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Turkish Cypriot leader interviewed by private Greek Cypriot TV

Occasional Cypriot News Contributions Directory

From: Giorgos Zacharia <lysi@MIT.EDU>

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts

Source: Sigma TV, Nicosia, in Greek 1900 gmt 1 Mar 96

Turkish Cypriot leader interviewed by private Greek Cypriot TV

The president of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Rauf Denktas, has said that Greek Cypriot civilians were killed by Turkish Cypriot fighters during the 1974 hostilities. He also said that the common defence doctrine between Greece and Cyprus had increased the likelihood of Cyprus being drawn into a war between Greece and Turkey. He added that a solution to the problem of the divided island was only likely in the near future if the EU blocked Greek Cypriot membership until a settlement was agreed. The following are excerpts from an interview with Rauf Denktas by correspondent Stavros Sidheras for the private Sigma television station. The interview was conducted in English; subheadings inserted editorially:

Sidheras: Mr Denktas, thank you for accepting the invitation to appear on my show. Before we start I would like to put my cards on the table and say that I am not here as a journalist, I am not a journalist as you know, I am not a historian and I do not claim to know the Cyprus problem in depth. I am here as Stavros Sidheras, a citizen of Cyprus, and I believe like most Cypriots, both Turkish and Greek, I am anxious and concerned about the future of the country. Now, you are one of the key players in this political chess game, and as such, I know that you hold most of the answers to the questions concerning the future of Cyprus. I know that to get to these answers, to the real answers, I will have to go beyond the facade of the shrewd politician, that the people claim that you are, and find the real Rauf Denktas... Somebody told me that when you lose your composure and you get angry, you are more vulnerable. What can I say to make you angry?

Denktas: Tell me that Cyprus is Greek...

Q: Let us proceed with another issue. This has to do with people and human people. This is about the missing people, on both sides Mr Denktas. I saw an interview where Mr Kliridhis said yes, we both - maybe I am wrong, I am not quoting - I accept that we are both to blame. Let us open the graves and find out the identities of the dead, so that if there are still people alive, we can go back to their families and tell them that their children are dead or that their children are perhaps still alive.

A: ... So if they are really interested in this I say first dig out the common graves done during the coup and tell the world, and tell your people these are it and these are the people and let us look at the list. It is a shame, really, to play by saddening these families by pretending that there are people working in Turkey and they will not write here and they do not come here. Or they have married Turkish girls and they have forgotten Cyprus...

Q: On the 8th of August I was in Lapithos when Lapithos was taken. I was with 49 boys. I came back with seven. I was there when the rest of the boys surrendered. The names exist. I saw them with my own eyes. These boys were captured. So far as I am concerned there are two ways we can go: One that the Turkish invading army massacred these boys in cold blood. The other that they were taken to prison. What happened to them?

A: What happened is this: As the Turkish Army moved and captured the Greek Cypriots, unfortunately they handed them over to our fighters. Among them were people whose families, villages were lost over the years and so massacres happened. It happened like this. Instead of taking them to the police stations or to the prison camps they were killed. As soon as the Turkish Army realized what was happening, that is when the rest were transported to Turkey. And Red Cross is on record saying that everybody taken to Turkey has come back from Turkey. This is on record. Therefore all these allegations - five, ten people may be alive, I ask as a reasonable man: Is there any logical reason whatsoever to keep people in prison or even somewhere over these years? What for?

Q: I am asking you, Mr Denktas.

A: There is no reason. I made a statement years back: Let us tell the families on both sides that these people are dead and that there are no missing people and immediately the next day the headlines were: Denktas confesses that he has killed every missing person...

Q: Mr Denktas, a few days ago we had a crisis in the Aegean and it made us all realize how close we are to another war. The question I sort of want to put forward is whether unavoidably this war if it happens, a confrontation between Turkey and Greece, will involve Cyprus, from your point of view. Dangers of extension of Greek defence doctrineto Cyprus

A: From my point of view it is this: The only thing that could bring war in Cyprus is the extension of this defence doctrine and therefore the defence line of Greece to Cyprus was the most stupid thing to do. Not realizing that Cyprus has a special position between the two motherlands and we should be kept out of their conflict even if it is every reason of the conflict between them, the way to settle is not to bring it within the war distance between the two motherlands. The clever thing to do was to keep away. Several times I asked the leadership on the other side, all of them: Let us make an agreement, that we will not find each other in Cyprus. And let us make this agreement endorsed by Greece and Turkey. That is the clever thing to do. And it was rejected. Why? Denktas seeks recognition. I said: If I seek recognition I would say so. Are we not talking as two communities? We are. Are we not sitting as two leaders of the two communities? Yes. It is in this capacity that we should make an agreement. No aggression.

Q: I do not know the protocol, but I think that what you are saying is very important. Let me just get this straight. Are you saying that the first bullet will not be fired from your side? If a confrontation happens?

A: Of course not. Of course not. That is the position of the Turkish Army and that is its promise to us.

Q: But if a war starts in the Aegean and the extension of it finds itself in Cyprus. Who is to say who fired the first rifle?

A: You are absolutely right. That is why I say that this extension of this defence doctrine to Cyprus was wrong. Giving Greece air bases, sea bases in Cyprus is wrong. Because if Greece and Turkey enter war it is inevitable that Turkey will bomb these bases at least.

Q: But Mr Denktas, Greece did not enter the 1974 war and we were bombed by your Phantom airplanes. So this is not an argument I accept.

A: You are bounding the cause of the war as heard. This is another thing.

Q: If another confrontation happens between Greece and Turkey or even worse if Turkey for any reason decides that it wants to move forward and take the rest of Cyprus -

A: You know that there is no such policy -

Q: No.

A: We know at least. There is no such policy. Turkey is not going to put us into danger. That is not why it is here. It has been begging for a solution... So I say: Let us take the present position. What is the present position? In order to wait for such an eventuality as Cypriots on both sides. What is the way to it? The way to it is for the two sides to say as two leaders: We agree not to fire a shot towards each other. We agree to remove certain forces from the dangerous areas as anyone wants and we agree that in case of a Graeco-Turkish war even, there shall be no fighting in Cyprus. And how will we secure this? By Greece and Turkey undersigning our agreement in Cyprus that there will be no war in Cyprus.

Q: This is so vulnerable, Mr Denktas. How can anybody prove that if the fighting begins that either side is the one to be blame? Even if you sign this?

A: If the overall responsibility is taken by the two leaders it is up to them to say that a small figure stops as a small figure. Solution must be based on bizonality

Q: But how can we prosper together?

A: Our priority is to settle the Cyprus problem. On the table exist sufficient elements or principles that be moulded into a settlement, like I repeat: The two parties are equal, they are not minority and majority, Cyprus is their homeland, it is not a Greek homeland, it is not a Turkish homeland, it is their joint homeland. It is these two who will settle the Cyprus problem without interference from outside. The guarantees will continue and it shall be a bizonal settlement and the property disputes shall be settled by exchange of properties and by compensations so that daily friction is avoided. And these are sufficient material on which we can built the future.

Q: Will the people have a choice, the people whose origins are from Kyrenia, Morphou or other occupied areas, will they have a choice to return to their homes?

A: Not to their homes.

Q: Why not, Mr Denktas?

A: The first thing is to create the bizonality and make it a legal entity. Because now we have a de fact as heard . You cannot have a federation while eople on one side claim their properties on the other side.

Q: But they do not claim it. It is theirs.

A: Yes, but we have agreed on a bizonal federal settlement. And you forget that Turkish Cypriots for 11 years could not go to their properties in 103 places...

Q: I am not saying this is right. How can we have both? How can we have this federal state with a central government in control and find a solution that will give a choice to the people, that if they want to come and live under the policy of Mr Denktas - fine? But give them the choice.

A: In time it will be under the legislation of both sides that it will be possible for people to come and settle under the permission of the north and vice versa. You have to start from where you are if you really want to come together again...

Q: Finally, do you think that we will have a solution by 1999?

A: If Europe tells the Greek Cypriot leadership clearly that they should not expect to be a member without settling the problem, yes.

Q: This is not what I want to hear, Mr Denktas.

A: This is the reality. I have to be very sincere with you...

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