Denktash in passport U-turn

As a major storm brewed yesterday in Nicosia after the publication of a petition by a group of Greek Cypriots to Rauf Denktash seeking compensation for their lost properties in the Turkish-occupied north, the Turkish-Cypriot leader sprang a new surprise by refusing to let Turkish-Cypriots travel on Cypriot passports. Denktash was quoted in Turkish-Cypriot newspapers yesterday as having said he did not recognize passports issued by «the Greek-Cypriot administration.» As a result, the large number of Turkish-Cypriots who recently acquired such passports from government authorities in Nicosia will not be able to use the documents to leave the occupied north, or Turkey. Until fairly recently, Denktash had maintained that Turkish Cypriots had every right to acquire Cypriot passports. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Green Line, the Cypriot government and political parties joined together in fierce denunciation of Christakis Polykarpou, a refugee from Morfou in the occupied north who headed a list of 15 Greek Cypriots in a petition to Denktash seeking compensation for the property they lost during the 1974 Turkish invasion. In what Nicosia sees as an attempt to forestall politically and financially costly compensation bids at the European Court of Human Rights, Denktash has called on Greek-Cypriot refugees to seek redress by tabling lawsuits in the occupied north. Until Tuesday, Nicosia said it had no information to back Denktash’s claims that such applications were trickling in. But then Polykarpou admitted to sending a petition to Denktash, arguing that he had waited in vain for 29 years for the Cypriot government to compensate him. Promptly, several of the other people on the list claimed Polykarpou had tricked them, and threatened to sue him.