NEWS

Denktash looks back to Gali plan

Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday that he had proposed to Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that Nicosia’s international airport be opened and that the Greek-Cypriot refugees be allowed back to the town of Varosha. Both the town and the airport have stood desolate since the Turkish invasion in 1974. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul expressed support for the proposals and suggested that Cypriot aircraft and ships could use Turkish air space and territorial waters if Nicosia accepted them. «This will ensure the growth of bilateral trade,» said Gul, adding that he too had sent Annan a letter asking for support. Denktash proposed that Nicosia airport and Varosha, part of the city of Famagusta, function under temporary UN administration. The Cypriot government is to hold a meeting chaired by Papadopoulos on Monday, «to study and decide on the general issues raised by Mr Denktash’s letter and, specifically, the proposal for the reopening of Nicosia airport,» the president said in a statement yesterday. Papadopoulos noted, however, that Denktash was avoiding a plan presented by Annan for a comprehensive solution. «Instead of discussing an overall solution for Cyprus, Mr Denktash has – with Ankara’s full backing – inaugurated a new strategy for maintaining the occupation regime and simply introducing ‘good neighborly relations,’» he said. Papadopoulos said that Denktash was referring to part of a settlement plan proposed by former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993-94 which Denktash had rejected in his insistence on international recognition for the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. The Cypriot government spokesman, Kypros Chrysostomides, responded to Gul’s statement regarding the opening of Turkish air space and territorial waters to Cypriots, saying: «This was discussed in the past as well and we said that this is Turkey’s obligation on the basis of international institutions, the rules of the World Trade Organization and the customs union with the European Union… It is something which Turkey will have to do in any case.»