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We should leave the Cyprus negotiations: Serdar Denktas

14 May 2014

Turkish Cypriot Deputy Prime Minister Serdar Denktas slammed the European Court of Human Rights’ decision to make Turkey pay 90 million euros compensation to the Greek Cypriot administration for human rights violations during the 1974 military operation, ‘World Bulletin’ reports.

Calling the decision a one-sided attempt to strengthen the Greek Cypriot position, Denktas said: “This is a politically motivated verdict. This verdict was made to punish Turkey as a whole and to please the Greek Cypriots and Greece.

Defending Turkey’s military intervention on the island, Denktas added: “Had the 1974 operation not happened, the Greeks would have killed Greek Cypriots who don’t think like them and then it would have been the Turkish Cypriots’ turn.”

Serdar Denktas, who is the son of the former Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Rauf Denktas, also said that he believed the Turkish Cypriots should no longer sit at the negotiation table with the Greek Cypriots.

Adding that the timing of the European court’s verdict while talks to solve the Cyprus issue are ongoing should place Turkey’s relationship with the EU and the Turkish Cypriot position in the negotiations under review, he said: “This is a clear example proving that we cannot trust the EU.”

“With this verdict, they have given the message ‘we don’t want you’ to Turkey. It is now time to show our stance. After seeing this attitude we have no choice but to turn our faces elsewhere,” Denktas added.

Turkey has maintained a military presence in the island’s north as a constitutional guarantor of peace after Greek extremist militant group EOKA, which sought to unite the island with Greece, conducted a coup on the government in July 1974 after having forced Turkish Cypriots to flee into enclaves to escape from years of massacres.

Failure to reunify the island led to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) declaring independence in 1983, which is today only recognised by Turkey.

A 2004 referendum saw Turkish Cypriots vote ‘yes’ to reunify the island, but plans failed when the vast majority of Greek Cypriots voted ‘no’. Nonetheless, the Greek Cypriot controlled southern Cyprus was accepted into the EU while the TRNC remained under international embargoes.

Despite this, talks persisted until the Greek Cypriot administration took charge of the EU presidency in 2012, much to the displeasure of Turkey. The talks were then stalled for two years until February 2014 when the Greek Cypriot administration agreed to sit at the negotiation table once again after they narrowly avoided defaulting from the Eurozone due to an economic crisis.

However, the decision by the European court may affect the ongoing peace talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots to end the 40-year dispute.

Yesterday, Turkish Cypriots remember the victims of an incident known locally as the “Lost Bus” tragedy.

On 13th May 1964, eleven Turkish Cypriots left their homes in Tuzla (Engomi) and Larnaca on their way to work in the British-controlled zone of Dhekelia. Just as they did every day, the group of workers boarded the town’s bus after saying goodbye to their families. However, little did their families know that they would never see their loved ones again.

On their way to work, their route was blocked by a group of armed Greek Cypriot EOKA militiamen who ordered all of the passengers out. They were then taken to an unknown location and killed.

The bodies of the eleven men – were not found until 43 years later in 2007, thrown down a well in the Greek Cypriot village of Oronliki. The TG856 registered bus till this day is still missing.

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