Turkey moves to end Cyprus dispute
Thursday, January 02 2003 @ 04:35 PM MSK
Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for new thinking on Turkish policy in Cyprus, saying the future of the divided island needs to be settled quickly. Mr Erdogan criticised the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and called on him to negotiate on the basis of the United Nations' proposals for the divided island. The Turkish leader has endorsed UN plans for the reunification of Cyprus but Mr Denktash has said he is unwilling to negotiate with the Greek Cypriot Government. This is the strongest indication yet of a rift between the Turkish Government and the Turkish Cypriot administration. Turkey's new government would dearly like to get a solution on Cyprus. Frustration The island has been divided for almost three decades after Turkish troops invaded and occupied part of it following a coup by Greek Cypriots. For much of that time, the Turkish Government has supported the Turkish Cypriot leadership at every turn, but elements within the new government are deeply frustrated at what they see as the obstinacy of Mr Denktash. Mr Erdogan made it clear in an interview that he thought the policies of the past would no longer serve and he criticised Mr Denktash directly. This is not, he said, Mr Denktash's personal business, it is a nation's struggle for existence. Mr Erdogan also referred to mounting protests amongst Turkish Cypriots against Mr Denktash's hardline stance. He said that the public's view cannot be brushed aside and he pressed Mr Denktash to return to the negotiations.