Denktash under pressure over the reunification of Cyprus


CYPRUS: The Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktash, returned to the northern sector of this divided capital yesterday as the opposition stepped up demands for him to accept a UN plan for reunification of the island or resign. Mr Denktash, who spent only five days in Cyprus since undergoing open heart surgery in early October, is blamed by a majority of his own people for blocking progress in negotiations on the UN plan for the creation of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation which would enable the Turkish Cyprio

On New Year's Eve, thousands are expected to take part in a rally during which they threaten to breach barbed wire fences and ramshackle walls which have separated the two communities since the Turkish army occupied the north in 1974.

One of the slogans the protesters have raised is, "No more Berlin Wall". The leader of the United Cyprus party, Mr Izzet Izcan, stated: "From now on, we Turkish Cypriots should focus in persuading the international community that we no longer recognise Denktash as a negotiator in the UN-brokered talks" set to resolve communal differences over the plan by February 28th. "The plan," he stated, "is the only way to prevent our obliteration as a community."

Over the past 28 years, the number of Turkish Cypriots has dwindled through emigration to about 80,000 while some 100-110,000 people from Turkey have settled in the north. "The Cyprus problem has to be seen as part of the struggle between pro-European forces and those who resist democracy in Turkey," Mr Izcan said. Although the Turkish President, Mr Ahmet Sezer, and the foreign ministry have declared their support for Mr Denktash, the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said: "We cannot assess the dispute with a logic dating back 40 years." This was seen as a reference to Mr Denktash's long-standing campaign for partition and recognition of his breakaway state. Mr Erdogan asked, "Why should [the Cyprus problem] not be resolved by February 28th? If we cannot resolve the issue, [Turkish Cypriot] protests will grow."