Yes or no?

AT THE moment, Greek Cypriots opposed to the Annan plan appear to outnumber those who support it, depending of course on which circles you move in. Many do realise that this is the last chance, and although they are not happy about it, they are looking at the bigger picture. The biggest problem for most people appears to be the lack of information on the content of the plan and what it means. But many still subscribe to the political message they have been fed for 30 years: “Settlers and troops out, and all refugees return home,” and although some do realise that it’s the Annan plan or possible partition, they say they would opt for the latter. As one diplomat said: “The politicians have an uphill battle on their hands.” The Sunday Mail went in search of people it believed were in a position to make an informed decision.

Takis Panayiotou, 34, says he doesn’t know yet how he will vote. “I don’t know what will happen afterwards. It may not work. I don’t care about the patriotic angle, but will it lead to a better life? Maybe it’s better not to have the plan and stay as two states. They should really tell us more about it.”

Eleni Hadjicostis, 23, is not registered on the electoral roll, but might do so in order to vote in April. “I’m leaning more towards a ‘yes’ because the island has been divided for too long. I know the Greek Cypriots will have to make more concessions, but in the end it will be worth it.” But Eleni said most of her friends planned to vote ‘no’ because they were ignorant of the plan and just listen to the views of others to make up their minds. “I think it’s because they are just uninformed.”

Anna Ioannou, 35, a refugee, said she would be voting ‘no’ and that the best solution was two states. “I’ve not read the plan, but what Denktash is asking is ridiculous. Now they are pushing us because they want get into the EU with us. I don’t want to pay any money for the Turks. They are coming to the free areas and going to take allowances. Why should they when Denktash tells us ‘come and look but don’t touch’. The Turkish Cypriots should stay, but Denktash and the settlers should leave the country. It was he who caused all the problems.” Anna said that even if her home village of Argaki was being returned she would still vote ‘no’.

Maria Constantinou, 43, first said she was going to vote ‘yes’ for a solution but then changed her mind. Maria has properties in the north, one of which is occupied by a Frenchman who runs a bed and breakfast. She is upset that someone is making money from her house while she struggles to earn a living here. “The solution I want is to be a free person in my own country. They are not offering that so they should stop the negotiations and leave us in peace. We don’t say we don’t want to live with the Turkish Cypriots but we don’t want to live with the settlers.”

Andreas Andreou, 45, said he has not decided yet what to vote. He is waiting to see the final plan. “If they don’t change more things I will vote ‘no’. The economy is a big concern for me. Who is going to pay? If we have to pay we are going to have problems. Maybe there will be a better chance if when we go in the EU.”

Costas Theodorou, 34, is voting ‘no’. “We’ve been waiting to join the EU for more than 15 years, and now the Turkish Cypriots are going to become members overnight without any effort. They are just going to take the benefits without doing anything. The solution is to build a big wall and leave them there.”

Floris Hadjidemetriou, 28, said he will vote ‘yes’ for several reasons. “First of all it’s for selfish reasons because my mother’s village is in the plan. The other reason is that if we vote ‘no’ the north will be recognised and partition will follow. Not everyone is going to want to go back, but if we say ‘no’ every Turkish Cypriot is going to come and get a passport and go to the EU and leave the settlers in the north. Oh, and the Church should butt out and stop brainwashing people with mediaeval ideas.”

Yianna Demetriou, 40, said she was in two minds. “I see some injustices in the plan and the thought of same old dinosaurs who caused many of the problems battling it out in a central government is frightening. But on the other hand you have to think ahead although it’s an unknown. If we say ‘no’ and Turkey eventually joins the EU… even in 20 years… there will be no barriers to the freedom of movement of mainlanders here and the sheer number would ensure a posthumous victory for Denktash. Cyprus would become Turkish.”