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Failure of the 2004 Annan Peace Plan in Cyprus Essay

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Updated: May 18th, 2020

Introduction: The Annan Plan

The 2004 Annan Peace Plan was an attempt by the United Nations to help the state of Cyprus settle the severe dispute between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. The Annan Peace Plan aimed at resolving the ethno-national conflict in a manner that would leave Cyprus a two-state federation comprising the Turkish Cypriot community in the north and the Greek Cypriot community in the south. In a referendum that was conducted on 24 April 2004, 69.91% of the Turkish Cypriots accepted the peace plan. However, 75% of the Greek Cypriots strongly rejected the peace proposal to partition Cyprus into a federal state.

The Republic of Cyprus is an island country that is strategically located in the Eastern Mediterranean sea. The republic attained independence back in 1960 from the Great Britain. In a period of over four decades, Cyprus has experienced unending inter-communal violence between Greek and the Turkish Cypriot Communities. The first inter-communal clash between the two Cypriot communities took place in 1963. The phenomenon led to the intervention of the UN as a peace mediator in a move to reunify the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Since the start of the conflicts, five successive United Nations’ secretary-generals have attempted to resolve the inter-communal violence in the island. As the paper reveals, the Annan Peace Plan is the most recent and the most significant peace plan in the face of the Cypriot civil society. However, despite the strategic designing of the plan, the paper reveals that the plan was doomed to fail.

The Failure of the Peace Plan

The providence of the Annan Peace Plan attracted international anticipation on 24 April 2004 referendum. It was one of the most elaborate and complex peace plans in the history of Cyprus socio-political instability. Nevertheless, despite the seriousness of Annan Peace Plan and the support by the Turkish Cypriots to avert the future impasse in Cyprus, the Greek Cypriots voted it down owing to claims that it was unfavourable and flawed. Many of them said it did not adhere to the international law and that it had no respect for human rights (Kaymak 2012).

Failure to Consult with Cypriot Leaders and Communities

Failure to consult with Cypriot leaders and communities was perhaps the greatest strategic mistake made by Kofi Annan in the formulation of the Cyprus peace plan. The document was the sole knowledge of foreign consultants and the UN’s Secretary General. Annan who came in as a third party did not consider the efforts of the Cypriot civil leaders and communities. Although the intentions of the plan were going to make a positive impact on solving the long-standing conflict, it remained foreign because it lacked the creativeness of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities (Amani 2013).

According to Ladini (2010), mediation studies attest that mediators use communication, formulation, and manipulation as mediation modes to be effective. The conflict involving the two Cypriot communities prevented them from getting into contact with each other (International Crisis Group 2014). Annan, as the mediator, did not serve as a communicative tool between the two conflicting parties in the view of seeking further information that could have assisted him in drafting the peace plan. This mode is entirely passive and does not considerably involve the mediator in the talks. In the second mode of mediation, the mediator partially participates in the reconciliation discussions. The mediator helps the conflicting parties formulate and conceptualise the terms of reconciliation, hence arriving at a common understanding of the cause of the dispute. In the third mode, the mediator is fully active in the discussions by manipulating the opinions of the other parties while driving them towards a resolution.

Sozen (2004) makes it clear that Annan did not deploy the three modes of mediation during the time of the rejected peace plan. He entirely played the role of a formulator. This left out very important decisions. Although the plan underwent a number of revisions before it passed for the referendum, Cypriots remained suspicious about the foreign crafted plan.

Negligence of the Psychological Barriers between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot Communities

Negligence of psychological barriers was another mistake that Annan committed while analysing the Cyprian interethnic conflict. The mediator needlessly required an in-depth knowledge concerning the originality of the long time dispute. The Cypriot Republic came into being in 1960 contrary to the demands by the Cypriots (Vural 2012). Furthermore, the declaration of the state occurred during a struggle between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot civil societies. As a result, there was no mutual consent between the two parties by the time of the creation of the republic (Patrick 1968). Up to date, only the Greek and Turkish can seek identity roots on the Cyprus Island. The differences between the Cypriot communities have denied the formation of a unified state.

Thus, it will be quite hectic for the United Nations to hasten the parties to reach an immediate resolution (Mehmet 2008). With its complexity, Cypriots cannot comprehensively understand the Annan Peace Plan within an analysis schedule of three weeks. Despite the fact that the Annan peace strategy claims to acknowledge the identity of each of the compatriot communities, Cypriots felt that it lacked the basis of information on Turkish roots and Greek Cypriot communities. This led to the inclusion of some strategic mistakes as evidenced in the plan before its successive revisions and/or the referendum. As a result, fears dominated the majority of Greek Cypriots and hence the developments of doubts in a dilemma that the document will omit some crucial regulations on the settlement plan (Mirghaber 2006).

Fear of Instability

The greatest feeling of Cypriots that led to the rejection of the plan by the majority was instability. According to Ladini (2010), the proposed peace plan would have planted instability in the Cypriot civil society. This situation would have worsened the prevailing situation in the island. A live speech made by Papadopoulos, the Greek Cypriot president, criticised Annan Peace Plan for encouraging the partition of the republic. He proceeded to say that the plan did not aim at promoting unity amongst the conflicting parties and in no way it could have produced a sustainable centralised solution. This observation was very evident in the plan since its resolution for peace was to create a federation of two states. In the event that the document passed the referendum, the Cypriot State would have been divided amongst the Turkish and Greek Cypriot societies. The president’s speech fuelled the Greek Cypriots’ ridiculous plans to vote down the peace plan in a referendum (Mehmet 2008).

In addition, partition of the island into two distinctive states would have led into instability of the Greek Cypriot society since Annan Peace Plan seemed to favour the minority Turkish Cypriot society on the North of Cyprus. The proposal did not accommodate sound plans for manoeuvring effective control of vital government regulations over key areas of interest. Furthermore, geographical division of the island requires an analysis of the population trends of the two ethnic groups. Generally, the Greek Cypriots are the majority in the island while the Turkish Cypriots form the minority group. In the event of partition of the republic, the plan did not outline any protocol to ensure equality in the allocation of political boundaries.

Furthermore, the plan did not include provisions for security of the Greek Cypriots. In its place, it had outlined that Turkish troops would be contained in the island for some time. This situation led to the dissatisfaction of the Greek Cypriots, thereby developing a negative attitude towards the claims that the document advantaged their counterpart ethnic community (Mirbagheri 2010).

Tariff-free Trade between the European Union and North Cyprus

Annan Peace Plan had a provision for ensuring that free trade prevailed between the European Union and North Cyprus. This regulation was in accordance with earlier negotiations in 1994 with regard to the originality of the Greek Cypriot’s state certificates. In addition, the regulation based its argument behind Article 133 of the European Union accord that regulates trade with third party territories (Sozen 2005). Nevertheless, the Greek Cypriots maintained that the regulation distorted the original intention of the commission. This claim held that the accession accord contained the regulation under protocol 10. Basing the claims on the protocol, this interpretation could mean suspension of Greek Cypriots from the north (Michael 2013).

The United Kingdom and German administration worked very hard to convince Cypriots to support the Annan Peace Plan since no mutual agreement existed between the Turkish and Greet Cypriots concerning the regulation. The situation led to the disconnection of trade between the two divided communities. For instance, air links between northern Cyprus and other countries could not be established, with the exception of Turkey because the Greek Cypriot had been perceived as a representative of the republic of Cyprus (Sozen 2004). This situation put the European Union in a socio-political limbo while the European Union geared towards fulfilling its promise to the Turkish Cypriots. It was highly restricted by the legal framework and the Greek Cypriots (International Crisis Group 2014).


Although the article addressed well issues such as democratic principles, individual human rights and fundamental freedom, cultural, religious, political, social, and political aspects, allegations put forth by the republic’s president and some Cypriots indicated that the Annan Peace Plan did not adequately address vital aspects human rights and respect for democracy (Sozen 2005). Democrats from the republic were worried about the external pressure to accept the Annan peace strategy from the European Union. The President Bush’s administration and the British parliament were not democratic.

Some of the Greek Cypriots were still objective for the peace plan claiming that it did not support three basic freedoms, namely the freedom of movement, the freedom of settlement, and the right to own property. The plan was meant to leave Cyprus a bi-zonal and a bi-communal federation (Amani 2013). Particularly, the movement of the Greek Cypriots particularly was to be restricted within the land. Further criticism of the freedom clause by the Greek Cypriots led to the rejection of the document.

Pressure from the International Community

The best resolution for the conflict between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots would be an inter-communal negotiation between the two parties. However, a negotiation between the parties has never materialised. It is no doubt that the need for intervention of the international community was the next relevant step towards peace reconciliation in the republic of Cyprus (Evriviades 1992). The Cypriot community felt that the international community was putting excessive pressure towards the settlement plan in Cyprus. The peace process that was supposed to be led majorly by the Cypriots was now following an internationalised approach towards peace reconciliation.

According to Evriviades (1992), the results of such an approach are highly unpredictable and any mistrust created within the formulation process greatly affects the response of the targeted group. In this essence, the Greek Cypriots had developed misgivings in the peace plan by claiming that it favoured the Turkish Cypriots. As a result, they mobilised a substantial “no” vote during the referendum. In separate reports submitted by Cypriot scholars, there are claims that internalisation of the peace negotiations might never have led to mutually acceptable agreement between the two compatriot communities (Evriviades 1992).

Political Alignment

Lastly, political inclination of the Greek Cypriots largely contributed the failure of the plan. It is not news that the same Greek Cypriot politicians who promised to deliver a democratic and amicable solution to the conflicts between their community and their Turkish Cypriot counterparts still have a great influence on the political arena of the south. The political leaders of the two states have voices of their own, with the south winning most of the peace debates (Nasuh 2003). It is evident that leaders led their respective communities politically to follow their own interests during the referendum. Perhaps, the Greek Cypriots’ president misled the larger group on the opinions regarding the passage of the peace plan, thus leading to its rejection.

Papadopoulos made sure that the Greek Cypriots stood against the voting of Annan Peace Plan. Reports on the referendum indicate that the Greek Cypriots were for the idea that the two regions remain as a unitary state after the settlement. This ideology created fear amongst the Turkish Cypriots that the Greek Cypriot community could dominate in the referendum. The presentation of the peace plan in the referendum should have been guided by the political influence of each of the communities besides being accompanied by one-on-one communication and manipulation of the opinions of the two ethnic parties. Perhaps, this approach could have changed the attitude of the majority Greek Cypriots towards the passage of the document.


The failure of the Annan Peace Plan can be greatly attributed to inadequate consultation. As a representative of the international community, the mediator did not respect the knowledge of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities regarding the causes that led to the long-lived struggle between them. Perhaps, it was a major reason behind the rejection of the peace plan. Annan, together with his foreign aides, compiled the peace plan without prior consultation with political leaders of the Cypriot communities.

Therefore, the plan remained a foreign document that was meant to disintegrate the two compatriot communities. Probably, he could not have thought about concluding a two-state federal state as stipulated in the plan. However, the predictability of the Greek and Turkish civil communities agreeing is actually a nightmare. In spite of the continued attempts to resolve the conflict, the two civil societies have shown little efforts in support of the peace mediators since Turkish invasion in 1974. In my own opinion, the attempts to restore peace are highly influenced by the republic’s politics, especially from the majority group: the Greek Cypriot. The Greek Cypriots lie in the opposition. Consequently, their numbers were enough to vote down any peace plan.


The ethno-national crisis that has prevailed in the republic of Cyprus for nearly four decades remains a stalemate for the two compatriot communities, namely Turkish and Greek Cypriots. As a result, there have been a number of attempts to bring the separate compatriot groups into an amicable reconciliation to end the ethnic conflict, which has left Cyprus a poor economic state since the country’s independence in 1960. Seemingly, efforts to resolve the conflict have never materialised since the start of the ethnic differences. The most recent attempt was the Annan Peace Plan for the creation of two federal states in view of separating the two communities.

Despite the failed attempts towards reconciliation of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, both sides remained vulnerable to a state of federalism. With continued mistrust between the compatriot communities, there is a possibility that the peace negotiations will once resolve into a two-state federation. This resolution will definitely experience enormous pressure, especially from the Greek Cypriot community since it will seem as a legitimisation of the Turkish populace. Nevertheless, unless federalism is the resolution, Cyprus will most likely remain in an impasse of a worsened social-political state.


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Vural, Y 2012, Seeking to Transform the Perceptions of Inter-communal Relations: The Turkish-Cypriot case (2004 -2009). Web.

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