Cyprus President to raise Varosha developments at EU leadership level

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will have bilateral meetings with top EU officials during which he will raise the matter of the fenced-off part of Turkish occupied Famagusta, Government Spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos has said.

Last Saturday, the Turkish Bar Association organized a round table meeting, which was held in Varosha, for the first time since 1974, and was attended by Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay and Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul, among others. Oktay stated that Varosha belongs to the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime, and took part in a tour of the fenced-off part of Famagusta.

President Anastasiades will be in Brussels to take part in the exraordinary European Council on February 20.

In statements today, at the Presidential Palace, Koushos said that President Anastasiades has set bilateral contacts in Brussels during which he will discuss the matter of Varosha. In particular, meetings have been set with European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Parliament President David Sassoli. He wil also have a meeting with EPP President Donald Tusk.

Asked about the governments actions over Varosha, the Spokesperson said that “diplomatic actions and contacts are ongoing and will continue.”

“Allow me not to refer to other measures the government intends to take which have already been decided so that they can be more effective,” he noted, adding that they will be announced when the time is right.

Replying to an additional question on the matter he assured that the governments acions are “within a political, diplomatic and legal framework.”

“The Republic of Cyprus has set in motion all mechanisms and the President of the Republic in person will take specific steps in the context I have already referred to,” he said.

Among other things, Koushos referred to the governments actions since the Turkish announcement over Varosha in summer of 2019 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, at UN Secretary General and Security Council level as well as at Foreign Affairs Ministers level, noting that “the government did not remain inactive.”

Varosha, the fenced off section of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, is often described as a ‘ghost town’. UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN. UN Security Council resolution 789 (1992) also urges that with a view to the implementation of resolution 550 (1984), the area at present under the control of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus should be extended to include Varosha.

Efforts over the years for the legitimate citizens of Famagusta to return to the city have met with the refusal of the Turkish side, despite numerous decisions and resolutions by the UN, EU and other international institutions.

Kudret Ozersay, the foreign minister of the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, arranged in late August a press visit for Turkish Cypriot and Turkish journalists and media in the fenced � off part of Famagusta for the first time in 45 years and announced that he will gradually open the city. A Turkish Bar Association event was organized in Varosha, on Saturday, with the participation of Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay and Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul.

UN Security Council President Jerry Matthews Matjila said on October 9, 2019, after a Security Council’s closed meeting which examined Cyprus’ appeal on the issue of Famagusta that no actions should be carried out in relation to Varosha that are not in accordance with the UNSC Resolutions, including Resolution 550 (1984) and Resolution 789 (1992).

“Positive outcomes” on the “Spitfire”

He was also asked whether there had been any developments regarding the governmets representations to the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) following the harassment of Nicosia municipality crews working to clean and shore up a dilapidated building, which housed the Spitfire coffeeshop, at Paphos Gate in Nicosia’s old town

Yes, Koushos replied, “there have been some positive outcomes.”

The matter, he added, “is not yet fully resolved but we are hoping there will be a positive ending soon.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

The Spitfire building was a popular Nicosia spot that was left to deteriorate after the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, when the coffeeshop fell within the borders of the UN-controlled buffer zone separating the island.

Source: Cyprus News Agency