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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 03-12-11

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.235/03 11.12.03

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Serdar Denktas alleges that the Annan Plan is full of plots against Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
  • [02] Poll conducted by Turkish Company assigns Serdar Denktas a key role after the so-called elections.
  • [03] Talat: ^”The conqueror of Cyprus Ecevit bears the main responsibility for the problems in Cyprus. Cyprus does not belong to Turkey^‘.
  • [04] AFRIKA refers to the structure of the ^”electorate^‘ in occupied Cyprus.
  • [05] Unknown persons threaten settlers from Turkey that they will be embarked on ships and sent to Turkey in case a solution on the basis of the Annan Plan is reached.
  • [06] The National Unity Party is bringing persons from Turkey in order to participate in its rallies and Turkish Cypriot tax evaders from the UK in order to vote for the party.
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [07] Commentary by Erdal Guven in RADIKAL analyses the political climate in occupied Cyprus prior to next Sundayīs voting.
  • [08] Commentary in MILLIYET on the property issue shows that the Cyprus Government handled the matter in the best possible manner.

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Serdar Denktas alleges that the Annan Plan is full of plots against Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots

    Illegal Bayrak television (10.12.03) broadcast that during a news conference in occupied Nicosia today, DP [Democratic Party] leader Serdar Denktas, made important disclosures in connection with the Annan plan.

    At the news conference, which was also attended by the DP candidates, Mr Serdar Denktas drew attention to the plots being hatched against the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey under the Annan plan. Indicating that during their research into the subject they have culled certain facts that are known to exist in the Annan plan without being too obvious, Serdar Denktas said that the EU's real aim is to effectuate a solution in Cyprus in line with its own desires and to benefit from the energy resources of the East Mediterranean. Stating that the world's richest oil and gas deposits lie to the north of Cyprus, between occupied Kyrenia and Iskenderun, as well as to the southeast of the island, Serdar Denktas said that by admitting the whole of Cyprus to the EU, the EU and the United States intend to control these resources in the East Mediterranean and exclude Turkey from them.

    Indicating that with Cyprus' EU membership, the right to exploit the oil and gas reserves would automatically pass to the EU countries and EU-member Greece, Serdar Denktas said that it is for this reason that they [the Westerners] are trying to offer [EU] membership to the north Cyprus under the name of a united Cyprus, even though north Cyprus' system is not yet ready for such a membership.

    Serdar Denktas said that according to the documents found on the Internet, Britain considers its sovereign military bases in Cyprus as a sovereign national territory and thus intends to increase their territorial waters from 3 miles to 12 miles; an intention to which the ^”Greek Cypriot Administration^‘ has objected.

    Noting that the unexpected intention to expand the territorial waters from 3 miles to 12 miles may have been prompted by a desire to have a say over the gas and oil reserves lying between Cyprus and Egypt, Serdar Denktas said that in the past the Greek Cypriots made plans with Egypt for the oil extraction but abandoned the idea faced with an ultimatum from Turkey.

    [02] Poll conducted by Turkish Company assigns Serdar Denktas a key role after the so-called elections

    Istanbul TURKIYEīDE AKSAM (Internet Version 09.12.03) reports that regarding the so-called elections due to take place this weekend in occupied Cyprus there is an opinion poll commissioned by the Global Securities Company and published with the signature of Ms Secil Baykara.

    According to this latest poll commissioned by Global Securities on 5 November the National Unity Party [NUP] supported by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktas, is the lead party with approximately 30 percent of the vote. The Republican Turkish Party-United Forces opposition parties, which are in favor of signing the Annan Plan albeit after giving several concessions and advancing down the EU path, are in second place with 23 percent. The government's other partner the Democrat Party [DP] lead by Serdar Denktas maintains its third place position. In other words, the DP will play a key role and Cyprus' future will be determined by the coalition that will be formed.

    According to Global Securities the poll produced three important messages:

    1. The so-called government to be established will not be a single-party ^”government^‘ but will again be a coalition.

    2. It is almost certain that one partner in this coalition will be Serdar Denktas' DP, who will determine whether or not the other partner is to be the NUP or the RTP.

    3. Accordingly, after the ^”elections^‘ things will never be as they were and no matter which party Serdar Denktas chooses to form a coalition with, steps will be taken down the road to the EU. In fact, this last claim is rather boastful. In other words, expectations are that regardless of the outcome there will definitely be steps taken towards the EU. However, this expectation is not subjective. Global Securities say they have solid indicators here. One of the most important of these indicators is shown to be that Serdar Denktas has come up with very constructive, interesting and radical proposals.

    For example, Serdar Denktas' proposals that the Varosha region be opened up to Greek Cypriot hoteliers and settlers and that Turkey recognize the Republic of Cyprus are each being treated as positive points.

    It is being said that these proposals and positive steps by Serdar Denktas will likely come to life after the elections in January or February and that it is believed these proposals will be advantageous to Turkey, which is advancing towards the EU, and northern Cyprus, which wants to be included within EU borders as soon as possible. It is being maintained that these kinds of approaches could restart talks and that should both sides take steps then a point could be reached that would signify progress towards an agreement.

    [03] Talat: ^”The conqueror of Cyprus Ecevit bears the main responsibility for the problems in Cyprus. Cyprus does not belong to Turkey^‘

    Turkish mainland VATAN newspaper (10.12.03) publishes an interview with Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the Republican Turkish Party ^÷ New Forces (RTP-NF), who accused Turkey^“s former Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit of bearing the main responsibility for the problems in the island.

    Mr Talat noted also that the money sent by Turkey to the pseudostate is more than the money spent for its own provinces and that this money is not used in a proper manner, because it goes into the pockets of the rich men.

    Mr Talat accused the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas of being put on retirement pay three times and of putting in his pocket the sum of 174 billion Turkish liras.

    Mr Talat expressed the opinion that if his party does not win the 14 December ^”elections^‘, a crisis will happen in the economy of Turkey.

    Asked to comment on the view that ^”Turkey will not sacrifice Cyprus for the sake of the EU^‘, Mr Talat said:

    ^”What will it sacrifice? There is a wrong understanding in Turkey. We could not sacrifice Cyprus. We could not give Cyprus away. Where have you found Cyprus and you cannot give it away? Cyprus is not yours! You have not conquered Cyprus. Cyprus does not belong to Turkey. We want Cyprus to become a country that could stand on its own feet^‘.

    Asked if this could not be done with Turkey^“s financial help, Mr Talat answered positively and added: ^”^ŇTen airports and roads could be built. However, Turkey builds them. We want to be the ones who make them. The EU will ensure this. Does Turkey not help Cyprus more than a remote region of Anatolia? It is like its mistress. It does not help its own child and help its mistress. ^ŇThe thing that worries us is the way of our relations with Turkey and not the dimensions of these relations. ^Ň^‘.

    Asked where all this money that Turkey gives to the occupied areas goes, Mr Talat noted: ^”It is amassed in the pockets of 3-5 rich men. It is amassed in the hand of Sultan Denktas and Eroglu. Denktas receives pension as he is still working. Six months ago he was put on retirement once more. He got a pension of 174 billion Turkish liras. ^ŇFor who else shall I talk about? See, the bank of his sonīs father in law. The man has bankrupted his bank (Kibris Kredi Bankasi) and he (Denktas) acquitted him. Therefore I agree with the Greek Cypriots. Turkey could revive this place, but this could not be preserved in the conditions of the non-solution. ^Ň^‘

    Asked to give his opinion about how this situation has been created, Mr Talat said: ^”Ecevit was responsible for loosing Cyprus. He did many things against Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots and he presented it as a national line. I am not referring to Ecevit^“s relation with the operation (translator^“s note: the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus). I am criticizing the stance of the latest Ecevit government. Ecevit brought us to this situation by saying: ^—you cannot give away with your signature what I have taken with blood^“. ^Ň^‘.

    [04] AFRIKA refers to the structure of the ^”electorate^‘ in occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (11.12.03) refers to the number of the ^”voters^‘ in occupied Cyprus, according to their place of birth. According to the paper 97.600 out of the 140.800 ^”voters^‘ have been born in Cyprus, 30.800 in Turkey, 9.400 in Cyprus from parents from Turkey and 550 in Bulgaria. According to the paper 2.450 of the ^”voters^‘ are Cypriots born abroad.

    [05] Unknown persons threaten settlers from Turkey that they will be embarked on ships and sent to Turkey in case a solution on the basis of the Annan Plan is reached

    Turkish Cypriot daily YENI DUZEN newspaper (11.12.03) reports that unknown persons threaten settlers from Turkey that they will be embarked on ships and sent to Turkey in case a solution on the basis of the Annan Plan is reached.

    According to the paper, these persons are throwing an unsigned announcement under the door of houses in the old sector of occupied Nicosia, where mainly settlers from Turkey live. The announcement warns the Turkish settlers that in case a solution on the basis of the Annan plan is reached they will be sent back to Turkey, they will be forced to return the title deeds of the occupied Greek Cypriot properties given to them by the occupation regime and they will be forced to return the title deeds of the Greek Cypriot properties they have bought.

    Commenting on the issue YENI DUZEN notes that the ^”pro-status quo forces are spreading terror^‘.

    [06] The National Unity Party is bringing persons from Turkey in order to participate in its rallies and Turkish Cypriot tax evaders from the UK in order to vote for the party

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (11.12.03) reports that the National Unity Party (NUP) of Dervis Eroglu is bringing to Cyprus persons from Turkey in order to show that it has a lot of supporters at its rallies. Moreover NUP is bringing to Cyprus Turkish Cypriot tax evaders from the UK in order to vote for the Party in the Sunday ^”elections^‘.

    The paper writes that according to its sources the NUP which was not able to gather large crowds at the ^”election^‘ rallies of the party brought persons from abroad. A large number of persons, who came from Turkey arrived yesterday evening by a ferryboat at occupied Famagusta port. These persons, who filled seven busses, will participate in the last rally that the NUP will conduct before the Sunday ^”elections^‘ in order to give the impression that a big crowd will take part in the rally. Some of these persons will also ^”vote^‘ for the ^”elections^‘. All the expenses of these persons will be covered by Mr Mustafa Ozbek, the chairman of the Turkish Metal Workers Union (Turk Metal-Sen).

    In addition, again according to KIBRIS sources, a lot of Turkish Cypriots who live in the UK will go to occupied Cyprus in order to vote for the ^”elections^‘. However, a great majority of those persons who will vote for the NUP, have tax problems with the British Government. These persons evaded the British value added tax and will go to occupied Cyprus either to buy properties that belong to Greek Cypriots or to make investments. The paper also writes that the Turkish Cypriot opposition is preparing a list with the names of those persons in order to inform the British Government about them in case the opposition does not win the ^”elections^‘.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [07] Commentary by Erdal Guven in RADIKAL analyses the political climate in occupied Cyprus prior to next Sundayīs voting

    Istanbul RADIKAL newspaper (10.12.03) publishes the following column by Erdal Guven under the title: "Political picture in `TRNCī will be turned upside down":

    " `I feel a deep sadness because both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots are being deprived of the means of making their own decision for a plan that will reunite Cyprus with an agreement that is sensible, balanced and lasting and that will preserve the basic interests of both parties and guarantee them.ī

    This was perhaps the most dramatic sentence used by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the Cyprus Report he presented to the Security Council on 1 April 2003. When the leaderships were unable to compromise and the talks taking place on the basis of the Annan Plan failed, the referendum arranged to take place after an agreement went for nothing and thus neither of the two `peoplesī was able to seize the opportunity to have a say in their fate.

    That opportunity is now before those living in the north of the island, albeit a little late. On 14 December 141,000 Turkish Cypriots will go to the polls to determine their new leaders. However, apart from the name, these elections have nothing to do with electing members of parliament. In fact, it will be a referendum. The topics to be voted on are: Are you for or against ensuring an agreement based on the Annan Plan, for or against solving the Cyprus problem, for or against joining the EU?

    You do not need to look hard to see that these parliamentary elections have become a referendum on the Annan Plan. You only need to walk 10 minutes in the streets of Nicosia or turn a couple of pages in any newspaper or glance at the debate programs on television.

    Neither of the ruling parties, the National Unity Party [NUP] or the Democratic Party [DP], accepts the Annan Plan as a basis for agreement and consequently they remain distanced from a solution. Their anti-EU feelings range from suspicion to hatred. The two strongest opposition parties, the Republican Turkish Party [RTP] and the Movement for Peace and Democracy [PDM] do see the Annan Plan as a basis for agreement. They passionately want a solution. They see the EU as their future. The opposition Solution and EU Party's [SEUP] views are obvious from its name. The Nationalist Peace Party [NPP] is in the middle while the Cyprus Justice Party [JP] is close to the `government'sī line.

    It has never been so hard to predict the outcome of an election in northern Cyprus. In the past it was pretty obvious who would vote for what party. Generally speaking the right would get 65-70 percent of the vote while the left would secure 30-35 percent. For example, in the 1998 parliamentary elections the voting was spread between the two major parties of the left and the right thus:

    Right-wing: NUP: 40 percent; DP 22.6 percent.

    Left-wing: RTP: 13.4; Communal Liberation Party [TKP]: 14.4 percent.

    However, a lot of water has passed under the bridge in the past five years. The governing parties both found themselves degraded and, as can be seen from the NUP example, broke up and lost power. Many democratic, economic and social crises were felt. Political integrity fell apart. Those supporting a solution and those maintaining the status quo fell far apart. There were those who changed sides in favor of the pro-solution side. Businessmen and labor unions started up a pro-solution civil movement. Then the Annan Plan emerged. Political divisions became much sharper. The RTP began addressing different walks of life such as the business world and mainland Turks in order to broaden its voting base. New political movements such as the SEUP emerged.

    Subtitle: Every party conducted a poll

    In short, things got confusing. This being the situation, almost every party conducted a poll. Polls carried out by journalists always point to different outcomes. Therefore, it is far from easy to check the pre-election pulse in northern Cyprus. Turkey's experienced and successful public opinion researcher Tarhan Erdem foresaw this difficulty and refrained from entering the `TRNC electionsī. This is why he turned down support offered him by a finance group. "I opted not to enter this business when I saw that the statistics in the `TRNCī were not sound enough and that it would be hard to find an accurate sample base," said Erdem. "One has to know very well the lay of the land in northern Cyprus, the political trends and the divisions. Failing that, you could easily draw the wrong conclusion."

    The `electionsī in northern Cyprus on 14 December are being entered into after a period of social upheaval due to the reasons mentioned above. Some opinion polls reach the conclusion that, despite all that, the political preferences at the ballot box are going to remain largely unchanged. Others say that the right-wing parties are going to lose ground, yet the left-wing parties are not going to secure enough votes to form a government.

    The Verso Poll that got much coverage in the Turkish press on 9 December reached a conclusion closer to the latter result. According to the poll the NUP would emerge as the lead party with 30 percent, with the RTP a close second on 22 percent. The DP would be the key party with 14 percent. The PDM looks hard pressed to find even 10 percent. The SEUP falls below the threshold with 5 percent. The conclusion drawn by Verso is that as a result of the elections the incumbent parties NUP-RTP will be able to form a new coalition government. It was not specified just who commissioned the poll carried out using face to face interviews with 1,997 people between 25 November and 5 December.

    There was a poll carried out in northern Cyprus that points to an outcome not covered by either of the possibilities above. According to this poll the RTP will emerge first and will, together with the other left-wing party, the PDM, have a large enough majority to form a government. In other words, the parliamentary numbers and political balances are going to change.

    The company that carried out this poll is the Nicosia-based KADEM [Quality Research, Consultation and Training Center] Company. KADEM is led by the most experienced public opinion researcher in northern Cyprus, Muharrem Faiz. Faiz has been carrying out polls in northern Cyprus since 1989. KADEM is the Cyprus representative of Eurobarometer and is in addition the first port of call for NGOs, polling companies and universities in countries ranging from Britain and the United States to France and Australia wishing to check the pulse in northern Cyprus.

    Subtitle: "Left ahead for first time"

    KADEM had carried out public opinion polls in its time for almost all the political parties in northern Cyprus plus various newspapers, companies, and individuals. The people of northern Cyprus have a certain confidence in and respect for KADEM. However, despite its references and its record Faiz has been unable to escape being the target of criticism saying he is partisan. Faiz's open left-wing identity and his political view in opposition to the current government only serve to consolidate this criticism.

    "Of course they criticize. This is because the political parties see public opinion polls as a way to understand social dynamics and as weapons they can use against one another," says Faiz.

    Faiz's latest research carried out for the Cyprus Media Group, owned by Asil Nadir, was dated 8-17 November. This was work carried out by interviewing face to face a representative 2,107 sample.

    Looking at the results of the poll, Faiz speaks in clear and concise terms: "14 December will see the end of an era in northern Cyprus and the start of a new one. The NUP-DP era will end and the RTP-PDM and perhaps the SEUP era will begin. I have been doing this for 15 years now and this is the first time I have ever seen a left-wing party breasting the finishing line."

    Now, let us take a look at the research. Three questions were put to the participants:

    1. Which of the following terms best describes your idea of the Annan Plan as a basis for a solution:

    Most sensible way: 54.8 percent

    Ought to be rejected: 32.3 percent

    Other: 3.7 percent

    Do not know/no answer: 9.2 percent

    2. When in your opinion should Turkish Cypriots join the EU? The ticks and preferences were as follows:

    Before 1 May 2004: 54.6 percent

    After Turkey joins the EU: 39.4 percent Never: 2.8 percent

    Do not know/no answer: 3.3 percent

    3. Which party are you thinking of voting for in the elections to be held next month?

    RTP-United forces: 32 percent

    NUP: 26 percent

    PDM: 19 percent

    DP: 12 percent

    SEUP: 6 percent

    What is striking here is the similarity in percentages shown in the first question: Annan Plan is most sensible way: 54.8 percent, and the second question: Cyprus should join the EU before 1 May 2004: 54.6 percent. The voting figures for the three parties supporting the Annan Plan and EU membership before 1 May 2004 (RTP, PDM and SEUP) come to 57 percent.

    Faiz links the rise in opposition votes to two factors: The likelihood of a solution on the basis of the Annan Plan and the prospects of EU membership. "When both these elements come into play what emerges is a new electoral mass. This mass is currently standing in a gray area. They constitute 25 percent or so of the whole electorate. They are touchy when it comes to the property exchange and relocation as seen by the Annan Plan. However, they are also in favor of a solution and of EU membership," says Faiz.

    Faiz also observed among the NUP and DP members those opting for people in their parties sympathetic to the Annan Plan. According to Faiz there is no way there could be another NUP-DP coalition after these elections, unlike what other polls say.

    Subtitle: Asil Nadir also on opposition front

    There are actors who after many years have changed both their places on the `TRNCī domestic political scene and their attitudes towards a solution. For example, Asil Nadir and consequently the Cyprus Media Group that he owns. Nadir's group withdrew the unwavering support it had been lending to Denktas and the governing parties with effect from 2001. With the power of one television station, one radio station and one newspaper this group began slowly following a critical line and after the Turkish side rejected the Annan Plan it burnt all its bridges with Denktas and the governing parties and began supporting the opposition. Indeed, Nadir addressed the people of Cyprus on television after many years last week and gave the message, "Change this administration." In the words of Suleyman Erguclu, the Editor in Chief of KIBRIS newspaper, which conducted the interview, "Nadir has left the headquarters, taken his gun and gone to the trenches."

    Subtitle: Denktas Incredibly Biased

    Seeing the elections as a struggle between those who want the State to live and those who want to bring it down, `Presidentī Denktas is openly on the side of the governing parties. Expecting invitations to party rallies, Denktas did not hesitate to write a poem.

    Denktas and Ankara. Looking at the pre-election picture, one ought to factor in both these elements.

    Denktas has been taking sides when it comes to a solution. I drew his attention to it in an interview I had with Denktas on Friday [5 December] and he said: "It could be said that Denktas is in the middle of a general election like never before. He has never campaigned so much for his own presidency. The justification for this is that it is possible to see him almost every day on `Stateī BRT Television where they are constantly reporting on him. He accepts various delegations and gives messages to the voters. He is a guest for hours on end of private television channels when previously he would not have set foot inside their doors. In fact, he even sits down and sends letters to all those `TRNCī youth of 20 years of age, who are, therefore, as old as the `TRNCī, and tells them, 'Allow your State to live'."

    Most recently, Denktas used the press to send a message to the NUP and DP saying, "If they call me I will attend their rallies."

    As `Presidentī, Denktas is in an above-party' position. However, he links his partisan approach to his conviction that the elections will be a contest between those who say "Let us allow the State to live" and those who claim "Let us bring the State down." So, the `Presidentī argues that he has been forced to step into the field as the head of state. In short, Denktas has moved to side with the parties in power.

    Just recently, Mr Denktas penned a poem for the opposition at a meeting he attended in Istanbul. Let us read it:

    "Not Annan's plan/Nor Verheugen's delirium/Nor anything they say/Nothing will take my Cyprus away"

    "The Europeans can give euros/The Americans can throw dollars/Even if 'The Annan Plan is good' they say/Nothing can take my Cyprus away"

    "Friends might be sad/Enemies might laugh at us/We were once beads on a string but they snapped us, so what/My people will not bleed Akinci, Erel, Talat/Nothing will take my Cyprus away"

    "I will never give my State to them/Even if my blood were to flow in rivers/In love with the roses in my garden am I/Nothing will take my Cyprus away."

    Subtitle: Whose calculations will prove right?

    The three opposition parties have in their sails the wind of "solution and EU membership" that started blowing with the Annan Plan's disclosure. Right from the start an election cooperation seemed possible. In fact the possibility of them entering the elections on a single list gained currency. For some reason the three of them decided later to go it alone. Some people believe the reason for the lack of unification was the RTP presenting itself as the address. Other say the SEUP wanted too much. Others yet say the Communal Liberation Party, which forms the core of the PDM, insisted on a road based on equal representation. In the end, the RTP, by preserving its left-wing identity, opened up its list to other trends and broadened the party under the name: RTP-United Forces. The SEUP with its more liberal-democrat line aimed at the NUP-DP voters. Their efforts for unity continued after this but failed to achieve a result. It will become clear on 14 December how appropriate it was for the opposition parties to opt to side with one another rather than have a go at each other. In politics two plus two does not always equal four. It can be three or even one at times, or even six. We shall see.

    Subtitle: Similarities stronger than differences

    It is not as if in the run-up to the elections the parties that appear in the same camp do not have their differences. For example, while the NUP appears most happy with the status quo and categorically rejects the Annan Plan the DP can talk about change and be "against a status quo attitude that totally rejects the Annan Plan". Or the RTP. While it adopts a critical and questioning attitude with respect to the Annan Plan and takes pains to stress it will consult with Ankara in order to reach an agreement, the PDM does not hide the fact that it will accept the Annan Plan "as it is" but stresses that its only loyalty is to the Turkish Cypriots.

    However, these and similar differences lose their importance and significance when placed alongside the similarities of the parties in the same bloc. Indeed, it is striking that the parties in the same camps are not struggling with one another so much. Furthermore, the RTP, PDM and SEUP signed a protocol stating they will not form a coalition with the NUP and DP after the elections. All three leaders stress their resolve here is continuing. (Within the PDM and SEUP there seem to be reservations about the RTP's loyalty to this protocol).

    On the other hand, NUP Leader Dervis Eroglu says he will not enter a coalition with any of these three parties. The DP for its part has no definite position here. Of course, it cannot be known what policy and post-election parliamentary math will bring. In addition, `presidentī Denktas' post-election position and Ankara's preferences must also be factored in.^‘

    [08] Commentary in MILLIYET on the property issue shows that the Cyprus Government handled the matter in the best possible manner

    Istanbul MILLIYET newspaper (09.12.03) publishes the following commentary by Gungor Uras under the title: ^”In the Cyprus problem, the prohblem of title deeds^‘:

    After the 1974 ^”Peace Operation^‘ the Turkish Cypriots all gathered in the north of the island while the Greek Cypriots all gathered in the south. The title deeds of property left behind in the south by the Turkish Cypriots were never given to anyone. The property was entrusted to a foundation. This foundation leased out the property to those who had been displaced from the north.

    However, the property in the north left behind by Greek Cypriots fleeing south was distributed to the Turks who came up from the south using documents known as "kochan", which were like title deeds. The left over "kochans" were given to those mainland Turks who migrated to the island later. After a while these "kochans" became available for sale and purchase. They became title deeds.

    The Turkish Cypriots in the north see all the buildings and land they have on "kochan" or title deed as their own property. They do not think that it will all be handed over one day to their former Greek Cypriot owners. Denktas says, "Nobody can evict the Turkish Cypriots from property they have owned for 30 years."

    This makes finding a solution very difficult, if not impossible.

    What those who see the Annan Plan as "unacceptable" fear most are the plan's provisions for solving the property question.

    Subtitle: "Kochans" to Property Board

    Those Turkish Cypriots opposed to the Annan Plan explained the following to me on Cyprus: Those now occupying property, land or fields that once belonged to a Greek Cypriot will hand over their "kochan" to a "property board" that is to be set up. This property board will evaluate the demands of the property's Greek Cypriot owner and the way in which the Turkish Cypriot is using that property, and will rule either that the title deed stays in the Turkish Cypriot's hands for a fee or that it be returned to the former owner.

    There is no such problem for the property in the south of the island because it was never given to anybody to be their own property. It is all rented.

    Of course, this kind of practice will bother almost everybody living in the north. Nobody knows what will be the fate of the property they are living in and using.

    Those in favor of the Annan Plan say this: Many people do not understand the seriousness of the European Court's ruling on Greek Cypriot Titina Lozidou's property in the north of the island. The 1.1 million euros in damages paid to her were paid "in lieu of her being deprived of the right to use her property". This does not mean that the right to use the property is transferred to a Turkish Cypriot. That property will be handed back to Ms. Lozidou in 2005. To say that this ruling will not set a precedent is a smoke screen. Similar cases will continue to follow.

    By not accepting the Annan Plan the Turkish Cypriots will still not be able to save the deeds of the houses, land and fields that belong to Greek Cypriots because this ruling by the European Court punctured the deeds. In fact, under the umbrella of the Annan Plan it might be possible to come up with a softer transition formula for the property problem.

    This is why it is wrong to see the Annan Plan only through the window of "property problems". Whether the Annan Plan is accepted or not the property problem is a serious one.

    This is because there is a great difference between the property left in the north by the Greek Cypriots and that left behind in the south by the Turkish Cypriots. According to the Office for the Use of Turkish Property in the South the Turkish Cypriots left behind 300,000 hectares of land, 5,500 residences and 2,100 work places.

    So, one side on Cyprus says one thing while another says another. The governing parties are opposed to the Annan Plan. The opposition parties see the Annan Plan as the key to a solution. What is worrying those who will vote for governing parties and the opposition parties alike is the "deeds" problem.

    /SK


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