NEWS

OIC sees ‘state’ in north Cyprus

Foreign ministers representing 56 Muslim countries assembled in Istanbul approved, late yesterday, a Turkish proposal to upgrade the status of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus to that of a «state,» in the wake of the April 24 referenda in which the Turkish Cypriots approved a reunification blueprint which the Greek Cypriots rejected. Earlier, the secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Abdelouahed Belkeziz, told delegates at the 31st session of the Islamic conference of foreign ministers that the Turkish Cypriots’ vote would enable them «to win greater international sympathy.» «I would call upon the Member States to bear [the referendum results] in mind and take appropriate measures thereon,» he said.  It was unclear, however, whether the OIC ministers’ approval for the Turkish proposal was a purely symbolic gesture, or whether it would result in practical measures on behalf of the OIC’s 56 members to support the occupied north of Cyprus. Addressing the conference, Turkish President Ahmed Necdet Sezer said the referenda have created a new status quo on Cyprus. «In the light of that event, which has been recognized by the international community, the Turkish-Cypriot people has the desire to join the rest of the world,» a Cyprus News Agency dispatch quoted Sezer as saying. «Any further punishment of the Turkish-Cypriot people, due to a situation for which it bears no responsibility, would be totally unacceptable.» Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul called on the OIC to monitor the condition of Greece’s Muslim minority in Thrace, which he said is not able to fully enjoy its basic human rights…