The issue of Varosha, the fenced-off area in Famagusta that the Turkish side plans to open, and has partially done so, will remain a top priority for the EU, Commission Vice President Josep Borrell said on Tuesday.
“Varosha is and will remain high on our collective agenda, to help ensure that the UN Security Council’s Resolutions are respected in full by all,” Borrell told the plenary of the European Parliament.
“There is no doubt that respecting the status of Varosha, as set out in relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, is of paramount importance,” he added.
Borrell recalled that the EU Heads of State and Government had made this point, EU foreign ministers were following the situation closely, and the UN Security Council had held a closed hearing to the same effect last month.
“We are all deeply concerned about developments on the ground,” he added. “Like the United Nations, the European Union holds Turkey responsible for the situation on the ground.”
Borrell said recent events around Varosha, including President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit and statements, come at a time when attempts are underway to create space for dialogue on Cyprus settlement issues and on the wider Eastern Mediterranean.
“We are passing this message clearly to our Turkish interlocutors. I have also passed it personally to the new Turkish Cypriot leader: This is the time to support United Nations Secretary-General Guterres in his efforts to resume the Cyprus settlement talks. Spreading distrust and stoking tensions help no-one,” Borrell said.
He said the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus, Unficyp, must be given full freedom of movement in Varosha to monitor the situation in accordance with its mandate.
Borrell went on to reassure MEPs that the EU was fully committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, and to reunification based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, within the UN framework and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded.
“The European Union stands ready to play an active role in supporting these negotiations and finding lasting solutions.
“A stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and the development of cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships amongst all partners in the region, bilaterally and multilaterally, is in the EU’s strategic interest,” he added.
He reminded that the European Council would assess the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and relations with Turkey in December.