Turkish Cypriots claim moral victory

Far from despairing at their Greek neighbours' rejection of reunification, Turkish Cypriots feel they have won the moral high ground by backing the peace deal.

    Turkish Cyprus hopes vote will mean end to political isolation

    Many voters in the island's Turkish north on Sunday said they deserved to see economic sanctions lifted as a reward.
    The internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus, which controls the Greek south, voted three to one in a referendum on Saturday that rejected unity.

    But even though 75% voted against a peaceful settlement, they will now enter the European Union alone on 1 May.
    But the Turkish self-declared statelet of northern Cyprus, where 65% voted for reunification, says the international community should now lift the economic embargo which has impoverished its economy for the past 30 years. 
    Mute reaction

    Turkish Cypriot Prime Minster ,Mehmet Ali Talat, told Aljazeera.net's correspondent, Jonathan Gorvett, he was deeply saddened by the result.

    Turkish Cypriots look through a
    wall to the Greek EU-joining south

    “We tried to take a step forward, but we couldn’t do it.”

    Meanwhile, his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Tassos Papadopolous, said the evening was “not one for celebration.”

    Also saddened was the UN special representative on the island, Alvero de Soto.

    “We hope the Greek Cypriots will arrive at a different assessment in the fullness of time,” he told reporters on Saturday night.

    In Nicosia, the island’s divided capital, a demonstration on the Turkish Cypriot side in support of the "yes" vote found the crowd muted.

    “We’re happy the ‘yes’ vote won here,” said one participant, Buket Karaoglu, “But the Greek Cypriots voting no has also saddened us.”

    The question now is what happens next.  Talat has called on the international community to intervene and “take steps to provide something for the Turkish Cypriot side.”

    Turkish victory?

    "It is the victory of the people," the Kibrisli daily trumpeted on Sunday on its front page, while the Vatan newspaper said: "It is now the turn of the international community to help."
    "Many people voted 'yes' not because they liked the plan, but out of frustration with the international isolation," Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, said after the vote. 

    "It is time now for the world to allow us to trade and communicate as free people"

    Rauf Denktash,
    Turkish Cypriot leader

    Denktash, a nationalist who led the campaign for the "no" vote in his self-styled Turkish Republic of northern Cyprus (TRNC), immediately called for the lifting of the embargo imposed because of his territory's secession.
    "It is time now for the world to allow us to trade and communicate as free people and to help us repair our economy," Denktash said.
    "The European Union and the United States have said that Turkish Cypriots could not be left out in the cold if Greek Cypriots vote 'no' - let us now see whether they mean what they say," he added. 
    EU considerations

    Speaking in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, whose government forced Denktash to agree to the referendum in an attemp to boost its own chances of joining the euro bloc, also called for the lifting of sanctions.
    The European Commission in Brussels said Turkish Cypriot approval of the plan "signals a clear desire of the community to resolve the island's problems".
    "The commission is ready to consider ways of further promoting economic development of the northern part of Cyprus," it added.
    EU foreign ministers, who expressed disappointment at the Greeks' rejection of the plan put forward by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, were expected to review developments at a meeting on Monday.
    But any EU move in favour of northern Cyprus might have to be taken fast as the Republic of Cyprus could veto any such help after it joins the club next Saturday, observers said.



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