The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions
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Cyprus 2004: Curtains for the Annan Plan
HITS: 2840 | 3-06-2004, 17:38 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Cyprus , Analyzing, War and peace
The Greek Cypriots said a firm 'no' to the Annan Plan in the 24th April referendum. But, will this end attempts to reunify Cyprus? The results of the referendums on the Annan Plan for reunification of the island of Cyprus, held on 24th April 2004, turned out much as expected. Voters in the south voted overwhelmingly ‘No’ while a majority in the north said ‘Yes’. As the campaign to sell the Annan Plan intensified, the international community’s former disapproval for TRNC vanished and the new ‘bad boys’ became those politicians in the south, Cyprus’s president Tassos Papadopolous in particular, who had urged his countrymen to vote no. However, despite promises of increased aid and cooperation for the Turkish Cypriots from the US and Europe, there is limited room for manoeuvre as TRNC is an unrecognised state and there is no sign, as this report is written, of any change in its status. Similarly, it is difficult to see how the Republic of Cyprus can be effectively ‘punished’ as it is an economically successful state and now a member of the EU.
The Referendum in Cyprus: Before, During and After
HITS: 2436 | 1-06-2004, 18:11 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Cyprus , PR and human rights, Politics
The defeat of the anti-rejectionist parties in the December election led to the revival of the Annan Plan in January 2004. Although the CTP and its allies had demanded that Denktaş resign as TRNC’s main negotiator, he was kept on after consultations with Ankara. This in itself reflected divisions in society where the elder statesman still commanded popularity and respect. However, after leading the TRNC delegation in a preliminary visit to New York in February, Denktaş stepped down as final negotiations loomed, saying he could not advise acceptance of the plan as it stood. As the parties had agreed to let the UN Secretary General ‘fill in the gaps’ in the parts of the plan where no agreement had been reached, arrangements were made for talks to be held, leaving time for a last-minute referendum to be called before the 1st May deadline on the final version of the document. At the same time, Erdogan was offered various sweeteners to reward TRNC (and Turkey) for their cooperation.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in November 2002, two months before the first demonstrations against Rauf Denktaş’s policies took place in TRNC. Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayip Erdogan, and his new foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, are perceived to be loyal friends of the international community. They supported (albeit discreetly) the US invasion of Iraq and approved the dispatch of Turkish troops to help the coalition there, something eventually thwarted by lack of support from parliament. A solid commitment to pursue EU membership has gone in tandem with their pro-US policies. For as long as anyone can remember, European institutions have been remorselessly critical of Turkey’s human rights record, in particular the country’s perceived over-militarization and persecution of its large Kurdish minority. The European Court of Human Rights has also penalized Turkey in numerous judgements condemning the depredations suffered by Greek Cypriots during the 1974 invasion, and awarding large sums in compensation for the loss of property.
HITS: 2320 | 1-06-2004, 17:51 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Cyprus , Political science, Political leaders
BHHRG sent observers to monitor the conduct of the election itself held on 14th December 2003. As TRNC is an unrecognised state, official monitoring organizations like the OSCE as well as EU bodies were unwilling to send representatives to observe the poll. However, a group from the University of Oslo had been in TRNC for several months monitoring the campaign and a small number of German SPD MPs (including a member of Turkish Cypriot origin) attended the election itself. There were also two British observers, acknowledged supporters of TRNC. 7 parties contested the 50 seats in TRNC’s parliament. Elections are conducted by a complicated system of proportional representation which allows not only a vote for the bloc but also a preferential vote which can be for candidates from other parties. There is a 5% threshold for entry into parliament. By polling day, 141,479 electors had been registered.
The international community’s central ambition was to have the Annan Plan accepted and Cyprus reunited before 1st May 2004. If this didn’t come about, only the internationally recognised southern part of the island would enter the EU on that date with 9 other accession countries. Since the plan was put forward, most efforts had been spent wooing the Turkish Cypriots – successfully as it turned out. Large demonstrations took place in January and February 2003, sending a signal to President Denktaş and his government that people wanted change. This came about on 14th December 2003, when the leading opposition party, the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), which supported the plan, narrowly won the parliamentary elections.