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Media Watch 2003

14 September 2003
Source: Sunday Mail
Author: Jean Christou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Sunday Mail of Nicosia on 14 September 2003
Denktash’s surprise plan ‘contains no surprises’

TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s ‘surprise’ solution plan, which has yet to be announced, is predictably based on a confederation of two separate states, according to the Turkish mainland newspaper Milliyet.

The newspaper said officials in the north and in Ankara were still working on the plan and listed several of its provisions. It added that many of the provisions drew on the Annan plan which Denktash rejected at The Hague last March.

The ‘Denktash plan’, as it has been dubbed, provides for a confederal system of government made up of two equal states, a Presidential Council consisting of eight members, five Greek Cypriots and three Turkish Cypriots, a rotating presidency and a bicameral parliament consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate.  

Under the plan there would be a proportional distribution of seats in the House of Representatives while the two sides would be equally represented in the Senate.

The Turkish Cypriot side would accept to retain 29 per cent of the island’s territory after the redistribution of land, Milliyet said, adding that Morphou would remain under the control of the Turkish Cypriots while Varosha would be handed over to the Greek Cypriot side on condition that 15,000 Turkish Cypriots living there are not forced to leave their homes.

Another provision would be that all Turkish settlers with ‘TRNC’ citizenship would be allowed to remain in the north.

Such provisions would not be acceptable to the Greek Cypriot side since the Annan plan provides for the return of Morphou, Varosha, and a limited number of settlers remaining in the north. The Annan plan also gives the Turkish side slightly less territory.

In an interview with Bayrak television Denktash said the publication of his plan would be a matter of timing.

“We have something that we have prepared,” he said. “Turkey will probably have a look at it and express its opinion within the context of its own outlook. All this will be done soon. But when and whether to disclose it, when the EU, in a final mistake, declares the admittance of the Greek Cypriots under the name of Cyprus -- that is, whether to disclose it as a retaliation and alternative to that -- or just before or after the elections will be a matter of tactical calculation,” he said.

Turkish Cypriots go to the polls in December, and the pro-EU opposition parties, who have the backing of the international community, are confident they can oust Denktash as negotiator and come to an agreement with the Greek Cypriot side based on the Annan plan.

But Denktash said the upcoming elections had nothing to do with the EU or the Annan plan. “It is a struggle between those who uphold the statehood and those who reject it,” he said.

Turkish Cypriots are concerned that the number of settlers who have traditionally supported Denktash could be the decisive factor in the elections, and one group has taken up this issue at the Council of Europe, saying that settlers should not be allowed to vote in December.

The Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris reported on Friday that during the past few weeks there have been long queues for ‘TRNC’ passports. Several of the settlers told the newspaper they were getting passports in order to vote in December.

According to another Turkish Cypriot newspaper, Yeni Duzen, ‘citizenship’ is being granted to settlers on the instructions of the commander of the security forces. It is even being given to settlers with no permission to work in the north, the paper said, citing one incident of a Turkish man who was given the right to vote “upon request by the command of our security forces”."