Cyprus Wants UN to Stop Turkey from Reopening Varosha

FILE - Kudret Ozersay, the foreign minister of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north, left, speaks to Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, center, during a visit to the uninhabited Famagusta suburb of Varosha, in the breakaway, Turkish Cypriot north of ethnically split Cyprus on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (Turkish Foreign Ministry via AP, Pool)

It hasn’t worked yet but Cyprus – ignored repeatedly by the United Nations over Turkish drilling for energy off its coast – wants the body to intervene to stop the reopening of the abandoned town of Varosha.

The UN is expected to decide by Oct. 9 on its response as under a resolution only the original inhabitants forced out by an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion are allowed to return there although there’s no real way to enforce that as Turkey can do what it wants, as it has exhibited repeatedly.

According to Kathimerini’s Cyprus edition, the UN Security Council (UNSC) is expected to issue a written statement reiterating resolutions 550 and 789 on Famagusta, in which Varosha lies and is still as it was 45 years ago.

UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN, while Resolution 789 (1992) also urges that Varosha come under the control of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

In September, Speaking after his meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he wasn’t satisfied with the response he got in asking for help although it wasn’t reported what happened.

Guterres presided over a July 2017 negotiaton at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana where the two sides were talking about reunification before the talks collapsed when Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they would never remove a 35,000-strong army on the occupied land and wanted the right to militarily intervene.

After that debacle, Guterres released a report blaming nobody for anything, including himself, and has refused to take steps to pressure Turkey not to drill in Cyprus’ Exclusive Econonic Zone in defiance of Cyprus, Greece, the United States and European Union.

Earlier in September, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said told the private CNN-Turk broadcaster that, “Yes, there are preparations. Varosha will be opened.” The area was fenced off  by the Turkish military after the invasion and has stayed locked in time.

The eastern town, part of Famagusta that used to be known as the “pearl” of Cyprus, has been abandoned since then, for 45 years, the residents forced to flee the advancing Turkish forces with the UN declaring they would one day be allowed to return, which hasn’t happened yet.

Last June, the administration in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus had also announced its intention to open Varosha, which is protected by a 1984 UN Security Council resolution, stating that the the empty town can only be resettled by its original inhabitants.

Asked by CNN Turk about Turkey’s controversial exploration for hydrocarbon deposits in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, meanwhile, Cavusoglu said that no one can “prevent” its continued efforts, adding that Ankara will “defend” the rights of the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus.

Officials from Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side took an inspection tour there on Aug. 23, said Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News, the visit coming almost a month after Turkish-Cypriot  officials, led by its self-declared foreign minister Kudret Ozersay, visited the ghost town.

This time the ante was upped when Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy visited the region to have an air and ground inspection accompanied by the occupied territory’s self-proclaimed tourism chief, Ünal Üstel,

Until now only the Turkish army was allowed in but the Turkish-Cypriot side said on June 18 it would begin allowing tourists to visit the empty, eerie town where 1974 cars are still in showrooms and everything is as it as 45 years earlier.

Ersoy said a project to be prepared by the occupiers will be submitted to Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry, which is ready to provide necessary technical and financial support after an ownership inventory work is completed, if ever.

The paper said the UN is expected to call for a resumption of reunification talks without any explanation why that’s feasible during Turkish drilling and moving ahead with plans to reopen Varosha and defying soft European Union sanctions over drilling.

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