February 24, 1999

The allegations by the Turkish Government that the official authorities of the Republic of Cyprus were involved in the Ocalan case, were rejected by the Cyprus Government as totally unfounded and groundless. President Glafcos Clerides responding today to these allegations underlined that:

"In Cyprus there is a United Nations Peacekeeping Force which has freedom of movement. If such camps existed they would not have escaped UNFICYP's notice."

"Moreover," the President added "the Ambassadors of all member-states as well as other countries can move freely in the island, and if there were such a thing it would not have escaped their notice either. If European countries wish to send representatives to travel freely throughout Cyprus, they too will establish that the accusations Turkey has levelled against Cyprus are totally unfounded."

Furthermore, Foreign Minister Kasoulides replying to press questions at a press conference in Washington on 18 February stressed that:

"We will not and we do not involve ourselves in the causes of other people, however sympathetic we may appear to the rights of the Kurdish people regarding their struggle for human rights and cultural identity. Otherwise, we have no connection, we want no connection." He also added that Turkish propaganda that Abdullah Ocalan was provided by the Republic a diplomatic Cypriot passport, is totally baseless since Cypriot diplomatic passports are of blue color and not red as it was shown on Turkish Television.

Minister Kasoulides made clear that the Government of Cyprus, had nothing to do with the recent adventure regarding Mr. Ocalan or the PKK and he rejected accusations that it has been harboring PKK people in Cyprus.

Cyprus' position on the broader issue is fully aligned with the joint statement of the EU Foreign Ministers issued in Brussels on 22 February and which supports that the Kurdish leader must have an open and fair trial before an independent court with access to legal counsel of his choice and with international observers admitted to the trial.

As it was stated on 23 February by the Cyprus Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides:

"The Cyprus Government deplores Turkey's attempt to make propaganda capital out of the issue, expresses its abhorrence at the manner in which the captive Kurdish leader was paraded in front of the Turkish television cameras and stresses the need to ensure that Abdullah Ocalan is treated humanely."

The Cyprus Government has for many years been bringing attention to the fact that basic human rights and fundamental freedoms are systematically being violated by Turkey, both at home and abroad.

The world community is well aware of the 1974 invasion and continuing occupation of Cyprus by Turkey, the systematic violation of human rights of Cypriots, the torture and murder of journalists and the Turkish treatment of its Kurdish ethnic minority.

Despite numerous calls of the United Nations, the European Union, Human Rights organizations and others, on the Turkish Government to comply with the principles of International Law and to respect human rights , no step has been taken by Turkey towards that end. On the contrary, it refuses to abide with the decisions of the international community and ignores all international calls.

This is also evident in the case of the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan. In view of Turkey's dismal record on human rights it is most ironic that Turkey tries to give to other nations lessons of democratic behavior.

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