NICOSIA – It hasn’t worked for decades and the Turkish-Cypriot occupied side has rejected talking but Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said negotiation is the only way to solve the problem of the divided island.
Talking to a gathering in the Famagusta region, he said the only real choice is for both sides to accept an agenda set by the United Nations although Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said he will accept only recognition.
The last round of talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana and the two sides have barely talked and aren’t anywhere near a negotiating table now but Kasoulides said that approach can still work.
He was representing President Nicos Anastasiades at the event to mark 48 years since Greek-Cypriots fled the now-abandoned ghost town of Varosha ahead of advancing Turkish troops.
The Turkish side has over the past almost two years begun opening up the abandoned town to visitors in violation of international law and UN resolutions, noted The Cyprus Mail in a report.
Kasoulides said the government was making persistent efforts to save Varosha, and to resume Cyprus negotiations even though the other side isn’t listening and shows no interest.
Kasoulides said Turkey cannot be allowed to continue ignoring international law although the UN has ignored repeated requests from Cyprus’ legitimate government – a member of the European Union – to intervene over Turkey’s unlawful drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters.
He said the government is still pushing confidence-building measures (CBM’s) that haven’t worked because they were “generous and bold” without further stipulating what they were and already rejected by the other side.
“We want our town back. Condemnation and UN resolutions and decisions are not enough. We want Famagusta back, we want all our towns and villages back,” he also said of the government’s hopes.
“We urge the Turkish Cypriot leadership to abandon its irrational and maximalist outbursts for a two-state solution and exhibit the required will to start a dialogue based on the CBMs,” he said, but got no answer.