NEWS

Denktash seeks property swap

NICOSIA (AFP) – Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said in an interview yesterday that resolving property issues between Greek and Turkish Cypriots is the key to advancing peace on the divided island. «You have to respect that peace and security rests on accepting a bizonal life – at least in the beginning – and that property exchange is a necessity for that,» Denktash told the English-language Sunday Mail weekly. «Living together is something else: It is subject to the quotas which we will have to agree upon, buying property subject to quotas.» He did not go into detail about what he meant by «property exchange.» Denktash rejected a UN peace plan in March, partially over the question of the number of Greek Cypriots who would be allowed to return to their homes in the north, and of compensation for those Turkish Cypriots displaced. Denktash said that without quotas – restricting the number of Greek Cypriots allowed to move to or buy property in the north – Turkish Cypriots would be «flooded out» by a numerical majority. «I hope that Greek Cypriots… who come and see their houses occupied by and owned by Turkish Cypriots, will realize that the way to settle this thing is each party living in their sector but enjoying life together through visits and business,» he said. «If a Greek Cypriot comes here and says to anyone here ‘get out,’ he will be faced with our title deed, and he will be thrown out.» Thousands of people from both sides of the island have visited their former homes since Turkish-Cypriot authorities lifted travel restrictions on April 23, sparking unprecedented movement in both directions. Denktash also ruled out any immediate resumption of peace talks.