23rd Sep 2023

Cyprus to enter EU divided

  • The island will remain divided and militarised as it accedes to the European Union (Photo: European Commission)

The majority of Greek Cypriots have rejected the UN plan to reunify the island before the island enters the EU on 1 May.

The result, which means that EU law will only apply to the south of the island after EU accession, is a strong disappointment to both the European Union and the UN.

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"A unique opportunity to bring about a solution to the long-lasting Cyprus issue has been missed", the European Commission said in a statement.

The island will remain "divided and militarised" joining the EU, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said.

In a referendum held on Saturday on both sides of the island, 75.83 percent of the Greek Cypriots rejected the plan while 64.91 percent of Turkish Cypriots accepted it.

While the EU "deeply regrets" the Greek Cypriot no vote, the European Commission said the "yes" vote from the Turkish Cypriot side "signals a clear desire of the community to resolve the island's problem".

The EU has also said it is ready to consider ways to end the economic isolation of the northern part of Cyprus.

The Brussels executive will be presenting its views on the matter to EU foreign affairs ministers at their meeting on Monday in Luxembourg.

The Greek Cypriot’s rejection of the plan has also been criticised by Turkey.

Abdullah Gul, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs described the results as a demonstration that "the Greek Cypriot side was not ready for a new partnership and co-existence and reconciliation with the Turkish Cypriots".

"The rejection by the Greek Cypriot side of the most comprehensive and serious settlement plan to date regarding the Cyprus issue ... has led to the loss of an important opportunity. This development has also clearly revealed the real source of opposition to a solution in Cyprus", Mr Gul said.

The Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, who in the weeks running up to the poll had called on his people to reject the plan, said he remained committed to reaching a deal with the Turkish side.

"Today's result must act as a catalyst for reunification, and not be used as an excuse for further division", he said.

The basis of Mr Annan's plan was a loose federation for the island which has been divided since 1974.

But the Greek side was unhappy that the UN plan limited their right to return to their houses in the north.

It also felt it did not offer enough guarantees that the 30,000 Turkish troops would be removed from the north of the island following reunification.

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