WASHINGTON -- Almost certain to have no effect, 19 members of the US Congress wrote United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urging him to prevent the further reopening of the abandoned Varosha resort on the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.
The once-luxury area has crumbled since being locked off after unlawful 1974 invasions that saw Turkey, with the implicit okay of the United States, seize the northern third of the island, where it still keeps a 35,000-strong army.
New hard line Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, following the lead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip, moved to open more parts of the resort after Turkish-Cypriots were given access to a beach there.
With worry from the legitimate Greek-Cypriot government that's a member of the European Union that Turkey will violate UN resolutions and not return properties to the rightful owners, the Congressional bloc wants action.
The Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues initiative launched by its co-chair and co-founder Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY, fellow co-chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Chris Pappas (D-NH), called on Guterres to “firmly assert the United Nations’ authority to administer and prevent the resettlement of Varosha, pursue the immediate and full implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions on Varosha, and examine sanctions against Turkish and Turkish Cypriot attempts to illegally and unilaterally reopen and resettle this city,” said Kathimerini.
“As members of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, we are dismayed but not surprised by Erdogan’s irresponsible comments rejecting any solution that does not acquiesce to Turkey’s demands to divide Cyprus and her people,” the statement said.
It added: “We encourage all relevant stakeholders to pursue a solution in line with the various resolutions of the Security Council, but the Republic of Turkey’s consistent provocative behavior demonstrates it is not serious about being a responsible actor in this matter,” but Erdogan has ignored similar entreaties.
The letter warned that Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots are likely planning to fully develop Varosha in defiance of the UN but Guterres has shown no stomach to tangle with Erdogan, who has had his way with him.
Still, the Congressional statement noted how on Oct. 6, 2020 that Guterres said that, “The position of the United Nations on Varosha remains unchanged and is guided by relevant Security Council resolutions,” which Erdogan doesn't care about.
At that time, Guterres said that “any unilateral actions that could trigger tensions on the island and undermine the return to dialogue or the future success of talks,” but the Turkish leader since then has said he doesn't want reunification, demanding the UN and world recognize the isolated occupied territory.
“Since your statement, Turkey’s unilateral reopening has not abated, and on July 19-20, 2021 President Erdogan declared part of Varosha to be reopened and administered by the illegitimate Turkish administration on Cyprus,” the letter reminded Guterres just in case he forgot.
“Turkey’s reopening of Varosha – a cultural keystone for Cypriots and a city where the return of refugees and the process of rebuilding a modern metropolis can serve as a building block for a reunited Cyprus – clouds the prospects for a peaceful future,” the statement also said.
Guterres has ignored repeated calls from Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades for the UN to sanction Turkey for unlawful drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters and the UN leader presided over the last failed rounds of reunification talks in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana and held everyone blameless.