Turkish Cypriot authorities introduced on Tuesday a partial reopening of an deserted city for potential resettlement, drawing a powerful rebuke from rival Greek Cypriots of orchestrating a land seize by stealth.
Varosha, an eerie assortment of derelict high-rise resorts and residences in a navy zone no one has been allowed to enter, has been abandoned since a 1974 battle break up the island.
Turkish Cypriot authorities opened a small space for day visits in November 2020, and mentioned on Tuesday part of it will be transformed to civilian use with a mechanism in place for individuals to probably reclaim their properties.
“A brand new period will start in Maras which can profit everybody,” mentioned Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who was visiting breakaway north Cyprus on Tuesday. Maras is the Turkish identify for Varosha.
Greek Cypriots concern a change to the realm’s standing shows a transparent intent of Turkey to acceptable it. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades described the transfer as “unlawful and unacceptable”.
“I need to ship the strongest message to Mr Erdogan and his native proxies that the unacceptable actions and calls for of Turkey won’t be accepted,” Anastasiades mentioned.
Greece’s Overseas Ministry mentioned it condemned the transfer “within the strongest phrases”, whereas the UK, a everlasting member of the UN Safety Council, mentioned it will be discussing the problem as a matter of urgency with different council members, saying it was “deeply involved”.
“The UK calls on all events to not take any actions which undermine the Cyprus settlement course of or enhance tensions on the island,” a Overseas Workplace spokesperson mentioned.
EU international coverage chief Josep Borrell additionally expressed concern. “(The) unilateral choice introduced right this moment by President Erdogan and (Turkish Cypriot chief Ersin) Tatar dangers elevating tensions on the island & compromising return to talks on a complete settlement of the Cyprus problem,” he mentioned on Twitter.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to as the announcement “provocative” and “unacceptable”. He mentioned: “america is working with like-minded companions to refer this regarding scenario to the UN Safety Council and can urge a powerful response”.
United Nations resolutions name for Varosha to be handed over to UN administration and to permit individuals to return to their houses.
Anastasiades mentioned that if Turkey’s “actual concern was returning properties to their authorized house owners … they need to have adopted UN resolutions and hand the town over to the UN, permitting them to return in situations of security”.
Tuesday marked the forty seventh anniversary of a Turkish invasion mounted in 1974 after a Greek Cypriot coup engineered by the navy then ruling Greece. Peace efforts have repeatedly floundered, and a brand new Turkish Cypriot management, backed by Turkey, says a peace accord between two sovereign states is the one viable choice.
Greek Cypriots, who signify Cyprus internationally and are backed by the European Union, reject a two-state deal for the island that might accord sovereign standing to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state that solely Ankara recognises.
“A brand new negotiation course of (to heal Cyprus’ division) can solely be carried out between the 2 states. We’re proper and we are going to defend our proper to the top,” Erdogan mentioned in a speech within the divided Cypriot capital of Nicosia.
Varosha has at all times been considered a bargaining chip for Ankara in any future peace deal, and one of many areas extensively anticipated to have been returned to Greek Cypriot administration below a settlement. The Turkish Cypriot transfer renders that assumption extra unsure.