NEWS

Focus on Turkish-Cypriot polls

As a US mediator kicks off a new round of meetings this week aimed at restarting the Cyprus peace talks, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Saturday accused Washington and London of backing his internal political opponents ahead of December’s electoral process in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. State Department Cyprus envoy Thomas Weston will discuss ways of reviving the talks – which stopped in March after Denktash turned down a United Nations blueprint for reunification – during meetings with officials in London, Brussels, Berlin, Paris and Rome, which currently holds the rotating European Union presidency. He will then engage in talks with UN officials in New York. In remarks quoted by the Athens News Agency from Nicosia, Denktash told Turkey’s Sky TV station that both the USA and Britain favored an opposition victory in the hope of getting Turkish troops off Cyprus. Denktash was quoted as saying Washington and London want to use Cyprus as a military base for use against Arab countries. In other comments quoted by the ANA, Denktash said he expected opposition parties to win no more than 30 percent of the vote in December, and accused the Cypriot government of using the opposition to divide Turkish-Cypriot public opinion. In an interview with Greece’s Eleftheros Typos yesterday, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos expressed hopes for an opposition victory that could force Denktash to resign. «For as long as Denktash remains in power and acts as the negotiator, we cannot expect any progress in negotiations between the island’s two communities,» he said. «If the opposition win a clear victory, perhaps the picture could change.»