If you give way, you will instantly have to meet some greater demand, as having been frightened into obedience in the first instance; while a firm refusal will make them clearly understand that they must treat you more as equals. Make your decision therefore at once, either to submit before you are harmed, or if we are to go to war, as I for one think we ought, to do so without caring whether the ostensible cause be great or small, resolved against making concessions or consenting to a precarious tenure of our possessions. For all claims from an equal, urged upon a neighbour as commands before any attempt at legal settlement, be they great or be they small, have only one meaning, and that is slavery.
[Speech of Pericles - Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Chapter V]
Refugees denounce Cyprus plan
Sunday, February 29, 2004
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- Thousands of Greek Cypriot refugees rallied Sunday to denounce an "accursed" U.N. plan for reunification of their island for denying them the right to return to homes they fled 30 years ago.
Bishop Paul led the group of 3,500 in prayers asking God's intercession so the refugees could return to their homes in Kyrenia, a city in the Turkish-occupied north of the island. He followed this with a fiery speech denouncing the U.N. plan as "Satanic, accursed and an abomination that will not work."
"We cannot remain silent against injustice and the gross violation of our basic human rights," he said.
The Kyrenia demonstrators and other Greek Cypriots demand that they be allowed to return to homes they fled in 1974, when Turkey invaded the north of the island following an abortive coup by supporters of union with Greece. The northern Turkish Cypriot state is only recognized by Turkey.
The plan by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan envisages the reunification of the island as a single state with one Greek and one Turkish Cypriot federal region linked through a weak central government. It allows for the return of only half of the 200,000 Greek Cypriots who fled to the south, and allows only half of the estimated 100,000 Turkish settlers to remain.
Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf
Denktash dispute those points and have made no progress in talks on the plan
that began Feb. 19.
"I was pregnant with my first child at 16 when my husband and I built
our home in Kyrenia stone by stone with our bare hands and then raised six more
children there," Eleni Vlahou, a 70-year-old grandmother, said at the
rally. "What gives Mr. Annan the right to violate our human rights and
tell us we
cannot go back?"
Displaced Kyrenia Mayor Dinos Rologas said the Greek Cypriots were ready to compromise so the island could be reunified. "But there can be no compromise on fundamental human rights such as our right to return to our homes and to regain our property," he said.
A resolution adopted by the rally said reunification "must be based on international law principles, respect for human rights and United Nations resolutions."
The two sides are under heavy international pressure to reach agreement and have the plan approved through separate referenda before May 1 so that a unified Cyprus may join the European Union on that day.
If there is no agreement, Cyprus will join the EU on that date but EU laws and benefits will only apply to the area controlled by the internationally recognized Papadopoulos government.
Two separate polls last week found that the majority of Greek Cypriots would reject the Annan plan in the planned referenda unless it is modified to ensure the refugees' rights to return.
The lack of progress in talks prompted Annan to send Sir Kieran Prendergast, the U.N. deputy secretary-general, to join the talks when they resume Monday.
Thomas Weston, the U.S. State Department official dealing with Cyprus, also flew in Sunday at the start of a tour including Greece and Turkey to push for a settlement.
Speaking to reporters on arrival, he warned that those voting no in the referenda "will put an incredibly heavy negative burden in terms of their decisions for the future of Cyprus." He did not elaborate.