Turkish-Cypriot leader snubs American envoy

NICOSIA (AFP) – Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday he would refuse to see US envoy Thomas Weston when he visits Cyprus this week because of what he says are attempts by the diplomat to turn Turkish Cypriots against him ahead of key elections. «He asked for a meeting and I told him I will not be here… There is no use in saying and listening to the same things,» Denktash said before leaving for a visit to Turkey, according to the local TAK news agency. «Moreover, Mr Weston has recently gone too far. He is setting me up as a target for my people,» said Denktash. Weston, who visited Ankara this week, is expected to have talks with representatives of Cyprus’s long-divided Turkish and Greek sides tomorrow. Denktash said his aide Ergun Olgun would meet the US envoy. Weston’s tour comes ahead of crucial elections in Denktash’s self-declared Turkish-Cypriot state in the north of Cyprus – recognized only by Ankara – the result of which may have major repercussions on the future of the island. The US special coordinator for Cyprus expressed hope in Ankara that the three-decade conflict could be resolved if the Turkish-Cypriot opposition, an archenemy of Denktash, wins legislative elections on December 14. International mediators see the hardline nationalist Denktash as a major stumbling-block in the way of a settlement. Denktash himself will not stand in the polls, but the pro-EU Turkish-Cypriot opposition, which hopes to win the elections, has vowed to oust him from the post of chief negotiator in talks with the Greek Cypriots to pave the way for the island’s reunification and admission of both the Greek and Turkish parts to the EU.