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Government rejects US claims in human rights report
2005-03-01 14:02:54

Nicosia, Mar 1 (CNA) -- The Cyprus of government has rejected specific allegations in the US annual human rights report referring to the operation of an illegal airport in Turkish occupied Cyprus and government ''pressure'' on the local media prior to a referendum on a UN-proposed solution plan.

In an initial response to the report, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides referred to omissions and said all appropriate demarches will be made with regard to two new elements incorporated in the 2004 report.

The spokesman described the allegations in the report as ''totally unjust'' and talked about ''the theatre of the absurd'', adding that he would comment further on the report once he has studied the full text.

''The report does not explain why the operation of the airport near the Turkish occupied village of Tymbou is illegal. It does not point out that the is due to the continuing Turkish occupation and the unilateral declaration of independence of the self-styled regime in the north, which is a local subordinate administration to Turkey,'' Chrysostomides said.

He was commenting on claims in the report that ''the government continued to block any effort by Turkish Cypriot authorities or international parties to open Ercan airport or any port in north Cyprus for travel to destinations other than Turkey.''

"Unfortunately the report ignores the continuing Turkish occupation and I believe this is particularly unfair for the Republic of Cyprus,'' the spokesman said, adding that this does not correspond to the ''fundamental principles of international law which all UN member states, including the US, say they respect and observe.''

Replying to questions, he said this was the first time there is a reference to the operation of this airport and added ''if this is considered human rights violation, I believe we are talking about the theatre of the absurd.''

The spokesman also commented on allegations that the government ''had pressured the media to support its position on the (Annan) plan'', which it rejected saying it would not reunited the country and satisfied Turkey's demands instead of meeting the needs of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The specific claim said that in the week immediately before the referendum two major Greek Cypriot media outlets ''refused to give the UN special envoy and the EU Commissioner for Enlargement programming time on their broadcasts.''

It also said that the head of the single major party that supported the Annan plan filed a protest with the Council of Europe alleging manipulation of the media in the pre-referendum period.

''I consider the repetition of such a reference totally unjust and outside the realm of reality,'' the spokesman said, recalling that all necessary explanations had been given at the time.

''I reject categorically any accusation in this respect. The debate on the Annan plan took place under absolutely democratic conditions. Air time was given to those who supported the plan, perhaps more than to its opponents, and any references to non-democratic behaviour by the Republic of Cyprus are rejected without any hesitation,'' the stressed.

Replying to questions, he said the government and the people of Cyprus ''rightfully feel disappointed'' with such commentary in the report.

All necessary representations will be made through the Foreign Ministry, he said, ''in order to put the record straight.''

He also said that this is an annual report issued by the State Department and this year includes these two new elements.

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