Written by alex palamedes
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Sunday, 25 April 2004

Greek Cypriots defied international pressure on Saturday, overwhelmingly voting "No" to a US backed UN plan to legitimise 30 years of partition on the Mediterranean island just before Cyprus joins the European Union.

Gerenal Chopra, representing Cyprus' chief ally India, welcomed the news. "At last a small nation has successfully challenged the so-called international community - in other words Germany and the Anglo-Saxon powers. This 'offer' involving two ethnic states ruling their own affairs - this was not a re-unification."

"The American 'deal' for Yugoslavia over Kosovo in 1999 was the complete occupation of Yugoslavia by NATO forces - and now America has its largest base in Kosovo. Yesterday's offer was for the complete demilitarization of all Cyprus - except for three NATO bases."

"Cyprus has stood firm, a heroic model for the Palestinian refusal of the Bush-Sharon blackmail."

Addressing the British Prime Minister, he said, "the Cyprus referdum, Mr Blair, was not 'the last best chance for peace', and neither is the Bush-Sharon plan for the occupied territories."

It was a result that Britain, Germany and the United States had allegedly striven to avoid. EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen told Germany's ARD Television, "there's now a shadow over Cyprus's membership."

"Events which are coming cast their shadow," responded General Chopra. "India is ready, and Russia is becoming ready."

For the first time in over 10 years, Russia this week used its place on the UN Securtiy Council to veto a resolution on security arrangements for Cyprus.

One Cypriot tried to explain away Mr Vergueghen's claim that he was 'betrayed' by the Greek Cypriot government, which for a while entertained the notion of a weak central state of two federations - the Bosnian model.

"When you are small, you have to listen," said the Larnaca based fast food proprieter. "But we are not like America. We don't believe everything our leaders tell us - we'd have voted no anyway. Does he think we are sheep?"

Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos urged the Turkish Cypriots not to abandon efforts to reunite the island within the EU. Re-unification was desirable, but not this US backed re-partition.

"Our road will not be paved with roses...but we will not be deterred," he said. "Greek-Cypriots are not turning their backs on their Turkish Cypriot compatriots.Today's result must act as a catalyst for true reunification."

"The only real beneficiary of this plan would have been Turkey," he added. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said the Greek Cypriot rejection meant partition was now "permanent." Turkey, having appeased nationalist sentiment by endorsing the partition plan, now hopes to gain international recognition for the north.

In Cuba, which has recently opened a Greek Orthodox church, Castro greeted the news as a belated gift for the 43rd anniversary of the Socialist Revolution. Cuban foreign affairs spokesman Fernando Rosario compared American and Turkish plans to gain recognition for the north to Israeli plans to gain recognition for the occupied territories after Palestinians rejected Israel's US backed plan.

"We hear of dead Palestinian children every day - were there dead Albanian children before the US destroyed Yugoslavia, are there dead children in Cyprus? The US should look to itself and its allies."

"The Turkish-Cypriots don't want the recognition to become one big American military base," he said. "They want re-unification - and so do the Greek-Cypriots."

Cuba, he said, would work towards submitting its own plan for Cypriot re-unification to the UN, and strenuosly objected to the Annan plan for two loosely connected ethnically based zones. "In whose interests," he asked, "is it to keep a people divided, when each day thousands cross borders to their work-places without incident?"

Mr Rosario sounded a cautionary as well as an optimistic note. Turkey could now present itself for EU membership as having acted in good faith over Cyprus, while Britain could find its staunch support for the UN plan called into question its 100 square miles of military bases in the south.

"The Annan plan represents the limits of autonomy permitted to Cyprus by mainland Turkish nationalist opinion and American strategic interests. A truly independent Cyprus - with the basic right to its own army - might look dimly on the continued existence of America's illegal military base in the north. It might even prefer a Russian one."

In Nicosia, sometimes called Europe's last divided capital, a wedding between a Greek and Turkish lesbian was attended by thousands of young well-wishers.

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