unequal populations. Under the above provision, the state comes to a standstill.

The Supreme Court consists of an equal number of Kurdish (18% of the population) and Turkish judges (80% of population) plus three foreign judges; thus, foreign players would cast deciding votes. Since a hierarchy of laws does not exist, the federation is an actual confederation in which the component states are the source of laws for the central authority and not the other way around! One must have in mind that the reason the United States had abandoned its original confederation structure was because it was not workable. The Constitution of the United States established in 1789 gave clear federal supremacy over the laws of its constituent states. All state laws in the United States originate from federal laws.

Turkish and Kurdish populations are displaced, each moving to the other’s pertinent ethnic territory. Time restrictions on the right of free and permanent installation of Turks back to their homes and properties in the Kurdish state are imposed; Kurds have no restrictions. Those Turks who choose to live in their old homes in regions under the Kurdish administration have no local civil rights because only Kurds may elect the political representatives of the Kurdish state. In addition, the Turks that stayed in the Kurdish lands will never be allowed to make up more than 6% of the population in any single village. In this manner, Turks are prevented from setting up their own schools and are even unable to give birth once this quota is reached!

The economy of the new federal Turkey is separate with no common monetary and fiscal policy. In addition, Turkish businesses are not allowed to invest in the Kurdish constituent state, and while all provisions above benefit the Kurds, the Turkish taxpayer ends up paying for all modifications, adjustments, and conversions in the new republic because the UN considers that in the previous decades the Kurds suffered enormously and must be compensated. In addition, Turkish citizens are not allowed to file any complaints with the European Court of Justice in relation to any losses suffered because of the implementation of the Plan.

The above “what if” analysis indicates what could happen to the Turks if the Plan had applied to Turkey and depicts what would have happened to the Greek Cypriots had they voted for the Annan Plan for Cyprus’ reunification.

Marcus A. Templar.

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