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Media Watch 2003

04 June 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Jean Christou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 4 June 2003.
Serdar walkout: Omirou reaches out to Turkish Cypriots but stands by remarks

SOCIALIST KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou yesterday attempted to mend fences with Turkish Cypriot parties after Serdar Denktash walked out of a bicommunal party leaders’ meeting at the Ledra Palace on Monday, but he stood by the comment that so upset Denktash.

Serdar Denktash, the leader of the Democratic Party, took exception to a comment Omirou had made earlier in the week, which made reference to the illegality of the Turkish Cypriot ‘parliament’.

At Monday’s meeting, an angry Denktash, vowed that he would no longer attend the regular bicommunal meetings, which the Slovak embassy has been organising for years, and that his party would only be represented at lower level in the future.

Yesterday, Omirou said in a message to Turkish Cypriot politicians that as long as Cyprus remained occupied, the human rights of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots were being violated.

“We will continue in our efforts for a common vision for Greek and Turkish Cypriots, for the fall of the wall of occupation and the reunification of our homeland,” he said, but added that this could be achieved only through the legality of international law, processes and institutions.

Commenting on Denktash’s walkout from Monday’s meeting, Omirou accused him of trying to use bicommunal meetings as a means of recognition for the breakaway regime.

He said the meetings had been going on for many years and that participants had managed to avoid using ‘officialese’ in their dealings with each other.

However, he said, it was very well known that the House of Representatives was the sole parliamentary body recognised by other parliaments, and the only one from the island to have dealings with the International Parliamentary Union, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe. “None of this is a secret and it’s not something that has been said for the first time,” Omirou said, adding that parliamentary elections in the north were not legal.

He denied that he has used harsh terms such as ‘pseudo MPs’ or ‘pseudoparliament’ but had used the term ‘illegal’, which was a known fact.

“If it is Serdar Denktash’s intention to use these meetings as a means of recognition then that is his mistake,” Omirou said.

Turkish Cypriot papers yesterday carried the story of Denktash’s walkout on their front pages, quoting him as saying: “Due to the remarks made by KISOS leader Omirou, I am having to withdraw today from the meetings of the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot political parties that have been going on under the auspices of the Slovakian embassy since 1992. The remarks by Mr Omirou have grossly contradicted the spirit of these meetings.”

Denktash added that it was unfortunate that the remark had been made at a time when the climate in Cyprus had never been better. The Democratic Party would continue to participate in bicommunal meetings, Denktash added, but never again at the same level.

Other Turkish Cypriot party leaders also reacted to Omirou’s comments. Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the Republican Turkish Party, said the remarks had been against the spirit of the bicommunal meetings. Huseyin Angolemli, leader of the Communal Liberation Party called it a “political slander”, and the speaker of the Trukish Cypriot ‘Assembly’, Vehbi Zeki, said it was “an insult to democracy”."