- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

Turkish Cypriots vote

The foreign minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is confident of victory for the ruling party in the December elections, despite a united political opposition that favors a U.N.-sponsored settlement with the Greek-Cypriot part of the island.

Tahsin Ertugloglu dismissed suggestions that the “opposition will win and oust President [Rauf] Denktash, and we will accept the [U.N.] plan and be merrily on our way.”

Mr. Ertugloglu, on a D.C. visit this week, said the opposition is “hopeless” in its pursuit of a settlement, although some opinion polls predict the opposition will win 60 percent of the vote in the parliamentary elections. Mr. Denktash said he rejected the U.N. plan because it called for too many concessions on the part of Turkish Cypriots and refused to recognize the independence of the TRNC, which has diplomatic relations only with Turkey.

The three major opposition groups this month pledged to mount a united campaign against Mr. Denktash and his National Unity Party. They promised to remove Mr. Denktash as the chief Turkish-Cypriot negotiator and accept the U.N. plan, if they win.

The opposition said reunification would lead to a united Cyprus joining the European Union next year. The EU has decided to admit the Greek Cypriot authority, the internationally recognized government of Cyprus, even if the island remains divided.

Mr. Ertugloglu said the U.N. plan would require the TRNC to give up too much land and offered too few security guarantees to Turkish Cypriots, many of whom still remember the ethnic violence of the 1960s.

“What the opposition fails to recognize is the characteristic of the Turkish Cypriot people,” Mr. Ertugloglu said. “They are not going to give up on their statehood.

“This is where [the opposition] is off track,” he added. “This is where they are hopeless.”

The three main opposition groups — the Republican Turkish Party, the Peace and Democracy Movement and the newly formed Solution and EU Party — said their “primary objective” is the establishment of a “United Cyprus Republic” and “realizing EU membership” by May.

‘Baseless’ rumors

Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan yesterday denounced the “baseless and false” reports that his government demanded the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Robert Jordan.

Mr. Jordan angered powerful members of the Saudi royal family by discussing Washington’s preference for a successor to the ailing King Fahd, according to reports from United Press International, the Middle East Newsline and the unofficial Saudi Information Agency. Embassy Row reported on the dispute in yesterday’s column.

Prince Bandar, however, called Mr. Jordan a friend.

“Ambassador Jordan has been one of the most distinguished U.S. ambassadors to serve in the kingdom [of Saudi Arabia],” Prince Bandar said in a statement. “He served at a critical time in our bilateral relations and contributed greatly to the relationship which binds our two nations. We are grateful for the contributions he has made.

“Ambassador Jordan made many friends in the kingdom and gained the respect of everyone who had the opportunity to work with him. I am proud to call him my friend, and I will continue to seek his wise counsel.”

Prince Bandar said Mr. Jordan is leaving his post after two years for “personal reasons” and “reports that the Saudi government asked for his removal are baseless and false.”

Mr. Jordan, a former personal attorney to President Bush, reportedly told guests at private dinner parties that Washington favored Crown Prince Abdullah bin Aziz to succeed the king.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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