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Pat Cox calls for tolerance in Turkish-occupied Cyprus
2003-03-27 15:39:33

by Nicos Bellos -- Brussels, Mar 27 (CNA) -- Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament, has called on the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus to respect dissenting opinion and show tolerance with the opposition.

His appeal comes after the illegal regime ''detained'' six Turkish Cypriots, including a party leader and senior trade unionists, who tried to stage a referendum on a UN peace proposal.|

Cox expressed concern at the ''arrest and detention'' in Morphou of the six members of the Platform ''This country is ours'' for having organised a symbolic referendum on the Kofi Annan plan.

''I appeal to the authorities to respect the plurality of opinion on an issue on which the people hold deeply-felt convictions and views. I call for the immediate release of the opposition leaders who have been detained. I call for tolerance, not a heavy hand,'' Cox said in a statement on Wednesday.

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had refused to put the UN proposal to a referendum, claiming it was against the interest of the Turkish Cypriots. His stance, backed by Turkey, led to the collapse of the UN-led effort.

Thousands of Turkish Cypriots staged a number of rallies in the occupied areas protesting against Denktash's policies and demanding a solution to the Cyprus problem based on the Annan plan and entry into the European Union.

The Cyprus government yesterday condemned the tactics applied by Denktash's regime to stifle opposition.


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