BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 13:27 GMT
Pressure increases on Turkish Cypriot leader
Demonstrators at Tuesday's rally
Many Turkish Cypriots support the UN plan

Veteran Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is being increasingly blamed by his fellow countrymen for failing to agree to a United Nations plan to reunite Cyprus after 28 years of partition.

Crowds at Tuesday's rally in northern Nicosia
Many feel Mr Denktash no longer understands where their interests lie
Many say he should stand down and allow someone else to negotiate on their behalf - a view highlighted by the more than 50,000 people who turned out on Tuesday to call for acceptance of the UN plan.

As president of the breakaway republic, Mr Denktash has always had the support of the powerful Turkish army, since it invaded Cyprus in 1974.

Some of us say that Denktash has completed his historical duty and he must resign

Hasan Kahvecioglu, journalist
For most of the intervening years Mr Denktash enjoyed unquestioning support as the champion of the Turkish Cypriots' cause.

But today growing numbers are starting to resent Turkey's involvement in their affairs.

They are angry that the opportunity to find a solution at Copenhagen was lost and many like Hasan Kahvecioglu, an opposition journalist, believe Mr Denktash no longer understands where Turkish Cypriot interests lie.

"This is the most important point in our lives and also of our children's, and our children's future," he says, "This is a very emotional period. Some of us say that Denktash has completed his historical duty and he must resign."

Cultural difference

Many Turkish Cypriots believe passionately that their culture and traditions are very different from those of mainland Turkey.

Some believe they have more in common with Greek Cypriots than with mainland Turks.
Speaking at the United Nations in 1998
Mr Denktash has the support of the army

Journalist Sevgul Uludag is one of those who resents what she sees as the growing "Turkification" of the island.

"First of all, in 1974, they changed all the names of villages," she says, "They were given Turkish names and now when I look at the map, I don't recognise which village it is because I know the old name and not the new one.

"They started building mosques. As you know the Turkish Cypriot community is very secular, and these mosques, the architecture is nothing to do with Cypriot architecture.

"All these years we are told we don't exist we don't count, what counts is being Turkish not Cypriot."

Uncertain future

Life in Northern Cyprus for the next generation of Turkish Cypriots looks bleak.

Young educated men and women are leaving the island in greater numbers than ever before, tired of being isolated from the outside world and depressed by economic sanctions against their unrecognised state.

Many like mother Bahire Korel, hope that a settlement might halt the exodus.

"I want an agreement. I want to live here because I have two sons. Our young people are running to emigrate to Australia or anywhere and Denktash says it doesn't matter to him because if ten Cypriots go hundreds of people from Turkey can come."

But Mr Denktash sees things from a completely different perspective. He believes that its economic sanctions that are driving people away.

He has been elected by the people of North Cyprus overwhelmingly. And the people of Northern Cyprus have great confidence in him

Aytug Plumer, Under Secretary at the Northern Cyrus Foreign Ministry
"They are always willing to come back and the moment our economy can shoulder them I am sure they will come back," says Mr Denktash.

"We had many Turkish Cypriots who came back to Northern Cyprus from Canada, from England after 1974 our economy did not sustain most of them, most of them left, some of them stayed with us.

"I am sure the moment our economy blooms as I am sure it will these people will start coming back."

'No replacement'

There have been plenty of angry demonstrations against Mr Denktash during recent months but he is an experienced and astute politician and it would be unwise to underestimate his tenacity.

Aytug Plumer, Under Secretary at the Foreign Ministry in Northern Cyprus says there is no possibility of replacing him at the negotiating table.
Map of Cyprus

"He has been elected by the people of North Cyprus overwhelmingly and he has been performing his duties satisfactorily. And the people of Northern Cyprus have great confidence in him. He will continue as our president and as our chief interlocutor. "

But since the collapse of the Turkish economy the priority for most Turkish Cypriots has been simply getting by from day-to-day.

As a result of their discontent Mr Denktash's position is no longer as secure as it was, quite apart from the growing unease at home his relationship with the new generation of politicians now in power in Ankara is distinctly cooler.

Northern Nicosia Mayor and critic of Mr Denktash Kutlay Erk says there has been a profound change in Turkey's attitude to the leader of Northern Cyprus.

"Turkey was a firm believer that whatever Denktash says and does is ok,"

"Now Turkey will start to question Mr Denktash."


Key Stories

Background

Profiles

TALKING POINT
See also:

02 Jan 03 | Europe
02 Jan 03 | Europe
03 Jan 03 | Europe
05 Jan 03 | Europe
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes