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Media Watch 2003

20 September 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Gokhan Tezgor
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 20 September 2003.
Denktash will allow international observers at elections


TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday that he is confident the parties which support his position rejecting the United Nations plan and European Union accession prior to an agreement to the Cyprus problem will be victorious in the December 14 general elections.

He also said that he will be prepared to allow international observers to oversee the elections to dispel claims by opposition parties that the polling will not be fair.
“International observers would be welcome if, after finding that the elections were proper and fair, the result would accepted by the international community as showing the will and the determination of the Turkish Cypriots, and they would respect it,” Denktash said in an interview with the Cyprus Mail.

“People have to respect the free decision of the Turkish Cypriots.”
On Thursday the Election High Council (YSK) decided on December 14 for Turkish Cypriot general elections, which are widely viewed as crucial in determining the future of the Cyprus problem in the build-up to the island’s accession to the EU in May 2004.
“The High Election Council has made their decision based on the election and referendum law to hold the general elections on December 14,” said the council president Taner Erginel speaking with the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

Denktash said, “(The opposition) has made claims to the world about the elections, that they will not be proper, that they will be tainted, interfered with and 100,000 people who do not to have the right to vote will be voting.

“Our elections are under the authority of the supreme court which is a completely independent institution,” he added, explaining that lists of voters will be posted for 15 days, where citizens will have the right to oppose the eligibility of any person on the list to cast a vote.

Opposition parties such as the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), the Peace and Democracy Movement (BDH) and the Solution and EU Party (CAP) are widely viewed by observers as gaining momentum in the race to parliamentary elections. But Denktash remains defiant, and said the parties opposed to the UN plan will stand their ground and win the elections.

Denktash said, “But I know who will win, I know the people, I know their hearts, I know that whatever complaints they may have against the administration they know that these elections are not pure and simple parliamentary elections, they are elections which will determine the fate of Turkish Cypriots and the fate of their state.

“The opposition parties have made it clear that their first order of business on the agenda is to sideline Denktash as negotiator for the Turkish Cypriot side. Asked if parliament has the power to remove him as negotiator, Denktash said, “They are saying that they will do this, the question is not whether they can do it, or will do it. I was elected on a ticket, presidency and negotiator.

“My election is by the majority vote of the people. If these people win the elections, all they can do is to give me instructions which I will not be able to carry out as a negotiator, because my promise to my people is a settlement on the basis of sovereign equality.
“Naturally it will be an undesirable situation and it will not work," he added. In reference to the constitution right of his removal of his position as negotiator by the opposition Denktash said, “They wouldn’t have that.”

The Turkish Cypriot side is preparing their own version of a plan, which Denktash says is still being prepared, but will be based on seeking a solution on the basis of equal sovereignty of the two communities on the island. A series of new confidence building measures are also set to be introduced.

Asked if Turkish troop withdrawals are possible, Denktash said: “We could discuss this (troop withdrawls) with the Greek Cypriots jointly on what they will do and what we will do. All of these things need to be discussed.”

With regard to when discussions are possible, Denktash said, “You see that Papadopoulos is expecting the elections to be won by the elections and he says he will not discuss anything with Denktash until then.

“Naturally we will discuss this if they bring it up, that will be a part of the agenda. But we have no reason to bring that up ourselves at this stage,” he added. Denktash said that he is prepared to have face to face discussions with the Greek Cypriot side, but added: “There are lots of things which can be discussed, but the man (Papadopoulos) says no he will wait for the elections, all right, I will wait for the elections too.”"