NEWS

Denktash ‘will quit’ if pressured

Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, facing pressure at home and from Ankara to reach a deal with Greek Cypriots, has warned that he will resign if Turkey forces him to accept a deal that he considers unacceptable. In comments published yesterday, he also likened Turkish-Cypriot demonstrators who have called for his resignation as «irritating flies.» Turkish-Cypriot authorities also cut off the direct telephone link with the rest of Cyprus. «I am not thinking of resigning,» Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot newspapers quoted Denktash as saying in a television interview before he returned to Cyprus on Sunday. «If Turkey insists on a document that we cannot accept, I will quit. But up to now, I have not seen such pressure from the government,» he said. The UN is pushing the two sides on Cyprus to reach a deal before Feb. 28. Talks are to resume on Jan. 7. Denktash says he will negotiate but that he rejects several provisions of the plan, including the return of territory to Greek Cypriots. Cypriot government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday that it appeared Denktash was under pressure from the Turkish government when he said on Sunday that he would do all in his power to find a solution to the Cyprus problem by March. «The pressure on the Turkish-Cypriot leader (to be flexible) will increase and Mr Denktash will be obliged to push for a settlement, or hand in his resignation if he cannot accept such a policy,» Papapetrou told reporters in Nicosia. In the television interview, Denktash rejected some 30,000 Turkish-Cypriot demonstrators’ demand that he resign. «I am not going to resign because people called for my resignation. I am in office with 80 percent of the people’s vote and these voters continue to support me,» he was quoted as saying.