GR US

UN Wants Turkey to Pull Back Reopening Varosha on Cyprus

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)

While it has no weight and was ignored, a United Nations resolution urging Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to withdraw his plan to further reopen part of the abandoned resort of Varosha for resettlement on the occupied side of Cyprus is okay with the Cypriot government.

While the announcement was made by new Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, it came ahead of Erdogan's visit to the occupied side to mark the 47th anniversary of Turkey's unlawful invasion and the Turkish President has made it clear he's calling the shots there.

Although it would be only symbolic and falls far short of what Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades wanted as he further implored the UN to do something about Turkish provocations – it hasn't – he was said to be satisfied, reported The Cyprus News Agenc(CNA).

Anastasiades had over the previous couple of years also written the UN and in visits reached out for support over Turkey drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters but got none.

Anastasiades called the move a veiled bid by Turkish Cypriots, backed by Turkey, to acquire more territory that could scuttle peace efforts and a violation of council resolutions prohibiting any change to the coastal area’s status.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres took part in reunification talks that turned into a debacle and collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and then Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never remove a 35,000-strong army on the occupied.

Turkey has held the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion that was implicitly backed by the United States, which opposed Erdogan's plan for Varosha.

The resolution was being drafted by the UN Security Council which has only five permanent members who almost never agree on any issue because of their national interests: the US, United Kingdom, China, France and Russia.

The news agency said the draft resolution emerged after consultations and deliberations included references that were acceptable to Greek-Cypriots without explaining why.

Reports said earlier drafts written by the UK – the island's former Colonial ruler which still has military bases on Cyprus - did not include specific references or strong language to reflect public statements by several countries.

The latest draft said the the council “condemns” Turkey's move, which was pushed by China, India and Ireland who requested “a certain amendment and for the statement to note that there has been a violation of the UN resolutions and statements.”

According to CNA, the Security Council “expresses its deep regret regarding these unilateral actions that run contrary to its previous resolutions and statements,” but offered no solution other than words.

Presidential statements are made by the President of the Security Council on behalf of the Council, adopted at a formal meeting, and issued as an official document.

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 was set aside by Erdogan.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides labeled the decision to reopen more of Varosha – part of a beach was opened there earlier for Turks and Turkis-Turkish-Cypriots, “a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

Erdogan has given up the idea of reunification for the island and wants recognition for the isolated occupied territory on an island where the legitimate Greek-Cypriot government is a member of the European Union which Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005.

Tatar, a hardliner who beat Akinci in October, 2020 elections with Erdogan's backing, said he would do whatever he was told and goes along with the two-state demand.

He said that that the process through an Immovable Property Committee in the north, 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,” without explaining how if they're not allowed to go there.

Varosha has been under the control of the Turkish military since 1974 and has lain dormant as a ghost town until 2020 when Turkey and Turkish-Cypriot authorities allowed visitors to access previously fenced off parts of the area as construction took place to open a beach strip and rebuild roads.

Greek-Cypriots worry that is the first step in Turkey rebuilding the resort and stealing their property which has been unlived in for 47 years.

Varosha is a suburb of Famagusta, a city that was Cyprus’ pre-1974 tourism hub thanks to its pristine beaches and modern hotels.

After Varosha’s 15,000 Greek Cypriot residents fled in the face of advancing Turkish troops, the area was fenced-off to prevent any access until last year when Turkish and Turkish Cypriot authorities announced its “re-opening.”

Varosha’s former residents denounced the latest move by Turkish Cypriots and Turkey as a bid to take advantage of their desperation over the area’s future and to psychologically pressure them into then selling off their properties.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)