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Famagusta and Morphou… through the mist of history

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Joined: 17/06/2007
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Message Posted:
14/09/2008 18:27

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Famagusta and Morphou… through the mist of history

By Nicos Rolandis

DEMETRIS Christofias has an onerous feat to achieve. He carries on his shoulders the sins and blunders of two generations of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Even his own party, which has, by and large, followed the right course, has committed a number of missteps along the historical path. Now, Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat, must carry the burden of a sinful past and lead Cyprus to the solution of her problem.

Demetris reminds me of the legendary king of ancient Corinth, Sisyphus. Sisyphus was condemned by the gods repeatedly to roll up a hill a heavy rock, which always rolled down again just as it was about to reach the top. In our case, the heavy rock is made up of 250,000 settlers, a virgin birth, a rotating presidency, Turkish guarantees, illegally exploited properties, limited territorial adjustments, a disputed sovereignty, lack of will for a solution, nationalist trends, Morphou, Famagusta and many other thorny issues, most of which did not exist in the past.

Some years ago, we had only 15,000 settlers who were ready to be compensated and depart. The concept of virgin birth did not exist. There was no rotating presidency either. Construction on Greek properties in the north was minimal. The territorial adjustments were better for us. Sovereignty was not in doubt.

The “patriots of leisure”, however, left Cyprus gasping for air, with no solution to her problem. We were aiming at the absolute. And we got nothing.

Famagusta and Morphou, the two jewels in the crown of the Cyprus problem, became part of my life. From the very beginning, just after the invasion. Since the days when the Varosha residents were packing dreams into their luggage. They now fill their suitcases with “signatures”, which are also deposited deep in the archives of the United Nations.


1. At the beginning of September 1978 (exactly 30 years ago), Matthew Nimetz, the US Assistant Secretary of State arrived in Cyprus. We had a number of meetings, some of them at my residence to avoid publicity. President Kyprianou was kept informed on the progress of the talks. The Anglo-American-Canadian Plan was under preparation. Among other things, we underscored the importance of the priority of Famagusta, which was also presented in a positive way by Rauf Denktash two months earlier. The Plan was handed over to me on November 10, 1978, at the Harvard Club in New York. Nimetz emphasised the fact that the Plan was fully supported by President Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and also by the governments of the United Kingdom and Canada. I had with me in New York the party representatives, Glafcos Clerides (DISY), Ezekias Papaioannou (AKEL), Alecos Michaelides (DIKO) and Vassos Lyssarides (EDEK). Acting on the instructions of the President, I briefed them about the Plan at the Delegates’ Lounge of the UN. The Plan provided that the Varosha residents would return to their homes and stay there, irrespective of the outcome of the talks. Although no statements were made by the leaders, Clerides was positive, Papaioannou was rather positive but he said that we should wait, Michaelides was positive on a personal basis and Lyssarides was negative. President Kyprianou, although I tried to convince him to the contrary, had many doubts. The Greek government was in favour. Moscow had a negative stance. The Plan was finally rejected at the beginning of December 1978. The residents of Varosha were left alone, holding their suitcases in the winter fog.

2. In the spring of 1981 we had an Initiative by the United Nations for the return of Famagusta and in parallel the operation of the Nicosia Airport under UN administration (mini-package), together with the signature of a Disclaimer, which would protect our position regarding the status of the occupied part of Cyprus. Our legal

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