Cyprus appeals to UN Security Council over Varosha; Provocative Turkey
- Cyprus complains to Security Council about Varosha’s plans
- Turkey pushes back criticism
- Varosha, poignant symbol of the division of Cyprus
NICOSIA, July 21 (Reuters) – Cyprus on Wednesday appealed to the UN Security Council over plans by the Turkish Cypriot authorities to partially reopen an abandoned complex, as Turkey reiterated its call for a two-state solution on the island despite international reviews.
Ankara-backed Turkish Cypriots said on Tuesday that part of Varosha – now a military zone and an area touted in the past to be returned to rival Greek Cypriots – would come under civilian control and be open for possible resettlement.
This sparked an angry reaction from the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government of Cyprus, and a chorus of disapproval from the Western powers, led by the United States, who called the move “unacceptable”. Read more
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is deeply concerned about the decision of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said in a statement.
“The Secretary-General has repeatedly called on all parties to refrain from unilateral actions which cause tensions and could undermine ongoing efforts to seek common ground between the parties for a lasting settlement of the Cypriot issue, ”Haq said.
Haq said the United Nations position on Varosha remains unchanged and is guided by relevant Security Council resolutions.
Turkey has ignored the criticism.
It is estimated that 17,000 Greek Cypriot residents of Varosha fled advancing Turkish troops in August 1974. It has remained empty ever since, cordoned off with barbed wire and no-entry signs. United Nations resolutions called for the area to be turned over to United Nations administration.
The reassignment of the area to the Turkish Cypriot civil authorities calls into question a widely held assumption that Varosha would be among the areas likely to return to Greek Cypriot control in the event of a Cypriot peace settlement.
“This is a flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and will have a negative impact on the ongoing efforts to relaunch the talks,” Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said.
The eastern Mediterranean island was divided in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a Greek-inspired coup. Peace efforts have repeatedly failed.
Ankara-backed Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said only a two-state agreement would work now.
“Now the only demand of the Turkish Cypriots in international negotiations is recognition of the status of a sovereign state,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, a day after his visit to Cyprus for the announcement of Tatar. “All offers other than this one have expired.”
To date, peace talks in Cyprus have focused on unifying the island under a federal umbrella. The Greek Cypriots reject a two-state deal that would grant sovereign status to the separatist Turkish Cypriot state that only Ankara recognizes.
Under a 2004 UN reunification plan, Varosha was one of the areas reportedly returned to its inhabitants under the Greek Cypriot administration. The plan, which detailed reunification as part of a complex power-sharing deal, was rejected in a referendum by the Greek Cypriots.
A poignant symbol of the Cypriot divide, Varosha, in its heyday, attracted jet-set and Hollywood royalty, including Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, and is said to be the first venue where four Swedish singers – later known as ABBA – sang together in 1970.
Reporting by Michele Kambas; additional reporting by Jonathan Spicer in Istanbul and Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Gareth Jones and Richard Pullin
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