Turkish-Cypriot leader's victory bolsters policy of preserving separate state
Rauf Denktash's reelection Sunday as President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a vote of confidence for his policy of preserving a seperate republic, political analysts here say. Mr. Denktash, who proclaimed the separate Turkish-Cypriot republic in November l983, won a landslide victory over five opponents. He firmly defended his proclamation of the independent republic in northern Cyprus, which is officially recognized only by Turkey. He also pledged to continue efforts to reach a settlement with Greek Cypriots.
Cyprus has been divided into Turkish and Greek zones since Turkey invaded the island in 1974 in response to a Greek-led coup. In 1975, Turkish Cypriots set up a federated state, and Denktash was elected president in 1976 and 1981. His reelection is viewed as an endorsement of his stand on the problem of distribution of power between the island's majority Greeks and minority Turks. Turkish Cypriots constitute about 20 percent of the island's population of 750,000.
Denktash faced stiff competition during the campaign, mainly from two leftist candidates who oppose the continuation of a separate ``republic'' and want to negotiate with the Greek Cypriots on the basis of a federal system. They also attacked Denktash's ``failure'' to find a solution to the acute economic and social problems facing Turkish Cypriots.
Sunday's elections were held amid protests by Greek Cypriots, who said the exercise was illegal. In Nicosia, Greek Cypriots held a demonstration in favor of the reunification of the country and the return of displaced Greek Cypriots to their homes in the northern part of the island.
Western diplomats who expected Denktash to be reelected, but not with such a large majority (more than 70 percent), share the hope of UN officials that Denktash will now have a freer hand in resuming negotiations and cooperating with the peace initiatives of UN Secretary-General Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar.
Last June UN-sponsored talks between Greek-Cypriot President Spyros Kyprianou and Denktash broke down after the Greek leader rejected a draft agreement the Turks had accepted. The draft agreement called for the establishment of a loose federation of the Greek and Turkish zones, in return for which the Turks agreed to reduce the territory they hold from 37 percent to 29 percent.
Denktash indicated in an interview that he will submit new proposals for a settlement to the UN Secretary-General.
However, ``this might take some time,'' he said. ``We have other priorities now. First we have to put the house in order There will be parliamantary elections, then a new government. We have to deal urgently with some economic matters and some legislation. There was an opportunity for a settlement last January, but Mr. Kyprianou killed [it]. This was not our fault, and the whole world knows it.''