NEWS

Turkish Cypriots prepare protest

Turkish-Cypriot opposition groups yesterday called a mass demonstration for next Tuesday as they stepped up their efforts to get Rauf Denktash to sign a UN-mediated peace deal by Feb. 28 or resign. But the Turkish-Cypriot leader declared again yesterday that he did not accept key principles of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan. Whereas the largest Turkish-Cypriot newspaper, Kibris, which had backed Denktash until recently, printed an open letter on its front page urging him to change tack, Denktash got full backing from Turkey’s military late on Wednesday. Saying that Annan’s plan did not respond to his side’s basic demands concerning sovereignty, equality, power sharing and security guarantees, Denktash said he would not accept pressure. «Let those who urge me to sign the deal as it is sign it,» he said. The movement of parties, unions and non-governmental organizations called «This Land is Ours,» which is pushing for a solution so that a united Cyprus can join the EU, yesterday announced what it called «a rally to show determination for a solution and EU accession.» A similar rally on Dec. 26 brought some 30,000 people onto the streets and rocked Turkey and the occupied part of Cyprus. But the Turkish military, continuing its conflict with the ruling Justice and Development Party, expressed full backing for Denktash. If Annan’s proposals are accepted, said Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, leader of Turkey’s military, «the entrapment of Turkey in Anatolia will be complete.» His deputy, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, claimed that Annan’s map of a proposed return of territory «seems to be a map which was made by those who prepared the plan and the Greek Cypriots.» He said also that criticism of Denktash was «unjust.»