The Annan plan has shaken the stagnant waters of the Cyprus problem. The champions of the plan are proclaiming it to be the chance for a solution to the problem in Cyprus. The Prime Minister (of Greece) full of eagerness analyses in a variety of ways how important this plan is and how close to a solution the problem in Cyprus is. This is a problem that has affected the whole region for 28 years now and which only until very recently seemed like the Gordian knot.
At the same time the usual "Turk slayer" (Turk hater) nationalists from all sides have drawn their swords against the plan decrying it as the "last" betrayal. The Kofi Annan plan was the result of the "working lunches" of president Clerides and Denktash (leader of the Turkish Cypriots), which reflected the pressures for a quick solution.
Why do they want a quick solution now?
The first thing we have to ask ourselves is why all the pressure from a number of imperialist forces for the acceptance of Annan's plan?
In reality, each imperialist power has its own reasons for wanting a quick solution. Only the Turkish Cypriot ruling class is in no hurry. The Americans, the British and the Europeans are in a hurry because they understand that the whole area, (Cyprus, Turkey, the Middle East and the Arab world) are in a state of ferment. The national oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis has brought about an explosive situation. The attack on Iraq will increase the problems and will lead to an unpredictable situation. Already the peoples of the area live under a regime of poverty and such an attack will be the spark for a wider uprising, which will lead to destabilising the whole area.
The American imperialists want a calm Cyprus, without problems, a stable situation so that they can use the British bases on the island. They also want Turkey under their absolute control, so they can use it as a military machine against Iraq and also as a policeman to secure their wider interests in the area. They want Turkey, Cyprus and Greece as stable countries to enable them to control the oil producing countries in the area. This is the framework of the European imperialists as well and more so for the British imperialists.
The Greek government, on the other hand, will accept even a temporary solution to this problem that has been a thorn in its side. They have the aim of using it for electoral purposes as well as helping the Greek ruling class gain an even bigger opening up of the Turkish market for their goods. Above all the Greek government will "sell" it as proof of subordination, hoping for recompense, to the American and European imperialists.
The Turkish ruling class, in its turn, is seeking, through its own acceptance of the plan, to increase the pressure to gain a quick entry into the EU. Thus Turkey would become, as they say, part of the contemporary bourgeois society and a rich country, having, as they do, the illusion that Europe will be their El Dorado. At the same time, they are hoping for even bigger financial help from the international agencies, which will go some way towards sustaining their collapsing economy. Lastly they want to stop the financial haemorrhage that is entailed in supporting Denktash and the collapsed economy Turkish Cypriot.
The Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie, being the strongest class in Cyprus, want to use the plan to extend their control over the Turkish Cypriot part of the island. At the same time, the plan will be their chance to cut the standard of living of the Greek Cypriot workers, by using the Turkish Cypriot workers as a cheap labour force.
The Turkish Cypriot community has split down the middle. The Turkish Cypriot bourgeoisie do not want the plan because they understand that they will be annihilated/absorbed into and by the Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie and the settlers are against the plan because they will be forced out of Cyprus. In contrast, the Turkish Cypriot workers, poor and harshly oppressed, see the plan as the solution that will lead them out of the oppression under the Turks, save them from the settler's aggression and from the harsh exploitation they suffer from their own bourgeoisie.
Thus, the Annan plan finds most of the sides ready for a solution.
The most important elements
Right from the start the plan accepts: (Foundation agreement, par. iii) "Acknowledging each other's distinct identity and integrity and that our relationship is not one of majority and minority but of political equality". Within this framework, the plan proposes the creation of two new states, one Greek Cypriot and one Turkish Cypriot, calling them "component states", within the framework of a "common state" which will be subject to international law and be a member of the EU.
The new component states, which will be created in Cyprus, will be:
· Politically equal
· Under the rule of law
· Secular states
· Prohibited from any unilateral secession, partition or union in whole or in part with any other country
The new Cypriot State (the common state) will be:
· Bi-zonal (each zone is guaranteed an ethnic majority)
· Of limited national sovereignty
The Executive Power envisages the following:
· A President and Vice-President who will be from different nationalities, will change every ten months and will be drawn from the members of the Presidential Council (the Presidential Council is playing the role of the Office of Head of State)
· It will not be allowed to put its territory at the disposal of international military operations other than with the consent of Greece and Turkey
· Foreign military forces (Greek, Turkish, British and UN) will be stationed on Cyprus to monitor the implementation of the plan and protect the new state of affairs.
· The Cypriot state, member state of the European Union, will be under the guardianship of foreign powers. Greece, Turkey and Britain are still the guarantor forces through the Treaties of Establishment, Guarantee and Alliance; they form a committee, together with the participation of Cyprus, to oversee the implementation of the plan.
At the same time, the plan demands from the Greek Cypriots to recognise the Turkish Cypriot state in return for:
· The partial repatriation of the Turkish settlers
· The partial return of Greek Cypriot refugees to their homes
· Some of the properties shall be reinstated to dispossessed owners and the rest will be compensated.
· The partial return to the Greek Cypriot component state of the occupied lands
Can the Annan plan offer a solution?
"Imperialism means that capital has gone beyond the bounds of the nation state, it means extending and intensifying national oppression on a new historical base" (Lenin, Coll. Works. 27)
With the understanding that the national question takes on a different character in each country and in each period, we have to note that Lenin was absolutely right. In Cyprus, where the market economy will rule supreme, the problems, that existed and still exist, will be reproduced on a higher level. On the basis of capitalism, the idea of a federation is nothing but a utopia. Every national bourgeoisie attempts to overrule and to exploit its neighbours. In the case of Cyprus there is a historical precedent. This is exactly the reason why in just three years the Zurich agreement was in reality dissolved. In spite of the imperialists' wishes for a solution, the Cypriot reality will develop into an explosive situation in the future.
Lets look at one possible development. This attempt at a solution comes at the beginning of a world economic recession. With the Turkish economy going through a crash and the Turkish Cypriot one already in a deep recession, class polarisation and a general instability are clearly evident. In the framework of the world economic crisis, the economy of Greece will be affected. It is already slowing down with a big wave of strikes and without having really solved any social or class issue. Even Cyprus, which has experienced a long boom, is now showing a slowing down of the rates of development, especially after the scandal of the Stock Exchange and the first tentative appearance of some movement of the working class.
The use of Cyprus and Turkey as bases for military interventions in the area will create even bigger tensions and may even cause a new anti-imperialist movement against the war.
The Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie, being the stronger of the two on Cyprus, will attempt to exploit the new situation:
· It will attempt to limit the Turkish Cypriot bourgeoisie and exploit the new opportunities, especially tourism, that the Turkish Cypriot areas are offering
· It will attempt to exploit the cheap Turkish Cypriot labour, attacking at the same time the standard of living of the Greek Cypriot workers.
These two facts will intensify the contradictions between the Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie and the Turkish Cypriot bourgeoisie as well as between the Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie and the workers, as a result of the attacks on the standards of living and possibly the same will happen between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot workers. If mistakenly the Greek Cypriot workers try to lay the blame for the fall in their living standards on the Turkish Cypriot workers and not where it really lies, then inter-communal strife will not be avoided. This is where the left wing parties must play an important role in promoting the unity in struggle of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Thus, within the capitalist framework, Annan's plan is a utopia. The wide support it received may lead to a temporary ‘sort' of solution but on a longer term basis, the very nature of the problem will reproduce the contradictions, intensify the antagonisms making the plan in its application a piece of paper with no exchange value.
The left in Cyprus and its position on this question
In these circumstances the Greek Cypriot Left has shown its weakness and its confusion. The mass left wing party in Cyprus, AKEL, again did not take a position at its last Central Committee meeting, saying that it will discuss the plan as a basis for bargaining. The logic of the discussion excludes a class analysis and does not propose the need for a common struggle of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots for a socialist Cyprus.
In spite of the fact that AKEL controls the great majority of the Greek Cypriot workers and it is the biggest party, because of its adherence to the Stalinist theory of stages, it has never struggled for workers' rule and Socialism. It is characteristic of AKEL's policies that for the Presidency it is supporting the centre-right DEKO leader Taso Papadopoulo. Thus its position beginning from confusion and a non class based analysis, is now developing into accepting the plan as a basis for negotiations.
KISOS, a small party and with limited influence, is the social democratic successor to the old Socialist Party EDEK, has a positive approach to the plan, despite its own history of being negative toward any official inter-communal negotiations. Its president, Omirou, is a candidate for the Presidency of Cyprus proposed by Cleride's right wing party, that is the main supporter of the plan, and this means that Omirou and KISOS have subordinated themselves to the logic of negotiations.
Among the Turkish Cypriot working class, there is strong support for the plan because of the oppression they suffer from Denktash and the Turkish settlers. The Republican Party, which has close ties with AKEL and at the last municipal elections won the majority of local councils, supports the plan. The second biggest left wing party, as well as other smaller ones, all support the plan.
Unity of Greek and Turkish Cypriot workers
As for the question whether the Annan plan will offer any solution, our answer is an emphatic NO. What we support are all actions that will bring the workers of both communities closer together.
Those who created this plan are the enemies of the workers' movement and that is why there cannot be any alliance with them and no trust in their role and intentions.
At the same time we must explain that any attempt at a solution to the Cyprus problem within capitalism will create new impasses and strife. Now that the bourgeoisie is negotiating and proposing its own solutions, "the working class and its organisations must counter-propose their own independent policies based on a class internationalist programme, the only one that can offer the necessary guarantees that the Turkish Cypriot workers need, so that they do not become once more the oppressed minority in the hands of the Greek Cypriot majority" (quoted from the ‘Left Wing', Sosialistiki Ekfrasi of Cyprus, on the "National Question" 1992).
The only way in which the Left can develop the common struggle is by first breaking with the logic of the ‘national policy' and proposing the question of class policy and class unity. This, for the workers' parties of Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, should have already been their policy in practice. They should work out a programme that gives the answers to all aspects of the national question, on the basis of the common interests of the workers, something that the bourgeoisie are incapable of doing. Only then can the Turkish Cypriot workers be free of the need to be "protected" by their own bourgeoisie and thus enter into a common front with the Greek Cypriot workers both in the North and the South of Cyprus.
But a Cyprus that can safeguard workers' jobs and a decent standard of living as well as the peaceful co-existence of its people, can only be a Socialist Cyprus, based on the socialisation of the means of production and on a centrally planned economy.
However, under the present circumstances, it would be utopian to believe that a Socialist Cyprus will not encounter economic problems, and will not be undermined and attacked by other capitalist powers. That is why the struggle has to be waged not only be the Cypriot workers but also by the Greek and Turkish workers as well.
Capitalism is pushing Greek and Turkish workers towards poverty and unemployment at the same time as the bourgeoisie is finding ways to increase exploitation and their profits. The workers through their Trade Unions and the left wing parties must unite in their struggle. The only way out for a stable solution to the problems is the Socialist Federation of Greece, Cyprus and Turkey so that the causes that lead to hate, division and strife are done away with once and for all.