NICOSIA — Continuing to stoke tension on Cyprus, Turkey renamed John Kennedy Avenue in the abandoned Varosha resort after the military commander who led an unlawful 1974 invasion of the island, Turkey seizing the northern third.
The street is now called Semih Sancar, who was the head of Turkey’s Chief of General Staff from 1973-78, in charge of the invasion that was conducted with the support of the United States.
The renaming came shortly after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the once-famous playground for the wealthy and celebrities, which is inside the fenced-off town of Famagusta, opening a beachfront there in violation of United Nations resolutions for which he has shown no regard.
The United States joined the chorus of condemnation over Erdogan's visit to Varosha, but stopped short of doing anything about it.
“President Erdogan’s recent visit was a step in the wrong direction,” a State Department spokesperson said, adding that the US supports efforts to de-escalate tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and continues to demand dialogue and respect for international law.
“The US continues to support a comprehensive solution for the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation,” the spokesperson said, reported Kathimerini.
Erdogan has shown he's stopped listening to criticism, including from the US as President Donald Trump his his friend who does him favors, the Turkish leader otherwise ignoring State Department tweets and statements.
Erdogan's opening of the beach gave an edge to his hand-picked candidate to be the Turkish-Cypriot leader, hardline nationalist and self-declared premier Ersin Tatar, who unseated moderate Mustafa Akinci, who had disagreed with Erdogan wanting two states on the island and not a federal government.
Tatar said he would do whatever Erdogan wants, essentially killing for now any hopes of reunification, the last round of talks collapsing in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, a telling blow.