Turkish-Cypriot Leader Tells UN: Keep Hands Off Varosha

Αssociated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, back left, and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, second left, attend the military parade marking the 47th anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion in the Turkish occupied area of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Nedim Enginsoy)

NICOSIA -- New hardline Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, who said he wants the world to recognize the isolated, occupied side of Cyprus, has said the United Nations will never take possession of the abandoned resort of Varosha there.

Tatar, taking his lead from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who helped elect him, is moving ahead with plans to further reopen Varosha despite condemnations, including from the UN Security Council.

A 1984 UN resolution, which has no weight, said that the properties in Varosha that were mainly owned by Greek-Cypriots had to returned to them but Erdogan has shown he doesn't care about that.

Turkey's pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah, a propaganda arm of Erdogan's regime, said Tatar led a meeting of officials in the self-declared republic on the isolated side that no other country besides Turkey recognizes.

Tatar, who has rejected reunification, an idea that has failed despite decades of talks after Turkey's unlawful 1974 invasion seized and occupied northern third of the island, said reopening Varosha is a linchpin for his strategy.

Only Turkey's military had been allowed into the resort area, where Erdogan ordered the reopening of part of a beach in 2020 ahead of October elections to give Tatar a boost over then Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who had fallen out of favor with Turkey's President.

Tatar said 3.5 percent of Varosha has been converted to a civilian zone and will be open for settlement that would be decided by the Immovable Property Commission while Greek-Cypriots could be excluded from their properties.

"Varosha is within the borders of the TRNC, there are comments such as transferring it to the UN,” he said, using the name for the occupied side that no other country accepts.

“We will never respect this, and those decisions do not bind us. It is human rights that bind us, also the (area's) former owners. In order for these returns to be made to them, the Immovable Property Commission must produce these decisions,” he said of the refusal to let the UN take it over.