Cypriot Annan Plan referendums, 2004

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Northern Cyprus

A referendum on the Annan Plan was held in the Republic of Cyprus and the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on 24 April 2004.[1] The two communities were asked whether they approved of the fifth revision of the United Nations proposal for reuniting the island, which had been divided since 1974. While it was approved by 65% of Turkish Cypriots, it was rejected by 76% of Greek Cypriots. Turnout for the referendum was high at 89% among Greek Cypriots and 87% among Turkish Cypriots, which was taken as indicative of great interest in the issue on the part of the electorates.[2]


The referendum had originally been planned for 21 April, until the UN planners realised it was the anniversary of the coup in Athens in 1967, which set off the chain of events that led to the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.[3]


Republic of Cyprus

Political leaders in the Republic of Cyprus and Greece strongly opposed the plan. Tassos Papadopoulos, president of the Republic of Cyprus, spoke out against the plan in a speech broadcast live on television. Two days before the referendums, Cyprus's biggest party, Progressive Party of Working People, decided to reject the Annan Plan. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis decided to maintain a "neutral" position over the plan, but opposition leader George Papandreou of PASOK urged Cypriots to vote in favour, also because the plan had been promoted by his political party while it was still in power and Papandreou had been the Foreign Minister at the time, and had claimed both communities were ready for "a final common agreement". Nevertheless, opinion polls conducted in the Republic of Cyprus over the entire period of the negotiations from start to finish had always shown around 80% opposition to the proposals. Greek Cypriots have not voted uniformly on the Annan Plan. Their voting behaviour was strongly depended on their partisanship and their location.[4]

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Among Turkish Cypriots the plan was argued to be excessively pro-Greek, but most said they were willing to accept it as a means of ending their prolonged international isolation and exclusion from the wider European economy. However, it was opposed by their leadership, with the Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktaş actively advocating a no vote. However, his Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat favoured the plan's acceptance, while Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also supported it. Turkey saw a resolution of the Cyprus issue as being an essential first step to eventual Turkish membership of the EU as well as a way of defusing tensions with Greece.

The Grey Wolves (a Turkish right-wing nationalist group belonging to the MHP nationalist party) actively advocated a "no" vote. There were some limited riots caused by the Grey Wolves party activists against pro-ratification supporters during the pre-vote period. At least 50 such activists had arrived in Northern Cyprus during the pre-voting period. However, the referendum itself passed off peacefully and was deemed free and fair.

Referendum question

The question put to the electorate of the two communities was:

Do you approve the Foundation Agreement with all its Annexes, as well as the constitution of the Greek Cypriot/Turkish Cypriot State and the provisions as to the laws to be in force, to bring into being a new state of affairs in which Cyprus joins the European Union united?

Annex IX, Article 1.1


Choice Greek Cypriots Turkish Cypriots Total voters
Votes % Votes % Votes %
For 99,97624.17 77,646 64.91 177,62233.30
Against 313,704 75.83 41,97335.09355,67766.70
Invalid/blank votes14,9073.485,3444.2820,2513.66
Registered voters/turnout480,56489.18143,63687.00624,20088.68
Source: GreekNews, Election Guide


Since the Greek Cypriot Community did not approve the Plan, and implementation of the Plan was dependent on its approval by both communities, the Annan Plan, according to its own terms, became null and void.

Should the Foundation Agreement not be approved at the separate simultaneous referenda, or any guarantor fail to sign the Treaty on matters related to the new state of affairs in Cyprus by 29 April 2004, it shall be null and void, and have no legal effect.

Annex IX, Article 1.2

Participation issues

Greek Cypriots disputed the right of Turkish Cypriots who had immigrated from Turkey since the 1974 breakaway. Following the referendum, Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos wrote to Kofi Annan, complaining that:

However, under the final Plan not only the entirety of settlers were to remain in Cyprus and the possibility for a permanent flow of settlers from Turkey was left open, but all of them were allowed to vote during the referendum. This was so, despite established international law and UN practice, and persistent repeated calls of our side to the contrary, which were utterly disregarded. The end result, is that once more the settlers have participated in formulating the will of Turkish Cypriots during the referendum of April 24, and this against every norm of international law and practice.


The British Foreign Affairs Select Committee noted that while the settler population did not "swing" the vote, "as illegal immigrants they should not have been allowed to vote at all".[6]


Greek Cypriots

Republic of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, emphasised that his people had rejected just the Annan plan and not all solutions to the Cyprus problem. "They are not turning their backs on their Turkish Cypriot compatriots," he said soon after the results were declared. "They have simply rejected this particular solution on offer."

Turkish Cypriots

Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktaş responded to the referendum outcome by declaring that, with the Annan Plan rejected, his "no" campaign had reached its objective. He rejected calls for his immediate resignation, but announced the following month that he would not be standing for a fifth presidential term in 2005.

Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom

There was varied reaction from Cyprus's Guarantor Powers, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that he believed the result spelled an end for Turkish Cypriot isolation, and that by rejecting the Annan Plan, "southern Cyprus (was) the loser". A spokesman for the Greek government stressed that efforts to reunite Cyprus should not be halted, pointing out that in the EU framework it is "in the interest of everyone to continue efforts to reconcile Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots".

The British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, "We will respect the choice which Greek Cypriots have expressed today. But I hope that they will continue to reflect on whether this choice is the right one for them." The general international reaction to the result was similar to that of Britain: one of deep disappointment, particularly among those bodies that had worked on the Annan Plan and on EU accession arrangements.

European Union

The European Union had been counting on approval of the Annan Plan so that Cyprus would join it as a united island, and expressed disappointment at the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Plan. It had already agreed that the Republic of Cyprus would become a member regardless of the result of the referendum, and so on May 1, 2004, Cyprus joined the European Union together with nine other countries.

With regard to the Turkish Cypriots the European Union stated the following:

The whole of the island is in the EU. However, in the northern part of the island, in the areas in which the Government of Cyprus does not exercise effective control, EU legislation is suspended in line with Protocol 10 of the Accession Treaty 2003.[7] The situation will change once a Cyprus settlement enters into force and it will then be possible for EU rules to apply over the whole of the island. However, the suspension does not affect the personal rights of Turkish Cypriots as EU citizens. They are citizens of a Member State, the Republic of Cyprus, even though they may live in the northern part of Cyprus, the areas not under government control.


Had the plan been ratified by both sides, Cyprus would have entered the EU as the United Cyprus Republic.

Other international reaction

Causes of the outcome

Possible reasons for approval among Turkish Cypriots

  • Reunification was desired for economic reasons.
  • Many Turkish Cypriots no longer perceived the Greek Cypriots as a threat, especially in the light of the strictly bi-zonal proposition of the Annan plan.
  • Turkish Cypriots would receive considerable constitutional power in the United Cyprus Republic that the Annan plan proposed, over-proportional to their percentage of the population.
  • In 2009 mainland Turkish press reported that in the elections that were then taking place 38% of those eligible to vote were Turkish-Cypriots, the majority being Turkish settlers. It might be reasonable to make the assumption that this would have been a similar five years earlier.
  • The Turkish Cypriot component state would still, even after territorial cession of some areas to the Greek Cypriot component state, make up 28.5 percent of the total area of Cyprus, including large economically important areas that were inhabited exclusively by Greek Cypriots prior to the division of Cyprus in 1974.
  • The right of return of Greek Cypriots to their homes in the areas coming under the control of the Turkish Cypriot component state would be strictly limited if not, in some cases, forbidden, thus the possibility of Turkish Cypriots becoming a minority in their respective component state would not exist.
  • The guarantor states for the Constitution of Cyprus would retain their powers as such, thus Turkey would still arguably have the right to intervene in Cypriot affairs, most definitely on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots and vice versa.
  • The Annan plan did not attribute blame, Turkey was not blamed or punished for the invasion in 1974.

Possible reasons for rejection among the Greek Cypriots

As summarised by "The Case Against the Annan Plan", Coufoudakis and Kyriakides and the Letter by the President of the Republic, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, to the U.N. Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan dated 7 June 2004

  • Turkey obtained divisive bi-zonality provisions, strategic economic benefits, and “security” arrangements, allowing her to intervene militarily, making full independence impossible.[9]
  • The Turkish Cypriot constituent state, would have been integrated to Turkey making United Cyprus Republic (UCR) answerable to Turkey.[9]
  • Turkey would have constrained UCR΄s economic development by securing provisions in the Law on the Continental Shelf that prevents the UCR from exploring and exploiting her maritime resources in the seas of Cyprus.[9]
  • Turkey was granted rights to interfere with the Treaty between Egypt and the Republic of Cyprus on the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone. Cyprus' rights to its Continental Shelf in the south would have also been answerable to Turkey.[9]
  • The fifth revision of the Annan plan imposed the “Cooperative Agreement on Civil Aviation with Turkey” on Cyprus. The management of Cyprus air space would have been subject to Turkey’s consent. It would have also allowed Turkey to take all necessary actions (even military action) in the event of any threat to aircraft passengers, airport or aviation facilities in Cyprus airspace.[9]
  • Turkey was granted the right of stationing Turkish troops on the island of Cyprus perpetually, again making full independence impossible.[9]
  • The Ethnic groups in Cyprus are Greek 77%, Turkish 18%, other 5% of the population. (2001) The Annan plan equates the representation of the two major ethnic groups in the proposed Senate and in the Supreme Court giving 50-50 representation to the two communities. The majority becomes a minority in important decision centres.[10]
  • The plan created a confederation even though it utilised the term "federation" because there was no hierarchy of laws, while central authority emanated from the so-called component states. Note that the United States abandoned its original confederal structure because it was unworkable. In 1789, a federal constitution was established containing a clear federal supremacy clause. The Supreme Court composed of equal numbers of Greek Cypriot (77% of population) and Turkish Cypriot judges (18% of population), plus three foreign judges; thus foreign actors would cast deciding votes.[11]
  • The Plan did not include a settlement regarding the repatriation of Turkish settlers living on Greek Cypriot owned land in Northern Cyprus, while after 19 years, the possibility of abolishing the derogation of 5% of Greeks and Turkish citizens who could settle in Cyprus, is obvious, and the danger of a permanent mass settling of Cyprus by Turkey is visible.
  • Nearly all the Turkish settlers would be granted citizenship or residence rights leading to citizenship. The central government would have limited control towards future Turkish Immigration. Those settlers opting to return to Turkey would be compensated by Cyprus and Greek Cypriots. Even though Turkey systematically brought in the settlers to alter the demography of the island, it had no responsibility for their Repatriation.
  • The Plan simply disregarded the plain language and clear meaning of the Geneva Convention of 1949, section III, article 49, which prohibits colonisation by an occupying power. Article 49 states in its last paragraph: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
  • The Plan did not deal in full with the issue of demilitarisation of the legally invalid 'TRNC', and Greek Cypriots felt they had no reason to believe Turkish promises concerning the withdrawal of troops.
  • Cyprus would be excluded from the European Common Defense and Foreign Policy, while Turkish troops would remain in Cyprus even after the accession of Turkey to the EU with intervention rights, (a military invasion - occasionally used euphemistically), in the future Greek Cypriot component state.
  • Many Greek Cypriots interpreted the Right of Return policy as seriously flawed, meaning only 20% of Greek Cypriot refugees would be able to return over a time frame of 25 years, whereas Turkish Cypriots would have had full right of return. The plan denied to all Cypriots rights enjoyed by all other EU citizens (right of free movement and residence, the right to apply to work in any position (including national civil services, the right to vote).[12]
  • Turkish Cypriots would have gained all their requested demands in the 24 hours following the referendum, had the plan been accepted. Greek Cypriot demands, however, were relegated to the long term - as well as being dependent on the good will of Turkey to fulfil its obligations.
  • The return of the Turkish occupied land will take place in the period between three and a half months and three and a half years from the moment the solution is signed with no guarantees whatsoever that this shall be implemented. The Cypriot-Greek proposal of placing these areas under the control of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus and not the Turkish army has been rejected.
  • The Plan did not address the issue of the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) on the island, although parts of the SBAs would be transferred to the governments of the two constituent states.
  • The British were granted rights to unilaterally define the continental shelf and territorial waters along two base areas and to claim potential mineral rights. Under the 1959-1960 Zürich and London Agreements, Britain did not have such rights (see the 2nd annex to the Additional Protocol to the 1959 Treaty of Establishment).
  • The plan was perceived as absolving Turkey of all responsibility for its invasion of Cyprus and its related violations to the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • The plan was perceived as failing to provide adequate compensation by Turkey.
  • The Plan was perceived as not adequately protecting the property rights of the Greek Cypriots and other legal owners of property in the occupied area:
    • by prohibiting recourse to European courts on property issues;
    • by withdrawing all pending cases at the European Court of Human Rights and transferring them to local courts;
    • by allowing Turkish Cypriots and illegal mainland Turk settlers/colonists to keep Greek Cypriot homes and property they were illegally given following Turkey's invasion of Cyprus and not having to reimburse the rightful owners of the property for 30 years of illegal use;
    • by an uncertain regime for resolving property issues and which is based on the principle that real property owners can ultimately be forced to give up their property rights which would violate the European Convention on Human Rights and international law. The Greek Cypriot property owners would have to be reimbursed by the to be federal treasury which would be funded overwhelmingly by the Greek Cypriots, meaning that Greek Cypriots would be reimbursing themselves.
  • The Plan was perceived as having the effect of protecting those British citizens who illegally bought Greek Cypriot property from settlers or persons who are not owners in Northern Cyprus.
  • The cost of economic reunification was perceived as being borne only by the Greek Cypriots. The reunification cost has been estimated close to $20b[12]
  • Following Annan 5 plan the Greek Cypriots would not have been allowed to make up more than 6% of the population in any single village in the Turkish controlled areas in the north thus they would have been prevented from setting up their own schools for their children and would not have even been able to give birth once this quota was reached.
  • The agreement placed time restrictions in the right of free, permanent installation of Greek Cypriots back to their homes and properties in the to be Turkish Cypriot state, which constitutes a deviation from the European Union practices. Those Greek Cypriot refugees that would return to their homes in regions under Turkish Cypriot administration would have no local civil rights, because the political representatives of Turkish Cypriot state would be elected only from Turkish Cypriots.[13]
  • The functional weaknesses of the Plan was perceived as endangering the smooth activity and participation of Cyprus, with one voice, in the European Union after Cyprus accession to the European Union.
  • The Economy of Cyprus would have been separate with the plan, as no common Monetary policy, fiscal policy and no investments by Greek Cypriot businesses were going to be allowed in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state.
  • Many Greek-Cypriots felt that the demand that the Cyprus issue be resolved before Cyprus' entry to the EU was so that the reunification would not have to contain elements of European law which were incompatible with certain provisions in the Annan Plan. This was further backed up by many who demanded the EU accept all derogations even if they violate European Court Decisions, European Law and UN Security Council Resolutions. Both Romano Prodi and Günter Verheugen repeatedly indicated that any such derogations should only be for a short period of time and should not violate any European Laws.[14]


  1. Election profile IFES Election Guide
  2. "What do the results of the referendum in Cyprus show?". Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  3. Ewen MacAskill; Helena Smith (5 March 2004). "New date to be set after blunder over Cyprus referendum". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  4. Chadjipadelis, T. & Andreadis, I. (2007). Analysis of the Cyprus Referendum on the Annan Plan. 57th Political Studies Association Annual Conference
  5. From "Letter by the President of the Republic, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, to the U.N. Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, dated 7 June, which circulated as an official document of the U.N. Security Council". Cyprus PIO. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  6. "Cyprus". Select Committee on Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  7. "Protocol No 10 On Cyprus". Archived from the original on 10 February 2005. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  8. "European Commission - Enlargement - Turkish Cypriot community - Enlargement". Archived from the original on 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Letter by the President of the Republic, Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, to the U.N. Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan dated 7th of June 2004
  10. The Case Against the Annan Plan, Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 25)
  11. The Case Against the Annan Plan, Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 11)
  12. 1 2 The Case Against the Annan Plan, Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 13)
  13. The Case Against the Annan Plan, Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 10)
  14. The Case Against the Annan Plan, Coufoudakis and Kyriakides (page 9)
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.