A political row that had been brewing for days in northern Cyprus escalated on Monday, as ‘Finance Minister Serdar Denktash angrily left a ‘parliamentary’ session after verbal attacks against him by opposition parties.
Opposition politicians were protesting a series of decisions to lease ‘government’ land to politicians’ relatives. The controversy was sparked when land in down-town Nicosia was leased to former Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu’s daughter, Resmiye Canaltay, to construct a five-star hotel.
The decision had been preceded by similar leases being issued to the father of ‘Energy Minister’ Sunat Atun, Ata Atun, and Denktash’s son, Rauf to build two universities.
According to Turkish Cypriot press reports, the land leased to Denktash is valued at 50 million pounds sterling.
Canaltay told Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen that she applied to the ‘cabinet’ for the land, and her lease request was approved for 40 years.
Denktash took the podium in ‘parliament’, arguing that ‘government’ land had been leased for universities in the past, and no protest were made.
“I’ve been in politics for 27 years, and my father 50,” Denktas said, referring to his father Rauf.
The land leased to his family, Denktash said, is part of a military zone and was leased for 35 years for the construction of the Rauf Raif Denktash university, a project planned by the family for six years.
Denktash then reportedly acknowledged some “moral questions” over the affair, but no illegality.
This prompted CTP member Dogus Derya to state “every step of this government is stained”, which led to Denktash storming out.
CTP members then walked out in protest.
People’s Party leader Kudret Ozersay staged a protest at a roundabout near Ayios Dometios – the ‘Kermia roundabout’ – near the site of the planned Rauf Raif Denktash university.
Ozersay said this ‘government’, among other things, had tried to lease the beach from where Turkish troops invaded Cyprus in 1974, rented out an archaeological area to a private company, and licensed a non-existent airline.
“Enough is enough,” he said.