By George Gilson

The Republic of Cyprus is turning to the permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) – China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US – to brief them on Turkey’s moves on the ground to re-open of the fenced-off seaside resort of Varosha (part of  the city of Ammochostos) in the Turkish-occupied area of the island, in violation of UNSC resolutions.

Cyprus’ foreign minister, Nikos Christodoulidis, is to brief the UNSC permanent members today.

At the time of the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of of 37 percent of Cyprus’ territory – Turkey maintains over 40,000 troops on the island to this day – Ankara had fenced off the city, which initially was to be a bargaining chip in negotiations for a Cyprus solution.

Since then, the UNSC issued a resolution providing for the handover of Varosha to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

Diplomatic blitz

Christodoulidis, said that both he and President Nicos Anastasiades are in the process of briefing EU partners and international players regarding yesterday’s launch of works for the implementation of Turkey’s opening of part of the city, which until 1974 was the jewel in the crown of Cyprus’ tourism sector.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his intention while on a visit to the occupied territories on 20 July, 2021, for celebrations marking the 47th anniversary of the invasion, which left 200,000 Greek Cypriots who were uprooted and became refugees in the free territories.

UNSC in July demanded reversal of decision

France, as President of the UN Security Council at the time, issued a presidential statement on 23 July, 2021, condemning Turkey’s stated intention as a glaring violation of UNSC resolutions on Varosha and called for an “immediate reversal” of the decision. The UN issued the following press release on the statement:

“The Security Council condemned today the 20 July announcement by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaders on the further reopening of a part of the fenced-off Varosha area in Cyprus, calling for the immediate reversal of that course of action and for the reversal of all steps taken on Varosha since October 2020. In a presidential statement presented by France, Council President for July, the 15-member organ reiterated that any attempt to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants is inadmissible. It expressed regret over those unilateral actions that run contrary to previous Council resolutions and statements.”
“The Council went on to stress the importance of full respect and implementation for its resolutions, including the transfer of Varosha to United Nations administration, and of respect for freedom of movement for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)”.

EU foreign ministers to review the matter

Christodoulidis said that the issue of Varosha is on the agenda of the upcoming meeting of EU foreign ministers.

He also underlined that the resignation of the coalition government of the occupation regime, on October 13 when it lost its parliamentary majority, will not affect the prospects for a resumption of Cyprus settlement talks, which have stalled mainly due to the insistence of Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot side on a two-state solution, with two separate sovereignties, in violation of countless UN resolutions and of the agreement between the two sides over the past four decades.