NEWS

Denktash rails against Erdogan

Turkey’s foreign minister, Yasar Yakis, arrived in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus yesterday to meet with Rauf Denktash, at a time when relations between the Turkish-Cypriot leader and Turkey’s government are at an all-time low. Britain’s envoy for Cyprus, Lord David Hannay, meets with Denktash today, along with President Glafcos Clerides and UN envoy Alvaro de Soto. Denktash is to meet with Yakis before he and Clerides meet at 5 p.m. The leader of Turkey’s ruling party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (as well as participants in mass demonstrations in northern Cyprus) have demanded repeatedly that Denktash work toward a solution for Cyprus on the basis of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal by the Feb. 28 deadline. The United States too is pressing. «A solution is possible before Feb. 28 and this is the only option for peace and stability on the island and the region,» Marc Grossman, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, told a group of Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot reporters in a video conference late Friday. «There is an urgency to resolve the Cyprus issue by Feb. 28,» he said. On Saturday, Erdogan said in Davos, Switzerland, that Denktash and Clerides «have sat at the (negotiating) table in order not to solve the Cyprus issue for 20 years.» On the same day, he and Turkish PM Abdullah Gul met with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who attended a «Turkey night» function in the Swiss town. Denktash complained about Erdogan yesterday. «If Turkey is ready to accept the plan… it should say it openly. Then somebody who will sign this plan will be found, he will sign it and the job will be finished,» he said. «I have come to an uncertain position as a negotiator and I cannot accept this. I cannot go on like this,» the Turkish-Cypriot TAK agency quoted him as saying. «Contradictory statements are harmful. They do nothing but put me in a difficult situation in front of my people and the Greek Cypriots.» Gul dismissed the outburst. «We are at a crucial turning point… It is not time for such statements,» he told Turkey’s NTV channel. «We do not say, ‘Let’s give Cyprus away and get rid of it’… But we do insist that a solution is found.»