* Photo: Anadolu Agency (AA) – Archive
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The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have approved a resolution titled “Escalating tensions in Varosha following the illegal actions by Turkey and the urgent need for the resumption of talks.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the resolution, saying, “We completely reject the non-binding resolution adopted by the MEPs on our country and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.”
The press release issued by the European Parliament following the adoption of the resolution has emphasized the three following points: “Turkey must refrain from any action that alters Cyprus’ demographic balance”, “European Union (EU)-Turkey relations at a historic low and “Call for tough sanctions in response to Turkey’s illegal actions.”
While the resolution has been adopted by 631 votes in favour, 3 against and 59 abstentions, the MEPs have stated, “Turkey’s decision to ‘open’ the sealed-off suburb of Varosha undermines prospects of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem.”
“MEPs condemn Turkey’s illegal activities in the Varosha suburb of the city of Famagusta and warn that its partial ‘opening’ weakens prospects of a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, exacerbating divisions and entrenching the permanent partition of the island,” they have noted.
“MEPs call on Turkey to transfer Varosha to its lawful inhabitants under the temporary administration of the UN and to refrain from any actions that alter the demographic balance on the island through a policy of illegal settlement.”
Call for ‘tough sanctions’
The MEPs have also called for “tough sanctions” against Turkey:
“A sustainable solution to reunify the island of Cyprus and its people can only be found through dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiations, MEPs stress.
“They call on the European Council to maintain its unified position on Turkey’s illegal actions and impose tough sanctions in response.
“MEPs regret that the Turkish authorities have endorsed the two-state solution for Cyprus and reiterate their support for a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement on the basis of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with a single international legal status.
“They also call on the EU to play a more active role in bringing the negotiations under UN auspices to a successful conclusion.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry rejects the resolution
As reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA), Turkey’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy has denounced the resolution in a statement, saying, “We completely reject the non-binding resolution adopted by the MEPs on our country and the TRNC.”
Underlining that Turkey fully supports the statement made by the Northern Cyprus Presidency on this issue, Aksoy has said, “This decision, which is undoubtedly dictated by the Greek Cypriot Administration, once again demonstrates how disconnected from reality and prejudiced the European Parliament is on the Cyprus issue.”
Aksoy has added that “if the European Parliament maintains this approach and mentality, it is not possible for European Union bodies to make a constructive contribution to the solution of the Cyprus issue.”
“Turkey calls on the EP and EU to face the realities on the island and take into account the presence of the Turkish Cypriot people as well as fulfill the EU commitments made in April 2004 to Turkish Cypriots,” he has stressed.
He has also noted that “Turkey will continue to protect both its own rights and those of Turkish Cypriots”, adding at the same time, Turkey will continue its efforts for dialogue and negotiations within this context.
Varosha, or Maraş, a coastal town in Cyprus’ Famagusta (Gazimağusa) reopened on October 8, 2020, nearly half a century after it was closed to settlement by a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution.
In a controversial move that led his government to break down, Northern Cyprus’ the then Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, now the President of the country, announced the decision on October 6 during a joint press conference with President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the capital city Ankara.
Following Turkey’s “Second Cyprus Peace Operation” in the 1974 war that eventually divided the Mediterranean island, the town was closed to settlement as it was on the “green line” between the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” and the “Republic of Cyprus.”
Passed by the UNSC in 1983, Resolution 550 stated, “… Deeply concerned about recent threats for settlement of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants, reaffirming its continuing support for the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus…”
A major tourist attraction with its beaches and hotels, Varosha turned into a “ghost town” after this. (EKN/SD)