Foreign Minister:Ready to discuss opening of Varosha as confidence building measure

Foreign Minister IoannisKasoulides has expressed readiness to discuss the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, known as Varosha, under UN aegis as a confidence building measure (CBM), to enable its lawful inhabitants to return to their homes.

The Minister also said that the UN support the opening of Varosha as a CBM only if both sides on the island agree to it, and not a unilateral decision, as Turkish press reports suggest.

The Minister was responding to questions on a media report quoting a senior Turkish Cypriot source who said that the Turkish Cypriot side is working on a plan to open the fenced-off city of Varosha, under UN control, to its legal owners.

Kasoulides also said that a paper the government is drafting on the matter can convince the international community that any such unilateral move cannot be considered a CBM, in that the paper is based on numerous resolutions, reports by the UN Secretary General, European Parliament resolutions and other decision.

Replying to questions about Turkey’s designs, he said that Ankara’s plan B includes abandoning the UN parameters, namely relinquishing the basis of a solution as this is provided for in resolution 1251, and instead discussing a solution of two states or a confederal solution.

Questioned on a NAVTEX issued by Ankara, the Foreign Minister said Nicosia was surprised in that it refers to the participation of an American warship, adding that the government will seek clarifications and information on the matter from Washington.

Asked if this indicates a shift in US policy on Cyprus, he said that he is not in a position to know that because he is not sure if what Ankara has announced in the NAVTEX it has issued reflects reality.

Let us be patient until we examine the matter at hand. Participation of an American waship in an area in which we have a serious dispute with Turkey would be tantamount to the US taking a stance and I do not think Washington policy is to take a position on the matter, the Minister added.

Asked to clarify a statement attributed to him that 5/6 of the development budget would go to the Turkish Cypriot community, he said the reference has nothing to do with the Fund for hydrocarbons.

He explained that he was referring to the federal development budget after a solution, saying that in the first years following a solution 5/6 of the budget will go to the Turkish Cypriots until their standard of living reaches that of the Greek Cypriots.

The federal budget, he explained, will be very small compared to the budgets of the constituent states and this idea (5/6 of the budget) has nothing to do with revenue from hydrocarbons exploitation which will be deposited in a special fund and a large part of it will be for the benefit of future generations.

Once the Turkish Cypriots reach a certain level, the budget will be allocated according to the needs of each community.

Source: Cyprus News Agency