UN Security Council slams Turkish plans to reopen Cypriot town | News | DW | 23.07.2021

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UN Security Council slams Turkish plans to reopen Cypriot town

The UN Security Council said on Friday plans to reopen Varosha could "raise tensions" and "harm prospects for a settlement" in Cyprus.

The abandoned beachfront of Turkish occupied Varosha

Varosha could soon be reopened despite objections from the international community

The UN Security Council (UNSC) on Friday condemned Turkey's recently announced plans to reopen the coastal town of Varosha in Northern Cyprus that has remained shuttered since the 1974 conflict that divided the island in two.

"The Security Council calls for the immediate reversal of this course of action and the reversal of all steps taken on Varosha since October 2020," the UN Security Council said on Friday.

In a joint statement, the 15-member council raised "the need to avoid any further unilateral actions not in accordance with its resolutions."

The UNSC added that reopening Varosha "could raise tensions on the island and harm prospects for a settlement."

The European Union, United States and the Republic of Cyprus in the south have already condemned Turkish plans to reinstate the civilian use of the town in northern Cyprus.

 A police officer using binoculars is seen on a roof of an abandoned Varosha building

Moves to reopen Varosha were initiated in November 2020

Varosha, or Maras in Turkish, was sealed off and has remained uninhabited since the war that split Cyprus into a Turkish-controlled north and Greek-controlled south, when Turkish troops invaded
following a Greek coup to annex the island.

What are Turkey's plans?

Despite the rebukes, Turkey seems to be pushing on with its two-state solution for the island after the failure of a 2004 UN plan to reunify the country.

On a trip to the north of divided Nicosia on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that a half-century of UN efforts had failed and that there should be "two peoples and two states with equal status."

Erdogan was in northern Cyprus to mark the 47th anniversary of the 1974 invasion.

Thousands of people abandoned their homes in the north of Cyprus when it was invaded by Turkish forces in 1974.

People stand at the beachside dwarfed by the abandoned hotels of Varosha

Varosha in Famagusta is close to the border with the Republic of Cyprus

How did Turkey respond?

"We reject the Presidential Statement made by the UN Security Council," said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a quick retort.

It said the US, EU and other countries' opposition to the move "are based on unfounded claims and inconsistent with the realities on the Island." 

"Contrary to claims, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions are not violated. Moreover, the UN Security Council resolutions are not above property and sovereignty rights," the ministry added.

The Turks blamed the "intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot administration," for not being able to set up a "bizonal" federal arrangement on the island.

Only Turkey recognizes Northern Cyprus as a full state.

jc/sri (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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