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Angry Anastasiades Says UK, UN Taking Turkey's Side on Cyprus

Αssociated Press

FILE - European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, left, and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades talk after a presentation event for the Cyprus Recovery and Resilience Plan at the University of Cyprus, in Nicosia, on July 8, 2021. (Katia Christodoulou Pool via AP)

Although he agreed with a United Nations resolution condemning Turkey's plans to further reopen the abandoned resort of Varosha on the occupied side of the island, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said the UN and United Kingdom are favoring Turkey.

The UK, the island's former Colonial ruler, prevented the UN Security Council for two days from blaming Turkey for the planned Varosha reopening, wanting a referral only to Ankara – Turkey's capital – so that Turkey wouldn't be held at fault.

He said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been getting his way with the UN and European Union, including going ahead with drilling for energy in Cypriot waters, has found a friendly ear.

That, he told Euronews in an interview, includes the UN's Special Envoy to Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, has emboldened Erdogan, whose support in October, 2020 elections for the Turkish-occupied side of the island put a puppet for him, hardliner Ersin Tatar in power.

Since then, Erdogan has moved not only to further reopen Varosha, in violation of UN resolutions, but to demand permanent partition and two states on Cyprus, which would bring recognition to the occupied territory.

Turkey keeps a 35,000 strong standing army there on an island where the legitimate Greek-Cypriot government is a member of the EU that Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005.

Anastasiades, who has before backed away from tough talk to go along with the EU and whose entreaties to the UK about Turkish provocations have been routinely ignored, said he was upset enough to consider vetoing the EU's plan for a positive agenda with Turkey despite Erdogan's aggression.

Anastasiades visited Athens to meet with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis but it wasn't said if the Greek leader would join Cyprus if there's a veto of the EU's leniency with Turkey, which has ignored soft sanctions over Cyprus drilling.

“Mr. Erdogan’s audacity is not a coincidence because there are those who are under the impression that they can interpret even UN resolutions or their clarity if you will,” Anastasiades said, referring to the UK as well as Spehar.

That came after Cypriot media reports said a member of the UNSC said Spehar, behind closed doors, wanted softer language in dealing with Turkey. It wasn't said why but many Britons own property on the occupied side that was stolen from the legitimate Greek-Cypriot owners after the invasion, and sometimes resold although there have been objections in EU courts.

Anastasiades also criticized the UK – which, along with Turkey and Greece is a guarantor of security on the island – for submitting proposals so that  “essentially they gradually satisfy what Turkey is after.”

“As a result, instead of containing effrontery, they are boosting revisionism, aggression, and unlawful acts in general,” he said, which would reward Turkey for aggression and further back away from confronting Erdogan.

A UN Security Council Resolution in May 1984 “considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of that area to the administration of the United Nations,” which could be bypassed by Erdogan, apparently feeling he can't be stopped.

The Cypriot government said the Varosha plans – announced by Tatar who said he would do whatever Erdogan tells him – would be “a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” while EU and UNSC statements have condemned unilateral actions on Varosha by Turkey.

Turkey insists that Varosha is part of territory administered by Turkish-Cypriots, and that it would be reopened not for resettlement but as a “good will gesture,” although only Turks and Turkish-Cypriots could benefit.

Many failed reunification attempts over the decade would have required the properties on Varosha to return to the original owners, or perhaps the families of those who've died since Turkey seized them in 1974.

But the two-state demand by Turkey and reopening Varosha would also prevent that and Anastasiades has shown no appetite to negotiate again, the last round of talks collapsing in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Varosha.

Tatar, said Kathimerini Cyprus, said that an Immovable Property Committee on the occupied side, which calls on Greek Cypriot property owners to claim their rights through restitution or compensation, would go forward “with respect to property rights and in accordance with the law.”

“To put rhetoric aside, we shall see how Turkey will behave and of course nothing is ruled out,” he said.

The Cyprus News Agency said that the permanent members of the UNSC – the United States, UK, France, Russia and China – are trying to find some language that would try to solve the long-standing futility over Cyprus.

The Cypriot government wants any attempt at reunification talks to be based on a bizonal, bicommunal, federation, but Erdogan and Tatar said that's off the table which could signal the end of any hopes for a solution over the problem.