NEWS

Denktash threatens to take Varosha

Athens and Nicosia were scathing in their criticism of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday after he warned that he would open to Turkish Cypriots the town of Varosha that has been deserted since Turkey’s invasion of the island in 1974 if the Greek Cypriots did not accept his proposal for the reopening of Nicosia’s airport. «Mr Denktash continues to be provocative and to act in an unacceptable manner,» Greek government spokesman Christos Protopappas said. «He continues these fruitless maneuvers which have no meaning and he drags simple Turkish-Cypriot citizens into his dead-end tactics, and he also imposes this tactic on the Turkish side,» he added. «This tactic of Denktash’s is dangerous for the true interests of the Turkish Cypriots and is dangerous for Turkey itself.» The Cypriot government spokesman, Kypros Chrysostomides, declared that Denktash had displayed «boundless audacity.» Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said, «These are tactical moves and are not aimed at a real solution to the problem.» Athens and Nicosia, as well as international mediators, are pushing Denktash to accept UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposals for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem. Denktash has refused to do so, proposing instead in a letter to Annan, which he made public last week, that Nicosia’s airport (also closed since 1974) and Varosha be opened. Chrysostomides said the government would also like to see changes to Annan’s plan. «Accepting Annan’s plan as is reduces our side’s negotiating power,» he said. «We accept the Annan plan as the basis for negotiations and we see its improvement and amendment for the good of both communities,» he added. President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Tuesday that accepting the Annan plan as is would imply acceptance of the Turkish invasion and occupation, saying he would not be party to the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus. This prompted a protest by Nikos Anastasiadis, president of Democratic Rally. «I am truly surprised,» he said. «And I am trying to follow… the line followed by the current government on this national problem.»