Return of Famagusta constitutes a priority its Mayor says

The return of the town of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants should have been a priority to which maybe we should have insisted more, Famagusta Mayor Alexis Galanos told a seminar regarding the vision for the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, held on Saturday in Nicosia.

He said that the return of Famagusta is a difficult task due to Turkey’s intransigence, adding that according to information which have been confirmed, the Turkish side will construct a new tourist area in the region, something which is against the efforts for a Cyprus settlement

On his part, Minister of the Interior Constantinos Petrides said that Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will fight a hard battle in a few days in Switzerland, where the Conference on Cyprus will reconvene, noting that Turkey will have to discuss the issues of security and guarantees for the first time.

The outcome of this discussion will be decisive for the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, he noted, adding that everyone must support the President to be able to give the right to all Cypriots to make plans for the next day, the day of the solution.

The Conference on Cyprus will reconvene in Crans-Montana on June 28 at the political level, under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. The Conference will take place with the participation of Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, as well as Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom as guarantor powers, and in the presence of the European Union as an observer. Anastasiades and Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.

Chairman of the Council for Reconstruction and Resettlement Nicos Mesaritis said that Famagusta is both a challenge and an opportunity, an international town which can host innovation and modern development infrastructure.

Mesaritis said that the Council has had so far meetings and collected material about similar projects in Lebanon, Northern Ireland and Berlin. He also noted that Turkish Cypriot civil engineers provided help as regards the restoration of enclaved people houses.

He said that the case of Famagusta is a difficult one with various particularities and noted the engagement of the citizens and scientists from Famagusta and elsewhere, of the competent public services and of the Municipality to its restoration and resettlement.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. The town of Famagusta (Varosha) was abandoned by its inhabitants in August 1974, as they fled the advancing Turkish troops which had launched a second offensive against Cyprus, having seized a large part of Kyrenia district, on the north. Since then, the town, abandoned to the elements, has been sealed off and is under the control of the Turkish military.

UN resolution 550 calls for the return of the city to its lawful inhabitants. So far Ankara has not complied with any calls from the international community to do just that.

Source: Cyprus News Agency