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Government describes "astonishing political event" TC rally
2002-12-27 09:53:32

Nicosia, Dec 27 (CNA) ? Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has described as an "astonishing political event" a protest rally thousands of Turkish Cypriots staged Thursday in Turkish occupied Nicosia to demand the resignation of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to pave the way for a negotiated settlement, on the basis of a UN proposal.

The Spokesman announced that the National Council will convene on January 3 to discuss President Glafcos Clerides' reply to a letter by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on his good offices mission with regard to Cyprus.

"The Turkish Cypriots' mobilization and especially yesterday's rally is an astonishing political event, and its message is loud and clear'', Papapetrou said.

He said the Greek Cypriot community receives the political messages the rally has conveyed in ''a positive spirit''.|

"We unite our voices with them for Cyprus' reunification, accession of a reunited Cyprus to the European Union and a solution to the Cyprus problem based on the Annan plan by February 28,'' the spokesman said.

Replying to questions, he said the purpose of the mass rally was to call for a solution based on the Annan proposal.

''We must act in a responsible manner and we should not send the message to the Turkish Cypriots or the international community that our priority lies in anything but a political settlement in Cyprus,'' he added.

Regarding the package of economic measures, which the government intends to announce for Turkish Cypriots, the Spokesman said government officials continue to look into these measures and at the right moment they will be announced.

He also said that the government is consulting with Brussels on this issue.

"Our concern is to announce the measures at a time when they will help those who are fighting against Denktash and his policies and not create problems for them", he added.

Almost the entire Turkish Cypriot press has featured the rally organised by the platform "This country is ours". Press reports said youth opposition organisations, trade unions and thousands of people took part in the rally, the biggest ever in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus according to the Turkish Cypriot media.

''Yes to the plan, yes to the EU,'' the demonstrators chanted, some holding olive branches, others waving EU flags. Banners said "Denktash, quit! Solution and EU. This country is ours. Anathema to fascism. You will be accountable" "Denktash move aside and let peace come through. You have no right to play with our future".

A number of Turkish Cypriot politicians, including Mustafa Akinci and trade unionist Ali Gul addressed the mass rally, attended by some 30,000. A resolution calling for peace in Cyprus, advocating a solution to the Cyprus problem, acceptance of the Annan plan and accession to the European Union was approved.

The resolutions noted that Denktash no longer represents the Turkish Cypriots.

Annan's letter, sent to the Turkish Cypriot leader and the governments of Greece and Turkey as well, has asked the two sides to intensify in a specific manner their efforts to find a comprehensive settlement by 28 February 2003.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.


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