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Politics

Cyprus Shifts from Sanctions Push to Diplomacy With Turkish-Cypriots

February 20, 2022

NICOSIA – It hasn’t worked for decades, but Cyprus’ legitimate government, a member of the European Union, is moving away from demanding sanctions on the occupied Turkish-Cypriot side toward so-called Confidence Building Measures.

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said that was done as confrontation wasn’t working, the EU imposing only soft penalties on Turkey for drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters and reluctant to take on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Cyprus had been looking for sanctions after Turkish-Cypriot hardline leader Ersin Tatar – who said he would do whatever Erdogan wants – supported the President’s move to partially reopen the abandoned resort of Varosha.

Tatar also had rejected any further idea of reunification talks – the last round collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and former Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said a 35,000-strong army on the occupied side would never leave and as they demaned the right of further military intervention.

Tatar instead insists that the United Nations and world must recognize the isolated part of the island that is accepted only by Turkey as a self-declared republic that stands alone.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has been promoting a softer policy even in the face of the partial reopening of Varosha, although UN resolutions said property there must be returned to the original owners, mostly Greek-Cypriots.

The Cypriot government has been proposing that customs at the port of Famagusta should be operated by the EU, to allow trade and for a UN-operated airport on the occupied side with direct flights to countries, said the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

The Greek-Cypriot side offered the concessions if Turkey turns Varosha over to the UN but Tatar rejected it as a publicity stunt as Akinci had refused Anastasiades’ offer to share 30 percent of potentially lucrative energy revenues with the Turkish-Cypriots.

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