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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.

CNA NB/MM/GP/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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